Pray for and support our new bishops

A notepad its on a desk near a pen, laptop and phone
 on November 1, 2016

I look forward to welcoming to the College of Bishops of the Diocese of Toronto our bishops-elect, the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Canon Kevin Robertson and Canon Jenny Andison. I also look forward to working with them and sharing in the ongoing leadership of our diocese.

I ask for the prayers of the faithful in our diocese for Archbishop Colin Johnson, the new bishops and me, as we go through this period of transition in the months ahead. It will be a time of building a new leadership team, as well as making adjustments and adaptations required for doing so.

The bishops-elect are gifted priests that Synod, in its prayerful consideration and discernment, has chosen to be leaders of the clergy and people they will serve. As is true with any change of position and leadership in our church, it will require a significant degree of encouragement, patience, prayerful support and cooperation, as the new bishops begin their new ministries.

I was very grateful for the support, advice and encouragement I received when I began my ministry as a bishop. Clergy and people were most welcoming, and made the initial days in my new role pleasant and enjoyable. My hope is that our new bishops-elect will receive the same kind of support, advice and encouragement as they begin their ministries in their respective areas.

We affirm the baptismal ministry of all the faithful in our church and are appreciative of the wonderful work and witness carried out across the length and breadth of this diocese. It is from among the faithful people of God that women and men are called to ordained ministry in our diocese, and we are blessed with dedicated clergy who serve our church well.

Our bishops-elect are among the able, dedicated and good clergy now called to serve as leaders in the diocese. We pray for them during this period of preparation and transition. We also pray that their families will be strengthened in order to be able to deal with the many changes they will face.

Riscylla, Kevin and Jenny will be leaving parish families that they have come to love during their years of parish ministry. Let us pray for those parishes as they too will be in transition, anticipating selection processes and the eventual call of new clergy to serve them. We thank these parishes for contributing to and sharing in the growth and leadership skills of our bishops-elect. I encourage the faithful of those parishes to honour the ministries of their priests now called to the office of bishop, by continuing the good ministry, work and witness that they shared through the years.

As a bishop, it is a privilege and honour to share with others in this vocation of service and leadership. We are mindful of how weighty a ministry it is and the trust and responsibility placed upon us by the church. It has to be approached with humility, prayerfully and a willingness to be spirit-led. We are also mindful that in accepting this ministry, we do so trusting in the grace and help of Almighty God. As bishops we realize the importance of listening, working with others and discerning what God is up to in the world that God has wonderfully made. It is crucial that in reading God’s word, we listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church at this time.

In weekly services across our diocese and the Anglican Communion, bishops are prayed for by name. We are appreciative, comforted and encouraged in the knowledge that we are upheld in prayer by many.

The days ahead are anticipated to be exciting, invigorating and missional-focused. I expect that our bishops-elect will bring new energy, enthusiasm and perspectives that will enhance the work we are called to do.

In the ordination service, the bishop is reminded of her role and responsibility and asked a number of questions by the Archbishop and other bishops. One of the questions asked is, “Will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption?” The bishop-elect answers, “I will, in the name of Christ, the shepherd and bishop of our souls.” Another question asked is, “Will you share with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole church; will you sustain your fellow presbyters and take counsel with them; will you guide and strengthen the deacons and all others who minister in the church?” The answer given is, “I will by the grace of God given me.”

God’s grace is sufficient to meet all our needs as people, deacons, priests and bishops, in living into our baptismal ministry. I pray that the grace of God will enable, empower and sustain the College of Bishops in the days ahead, as we welcome our new bishops into this wonderful ministry to which Almighty God has called us.


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