Missouri Gay Bishop

November 25, 2019

Missouri Episcopalians Elect Partnered Gay Bishop

Episcopalians in the Diocese of Missouri have elected a man in a same-sex union as bishop. If The Rev. Deon K. Johnson gains the necessary consents, he will be consecrated in April 2020.

Deon K. Johnson

Bishop-elect Deon K. Johnson of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri pictured with his husband Jhovanny Osorio-Vázquez Johnson.

Johnson’s consecration will be prior to the decennial Lambeth Conference of Anglican Communion bishops. He will be invited by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to attend as a diocesan along with partnered gay bishops from the dioceses of Maine and Michigan, in addition to a gay bishop from the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada and Assisting Bishop Mary Glasspool of New York.

Traditionalist bishops from several large Global South churches have vowed to boycott the conference over the invitation of non-celibate gay bishops, whose consecration contravenes the 1998 Lambeth Conference statement “rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.” Those traditionalist bishops plan to assemble at an alternate bishops’ gathering scheduled in Kigali, Rwanda for June 2020 and sponsored by the theologically conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON).

Johnson has served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, Michigan, since 2006. He easily won election in the first round of voting, receiving 71 votes from lay delegates and 42 votes from clergy out of 164 total voting delegates. His Michigan congregation reports an average Sunday attendance of approximately 90 persons, which has only had minor fluctuations since 2008.

This is not Johnson’s first nomination to the episcopacy. In June, he was one of five candidates for bishop in the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California coast). The diocesan convention ultimately selected The Rev. Lucinda Ashby, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Idaho, as its next bishop.

Bishop-elect Deon K. Johnson pictured at his same-sex wedding.

The bishop-elect, a native of Barbados, is a graduate of the Episcopal Church’s General Theological Seminary and is married to Jhovanny Osorio-Vázquez Johnson. Both are foster parents.

“Deon’s passion for inclusion, welcome, and worship geekiness has led him to be trained as a Liturgical Consultant, helping communities of faith re-envision their worship and worship spaces to better reflect the beauty, mystery, and all-around awesomeness of following Jesus,” Johnson’s biography reads.

In those years in which an Episcopal General Convention does not occur, a bishop-elect must obtain consent to election from a majority of diocesan standing committees as well as a majority of “bishops of jurisdiction” (diocesan bishops).

If he obtains those consents, Johnson will be consecrated by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at a service scheduled to take place at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church of St. Louis, Missouri. The host congregation, which split from the Roman Catholic Church, was in conversation with the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri about becoming an Episcopal parish, but recently decided to remain independent.

The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri has declined significantly during the past decade. According to statistics made available by the Office of the General Convention, the diocese has declined from 13,485 members in 2008 to 10,065 in 2018 (-25%) while average Sunday attendance has declined from 4,551 in 2008 to 3,247 in 2018 (-29%). Three parishes have been shuttered during that time, while the number of marriages performed has dropped from 85 to 33 (-61%). Baptisms have declined from 178 to 125 (-30%).

20 Responses to Missouri Episcopalians Elect Partnered Gay Bishop

  1. This is news? It would be more surprising if they didn’t elect a God-mocking Sodomite.

  2. David says:

    Gomorrahians always seem to get short shrift. They ought to get equal time.

  3. Mary Lou says:

    I’m baffled that many Episcopalians don’t seem to connect the dots regarding the church’s condoning homosexual marriage and clergy with the declining numbers in their church. ‘Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.’ Ephesians 5:11. I’m sorry to see so many denominations falling to recent social engineering.

    • Anne K. says:

      The answer lies in the new bishops bio: “passion for inclusion, welcome, and worship geekiness has led him to be trained as a Liturgical Consultant, helping communities of faith re-envision their worship and worship spaces to better reflect the beauty, mystery, and all-around awesomeness of following Jesus.”

