A longtime local clergyman who has a passion for "social justice and inclusion" has been appointed to lead an out-of-state diocese.

The Rev. Deon Johnson, rector at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brighton, was elected recently to become the new leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. It has more than 11,000 parishioners and covers the eastern half of that state. Johnson is a native of Barbados who immigrated to the United States at age 14. He will be the first openly gay leader of the diocese and says that he, his husband and their two children plan to be in Missouri by March 1st. Johnson told WHMI he will miss the people of Brighton and their St. Paul’s family. He says his successor will inherit a parish that he has become very fond of since he first came to Brighton in 2006.

Johnson was elected the new leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on the first ballot during an election at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis that involved 164 voting delegates. He received 71 votes from lay delegates and 42 votes from clergy and will replace Bishop George Wayne Smith as the 11th leader of the diocese in its 180-year history. (JM)