Primate to retire Sept. 15

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, seen here leading Anglicans and Lutheran delegates in prayer at Assembly 2023, says she will welcome a period of rest and freedom from the responsibilities of leadership Photo: Jim Tubman
Published April 10, 2024

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, plans to retire effective Sept. 15, she announced April 9. In a letter to the church, she wrote that she had earlier offered her resignation to Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, who will become acting primate on her retirement.

“In the fall of 2024 I will complete thirty-nine years of ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada. Although it had been my hope to continue until General Synod 2025, I will also reach our mandatory retirement age,” wrote Nicholls. “The greatest joy has been to share in the relationship between God and God’s people through pastoral care, preaching, teaching and sacramental ministries and advocate for justice and compassion for all. To see God at work bringing healing and hope in the midst of the sorrows, pain and joy of daily life for individuals, families, communities and our wider world is a privilege that cannot be measured.”

At General Synod 2023, a vote failed on a resolution which would have allowed any sitting primate to finish out their term until the next General Synod meeting if their 70th birthday—the retirement age for Anglican bishops—falls less than a year before the next election. This made it necessary for Nicholls to announce her retirement sometime before her own 70th birthday in October.

Most members of General Synod voted in favour of the resolution, which would have extended Nicholls’ term to the 2025 General Synod. But votes on matters of church government are required to pass with a majority vote, plus a minimum of two-thirds majority in each of the orders of clergy, laity and bishops. It failed to clear that bar in the Order of Bishops.

Church canons call for the primate in such cases to be succeeded by an acting primate until a primatial election can be held, and stipulate that the acting primate be the church’s senior metropolitan by election. In an April 9 press release, the national church office confirmed Germond was the senior metropolitan by election and would serve as acting primate until the next election for a permanent primate at General Synod in Summer 2025.  Germond confirmed last week she was able and willing to take on the position of acting primate.

After 5 years teaching music and mathematics at Woodstock International Christian School in India, Nicholls began her formal theological education at Wycliffe College and became ordained as a deacon in 1985 and a priest in 1986. She served nearly 20 years as a parish priest in the diocese of Toronto before becoming area bishop of Trent-Durham, also in the diocese of Toronto, in 2008. In 2016 she became bishop of the diocese of Huron, a position she served until her election to the primacy in 2019.

As primate, Nicholls also served as the member representing the Americas in the primates’ standing committee, a body which promotes international unity within the church and oversees the missions work of the Anglican Consultative Council.

“It has been a privilege to work with the primate,” Archdeacon Alan Perry, general secretary of General Synod, said in the news release. “In addition to her keen insight and her love for and breadth of knowledge of the church, she has brought care, compassion and joy in the Gospel to her various roles. Staff will miss her singing voice as much as her preaching voice in our regular chapel gatherings. I will miss a friend and mentor who has constantly supported me and encouraged me to grow.”

In her announcement, Nicholls said she would welcome the time of rest without the responsibilities of leadership that would follow her retirement.

“Then I will enjoy walking with God’s people, not as a leader, but as a friend, teacher and mentor alongside opportunities that allow my soul to sing – literally and figuratively. Thank you for the privilege of serving our beloved church. Thank you for your prayers, care and support through the good times and the difficult ones.”

The church’s next primatial election is expected to take place at the next General Synod in 2025.


  • Sean Frankling

    Sean Frankling’s experience includes newspaper reporting as well as writing for video and podcast media. He’s been chasing stories since his first co-op for Toronto’s Gleaner Community Press at age 19. He studied journalism at Carleton University and has written for the Toronto Star, WatchMojo and other outlets.

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