Deon Johnson becomes 11th Bishop of Missouri
Welcome your new bishop!
Deon Kevin Johnson became the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on Saturday, June 13, 2020, in a small but joyous service at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.
Original plans for his ordination called for hundreds of guests, including members from throughout the diocese, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, dozens of visiting bishops from around the country, and family and friends of our new bishop from Barbados. But the coronavirus pandemic forced us to take extreme precautions for the sake of everyone’s health.
Approximately 25 people gathered in-person, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing (as much as possible), and using hand sanitizer throughout the service. More than 700 people watched the service as it was streamed live on Facebook; thousands more have engaged online since the live event.
Although the Cathedral was nearly empty, the Holy Spirit filled the space!
The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith served as chief consecrator of the ordination. He was joined by the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis; the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, Bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee; and the Rt. Rev. Bonnie Perry, Bishop of Michigan.
Water Rite and Ministry of the Word:
The service began with a thanksgiving over the water as a reminder of our baptism. The bishop-elect was presented by various lay and ordained members of the diocese and declared his belief in the Holy Scriptures and doctrine of the Episcopal Church.
Prayers and the reading of scripture followed:
- Old Testament Lesson: Judith 15:14, 16:13-16
- Psalm 85:7-13
- New Testament Lesson: Philippians 4:1-9
- The Gospel: Luke 24:1-12
The Rev. Dr. Clive Samson from Faith Christian Church of India, read the New Testament lesson in Hindi. The parish is part of the diverse membership of the Diocese of Missouri.
Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows delivered a sermon that paid homage to our past, but encouraged the people of our diocese to move forward.
“I want you to take notice of this moment. You’ll want to be able to tell the story of this day,” Bishop Baskerville-Burrows said. She recalled hearing from our new bishop for the first time at the triennial Episcopal Black Clergy Conference in 2005.
She spoke of Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman bishop of the Episcopal Church and a mentor to our new bishop while he was in seminary. Harris talked of the importance of telling the whole story.
“Diocese of Missouri, you know our God is an on time God, right?” Bishop Baskerville-Burrows asked. “This is your time. You are beginning a new ministry with your new bishop just as the world is shouting and crying out for the whole story.”
“In calling Deon to be your bishop, you will be pastored and loved by someone who is consumed with a passion for Jesus who has no patience for hate and exclusion. He will gently, clearly, prayerfully -- deeply prayerfully, boldly and faithfully walk with you into God’s full future.”
As Bishop Smith, Bishop Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop Roaf, and Bishop Perry laid their hands on him and prayed over him, Deon Johnson became the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri.
The Ordination was followed by the Vesting, with the new bishop’s mother, husband and son presenting him with the vestments that symbolize his new office: stole, chasuble, pectoral cross, ring, cope, rochet and chimere, and mitre. Bishop Smith then presented Bishop Johnson with the bishop’s pastoral staff, a symbol that has been passed through generations in the diocese.
The new bishop briefly addressed the diocese, giving thanks to all who played a role in his election, transition and ordination. “To find ourselves in this moment, the descendant of a slave, to be called to be the Bishop of Missouri – God is good! To the people of Missouri, we have a whole new story to tell and a whole new boldness to tell it with. So I look forward to the adventure.”
The Very Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, and the Rev. Dawn Victoria Mitchell, President of the Standing Committee, led the new bishop to the chair designated for the bishop.
Holy Eucharist and Dismissal:
Bishop Deon Johnson celebrated Holy Eucharist, reciting parts in English and Spanish. He distributed the Eucharist (bread only) to those in attendance.
After Communion, the congregation stood and (safely and silently) sang Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song known for its power to call for the liberation and affirmation of people of color.
Archdeacon Rebecca Barger dismissed the people, saying, “Our worship is ended. Our service in the world now begins. Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.”
A new era in the Diocese of Missouri has begun. Thanks be to God!