Diocese of Ottawa elects new bishop

By on March 26, 2007

Canon John Chapman, dean of theology at Huron University College in London, Ont., is the new bishop of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.

Bishop-elect Chapman, 53, was elected co-adjutor (successor) bishop on the fourth ballot at an episcopal election held March 24 at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.

“I thank you for your trust and your confidence and I will commit to you that I will do all in my power to provide prayerful, able, sensitive and wise leadership,” Bishop-elect Chapman said shortly after Bishop Peter Coffin, who is retiring, announced that he was the new bishop.

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Bishop-elect Chapman, who received 173 of 306 votes on the final ballot from members of the diocesan synod, was chosen from a roster of nine candidates.

“It was the first time since the election of Bishop William Robinson of the diocese of Niagara in 1970, that the diocese of Ottawa has elected a bishop from beyond its borders,” noted Art Babych, editor of Crosstalk, the diocesan newspaper. He added, however, that Bishop-elect Chapman is “no stranger” to the nation’s capital, having been born and raised there. He also began his pastoral ministry in Ottawa; after his ordination in 1978, he became assistant curate of St. Matthias.

“I will bring to you a love for the Ottawa Valley, my childhood home and home to all of our extended family. I will bring to you a deep and abiding love for the faith and the Church,” Bishop-elect Chapman said in a written response to the question, “How do you see your gifts fulfilling this calling of a bishop?” which was posed to all candidates by the diocese’s nominations committee. “I will bring to you almost thirty years of faithful work as a priest equally served in full-time pastoral ministry (parish seventeen years) and the academy (twelve years). I will bring, in addition, normal experiences gleaned through thoughtful and faithful pastoral ministry and diocesan service, critical knowledge and experience gleaned from my current position as dean of the faculty of theology … and a teacher of pastoral theology and leadership.”

Bishop-elect Chapman also wrote that as bishop “it would be my call and my mission to ensure that we gather, that we speak and reason together, that we pray together and that we disagree together.” He acknowledged having “strong opinions,” about issues, among them, “a very hospitable view that welcomes all Christians and includes a readiness to extend to all, when appropriate, the rights and responsibilities, privileges and sacraments of the church.” But, he said, “the ministry of bishop does not allow me to impose my personal will upon the people of God … I am called to listen to the church’s heart, to dialogue, to discuss, to make by point and listen to the arguments of others — to build bridges.”

Bishop-elect Chapman has served the diocese of Huron in various capacities after moving there in 1979 to become chaplain of Huron University College. He has served as member of the bishop’s postulancy board, rector of St. Jude’s Church, London, Ont., chair of doctrine and worship committee, member of diocesan executive committee and canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

At Huron University College he also served as lecturer, assistant professor and dean (2000 to 2004; reappointed 2005-2010).

Bishop-elect Chapman will be installed as co-adjutor bishop on May 17 and will assume the duties of bishop on Aug. 1. Bishop Coffin has announced he will retire at the end of July but will continue to be bishop ordinary to the Canadian Forces.

Bishop-elect Chapman and his wife, Catherine, have three children.

This is a revised version of the story first published March 26, 2007. The fifth paragraph. which stated that Bishop William Robinson was from the diocese of Ontario was corrected; he was from the diocese of Niagara.

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