The Rt. Rev. Deon Kevin Johnson has become the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, making him the first openly gay Black man to hold the post in the diocese’s 179-year history.
Johnson was ordained and consecrated Saturday in a ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. “To find ourselves in this moment, the [descendant] of a slave, to be called to be the bishop of Missouri — God is good!” he said during his ordination service, according to the Episcopal News 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.”
An immigrant from Barbados, Johnson has been an Episcopal priest since 2003. He was most recently rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, Mich.
In the week following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Johnson joined in peaceful protests in the St. Louis region. Days after the clearing of nonviolent protesters at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., so Donald Trump could have a photo op, Johnson spoke at a solidarity rally at St. John’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis.
“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.’”
He also called on the faithful to defend the rights and dignity of all, even those with whom they disagree, and said racial justice will be an emphasis of his ministry. “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.”