Diocese of Caledonia elects Arctic priest as new bishop

Bishop-elect David Lehmann says he intends to focus on discipleship, vocations and evangelism over the coming years. Photo: Brenda Allaire
Published October 25, 2017

The Rev. David Lehmann, regional dean of the Upper Mackenzie, in the diocese of the Arctic, has been elected bishop of the diocese of Caledonia.

He was elected on the 20th ballot, the full canonical run of an episcopal election, October 25.

Lehmann, who is also the incumbent at St. John’s Anglican Church in Fort Smith, N.W.T.,  said he was “utterly overwhelmed” by the results of the election.

“I went with the hope that I could sort of be a cheerleader for the diocese … hoping I wouldn’t be off on the first ballot…being there to encourage and support, but fully not expecting to be elected,” he said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.

Lehmann is the second bishop elected to the diocese since the retirement of Bishop William Anderson in December 2016. Another election was held following the May 15 ruling of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon’s House of Bishops to block the consecration of the Rev. Jake Worley as bishop of Caledonia. The bishops objected to Worley’s election in April on the grounds that he “teaches or holds or within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine of Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Lehmann said his election was unexpected, based on the experience of the other candidates. “I haven’t sat on provincial synod or General Synod, I haven’t done a number of the larger roles in the church. My focus has been parish ministry and some other sideline ministries,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve sat on diocesan committees, I’ve been a regional dean in two dioceses, I’ve had experience in rather large not-for-profit organizations.”

When four separate people approached him to run for bishop, Lehmann decided to let his name stand. “I thought, if the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, then I should respect that and allow my name to stand.” Lehmann said his approach has always been not to go out searching for ministry opportunities. “The ministries you’re called to come to you.”

In response to a search committee question about the needs that the diocese of Caledonia ought to address in the next five years, Lehmann wrote that his areas of focus over the coming years will be discipleship, vocations and evangelism.

He told the Journal that he is looking forward to “getting to know a part of B.C. that I don’t know…Being in a role of being able to support and encourage ministry in remote areas in British Columbia, and trying to help build in a time in which the church has been declining.”

In the same questionnaire, Lehmann was asked to describe his churchmanship. “Having been a Rector of both evangelical and Anglo-Catholic parishes, I would describe my liturgical style as Broad,” he wrote. “My theological views lean towards towards conservative evangelical.”

In response to the search committee’s questions about same-sex marriage, Lehmann wrote, “As a single straight male, I do not often speak to this matter. I have always felt that my life speaks for me. I believe in the Traditional Scriptural definition of marriage. Marriage is a vocation and a sacrament, one that not all are called to; but one that all should reverence.”

He also noted the importance of unity and reconciliation, drawing on his experience as rector of a parish that had suffered a church split over the issue of human sexuality.  “The question of ‘can there by orthodoxy with unity?’ has remained with me from this time…I believe it is possible,” he wrote.

He also noted that reconciliation “requires trust, community, and a unified vision. It is my firm belief that God calls us to witness to this broken world and to do so as a church of wounded healers.”

Lehmann, whose application listed interests including community development and the intersection of pop culture and Christianity, has brought unique ministries to his diocese. One such ministry was “Messy Church,” a ministry founded in the U.K. that reimagines church as a meeting, usually centred around a meal, with a hands-on activity and prayer. “The people who come to Messy Church were unchurched or dechurched,” Lehmann wrote, in response to a questionnaire sent by the search committee. “What a blessing it was to see their faith come to life and a new congregation formed.”

Lehmann received a BA in history and religious studies from Camrose Lutheran College and an MDiv from Wycliffe College. He is completing a doctorate of ministry from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa.

He has served in the Anglican Parish of Fort Saskatchewan, Anglican Parishes of Cold Lake, Bonnyville, St. Paul & Ashmont and the Anglican Deh Cho Parish, Fort Smith. He co-ordinated the licensing and training of lay readers and designed and implemented a new training program in the diocese of Edmonton. He also served as naval officer in the Canadian Armed Forces from 1991 to 2010.


  • Joelle Kidd

    Joelle Kidd was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2017 to 2021.

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