“I am absolutely delighted that the archbishop has agreed to assist me in the exercise of my episcopal responsibilities,” said Bishop Bell. “Archbishop Colin has a heart for Jesus, a keen instinct for ministry, and a depth of experience that is unrivalled in the Canadian Church.”
The responsibilities of an assistant bishop are determined in consultation with the diocesan bishop. Bishop Bell has identified the following three areas of focus: occasional assistance with the exercise of episcopal ministry, including leading worship, providing pastoral care, and making visitations; offering deployment and mentoring support for emerging clergy leaders; and providing expert consultant support in the analysis of structures, systems, and future ministry needs.
Recently, the archbishop has been doing some discrete pieces of work for the diocese, including an assessment of Cathedral Place structures, teaching with the Niagara School for Missional Leadership, and as transitional consultant at the parish of St. George’s, Guelph during their interim period.
Archbishop Johnson is no stranger to Niagara, having been raised in Mount Forest. Bishop Bell noted that she has known and worked with Archbishop Johnson for all her vocation, and that they have a good and trusting relationship. “I have every confidence in Archbishop Johnson’s skills, wisdom, and expertise, which he will bring to bear more formally in the role of assistant bishop,” says Bishop Bell.
In accordance with the canons, Synod Council approved the appointment at its June meeting and Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, has also offered her endorsement.
“This appointment expands the capacity of the episcopal office to serve our parishes,” says Bishop Bell. The role, undertaken at the direction of the diocesan bishop, is expected to involve a bit less than a day’s work, spread out over the course of a week.
Before retiring in 2018, Archbishop Johnson served as bishop of Toronto from 2004, metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario from 2009, and concurrently as bishop of Moosonee from 2014. He was ordained deacon in 1977, priest in 1978, and bishop in 2003.
Assistant bishops are required to be already in episcopal orders at the time of their appointment and are typically retired from active ministry. Niagara has a history of having bishops, with the most recent being Bishop Ann Tottenham, who served during the episcopacy of Bishop Ralph Spence.