Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan, says he expects to resign from his position effective April 30, 2023 due to health problems he has been experiencing since a severe bout of COVID-19 in late 2020.
“My physical health continues to improve but my mental health and cognitive function remain compromised,” said Hawkins in an Oct. 14 charge to the synod of the diocese of Saskatchewan, posted on the diocese’s Facebook page. He has been working on and off through health problems over the last two years, he said, but had struggled with the demands of memory and planning that the position required. “I feel at times burdened and guilty that I am not able to give my ministry and work and the Diocese what they need and deserve,” his charge states.
Hawkins also addressed the financial, mission and outreach challenges he said the diocese of Saskatchewan is facing as it, too, struggles with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shrinking of the church. He encouraged the congregations of the diocese, in responding to those crises, to focus first on discipleship, engaging with each other and their communities in keeping with the teachings of Christ and trusting that discipleship to produce the growth, unity and financial and missional success they have been looking for.
“We are saved by hope,” he said. “If we have not hope, we are nothing. I have tried to set before you a vision this evening, a vision of committed disciples drawn together … in mission and love.”
Hawkins suggested several possibilities for how the diocese might restructure to replace him in light of a reduced budget for bishops’ salaries. One possibility, he said, was for all three dioceses in the civil province of Saskatchewan to share one or two diocesan bishops instead of the three they currently employ. (The diocese of Saskatchewan covers only the northern portion of the province.)
Hawkins has been the bishop of the diocese of Saskatchewan since 2009. Announcing his resignation, he told the synod:
“The diocese, its people and congregations, its executive committee … have been extraordinarily generous, kind, compassionate, patient and supportive over the past twenty-two months. I could not ask for more and I am often overwhelmed by your goodness to me and sometimes embarrassed by it. Thank you and thanks be to God.”