      To which the only response is 2 Timothy 4. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

  4. William says:

    Those from the various denominations worshipping the idol, LGBT+, need to go ahead and unite in a cult and leave the rest alone.

  5. David says:

    One has to be careful of not falling into post hoc fallacies. There are a number of reasons why the Episcopal Church has declining membership starting with birthrates being below replacement levels. The aging of the membership brings the ultimate membership reducer—death. The Episcopal Church does not have a strong reputation for seeking new members. Also, the ritualism associated with the church has clearly fallen out of fashion. Then there is the trend of people not aligning themselves with any denomination—a quarter of the US at present and growing. Long before the issue of gay clergy and marriage, we saw a massive membership decline in the UK. Perhaps the US is merely catching up with Europe.

    • Ralph Weitz says:

      Perhaps liberal theology is being unfruitful. Where are people hearing a saving and healing gospel?

        • Steve says:

          Or maybe it is liberal theology:
          “SBC elects new leader who is “accommodating” to homosexuality. At the annual meeting, the SBC overwhelmingly elected J.D. Greear, a moderate pastor who caters to millennials, to be the new president of the denomination. As Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio points out, Greear often goes out of his way to be accommodating to homosexuality in his messages. Greear has told his congregation to “love our gay neighbor more than we love our position on sexual morality” – which seems to many to be completely un-Biblical.”

          • The opinion piece to which you linked is alarmist and an example of yellow journalism.  One piece of “news” that it referenced was an article (which was not there when I clicked on the link) entitled, “Trusted SBC and PCA Seminaries Producing LGBTQ Activists”.  There is only one PCA-affiliated seminary, and that is Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, which has been the target of gossip and slander alleging that it has backed the Revoice Conferences, whose mission is “To support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians—as well as those who love them—so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.”  Much has been made about the participation of some CTS graduates in the 2018 Revoice Conference and especially of Old Testament Professor Jay Sklar, CTS VP of Academics, having given an address.  However, Sklar’s address was on the continued applicability of the Biblical injunctions of the laws regarding sexual immorality in Leviticus 18 & 20 (https://gospelreformation.net/revoice-or-gods-voice/), and CTS President Mark Dalbey wrote a letter (https://cpcissaquah.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Letter-from-Covenant-Theological-Seminary.pdf) clarifying that CTS fully affirms the Biblical definitions of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman and of all sexual activity outside the pale of marriage as sin.  The Seminary’s Statement on Marriage and Sexuality, authored by Dalbey and the Seminary faculty, also states, “As Bible scholars committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, Covenant Seminary faculty are regularly asked to speak at churches and conferences, considering it a duty and privilege to share the truth and authority of the Bible in all areas of life.  We believe that the unchanging veracity of Scripture is always relevant and has the inherent power to influence culture and lead people to the light of Jesus Christ.”  (Hence, Sklar’s address was right and proper.)  And in a video published in November last year (https://byfaithonline.com/covenant-theological-seminary-response-to-revoice/), Dalbey stated, “As to the Revoice conference, Covenant Seminary does not endorse, promote, or have a role in the Revoice conference.  We do not agree with all of the views that were shared or taught at the Revoice conference. … Covenant Seminary does not advocate for queer theology.  Covenant Seminary does not teach that a person should identify as a gay Christian.  And Covenant Seminary will not have any of our faculty speaking at the 2019 Revoice conference.”
            With respect to Greear’s statement (see his original context at https://jdgreear.com/blog/how-do-i-love-my-gay-friend/), that we are to “love our gay neighbor more than we love our position on sexual morality,” with what, specifically, do you take issue?  Is this not the heart of the matter for which our Lord took issue with the Pharisees in His excoriating judgment in Matthew 23?  To “love our gay neighbor more than we love our position on sexual morality,” does not mean that we do not tell him or her that homosexuality is a sin, far less that we tell him or her that it is not.  Yes, homosexuality is a sin for which God will exclude those who commit it impenitently from the Kingdom of Heaven (I Cor. 6.9-10).  But as Greear emphasized (and as Dalbey emphasized in the video linked to above), we must not love OUR POSITION on sexual immorality more than we love our homosexual neighbor, as if BEING SEEN to have the right position on this or any other Biblical teaching were more important than loving our neighbor caught in sin.  This is the “leaven of the Pharisees” that the Lord Jesus taught us to beware (Lk. 11.37-12.3).  After all, the Lord Jesus actually befriended sexually immoral persons and other types of sinners and was slandered for it (Mt. 9.11, 11.19, Lk. 7.37-39, 15.1-2).

