Anglican Church of Canada Primate Linda Nicholls will retire in September

Posted Apr 10, 2024

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will retire in September 2024.

[Anglican Church of Canada] The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, announced April 9 that she will step down from her role on Sept. 15, 2024.

The canons of the Anglican Church of Canada require primates to retire upon reaching their 70th birthday. Nicholls will reach mandatory retirement age in October.

Nicholls was elected as the 14th primate of the Anglican Church of Canada on July 13, 2019. She was the first woman to hold the office in Canada and only the second in the Anglican Communion, following the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was the primate of The Episcopal Church from 2006-2015.

Prior to her election, she served as bishop of Huron (2016-2019) and area bishop of Trent-Durham in the Diocese of Toronto (2008-2016). She was also Coordinator for Dialogue for Ethics, Interfaith Relations and Congregational Development at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office. She spent almost 20 years as a parish priest in the Diocese of Toronto.

“The greatest joy has been to share in the relationship between God and God’s people through pastoral care, preaching, teaching and sacramental ministries and advocate for justice and compassion for all,” Nicholls wrote in her retirement announcement. “To see God at work bringing healing and hope in the midst of the sorrows, pain and joy of daily life for individuals, families, communities and our wider world is a privilege that cannot be measured.”

During her time as primate, Nicholls guided the church through a number of significant shifts and challenges. When the pandemic brought restrictions on in-person gatherings and travel, she invited Anglicans into her living room through video conferencing and webcasting, to pray, sing and worship.

Once travel opened up, the primate met with Anglicans across the country and around the world. One of her most significant visits was in 2022 with the archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Saskatchewan, the Province of Rupert’s Land and the James Smith Reserve for a time of listening to residential school survivors.

A key part of Nicholls’ mandate was advancing the ongoing work of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans. She also highlighted anti-racism as an important focus for the Council of General Synod, encouraging Anglicans to live into the baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being.

She oversaw the Strategic Planning Working Group, which was responsible for drawing up the Anglican Church of Canada’s new strategic plan. The five transformational commitments that came out of that process already are guiding planning, priority-setting, resource allocation and collaboration with provinces and dioceses in the 2023-25 biennium.

In addition to her work in building pastoral relations with dioceses and parishes, Nicholls represented the Anglican Church of Canada in ecumenical and international work. She has worked closely with Bishop Susan Johnson, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church’s full communion partner, as well as the Churches Beyond Borders, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Her work in the Anglican Communion included serving on the Primates’ Standing Committee and the Anglican Consultative Council, as well as participation in the Lambeth Conference. On the international ecumenical stage, she has been a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission since 2011.

“It has been a privilege to work with the Primate,” says the Ven. Alan Perry, the General Secretary, at the Church’s national office. “In addition to her keen insight and her love for and breadth of knowledge of the church, she has brought care, compassion and joy in the Gospel to her various roles. Staff will miss her singing voice as much as her preaching voice in our regular chapel gatherings. I will miss a friend and mentor who has constantly supported me and encouraged me to grow.”

Until a new primate is elected by General Synod in 2025, the Most Rev. Anne Germond, who is metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario and the senior Provincial Metropolitan by virtue of having the longest current term of office, will serve as acting primate.