Report – Priest-in-Charge

AGM/Vestry 2021

Report – Priest-in-Charge

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a

My sisters and brothers in Christ, may mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

“A year ago, I didn’t know what we were all about to lose”[1] I didn’t know that sitting close to people in a church pew would be the last time in over a year. I didn’t know we’d have to take months off from celebrating Holy Eucharist, and then come back to being masked and spaced apart.  I didn’t know that particular hug, or that special trip, or that dinner party would be the last one until sometime in 2021. I didn’t know our funeral rites would be postponed or re-imagined. We were neither prepared nor aware that the waves of this global pandemic would wash over us and change the way our community relates.

 

We all have much to mourn. This global pandemic has taken its toll on lives lost, on communities dispersed, and traditions sacrificed. Schools and jobs have changed. Our hearts ache as we look forward to coming together again, to worship and laugh and eat and weep together. I want to visit you in your homes, my neighbours in Barrhaven and beyond.

 

We didn’t know we’d have to worship through podcasts and video services. The recording of services began when we closed the church on March 15, 2020. We were closed until September 13, 2020.  The Reverend Stephen Silverthorne, along with the team of musicians and readers, kept services streaming the entire time. He set up a Zoom account for the church and was able to connect for services, Sunday club, Deanery – both Anglican and Lutheran – and for the 2020 Annual Synod.

 

We didn’t know that 2020 would see the transition in leadership it has. On October 4, 2020, Judy Rodrigues read Bishop Shane’s letter announcing Father Stephen’s appointment to St. Paul’s, Kanata. We miss them all:  Stephen, Tabea, Jane, Livia, Mary, and Rachel.

 

Before my appointment as priest-in-charge in November, Stephen, along with Paula Desrosiers, Judy St. Croix, Sandy Holmes, Christine Wright, and Court and Carol Harkness were among those who warmly welcomed my participation in this community. Stephen taught me how to podcast, and how to film and edit videos. He invited me to lead services and share reflections as a colleague and a friend. I am forever grateful for his role in my life this past couple of years.

 

Though much has been lost, the faith and fortitude of this community has been profoundly inspiring to me. The essentials have thrived: prayer and worship, music and praise, pastoral care and community outreach, and education, formal and informal. We have learned a lot, as we have let go. We – the people of the church – really are the church. Prayer, worship, and meetings can happen on-line. We continue to pray and grow and give.

 

Since the end of January, we have been able to live-stream services. My thanks to Jack Earnshaw and his faithful offering of Morning Prayer and leadership of Compline when we can have it. Cyndy Darling has joined with those who help with the technical support in the church, and I thank her for taking over the live streaming. My thanks to Kevin and Amanda Kealty, for their management of the church website, and to Scott Townley for the loan of lights. Court Harkness has generously taken over the preparation of PowerPoint slides when we need them for live services.

 

We should all be grateful to the work of the Board of Directors. They have handled this time most excellently with grace and faith, and always keeps the best interests of the community upfront. I’m thankful for the welcome I’ve received: beginning at a hot, sunny Board retreat in the summer in Court and Carol Harkness’ backyard. Since then, I’ve met with the board through Zoom: Milo Cruikshank, Court Harkness, Ramon Lashley, Judy Rodrigues, Kevin Kealty, Caroline Baskerville, Wilfred Desir, and Sandy Holmes. Working behind the scenes to support the board are Paula Desrosiers, who accepts donations all year long, and Jean Dewitt, our envelope secretary.

 

Thank you to Court for hosting the Board Zoom meetings, to Judy and Kevin for alternately chairing meetings, and Milo for taking notes. Ramon has generously and clearly presented financial reports. Thank you for caring for the Treasury. Caroline, Sandy, Wilfrid, and Court as Directors and Directors-at-large have joined in the prayers, the discussions, and the decision-making the board makes on behalf of the parish.  Thank you for your contributions and your care. We are saying good-bye to Kevin and to Wilfrid. Both have served on the Board beyond their appointed time with honour.