        • Steve says:

          According to a 2017 Washington Post article, if mainline Protestantism couldn’t stem it’s decline, it had 23 years to go before it was gone. The Anglican Church of Canada itself just predicted it would be going out of business in 2040. I’m unaware of any articles providing any anticipated extinction dates for conservative denominations; presumably nobody thinks they’re going out of business anytime soon.

          • Steve says:

            As regards the Episcopal Church anticipated expiration date:
            “If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist. We might need a new vocabulary of religious decline. How about church evaporation?
            That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s.”

        • No, Liberal or Progressive Theology is not the sole cause of Church membership loss in the United States, but it is the single largest contributor to it.  Liberal Theology flourished in the Mainline Protestant denominations from about 1870 until the mid-1960s, when the hemorrhaging membership losses began.  Up until then, there had been a positive social pressure to be seen as a member of a Christian church.  However, there were also rising pressures from modernization and an increasingly secular academy to adopt a secular worldview that denied, among other things, the inerrancy of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, the Miracles performed by the Lord Jesus, the Substitutionary Atonement, and the Bodily Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  And so, through the appointment of professors in their seminaries, the Mainline Protestant denominations succumbed one-by-one to the allure of worldly accommodation, contrary to Scripture’s repeated warnings not to do that (Rom. 12.1-2, I Cor. 1.18-25, Jas. 4.4, I Jn. 2.15-17).  And as long as the United States was becoming increasingly detached from its Biblical moorings, and as long as there was cultural pressure to be thought of as Christian, Theologically Liberal churches continued to grow.
          And then came the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960s, and the transition (at least in American public life) from Modernism to Postmodernism, and the steady influx of tithing but unbelieving pew-sitters ceased flowing into Mainline churches.  Ever since, Mainline bureaucrats have been behaving the same way, doing the same things over and over again, refusing to admit that maybe, just maybe, the Mainline denominations had made a mistake in committing themselves to Theological Liberalism/Progressivism.  Long wearied by a century of internecine conflicts, Bible-believing Christians in Mainline churches began disaffiliating themselves, either in groups, to form Traditional / Orthodox / Evangelical versions of the Mainline Protestant denominations they were leaving, or individually, to fuel the rapid growth of non-denominational churches.  The Mainline Protestant denominations married the spirit of the Modern Age, but now they find themselves widowed in the Postmodern Era.
          Within the past decade, growth in Evangelical denominations has dropped considerably, while in some, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, it has been replaced by membership loss (although the loss of 150,000 members from the SBC constitutes only a 1% loss, whereas a 60,000 member loss from the PC(USA) constitutes a 5% loss).  This is because evangelism among Evangelical Christianity is at an all-time low.  A quarter century ago, a number of Evangelical scholars, such as David F. Wells (No Place for Truth: Or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology) and Mark A. Noll (The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) noted a systemic failure among American Evangelicalism to teach lay Evangelicals to seriously study Biblical doctrine and engage the culture, warning of consequences to the American Church unless this trend were reversed.  In the interim, American culture has become increasingly hostile to Evangelical involvement in the culture, and as Tim Keller said a several months ago (https://byfaithonline.com/four-questions-worth-exploring/, time frame 6:40), “Most Christians today do not open their mouths and identify as Christians and get involved in sharing their faith because … they’re desperately afraid of being asked two or three questions that they know that they don’t have a good answer for.  And if you have two or three questions that you know that you don’t have a good answer for, you are not going to open your mouth, unless forced.”  Helping the laity answer these objections well is a major challenge facing the Evangelical Church in America today, but it is absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of the Church.

