John Harmon ordained and consecrated 14th bishop of Arkansas

Posted Jan 8, 2024

[Diocese of Arkansas] The Rt. Rev. John Toga Wea Harmon was ordained and consecrated as the 14th bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas on Jan. 6 at a service held at the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock. Harmon is the first Episcopal bishop of Liberian descent in the United States. (The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of Liberia have a long history.)

The Rt. Rev. John Toga Wea Harmon was ordained and consecrated as the 14th bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas on Jan. 6 at a service held at the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock. Harmon is the first Episcopal bishop of Liberian descent in the United States. Photo:  Diocese of Arkansas

“I want to give thanks to God for this moment, for the people of Arkansas, for the parishes that have nourished me,” Harmon told the congregation. “And for my parents, who are no longer here. They were my first teachers.”

More than 1,000 people attended the service in person. Texas Bishop Suffragan Jeff Fisher was the chief consecrator. Joining Fisher as co-consecrators were Virginia Assistant Bishop Gayle Harris; Missouri Bishop Deon Johnson; outgoing Arkansas Bishop Larry Benfield; Washington Bishop Mariann Budde; West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf; and the Rev. Becca Middeke-Conlin, bishop of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Retired Central Pennsylvania Bishop Nathan Baxter preached. More than 15 other bishops and 120 priests and deacons also attended.

Harmon was elected bishop of Arkansas during an electing convention on Aug. 19, 2023, at Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock. He most recently was the rector of Trinity Church in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Keeva, have been married for 30 years. They are the parents of Joshua, Jarena and Justin. Harmon was born in Liberia.

When he was ordained as bishop, Harmon was wearing a special cross. “The cross is a replica of my great-grandmother’s cross,” Harmon said, with some extra symbolism added – a star for Epiphany, a seashell, a traditional head ring used for carrying heavy burdens. “My mother gave it to me, and I wear it under my vestments.”

The service was livestreamed via the Episcopal Collegiate School’s YouTube channel.

Harmon was seated as bishop on Jan. 7 at Little Rock’s Trinity Cathedral, where he also preached.

“All that we are called to be and do in this world is about Jesus Christ,” Harmon said during his sermon. “We’ve got real work to do. It is the work of compassion; it is the work of love. Showing the face of Christ to everyone we meet.”

Harmon is also the principal visionary and co-founder of the Episcopal Service Corps, a network of young adult service programs nationwide. He also founded the Trinity Development Corporation to help empower underserved people to achieve self-sufficiency through counseling, education and better access to adequate health care.

“My commitment to justice, transformation and walking with those who feel and have been oppressed has taught me that people want to be heard and listened to,” Harmon said. “By encouraging collaboration with those who differ from us and by creating sacred spaces for difficult and life-giving conversations, we encourage and help people engage in the critical and necessary work of respecting the dignity of all people.”


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