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Sunday
Aug282016

Former street kid new bishop

(Photo: Terry J. Saunders)

John Watton started living on the street when he was only 13.

(Staff) Just days after being consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Central Newfoundland, a former street kid went off to attend General Synod.

The Rev. John Watton was elected bishop of the Diocese of Central Newfoundland after seven ballots on April 30th. He was consecrated on June 29th at St. Martin’s Cathedral in Gander, where he had served as rector for the past 11 years. He succeeds Bishop David Torraville, who served for the past decade.

Born in Manitoba, Watton moved to Newfoundland as a child and grew up in a small community not far from Gander. He told the Gander Beacon that he started living on the street when he was only 13. Later he worked as a mechanic, then studied theology at Memorial University and Queen’s College, Newfoundland. Since 1990 he has spent his entire ordained ministry in the diocese.

Asked by the Gander Beacon why he chose the priesthood, Watton said, “Well, I had a rough life. There was a lot of woundedness, a lot of hurt.” He felt much healing occurred when he became a Christian, and sensed a call to share that.

The civil province of Newfoundland and Labrador is divided into three Anglican dioceses, the other two being Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador overseen by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Peddle, and Western Newfoundland overseen by the Most Rev. Percy Coffin. All three bishops voted for changing the Marriage Canon.

In a pastoral letter to his diocese, however, Watton cautioned: “I am deeply disappointed that a number of bishops, in spite of the passing of [only] first reading have declared they will no longer wait, and are authorizing same-sex marriages immediately.” 

Watton said he would not authorize same-sex marriages in the Diocese until the Canon has been formally changed by General Synod in 2019 and the diocesan synod has passed it by a two-thirds majority.

There are approximately 32,000 Anglicans scattered throughout some 32 parishes within the sprawling diocese. During seasonable weather, many diocesan events take place at Mint Brook Camp in Gambo Pond.   TAP

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