Bishop of Ottawa to retire April 30

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“For the past 13 years I have had the honour of serving as the Diocesan Bishop of Ottawa,” Chapman said. “Now is time for me to step down from ‘titled’ responsibilities or appointments and make myself available to the Church in a less formal manner.” Photo: Art Babych

John Chapman, who has served as bishop of the diocese of Ottawa since 2007, will retire April 30, 2020.

“In April of next year I will have reached the age of 66 years, recovered successfully from some health challenges, and I will have completed 42 years of ordained ministry,” Chapman said in a statement published on the diocese’s website Sept. 10. “For the past 13 years I have had the honour of serving as the Diocesan Bishop of Ottawa…. Now is time for me to step down from ‘titled’ responsibilities or appointments and make myself available to the Church in a less formal manner.”

Chapman said he wanted to “allow the Diocese to move forward with the energy and vision a new Bishop and leader will provide as he or she begins work.”

The bishop also said much of the work outlined by previous diocesan synods as well as Embracing God’s Future, the diocese’s current strategic plan, was now either accomplished or well underway. “It is the right time,” he said. “We as a diocese are moving into a time of readiness for yet another full and comprehensive analysis of the mission God is calling our beloved diocese to embrace over the next 10 years. New and fresh episcopal eyes will be essential.”

His retirement would also, Chapman noted, allow his successor to attend the Lambeth Conference, the international gathering of Anglican bishops normally held once every decade in England.

“This is a critical experience for a new Bishop,” he said. “I had the pleasure shortly after my election to attend Lambeth 2008. I had the valuable opportunity to ‘feel’ and understand the fullness of our Communion and to meet global colleagues. Its impact upon my episcopacy was profound.”

The next Lambeth Conference will be next summer—12 years after the last one. In 2014, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, in response to some media reports that the event had been cancelled, that he wanted to meet all the primates and carefully consult with them before setting a date for the event.

Chapman said he was announcing his retirement with mixed emotions.

“While I have served in many positions in our Church, holding a variety of responsibilities, I will say to you with a confident voice, there has been no position, no call from God that I have enjoyed more than serving the Diocese of Ottawa as its Bishop,” he added. “These 13 years have been a time of joy, satisfaction, pleasure, agonizing at times, and deeply challenging, yet always a time that brought me closer to God and closer to God’s people.”

Chapman grew up in the diocese of Ottawa, according to a biography on the diocese’s website, and was priested in 1978. He briefly served as assistant curate at St. Matthias’ Church in Ottawa before accepting chaplaincies at Huron University College and the University of Western Ontario in 1979. He began lecturing at Huron in 1983 and completed a doctor of ministry degree at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, the following year.

In 1987, Chapman began what would end up being 13 years of service as rector of St. Jude’s Church in London, Ont. He returned to teaching at Huron in 1999 and was appointed dean of its faculty of theology the following year. Chapman was serving as dean when he was elected bishop of Ottawa in 2007.

Chapman served on diocesan, provincial and national committees and synods, including the Council of General Synod. He also sat on General Synod’s Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee and led a task force looking at theological education in Canada, which reported to General Synod in 2010.

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Tali Folkins
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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