On Monday, September 21, 2015, at A Rocha's Brooksdale Environmental Centre in South Surrey there was a Celebration of A New Ministry Eucharist where and when Bishop Melissa Skelton inducted the Reverend Laurel Dykstra as coordinator of Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community, described by Laurel as: “a church plant/watershed discipleship community for Christians in and around Vancouver who:
Rooted in the Anglican incarnational theology, we are part of a growing commitment to the Fifth Mark of Mission 'to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.'
Ecumenically we identify with the Watershed Discipleship Movement: communities that are asking, ‘what does it mean to be a follower of the Jesus Way here, among the land, water, creatures and people of a particular place?’"
The worship event took place at dusk in a grove surrounded by trees adjacent to the landscaped lawns and gardens of the Brooksdale Environmental Centre buildings. It was much like many Celebrations of a New Ministry Eucharist. It followed the format and included the Bishop reading the Covenant in Ministry and then requesting affirmation of support for the covenant from those gathered (which was enthusiastically given). The covenant was followed by the presentations of the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God (which were a bit different but totally appropriate). Next, the Bishop presented Laurel to the community as the ordained leader of their shared ministry, followed by the Eucharist.
But basic format aside, this was a very special and unique celebration. At approximately 6:30pm worship leaders and congregation began to gather in the grove. The Reverend Alisdair Smith, deacon at Christ Church Cathedral was Deacon of the Word for this liturgy. Alisdair is adept at organizing diocesan liturgies and was absolutely at ease going through the service in advance with all the participants, helping to organize the four processions representing: Fire, Earth, Water and Air and the subsequent worship components following the processions.
Indigenous Justice Ministry Coordinator for the diocese, Brander Raven McDonald began the service by acknowledging that the ceremony was taking place on the unceded (no treaties exist) lands of the Sto-Lo first nation. He pointed out that there are over 30 first nations that are nearby neighbours and he listed a number of them. He made reference to the drumming that had taken place during the procession and explained that for Indigenous peoples the drumbeat “is the heartbeat that we remember from our mother…the Earth is also our mother…the mother of all races and all peoples.” Brander and his partner Jil prepared the altar and worship space with smoke and cedar boughs. It was then time for the Reverend Laurel Dykstra to welcome the community. She explained that Salal and Cedar worship involves “less talk”, primarily listening and action. She said that there would not be a homily and added that “all are absolutely welcome, but not at all obliged to participate” in communion.
The liturgy of the Word was next. The Old Testament reading was Job 12:7-10 and the Gospel read by the Reverend Alisdair Smith by lamplight was Luke 12:22-34. The choice of these two passages worked perfectly to set the context of the liturgy and the ministry of Salal and Cedar.
Then it was time for the Covenant in Ministry. The Bishop stood and by lamplight said:
"My brothers and sisters in Christ, Laurel Dykstra has been chosen to be pastor and priest of Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community, a ministry of the creation-values that are at the heart of our tradition.
After prayerful consideration, and according to the practice of this diocese, I have appointed Laurel to this position of leadership in our common ministry. Salal and Cedar is a new church with a vocation for environmental justice, it builds on the good work of the Eco-Social Justice Unit, the North Vancouver Ecumenical Environment and Justice Group and many individual justice-seekers; it is part of the work and witness of the whole church. Laurel and the Salal and Cedar community bring new gifts to our ministry together.
As we stand in God’s presence let us pray that grace will be given to all of us in this ministry, that we may fulfil the responsibilities which are ours."
The Executive Archdeacon of the diocese, the Venerable Douglas Fenton certified that the required oaths and declarations had been made, and the letters of appointment and license had been read in his presence and then Laurel committed herself to the responsibility entrusted to her as ordained leader, the people of Salal and Cedar committed themselves to share in this ministry and everyone gathered committed to support Laurel and Salal and Cedar in their ministry together with an enthusiastic, “We will!”
The presentation of the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God is always a highlight of the Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist (particularly for visitors) for this is when the parish’s personality shines through. There were nine symbol presentations: backpack, salal and cedar, water, Bible, chrism oil and cedar paddle, thumb drive with diocesan canons, prayer books, financial gift, bread and wine. Each symbol was offered with a brief explanation:
The presenters were members of the community, diocesan staff, and Matt Humphrey of A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre who was present at the liturgy and made the presentation of the bread and wine. Also of note, Alecia's presentation of the financial gift was her pre-authorized donation (PAD) receipt, an acknowledgement of her commitment to the ministry of Salal and Cedar.
The bread (baked in the Brooksdale Environmental Centre’s cob oven that day) and the wine of Communion were passed around the circle by lamplight . Communion was followed by asperges with cedar boughs and the water of the Little Campbell River salmon stream accompanied by Bishop Skelton’s invitation to “Remember your Baptism!” and the singing of Sing Out Earth and Skies.