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Virginia elects Shannon Sherwood Johnston as its 13th bishop

The Very Rev. Shannon Sherwood
[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston was elected January 26 as the 13th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Johnston, 48, rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church, Tupelo, in the Diocese of Mississippi, was elected out of a field of five nominees on the third ballot. Johnston was elected with 210 lay votes and 159 clergy votes. An election on that ballot required 135 votes of 269 cast in the lay order and 128 of 255 votes cast in the clergy order. The election took place in Richmond during the diocese's 212th Annual Council meeting.

Johnston will succeed Bishop Peter J. Lee, 68, who has told the diocese he plans to retired by 2010.
Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to Johnston's election and ordination as bishop.

Johnston is scheduled to be consecrated on May 26 at Washington National Cathedral.

The complete ballot results are available here.

Johnston has been the rector in Tupelo since 1994. Then-Alabama Bishop Robert Oran Miller ordained him to the diaconate and the priesthood in 1988 after he graduated first in his class at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

He served first as curate of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Selma, Alabama, from 1988 until 1990 when he was called to be rector of Church of the Advent in Sumner, Mississippi. He has been involved in a number of diocesan leadership positions during his time in Mississippi.

More information about Johnston, including his answers to questions put to each candidate by the search committee, is available here.

The other nominees were:

  • the Rev. Dr. Robert S. Dannals, 51, rector, Christ Church, Greenville, South Carolina, Diocese of Upper South Carolina;
  • the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, 55, associate director, CREDO Institute Inc., Memphis, Tennessee;
  • the Rev. Canon Irwin Morgan Lewis, Jr., 54, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Southern Virginia;
  • the Very Rev. Caroline Smith Parkinson, 63, rector, Grace Church, The Plains, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia.

Dannals had been on the slate of nominees to succeed Southwest Florida Bishop John Lipscomb but withdrew a week before the election, saying in a letter to the Standing Committee that said he and his wife, Valerie, decided not to continue the process in Southwest Florida after a December 1 meeting of the candidates with the diocese.

Lewis, who withdrew after the second ballot, was a nominee earlier this year to succeed Northern California bishop Jerry Lamb. He withdrew from the race about two months before the election. He wrote to the Standing Committee explaining that he could not uproot his 15-year-old daughter.

-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.


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