Anglican Diocese of Niagara elects first woman bishop

On Saturday the Anglican Diocese of Niagara announced that Reverend Canon Susan Bell from Hamilton will become the fist woman to serve as diocesan bishop of the church since the diocese was founded in 1875.

The Reverend Canon Susan Bell was elected Saturday out of 7 candidates and will assume the role in June

A service to declare Susan Bell as bishop is tentatively planned for May 5, at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton. According to the diocese, after a brief transition period, Bell is expected to assume responsibilities as the diocesan bishop June 1. (YouTube)

On Saturday, the Anglican Diocese of Niagara chose a new leader — the Reverend Canon Susan Bell, who is from Hamilton, will become the first woman to serve as a diocesan bishop since its founding in 1875. 

Bell, a priest and former school chaplain will serve as the 12th bishop of Niagara.

The vote took place Saturday. It took five ballots to determine the new bishop out of seven candidates. To be elected, a candidate needed a majority of votes from both clergy and lay delegates.  

I think it's exciting that we've elected our first woman bishop in the diocese.-  Ann Turner

Ann Turner, a priest at St. James Anglican Church in Fergus, Ont. was an organizer of the election, in which 269 people voted.

She told CBC News that the diocese is excited about about the historical election. 

"I think it's exciting that we've elected our first woman bishop in the diocese. She's among the first also that's been elected from outside of the diocese," said Turner. 

"I think she brings some fresh skills and insight to our community. She will be a breath of fresh air for our diocese as we move forward."



Turner says a lot of people are sharing in the excitement of the nomination — Bell got a standing ovation when she was announced winner. 

"We've elected our first woman bishop and we've elected this really awesomely-skilled and talented woman bishop, so there seems to be a lot of excitement about it," said Tuner. 

Bell, 51, grew up in Stoney Creek. She and her husband have four children. She was was ordained in 1997 by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto. 

Bell is currently the canon missioner for the Diocese of Toronto, an honorary assistant at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, and an associate priest at the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Toronto. 

Bell is also a PhD candidate in church history at St. Michael's College, within the Toronto School of Theology.

'Respect, dignity, persistence and patience'

In a video promoting her nomination, Bell said, "I think I combine a love of Niagara, where all of my family and many of my friends still are, with some important experience I've had in the diocese of Toronto."

"We need relationships of respect, dignity, persistence and patience," said Bell in her election profile. 

The diocese says Bell's core leadership principle is "to listen and watch for where God is at work in the church and the world and to join in."

The newly-elected bishop will build on the "prayerful, prophetic and progressive ministry of outgoing Bishop Michael Bird, who served as Bishop of Niagara for the past decade," the diocese said in a news release. 

A service to declare Bell as bishop is tentatively planned for May 5, at Christ's Church Cathedral in Hamilton.

According to the diocese, after a brief transition period, the bishop-elect is expected to assume responsibilities as the diocesan bishop June 1. 

The election remains subject to confirmation by the provincial House of Bishops.