Diocese of Niagara elects new bishop

Published June 4, 2007

Bishop-elect Michael Bird

Archdeacon Michael Bird, 49, whose interests include curling and playing the bagpipes, on June 2 was elected bishop of the diocese of Niagara.

The married father of three was elected on the fifth ballot at an episcopal election synod held at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont., the diocese’s see city. On the final ballot, he received 71 out of 110 clergy votes and 149 out of 243 lay votes, according to synod officials. The election lasted four hours and started with a slate of 12 candidates.

Bishop-elect Bird’s consecration as new bishop has been set for Sept. 30. He will succeed Bishop Ralph Spence, who has announced he intends to retire at the end of February, 2008.

Bishop-elect Bird was born and raised within the diocese, in Oakville, Ont. and attended St. Aidan’s church in his youth. “I owe a great deal to my parents and to the clergy and people of St. Aidan’s for my nurture in the Christian faith, as a child and then as a young man. I am grateful for the many ways that I was encouraged as a young person to take an active part in the life and work of that parish and it was here that I first discerned a call to ordained ministry,” he wrote in his biographical profile.

Since 1998, he has been rector of St. Luke’s church in Burlington, Ont. and was appointed archdeacon of the diocese’s Trafalgar region in 2005. At the diocesan level, he has served as a consultant in diocesan parish planning and chaired a wellness conference for clergy and lay workers in 2000.

Reflecting on a planning process called “The New Niagara,” he wrote that “it is clear that our diocese is being called to be a ‘hope-filled’ community of loving relationships. In preparation for my role as a delegate to General Synod, I am particularly reflecting upon the meaning of such words as inclusiveness, communion and unity as they relate to the fulfilling of our baptismal covenant and as they proclaim the life and message of Jesus Christ.”

One of his objectives, he wrote, is “to continue to explore and strive for a better understanding of the context and society in which we are called to be the body of Christ and to find and encourage fresh expressions of church life that will be compelling and meaningful to the people of this generation, particularly young people.”

Bishop-elect Bird was ordained deacon in 1984 at Christ’s Church Cathedral and priest in the same year at Holy Trinity Church, Grand Falls, Nfld. His first parish was in the diocese of Central Newfoundland.

In 1987, he returned to Ontario to serve as assistant priest in St. George’s church, St. Catharines. He also served parishes in Dunnville and Oakville before arriving at St. Luke’s. He holds a master of divinity degree from Trinity College and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto.

In other interests, he is past chair and current member of the Hamilton and District Clergy Curling Association and wrote that he has “enjoyed playing the bagpipes for many years.” He and his wife Susan have three children.

(Editor’s Note: The first two paragraphs of this story, first published June 4, has been revised for clarity.)


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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