Barbados’ Deon Johnson ordained first openly gay, black bishop in Missouri

Creating history as a black Barbadian-American, Deon Johnson is (also) officially Missouri’s first openly gay bishop in 179 years! (Photo: Episcopal News Service)

Reverend Deon Kevin Johnson has been ordained and consecrated as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Missouri at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis last Saturday, June 13.

In doing so, the Barbados national, who has called the United States his home for more than 17 years, becomes the first black, openly gay bishop in the 179-year history of the diocese.

“To find ourselves in this moment, the [descendant] of a slave, to be called to be the bishop of Missouri – God is good!” Johnson said during his ordination 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,” he added.

To enforce social distancing protocols, only those with participating roles in the service and the bishop’s immediate family were allowed to attend in person.

Proud mama: Verna Johnson stands alongside newly consecrated Bishop of Missouri Deon Johnson at the Christ Church Cathedral in St Louis last Saturday. (Photo: Facebook @Deon.K.Johnson)

The service was, however, live streamed through the diocesan Facebook page and website. The live stream itself was a combination of pre-recorded videos and a live feed of the service.

“Words cannot fully express the feelings and emotions of this day. So my prayer tonight is simply…‘Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia,” Johnson recalled of the consecration service Saturday on his Facebook page.

Johnson, an immigrant from Barbados, has served as a priest in the Episcopal Church since 2003, most recently as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, Michigan.

The ordination is extra special for Johnson, who celebrated his anniversary with husband Jhovanny Osorio-Vázquez on Tuesday (June 16).

“Happy Anniversary to my talented, amazing and funny husband! To quote Dr. Seuss, ‘O the places you’ll go…’ and I’m blessed you’re on this journey with me!” he said.

Happy Anniversary to my talented, amazing and funny husband! To quote Dr. Seuss, “O the places you’ll go…” and I’m blessed you’re on this journey with me!

Posted by Deon K. Johnson on Tuesday, June 16, 2020