  6. the gentle truth says:

    Let the dead bury the dead.

  7. Rev. Dr. Lee D Cary (ret. UM clergy) says:

    Meanwhile during all this assorted nonsense:

    The fastest growing denomination in the US today isn’t a denomination. It’s the independent non-denominational churches popping up like weeds in an untilled field. Except they aren’t weeds. They’re congregations of faithful Christians coagulating on their own initiative. Escaping from the legacy alternatives.

    They don’t need bishops, denominational branding on their signage, hierarchies of bureaucrats, or denominational taxations. They do need scripture taken seriously, freedom of action and missional involvement, and independence from the cultural entanglements and debates eroding the “mainline” protestant denominations – well, and irrevocably, on their way to being off-line.

    It’s a cold truth, hard for the denominational devotees to handle. Particularly among the clergy dependent on a once-guaranteed appointment.

    • Mark Wesley says:

      “It’s a cold truth, hard for the denominational devotees to handle. Particularly among the clergy dependent on a once-guaranteed appointment.”


    • Joan Sibbald says:

      Dear Rev. Dr. Lee Cary. I enjoyed your post. Six or seven years ago, my husband and I joined a Bible study that attracts approx. 60-70 people from three counties on Monday’s 7 – 8:30 P.M. Our moderator is a retired surgeon and attorney. We all gather at a PCUSA church that allows us to use their building. My husband and I are members of this church (he sings in the choir). I find it sad that the lovely woman member of the church faithfully and graciously plays two hymns at 7PM but does not stay for Bible study; neither does the pastor attend. However, four or five members do join us. The lessons are provided by Disciplers Bible Studies, Inc. based in CA. Each week we take home a print-out to read and answer questions on a six day basis that directs us to verses in the Book we are studying (currently Acts). We daily read 2 – 3 verses then answer the 4 – 5 questions. On Mon. following the hymns we retire to classrooms based on “single,” “married couple,” “men only” “women only” for 30 minutes. The group leader in each class asks the questions, people answer or not. At the end of the 30 min. we return to the sanctuary and our moderator sums up the lesson.
      We’ve been studying Acts for the past 10 weeks and we’re only on Chapter 13 (there are 28)! That’s how focused these lessons are on studying verses and discussing what we’ve read. The classes are not boring (no offense to typical Bible classes). They’re enlightening! We are a family who care about each other and pray for each other during the week.
      In closing, I have a psalm I carry in my heart I’d like to share with you. I honed in on this Psalm: 16 vs 8: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He’s right beside me.” God bless you, Reverend.

  8. Tom says:

    If he obtains those consents, Johnson will be consecrated by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at a service scheduled to take place at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church of St. Louis, Missouri.

    So why is he not being ordained in the Episcopal Cathedral in St. Louis? I haven’t lived there for some time; but there used to be quite a grand Episcopal cathedral in downtown St. Louis. Why not there? Or at least at one of the tonier Episcopal churches in Missouri (St. Michael and St. George in Clayton, for instance)?

    Also, am I reading this right that there were only 33 Episcopal marriages in the entire state of Missouri last year??????

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Hi Tom, I am unsure why St. Stanislaus was selected. Possibly for size reasons: Episcopal consecrations usually draw a significant number of participants, and the cathedral may simply not be large enough for all of the expected guests. It is common to see these consecrations take place in other, larger church buildings or in rented secular spaces.

      There were 33 marriages solemnized in 2018 in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, which is the St. Louis-based diocese. The Kansas City-based Diocese of West Missouri solemnized another 61 that same year, so the total would be 94 Episcopal marriages in the entire state.

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