VIDEO From June 2020 Pride Month Zoom Forum
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Meet Bishop-Elect Deon Kevin Johnson
One of the questions I often ask when I meet someone for the first time is, “Where is home-home?” For me, that is an invitation for the person to share the story of where they are from but also to name where they find belonging.
For me, home-home is a kitchen table in a little village on the Caribbean island of Barbados where I was born and raised. My faith was formed at that table under the watchful eye of my maternal grandmother, Constance. She taught me how to pray, how to listen with my heart and introduced me to the beauty of worship in the hymns and spirituals she sang throughout my childhood. Her presence and prayers continued to influence me as I immigrated from Barbados to New York at the age of fourteen. Leaving my mother and grandmother behind was perhaps one of the most difficult journeys my older brother and I could ever undertake. Because of their unconditional love, and the faithful witness of many others, I have been shaped into the person and priest I am today.
I wish every young person could be given the opportunity to be loved and nurtured by the church as I was. Being embraced and welcomed by the members of the Church of the Ascension in Mt. Vernon, NY, they became surrogate parents and grandparents throughout my high school and college experience.
It was the faithful witness of a small parish close to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, that first recognized and nurtured my call to ordained ministry. During my formation at the General Theological Seminary, my love of worship and prayer, instilled by my grandmother, found a home in the sacristy, the liturgy and the busy streets of the city. Liturgy, for me, is about gathering together to be energized, equipped and engaged to seek and serve Jesus present in our communities, neighborhoods, and cities.
I began my ordained life serving as the Associate Rector of Christ Church, Shaker Heights, OH. This vibrant, multicultural and multiethnic community ignited my passion for social justice and inclusion for those on the margins of the church and society. Their steadfast reaching out to the community, giving voice to community needs and incorporating different cultures into worship, was an important part of my formation for the priest that I am today.
Currently I serve as Rector of St. Paul’s in Brighton, MI where we have been engaged in transformational ministry for the last thirteen years. St. Paul’s is located in the heart of downtown, and has a long history of social activism particularly around the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons, tackling food insecurity, and youth and young adult engagement. The Holy Spirit has continued to bless our willingness to try new things, to let go of those things that hold us back and to embrace a common vision in following Jesus. We successfully raised over $2 million to renovate and expand our 135-year-old building to better suit our growing needs. They have taught me how to be a better person, a better priest and a better parent.
My husband Jhovanny Osorio is originally from Mexico and we are proud parents of Lilohalani (10) and Ja’Lon (8) along with our two dogs Bleu and Jules. Jhovanny loves to cook, a passion that I share, and we often experiment with blending our cultural foods while trying new recipes from around the world. We simply love to eat and we love to feed others. Our house is often filled with the joyful sounds of our dogs, kids, godchildren, cousins, and neighbors; together we continue the tradition of inviting everyone to the table. As a family, we love to spend time swimming and relaxing at the lake in the summer; or gathered around the table or a bonfire for a hearty meal and conversation.
Leadership opportunities in the parish, the community, the diocese as well as the wider church, allow me to feed and serve others in Christ’s name. I currently serve in the Diocese of Michigan on the Standing Committee, Liturgy and Music Commission and as a Deputy to General Convention. I also get to serve as a member of the Task Force for Prayer Book and Liturgical Revision.
My training and work as a Liturgical Consultant allows me to connect with people from congregations of all sizes across the Episcopal Church. From large urban program churches, to small rural parishes, I have the honor of inviting God’s people into a place of Christ-centered hospitality, particularly around liturgy and worship spaces.
When I am not cooking or spending time with my family, I enjoy photography, hiking, and being an armchair movie critic.
PHOTO OF BISHOP JOHNSON FROM THE DIOCESE OF MISSOURI