Bishop James Cowan announces his retirement
At the meeting of the Diocesan Council this afternoon, Bishop James Cowan announced that he has presented his resignation from the office of Bishop of British Columbia to the Metropolitan and House of Bishops of the Province of British Columbia and Yukon, effective August 31, 2013.
In his letter to the members of the Diocese, Bishop Cowan says that it is his intention to retire after having the privilege to be the Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia for the past nine years. He went on to say, “Together we have looked at the realities of 21st Century culture and life as these have impact on the Anglican Church on these islands and we have made some difficult decisions concerning our common life. There is much to be proud of, as we have moved forward. I am thankful to have been among you during this time, and I pray that you will continue to advance in the seeking of God’s mission in this world and entering into it in creative ways.”
Bishop Cowan grew up in Saskatchewan and began his ordained ministry in the Diocese of Qu’Appelle. He attended the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad in Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan where he obtained a B.A., followed by an M.Div. from Nashotah House, Wisconsin in 1977. He was made a Deacon in 1976 and was ordained a Priest in 1977 in the Diocese of Qu’Appelle. Over a period of 20 years he served three parishes in that Diocese and was an active member of various diocesan and national committees.
In 1997, Bishop Cowan came to the Diocese of British Columbia to take up the position of Diocesan Executive Officer which office he held until he was elected Bishop of the Diocese in 2003. He was consecrated and then installed as the 12th Bishop of British Columbia on 25 January 2004.
Throughout his ministry, Bishop Cowan has been involved with various committees both on the diocesan and national levels. His past National Church work has included being a member of General Synod; member of the Provincial and National houses of Bishops since 2004; Anglican Co-chair of the Anglican/Lutheran Joint Working Group Toward Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; both member and chair of the Inter-Church Inter-Faith Relations Committee. He was elected Deputy Prolocutor of General Synod in 2001, a position he relinquished when elected Bishop in 2003. At present he is Chair of the Planning and Agenda Team for the Committee of General Synod. (COGS is the executive committee of General Synod.) He is also the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative at the executive meetings of the Episcopal Church in the United States. A recent highlight in his episcopacy has been the setting up of an on-line ministry through the diocesan website and the appointment of the Rev. Scott McLeod as its co-ordinator.
Early in his episcopacy, Bishop Cowan told the diocese that, “As a Church we can not work as we have in the past. We need to change – to provide leadership and create different long-range processes for the church to be meaningful in this present day. The bishop oversaw major restructuring in the diocese. A number of parishes were closed, others amalgamated, and new hub parishes established. Work on reorganizing the finances of the parishes and diocese continues as new initiatives are set up.
Bishop Cowan is married to Annette Hubbard and they have two adult sons, Sean and Brent.
Bishop Cowan has appointed the Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison (retired Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada) as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese. Following Bishop Cowan’s retirement, Archbishop Hutchison will continue to be Administrator of the Diocese until another person is installed as the 13th Bishop of Columbia.
Details concerning the election of Bishop Cowan’s successor will be announced at a later date.