Bishop Jenny Andison, the area bishop of York-Credit Valley, will be the next rector of St. Paul, Bloor Street, effective Feb. 28, 2021. In a letter to the people of York-Credit Valley on Sept. 13, the day her appointment was announced, she wrote, “Although I will be stepping down as the area bishop of York-Credit Valley, I will – like other bishops who serve in non-jurisdictional ministries as theologians, heads of seminaries, deans of cathedrals, or at the Communion Office – remain a bishop and will continue to live out my consecration vows in this new ministry context.”
St. Paul’s, the largest Anglican church in Canada, undertook an extensive international search for a new rector before selecting Bishop Andison, who was an associate priest at the church from 2006 to 2013. She will succeed the Rev. Canon Dr. Barry Parker, who is retiring.
“I made this decision with a strong sense of hope for the future to which our Heavenly Father is calling me and the people of St. Paul’s, but also with gravity and genuine sorrow for what I must lay down as a result,” she wrote. “It is an immense privilege to serve as a bishop in Christ’s holy, catholic Church. I have loved being a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Toronto, and it has been (and continues to be) such a joy to share in gospel ministry with the College of Bishops and all of you in York-Credit Valley.”
She will continue in her current office until the end of February and plans to complete a number of projects and to set in place a transition plan so that the episcopal area can continue to flourish. “I am profoundly grateful for having had the opportunity to work and worship with you as your area bishop over the past four years,” she wrote. “Thank you for the prayerful support and gracious encouragement that you have given me, showing me the face of Jesus. My hope is that I have provided the same to you in equal measure. In my new capacity, I look forward to our paths crossing as your colleague in ministry and a fellow disciple of Jesus Christ, as we continue to labour together for the diocese as a whole, for the global Anglican Communion, and above all, for Christ’s kingdom.”
Bishop Andrew Asbil, the diocesan bishop, said he was delighted with the appointment. In a letter to the people of St. Paul’s, he wrote, “After ably and happily serving as suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Toronto and area bishop of York-
Credit Valley for almost four years, she has responded willingly to this call from God and the parish to become your incumbent and spiritual leader for an exciting new chapter in your life and ministry.”
Writing on behalf of himself and Bishop Kevin Robertson, the area bishop of York-Scarborough, in which St. Paul’s is located, he wrote, “We look forward to working with our sister in Christ, Bishop Jenny, and the people of the parish of St
Paul’s in the years to come – sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, making disciples and worshipping the Triune God in spirit and in truth.”
In a pastoral letter to the diocese on Sept. 16, Bishop Asbil wrote about the future of episcopal leadership in the diocese, given that Bishop Andison is moving to St. Paul’s and Bishop Peter Fenty, the area bishop of York-Simcoe, is retiring at the end of November.
Several months ago, in anticipation of Bishop Fenty’s retirement, he created the Episcopal Leadership Working Group (ELWG). “The College of Bishops system of episcopal leadership in the Diocese of Toronto has been in place for 40 years, and I felt it was time to review whether it makes sense to continue to have four suffragan bishops, deployed to regions of the diocese as area bishops, in addition to a diocesan bishop,” he wrote. “Our system is unique in the Anglican Communion. How do other dioceses, of similar size and complexity, organize themselves? What can we learn from them?”
The ELWG has been meeting regularly and researching other models and considering possible adaptations to the diocese’s system, he wrote. “I had given the group a deadline of Ash Wednesday 2021 to make their report and – despite these recent developments – I do not want to curtail or rush their work. I look forward to hearing from them in February 2021 as planned, at which time I will consider their recommendations and share with the diocese a way forward.”
In the meantime, he assured the diocese, and in particular the areas of York-Simcoe and York-Credit Valley, that the College of Bishops is committed to caring for every parish. “Over the coming weeks, we will develop a plan for adequate episcopal coverage in every area, ready to implement as transitions occur.”