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David Elliot Johnson (April 17, 1933 – January 14, 1995) was the 14th Bishop of Massachusetts in The Episcopal Church.[1][2]

The Right Reverend

David Elliot Johnson

Bishop of Massachusetts
David Elliot Johnson.jpg
ChurchEpiscopal Church
In office1986-1995
PredecessorJohn Bowen Coburn
SuccessorTom Shaw
OrdinationJanuary 8, 1962
ConsecrationOctober 5, 1985
by John Allin
Personal details
Born(1933-04-17)April 17, 1933
Newark, New Jersey, United States
DiedJanuary 14, 1995(1995-01-14) (aged 61)
SpouseJodie Evans
Previous postCoadjutor Bishop of Massachusetts (1985-1986)
Alma materTrinity College



David Elliot Johnson was born in Newark, New Jersey on April 17, 1933. He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford. He went to Virginia Theological Seminary, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. Prior to his consecration as bishop on October 5, 1985, he served as priest at parishes in Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida.[3][4][5]


Johnson was elected Coadjutor Bishop of Massachusetts in 1985 and was consecrated on October 5, 1985 by Presiding Bishop John Allin. He regularly preached about world peace and AIDS and was traditionally known to visit two parishes on Sundays. He was alsoa supporter of the ordination of women as priests and bishops but was not in favor of ordaining gay and lesbian persons.

His episcopacy was characterized with a number of clashes with some congregations, notably in 1993 when he was involved in a public dispute with Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Boston over their music program. He was also in conflict with the Church of the Advent after criticizing the means how the church was governed. In return the church filed suit asking for a court injunction to keep him from interfering. In November 1994 Bishop Johnson announced that he intended to retire in June 1995.


On January 15, 1995 Bishop Johnson was found dead in his home. It was revealed that he died from a single gunshot to the chest. It was concluded that Johnson committed suicide using a .22-caliber rifle . His funeral took place in Trinity Church in Boston and was presided over by Presiding Bishop Edmond L. Browning on January 19, 1995. A few weeks after his death the Episcopal church revealed that Johnson had been involved in several extramarital affairs throughout his ministry.


  1. ^ Cormier, Jay (February 5, 1995). "Church Bids Peace to Bishop Johnson". The Living Church. Fifteen hundred people packed the Copley Square church for the funeral for the diocese's 14th bishop, David Elliot Johnson.
  2. ^ "Episcopal Bishop's Successor Ordained in Boston Ceremony". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. October 7, 1985. Retrieved December 30, 2015. The Rev. David Elliot Johnson, 52, will become the 14th bishop of the diocese when the Rt. Rev. John B. Coburn retires next year.
  3. ^ "Massachusetts Elects Floridian Coadjutor". The archives of the Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service. May 23, 1985. Retrieved December 30, 2015. David Elliot Johnson, rector of St. Boniface Church, Sarasota, Fla., was elected bishop coadjutor of Massachusetts
  4. ^ "Bishop Johnson Found Dead". The Living Church. January 29, 1995. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  5. ^ Cooper, Michael (January 17, 1995). "Bishop David E. Johnson, 61, Dies From Gunshot". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-18.