A Celebration of Mutual Ministry took place at St. Laurence, Coquitlam the evening of Wednesday, September 14, Holy Cross Day, 2016. The Reverend Eric Mason (formerly of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia) was installed by Bishop Melissa Skelton as rector of St. Laurence.
Reverend Eric Mason's arrival, September 1 as incumbent was preceded by over three years of interim ministry that followed the Reverend Trudy Lebans retirement in 2013. For the past two years the parish was served by the Reverend Dr. April Stanley (3/4 time) during which time they had posted the rector position and their parish profile three times. Reverend Mason was most recently priest associate at Grace Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island in Washington State. Ann Strickland and Garth Edwards of Grace Church were present at the liturgy and performed the Alexi Murdoch song, “Her Hands Were Leaves” during the Offertory. Bishop Skelton prior to her election as bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster was also a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. Bishop Skelton had encouraged the Reverend Eric Mason to consider applying for ministry positions in Canada and his application to St. Laurence proved to be a good fit for both parties involved.
This bright and energetic liturgy was quite different than the standard Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist. The presentation by the wardens of the new rector was done a little differently with the new rector remaining in the back of the nave near the narthex during the opening procession and only coming forward after the wardens had approached the chancel entrance and Bishop Skelton had said these words, “People of St. Laurence, led by the Holy Spirit, and in partnership with me, your bishop, you have faithfully completed your discernment for a new rector.” To which the wardens replied, “On behalf of the people of St. Laurence we recommend that the Reverend Eric Mason be appointed by you as our rector:” to which the bishop responded, “I affirm your recommendation and am delighted to welcome Eric as rector of this parish and as a priest of this diocese.” Then Reverend Mason was escorted through the nave to the chancel entrance area for the Covenant in Ministry.
Immediately following, the Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton came forward and described the process that resulted in choosing Reverend Mason, Reverend Mason read the Oath of Loyalty to the bishop and to the Anglican Church of Canada (at the end he quipped “I feel like I should say ‘so help me God’” which produced more than a few good natured snickers). The Venerable Douglas Fenton read the license and the liturgy regained at that point the more traditional rhythm of a Celebration of New Ministry Eucharist with the exception being that the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God were presented throughout the worship at points when those symbols were the liturgical focus instead of one after the other during the Covenant in Ministry. A highlight of the Symbols of Ministry presentations was when representatives of the St. Laurence Youth Group which is known by the sobriquet S'MORES presented Eric with the three principal ingredients for S'MORES.
Most Celebration of New Ministry liturgies have a large component of music in worship and this service did not disappoint in that regard. Music is a big part of the worship life at St. Laurence and it is led with skill and enthusiasm by the choir and musicians.
Bishop Skelton presided and preached. Her sermon focused on Holy Cross and how the message of the Cross connects with this Celebration of Mutual Ministry, the endings and the beginnings for both the parish and for Reverend Eric Mason. The text of the sermon is available by clicking this link.
As has become traditional at a Celebration of New Ministry Eucharist, water was blessed by Bishop Skelton and poured into the Font by the rector followed by the bishop leading the congregation in the renewal of baptismal vows and a congregational hymn. During the singing of the hymn, Bishop Skelton and the new rector sprinkled the congregation with baptismal water. The apserges was followed by the Intercession, the Peace, the Offertory and the Eucharist.
Another difference in the placement of events was that the welcoming of the new rector with applause led by the bishop, followed by welcoming words from the regional dean and archdeacon took place following the Eucharist and prior to the Episcopal Blessing, Closing Hymn and Dismissal.
This liturgy worked very well and was much enjoyed by the 200+ parishioners, clergy, guests and visitors. Warden, Rick Barr was beaming throughout the entire evening and was heard to say “we are really going to start doing some things here.”
Please keep the Reverend Eric Mason and the community of St. Laurence in your prayers as they begin this new phase of ministry.