 

I also give thanks to Bishop Shane Parker and Archdeacon Kathryn Otley. I am grateful to Bishop Shane for offering me this appointment among you and supporting me before and during it, and to the Archdeacon for her prayerful and pastoral manner, her leadership of our monthly meetings, and for being available when I need direction or help. Thank you, Bishop Shane. Thank you, Archdeacon Kathryn.

 

I am grateful to Tabea Silverthorne and Guylaine Chartier, co-Directors until Tabea moved and Guylaine stepped up. As we’ve publicly seen, Guylaine has done an incredible job working with me to plan and to offer inspiring music with Caroline Peska on the piano, and Jerusha Lewis, Jack Earnshaw and Cyndy Darling and friends joining in the singing.  Jerusha recorded service music during the podcast days last summer, and Tabea and Caroline, and then Guylaine and Caroline have recorded service music so that we have a video library to use.  I am thankful that Guylaine has taking over the subtitling of the music videos. Her skill and servant heart are a gift to me and this church.

 

Thank you to the readers and the prayer leaders, and to all those whose ministry has been put on hold: those who prepared for Eucharist, Sunday Club, Youth Group, Buddy Club, Snack’n’Chat, Prayer and a Pint, Women’s Group, Parish Library and more.  Please read each of the Vestry Reports.

 

How can I begin to thank Paula, on behalf of Good Shepherd? For her prayers for us, for preparing the Vestry handouts and charts, for her years of administration work, preparing amazing fundraising events, roster preparation, emailing out the weekly readings and prayers, making cards and phone calls, and caring for the physical plant, “thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough. I am glad to say it:  thank you. Thanks for being often the first voice and – in normal times – the first hug Good Shepherd Barrhaven presents to the community.

 

As we continue to film church services and stay physically distanced from one another, the ministry of the church continues. This Annual General Meeting may be the last we have. I am sincerely hoping that the motion we vote on later in this meeting to separate from the Lutherans will pass, and that next year when we meet, it will be the first Vestry Meeting of Good Shepherd Barrhaven Anglican Church. Separating from the Lutherans loses nothing but some administration overlap. We will remain in communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCIC): Good Shepherd will be an Anglican Church. This will be more faithful stewardship of our time and our capacities. The administration is not necessary, and as we hope to move toward building in the next 5 – 10 years, we can also hold onto our relationships with other local churches, ministries, and service clubs.

 

Another way we can steward our resources more faithfully is to move out of this unit in 3500 Fallowfield. Our lease is up before the end of September 2021, and we have still to decide where we will move: a local church building, a rental townhouse, or something else. I ask you to take the first step in faith. And then we need to decide to use a place that will allow for gatherings, with good wi-fi and less expensive rent. The long-term plan is a new Anglican Church in Barrhaven. Our post-pandemic church will look different. We can’t be 100% sure what things will look like, though I trust we will continue to faithfully adapt to whatever comes our way.

 

I also ask you to continue in prayer. For the church, please pray for her leadership at all levels and her faithfulness. For our neighborhood, please pray for all who live here. And for all who are sick, suffering in body and mind, may God grant them comfort and peace.

 

Prayers

 

Prayer for the Mission of the Church

Draw your Church together, O Lord, into one great company of disciples, together following our Lord Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving him in his mission to the world, and together witnessing to his love on every continent and island. We ask this in his name and for his sake. Amen.

 

Prayer for all Christians in their vocation

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified, receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.[2]

 

Prayer for guidance

Go before us, Lord, in all we do with your most gracious favour, and guide us with your continual help, that in all our works begun, continued and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name, and finally by your mercy receive everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[3]

 

[1] Sunday Prayers, February 7, 2021. The Corners with Nadia Bolz-Weber.

[2] BAS, p. 676

[3] Gregorian Sacramentary, 8th C.