Late last week, Bishop Don Johnson sent a message to the Diocese of West Tennessee calling for the election of his successor, which signals his plan to retire. Out of love for the Diocese, and in keeping with tradition, he has agreed to remain in office until his successor is elected and consecrated, a process that usually takes about eighteen months. Bishop Johnson remains in charge until that time.
Since 2001, Bishop Johnson has shepherded the Diocese of West Tennessee through a time of great transformation in the Church generally, and in the Episcopal Church specifically. His signature blend of steadiness, vision, and dry wit has everything to do with where we are today.
One of the unique elements of Bishop Johnson’s legacy will be his ability to identify talented young clergy, his willingness to give them challenging opportunities, and his gracious care as they grew into their new roles. I will always be grateful to have been one of the young priests in whom Bishop Johnson saw potential, and in whom he was willing to place his trust.
The Bishop has been accompanied on this journey by his wife, Jeannie Johnson, who has had an active ministry in her own right. An Education for Ministry mentor at Church of the Holy Communion for many years, and a leader in the Diocese’s recent efforts to partner with the Kaleidoscope Institute, Jeannie also leaves behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
Times of transition bring with them feelings of uncertainty, but the Bible reminds us that it is in the midst of uncertainty that God’s presence to his people becomes most evident. I have absolute confidence that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the months ahead as we – the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement between the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers – discern what God is calling us to become.
We will have many opportunities to honor Bishop and Mrs. Johnson for their ministries among us, and for their support of Church of the Holy Communion, their geographical home parish. We will also have many opportunities to talk about the future of our Diocese. But, for now, please join me in praying for the Johnsons as they enter this time of transition, and in giving thanks for their many years of faithful service among us.
Yours in faith,
The Reverend Sandy Webb, Rector
PS: Messages of thanks and encouragement can be sent to the Bishop in care of the diocesan office: 692 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.