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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends in Christ,

In June 2018, only four years ago, I was elected co-adjutor bishop of this diocese. When I consider the amount of change and adaptation that has occurred over the past four years, it’s a bit dizzying. I was welcomed into a College of Bishops that was an existing party of five: Archbishop Colin Johnson as diocesan and four area bishops. Today, there are just three of us left – Bishop Riscylla Shaw, Bishop Kevin Robertson and me.

The report of the Episcopal Leadership Working Group (Ash Wednesday 2021) was clear, however: the Diocese of Toronto did not need as many bishops as we had become used to. Rather, the ELWG recommended that the work of episcopal ministry in our Diocese could be better shared by extending “episcope” – bishops’ leadership and oversight – to others with a particular charism for the administrative functions of the bishops’ office.

At Synod in 2021, I announced in a video that I intended to appoint “a number of territorial archdeacons, perhaps as many as six or eight.” Thanks to the dedicated work of the Episcopal Leadership Implementation Team in the first half of this year, I am pleased to share that the posting for those archdeacons’ positions is now online, and I invite you to look at it.

You’ll see that we’re looking for candidates who have a deep knowledge of, and concern for, this Diocese, a familiarity with the canons and customs of the Church, and strong skills for administration, organization and relationship-building with the bishops and clergy. We will need candidates from across the whole Diocese, from west to east and northwards. We want the archdeacons to represent the glorious breadth of our Church, in every respect, and to bring those diverse voices to our deliberations at the College table.

The job description has been carefully worked on for many months. We believe that the tasks we want these archdeacons to take on will require about 20% time, or the equivalent of one full day a week. We encourage applications of interest from those who feel they have that amount of time to devote to this work: perhaps a recently retired cleric, or a member of a robust team ministry that can spare them, or perhaps someone whose parish doesn’t require full-time attention. And although for the sake of clarity and tradition we use the term archdeacon throughout the posting, we do encourage qualified laypersons with the necessary requirements for the job to apply as well. (We’ll find an appropriate title for any who might be chosen!)

The job description can look overwhelming, but we hope this shared ministry between the bishops, staff, regional deans and now new archdeacons will become a well-functioning team endeavour in very short order. And we will learn a lot along the way! Please pray about whether God is calling you to join this new initiative, to exercise your gifts for ministry in this new way and to offer your years of experience as a gift to the Diocese of Toronto.

Come join us at our table!

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto


P.S. This will be my last “Friday Letter” for a couple of months. I ask your prayers for me, Bishop Riscylla and Bishop Kevin as we head to England for the Lambeth Conference July 26 – Aug. 8. May you all enjoy a blessed summer, with time to rest and reconnect with family and friends, and I look forward to communicating again with you in September. God’s Peace!