December 13, 2008

Robert H. Johnson New Assisting Bishop as Diocese Rebuilds

Pittsburgh – The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has asked a respected senior bishop in The Episcopal Church to be its spiritual leader for the near future.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Hodges Johnson, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, has accepted a call to serve as Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Johnson’s appointment was made public today at the Special Convention of the Pittsburgh Diocese, which was called to reorganize the Diocese following the decision in October by many diocesan leaders and clergy to leave The Episcopal Church.

“Bishop Johnson will help us begin the healing we so badly need. He is, we believe, the right person at the right time,” the Rev. Dr. James Simons told the convention. Simons is President of the Standing Committee which has led the Diocese since October and chose Johnson.

The text of Simons’s convention address is available at

As Assisting Bishop, Johnson will be spiritual pastor and perform sacramental ministries reserved for bishops. He will also play a part in rebuilding the infrastructure of the Diocese and be responsible for day-to-day administration. It is a part-time position; Johnson will reside in Pittsburgh for two weeks each month through July 2009. The Standing Committee will continue as the final, ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese. It will delegate other authority to Bishop Johnson as warranted.

This is the second time since his retirement in 2004 that Bishop Johnson has stepped in to lead another diocese. In early 2006, Johnson served as Interim Bishop to help settle a period of upheaval in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. He won praise during that time for his experienced leadership and “non-anxious” presence.

Bishop Johnson was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina in 1988 and became the Diocese Bishop at the start of 1990. He began his priestly ministry in 1963, serving in his native Jacksonville, Florida, and in Atlanta.

In the House of Bishops, Johnson took leadership roles in programs that supported both the spiritual and temporal well-being of fellow bishops, clergy, and those in lay ministries. He holds a degree in Business Administration and continues to serve on the boards of the Church Pension Fund and the CREDO Institute in Memphis, a renewal center for Episcopal clergy.

Bishop Johnson and his wife, Julie, have been married for 46 years. Aside from his planned time in Pittsburgh, the Johnsons continue to reside in Ashville, North Carolina. They have two children and four grandchildren.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of The Episcopal Church in the United States currently counts 27 congregations as actively participating in the life of the church. These congregations, along with their membership, each represent about 40% of Diocese prior to the October 2008 departures.


For more information, visit

For a high-resolution photograph of Bishop Robert H. Johnson, send request to

For additional information contact:

Rich Creehan
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh


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