[Diocese of Missouri] The Rt. Rev. Deon Kevin Johnson was ordained and consecrated as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Missouri on June 13 at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. He becomes the first black, openly gay bishop in the 179-year history of the diocese.
“To find ourselves in this moment, the [descendant] of a slave, to be called to be the bishop of Missouri – God is good!” Johnson said during his ordination service. “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 Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, the 10th bishop of Missouri, served as the chief consecrator. He was joined by the Rt. Rev. Jennifer L. Baskerville-Burrows, bishop of Indianapolis; the Rt. Rev. Bonnie A. Perry, bishop of Michigan, and the Rt. Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf, bishop of West Tennessee.
For health concerns, only those with participating roles in the service and the bishop’s immediate family attended in person. The service was livestreamed through the diocesan Facebook page and website. The livestream itself was a combination of pre-recorded videos and a live feed of the service.
Johnson, an immigrant from Barbados, has served as a priest in The Episcopal Church since 2003, most recently as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, Michigan.
In the week following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Johnson participated in nonviolent protests in the St. Louis region. Days after the clearing of nonviolent protesters at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., Johnson spoke at a solidarity rally at St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis’ Tower Grove neighborhood.
“Fear would tell us that dignity belongs to some and not to others. As followers of Jesus, we must live and know that perfect love casts out fear,” he wrote in a statement following the rally. “We must, in the words of the Prophet Micah, ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’”
Johnson spoke to the parishioners and ministers of Christ’s word in the Diocese of Missouri, calling on the community to defend the rights and the dignity of all God’s children, and seeking and serving Christ in all people—even those with whom we disagree.
“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.”