Adapted from the Diocese of Toronto
The Diocese of Toronto has elected three new suffragan bishops — one is of Métis heritage and another is a partnered gay priest. All three bishops are in their 40s.
On Sept. 17, the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, the Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson and the Rev. Canon Jenny Andison were elected suffragan bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada’s most populous diocese during an election held at St. Paul’s Bloor Street.
In the first election, Walsh Shaw was elected on the seventh ballot. She is 44 and the incumbent of Christ Church, Bolton. She earned a master of divinity from Wycliffe College in 1999 and was ordained deacon and priest in 2001. Walsh Shaw and her husband, Jana, have two children. Walsh Show, who is Métis, serves as an ambassador of reconciliation in the diocese.
In the second election, Robertson was elected on the fourth ballot. He is 45 and the incumbent of Christ Church, Deer Park, Toronto. After earning his master of divinity from Trinity College in 1997, he was ordained deacon the same year and priest in 1998. He and his partner, Mohan, have two children.
In the third election, Andison was elected on the third ballot. She is 44 and the incumbent of St. Clement’s, Eglinton, Toronto. After earning a master of divinity from Wycliffe College in 1997, she was ordained deacon the same year and priest in 1999. She was previously the Archbishop’s Officer for Mission. Andison and her husband, Tim, have three daughters.
Archbishop Colin Johnson said the election of Robertson, who is openly gay, will likely bring mixed reactions from across Canada and the Anglican Communion.
“Kevin is certainly not the first gay man to become a bishop in the Communion, but his election will probably bring a negative reaction in some places and a positive reaction in others. We’re at an early stage in this experience; I think many parts of the world do not understand it, so it will be a challenge for them, but it will be an opportunity for us to explain how and why we have made this choice today.”
Johnson said the election results will now proceed to the Ontario House of Bishops for its concurrence. The bishops must make their decision within a week. “That’s not a foregone conclusion but I expect that will happen,” Johnson said.
The three new suffragan bishops will be consecrated at St. Paul, Bloor Street, on Jan. 7. Each new bishop will provide oversight of one of the diocese’s four episcopal areas: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham, and York-Simcoe. (Bishop Peter Fenty is currently the area bishop of York-Simcoe.)
The elections on Sept. 17 became necessary after the translation of Bishop Linda Nicholls to the Diocese of Huron and the announced retirements of Bishop Philip Poole and Bishop Patrick Yu.