Archdeacon Geoff Woodcroft, the incumbent at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Fort Garry in Winnipeg, was elected coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Rupert’s Land at an electoral synod Saturday, June 16.
Woodcroft, 57, says he is “overwhelmed by the generous expression of the diocese” and surprised by the numbers of votes he received. He was elected on the fifth ballot, after receiving 48 votes from clergy and 75 from the laity. “It’s an absolute thrill,” he says.
Woodcroft says he is passionate about moving the church away from seeing itself through the lens of scarcity. “I see us as being abundantly blessed,” he says. He is looking forward to shifting the way the church is evaluated from “old metrics” like numbers on Sunday, to stories of “how disciples carry Christ into the world,” he adds.
“What are the volunteer things we’re doing? How many volunteer hours? What are the things that we’re doing—in narrative rather than numerical form—that really show the goodness of God working through the church? I think that those are the things that are actually going to be the excitement that helps us build the church yet again.”
Woodcroft says his first goals as bishop will be to get to know clergy and their families, to reach out to rural areas and to promote reconciliation. “What permeates everything we do is the spirit and drive towards reconciliation.”
Woodcroft is an associate of Rupert’s Land Indigenous Council and was an Anglican representative at the Independent Assessment Process hearings as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, listening to the stories of settlement claimants and offering, if invited, statements of apology.
He says he has learned a lot from Indigenous elders. “I think I am a better person because I know that I have to be on a path of reconciliation.”
His church, St. Paul’s, also worked with Cree ministry Wechetowin to create a memorial to residential school survivors at The Forks Historical Site in Winnipeg.
In response to a questionnaire given to candidates prior to the election, Woodcroft said that he will support same-sex marriage, adding that the decision to facilitate same-sex marriage is not unanimous in the diocese. “We need a generous conversation about Christian marriage, including same-gender marriage,” he wrote. He added that “local option is a good beginning; but I also think we can dig deeper into the giftedness of our many parishes to achieve a more comprehensive solution that does not threaten or divide any of us from one another.”
Woodcroft was ordained as a priest in 1990 and earned his master’s of divinity from Huron University College in London, Ont. He served as a priest in the diocese of Algoma and as a university and hospital chaplain. He has been the incumbent at St Paul’s since 2003.
Woodcroft’s hobbies include camping, wilderness sports, hiking and acrylic landscape painting. He is also a songwriter and musician, and plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, stick dulcimer, bass and lap steel guitar. Over two years, he raised more than $20,000 for the diocesan refugee committee by playing guitar for 12 hours straight. During both of these music marathons, he was joined at different times by about 50 musicians from the community.
His consecration as bishop has been scheduled for October 12, 2018. Woodcroft will succeed Don Phillips, who has served as bishop of the diocese of Rupert’s Land since 2000.