The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri now officially has a gay Black man in charge.
Back in November, it was announced that then-Rev. Deon K. Johnson, who is not only Black and gay but also a married Barbadian-immigrant and father of two children, was elected as the diocese’s next bishop. Johnson won the position over two competitors by a landslide vote of 115 votes out of 164.
“Thank you so very much for this awesome responsibility,” Johnson said at the time. “We are so looking forward to continuing this adventure that God has called us to with you and the amazing people that make up the diocese.”
And this week, the Brighton, Michigan resident (near Detroit) was ordained as the diocese’s 11th bishop. He is now representing 10,000 Episcopal followers from 42 parishes in the eastern half of Missouri.
“To find ourselves in this moment, the ancestor of a slave, to be called to be the Bishop of Missouri – God is good!” Bishop Johnson said during his ordination service, according to the St. Louis American. “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.”
Bishop Johnson was consecrated into the position in front of two dozen worshippers and Episcopal clerics at St. Louis’s Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, June 13. For health concerns, only service participants and Johnson’s immediate family were allowed to be in attendance. Though, the event was also broadcast live for online viewers.
After the ceremony, the new Bishop spoke on the times and circumstances surrounding his ascension, according to the Episcopal News Service. Bishop Johnson has been very vocal in his support of the anti-police brutality protests. He even spoke at the St. John’s Church in Washington D.C. after Donald Trump infamously cleared out peaceful protesters. Touching on that moment and the many others like it, Johnson asked the people of his diocese to defend the rights of God’s children.
“We must be about the mission of working for justice and showing God’s love in this time and place,” he said. “We must be about the mission of speaking truth to power and making no peace with oppression.”