Availing Ourselves of the Gifts God Gives to the Church

The Induction of the Reverend Paula Porter Leggett as Vicar of St. Alban’s, Richmond by Archbishop Melissa Skelton

The first paragraph under the section titled, "The Rector We Seek” in St. Alban, Richmond’s 2018 Parish Profile is as follows:

“The congregation is eager to welcome a permanent rector that can take us forward and coordinate the rebuilding of St. Alban’s. You will have a dedicated team behind you and with their support plus God’s ever-present help we are looking to lead St. Alban’s in a new direction tailored to our unique situation.”

This paragraph indicates that the parish is ready for the next phase of ministry after a fairly lengthy interim period that followed the resignation and retirement of the previous rector, the Reverend Margaret Cornish. Cornish’s ministry ended September 30, 2015, and at the time it was expected that St. Alban’s would enter a 12-18 month period of interim ministry. However, it was necessary for the parish to prayerfully consider its future and that interim time was extended. The parish was well served by the Reverend John Firmston for the first term of interim ministry and then by the Reverend Maggie Rose Muldoon in the second and longer term. During the section of the Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist when the Executive Archdeacon of the diocese, the Venerable Douglas Fenton explains the process by which the new ordained leader of the parish has been chosen he revealed to the congregation that Muldoon had delayed necessary surgery in order to remain in her ministry role until the new priest had begun.

The priest chosen by St. Alban’s canonical committee is the Reverend Paula Porter Leggett. Porter Leggett is an experienced priest in our diocese with two long term incumbencies at St. Faith, Vancouver and St. Andrew, Langley. She is also the Education for Ministry (EfM) Coordinator for the diocese and will remain in that role. Rev. Porter Leggett is licensed as “vicar” of St. Alban’s and although this ministry position is “without term” it is at the moment less than full time, a situation that the members of the parish with the enthusiastic support of Archbishop Skelton would like to change in the not-to-distant future.

The Celebration of a New Ministry took place on a mild late summer’s evening, September 5, 2018. The Reverend Paula Porter Leggett is an established priest of our diocese and the turnout of both lay and clergy members for the Eucharist was excellent, bearing in mind that this was the Wednesday following the Labour Day weekend. The classic Gothic Revival woodframe building constructed in 1909, and moved to its current location in 1961, was filled to near capacity. Brigid Coult, Director of Music at St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale played the piano and led a choir of more than a dozen voices made up of singers from St. Alban’s, St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale and Holy Trinity, New Westminster. Porter Leggett’s spouse, the Reverend Dr. Richard Leggett is in the first three months of his three year term as vicar at the New Westminster parish. St. Mary's organist, Susan Ohannesian was also involved, accompanying hymns and singing in the choir.

Preacher for the Eucharist was the Venerable Elizabeth Northcott, rector of All Saints’, Ladner and Archdeacon of Westminster. Six weeks prior to the induction of Porter Leggett, Northcott had resigned her ministry position at All Saints’ and informed the parish and the archbishop that she would be taking a ministry position in Qualicum in the Diocese of British Columbia. Northcott’s ministry here in the D of NW concludes September 23, 2018. These bittersweet realities of comings and goings were not ignored in the sermon but were given a positive outlook by Northcott as she examined the message of the Epistle read a few minutes earlier, Ephesians 4:1, 7-11. She began her homily with these words:

“I wonder sometimes what the apostle Paul went through as he travelled from one church to another, seeing possibilities and potentials of each community. Seeking ways in which to tell the Good news story of God’s love to a hungry and needy people. More than anything though, I think that Paul had an enthusiasm and vigour that compelled the people wherever he went to consider what God was doing amongst them.

That’s what we’re doing tonight – we are claiming the positive energy that a new beginning of ministry offers. We are cashing in on the hope that lies ahead of us and we are offering our prayers for this new ministry team that is made up of your vicar, Paula, and you who are the people of St Alban's in Richmond.”

She spoke of our need to follow and trust in God and to avail ourselves “of the gifts Christ gives to the church: ‘the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.'” Toward the end of her homily, Northcott led the choir and the congregation in the impromptu singing of the first verse of the hymn, Tell Out ,My Soul  which was sung 40 minutes later at the Offertory. She led into the interlude with these words:

“I believe that God has called Paula to this parish in order that the good work started here by past priests and lay-people will be nurtured, and God’s people who find themselves in this place will be cared for and challenged to grow in their faith.

Do you remember the words of the well-known hymn, ‘Tell out my soul’? One verse says, ‘Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might! Powers and dominions lay their glory by. Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight, the hungry fed, the humble lifted high’.

Let me leave you with these words of Paul as he writes, '… it is with God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart'”.

 

(The complete text of the Archdeacon's homily is available for downloading below.)

The Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God involved many members of the community. It is the community of St. Alban's that endures, they have seen huge changes to their church and to their neighbourhood but they do not abandon their commitment to faith, they are steadfast and continue to answer God's call to ministry in Richmond. Ten members of the parish came forward to share the symbols of ministry. It was particularly moving to witness Allison with younger parishioners Nathan and Zoe presenting the water of baptism and filling the Font.

The official welcome of the Regional Dean, the Reverend Brian Vickers, rector of St. Anne’s, Steveston involved some important information about which Steveston fish and chip restaurant is preferable and culminated with the presentation of a gift certificate to “Dave’s” to be enjoyed by Paula and a guest.

The rest of the Covenant in Ministry moved with energy and positivity to that point in the liturgy when all the symbols have been presented and the archbishop says, “Paula, let all these be signs of the ministry which is mine and yours, and is shared by all the people of God.” To which the new vicar answered, “Amen. May we find joy together in the service of Christ.” And then came the words everyone had been waiting to hear from Archbishop Skelton, “I present Paula as the leader of your ministry, and I invite your welcome.”

The Eucharist continued with: intercessory prayers, the exchange of the peace, the Offertory, the Prayer over the Gifts, the Eucharistic Prayer, Holy Communion, Prayers after Communion, the Episcopal Blessing, the Dismissal and the singing of the Closing Hymn, More Than We Can Ask or Imagine.

As the Parish of St. Alban’s, Richmond and their new ordained leader, vicar, the Reverend Paula Porter Leggett move forward into the next phase of ministry together, renewed, rejuvenated, with more than a touch of ambition to grow the parish and move to full time ordained ministry may we all remember the final words of Archdeacon Northcott’s address:

“So, take God’s heart - for our journey is blessed and strengthened by God’s spirit. Together, let us remember whom it is we serve – and let us work tirelessly to walk humbly following in the footsteps of the one who loves us most, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

IMAGES

  • Archbishop Melissa Skelton leads the applause of welcome for the newly installed vicar, the Reverend Paula Porter Leggett
  • The preacher, the Venerable Elizabeth Northcott  
  • Members of the choir
  • Filling the Font
  • New vicar is welcomed by the Regional Dean and Archdeacon
  • Eucharistic Prayer
  • Administering the Body of Christ for the first official time as Vicar of St. Alban's, Richmond. 

Many more photos with captions available in a photo album on Anglican Conversation, the Facebook Page of the Diocese of New Westminster

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