Last week, delegates who convened at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis elected the Rev. Deon K. Johnson to be the next leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
Johnson won 113 out of a total of 164 votes cast by clergy and lay delegates.
"Thank you so very much for this awesome responsibility," said Johnson to the group via video call after the results were announced. "We are so looking forward to continuing this adventure that God has called us to with you and the amazing people that make up the diocese."
The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri comprises roughly 11,500 members, most of whom live in the eastern half of the state.
Johnson, who currently lives near Detroit in Brighton, immigrated to New York from Barbados when he was 14. Now the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, he first acted as associate rector of Christ Church in Shaker Heights, Ohio, theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
"This vibrant, multicultural and multiethnic community ignited my passion for social justice and inclusion for those on the margins of the church and society," Johnson said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Their steadfast reaching out to the community, giving voice to community needs and incorporating different cultures into worship, was an important part of my formation for the priest that I am today."
Johnson and his husband, Jhovanny Osorio-Vasquez Johnson, have two children.
The majority of bishops and standing committees of the church must now consent to his election before he's consecrated.
Episcopalian churches have been divided over LGBTQ rights in recent years, according to the blog Juicy Ecumenism. Conservative Episcopalian churches have boycotted the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Communion -- which takes place every 10 years -- over the inclusion of gay bishops like Johnson. Dioceses in Maine and Michigan have also elected partnered gay bishops, as has the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. Assisting Bishop Mary Glasspool of New York is also a member of the LGBTQ community, Juicy Ecumenism reports.
The Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd said in her sermon last weekend that the Episcopal Church "has not always been a safe space" for all, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"A new season is ahead," said Adams-Shepherd, dean of the cathedral where delegates had gathered. "It won't be easy, nor will it be without its pains and its heartaches and its challenges. However, we will set out together with a young, energetic, wise and faithful shepherd."
"It is full of hope for all of God's people."