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The third installment of Café Church, the innovative monthly liturgy that is currently being workshopped at St. John the Evangelist, North Vancouver took place on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 4pm. The central component of this community worship is the presence of a guest speaker offering some thoughts on a specific topic. And the guest for this particular afternoon was the 9th Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, the Right Reverend Melissa Skelton, her topic, Friendship.

Each Café follows the menu which includes: gathering with prayer/words of welcome from the rector, the Reverend Patrick Blaney; lighting of candles; some readings;  the presentation by the guest speaker;  a break for coffee, tea and goodies;  gathering after the break for a discussion with the speaker and concluding with announcements and a song.

Everyone is seated at square tables each with four chairs in a café/restaurant style format. On December 3 the readings chosen to reflect the topic of friendship were, Colossians 3:14, “Love which binds everything together is perfect harmony” and two Mary Oliver quotes:

  • “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
  • “So every day I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth of the ideas of God, one of which was you.”

After greeting the community and congratulating Rev. Blaney and the St. John’s, NV community on this fresh new approach to liturgy, Bishop Skelton read aloud A Friend is Someone Who Likes You the first published children’s book written by British author, Joan Walsh Anglund. Bishop Skelton said that it is important to a child that friends are people who like them and as we grow older this remains true, however there are many more facets of friendship to explore. Reflecting on friendship from the viewpoint of a recently married person (Bishop Skelton and her spouse the Reverend Eric Stroo {who was present} celebrated their first anniversary August 15, 2016) she shared that in a “strong”  marriage or partnership, “a strong core of friendship” supports that relationship. Enduring friendship is supported by “equality and mutuality”.  Bishop Skelton shared with the group that she must “walk a fine line” when it comes to friends for herself as it is important that her friendships are with people “with whom there is no power dynamic” keeping in mind the key role of mutuality in friendships. She continued, saying that “we need to give time to our friends” and that friendship is about “risk” as we are disclosing to another who we really are and we need the security of mutuality in order to share “what we really think.” As a person dedicated to her vocation, Bishop Skelton's focus is on her work but she believes that “deep friendship is what God wants for us,” for cultivating friendships is a part of "God’s yearning for us."

Following the address it was time for tea, coffee and good things to eat followed by a Q&A session which was opened by Rev. Blaney asking Bishop Skelton, “What does Advent mean to you?” and he also asked her about her “friendship with Jesus”. Bishop Skelton replied that for her Advent is about “quiet, darkness and waiting” and as woman she relates to the “gestational nature of Advent.” To the second question she replied that when she is in a spiritual quandary or feels lost she writes letters to Jesus. She has conversations in her prayer life with Jesus, for Jesus is a friend who listens and comforts but also delivers the “challenge to us to be the person that we can be."

There were more questions and more comments and when the discussion concluded Rev. Blaney directed the 35+ in attendance to the lyrics sheets that were distributed to each person as they arrived, and with piano accompaniment the participants sang the Carol King song made popular by James Taylor, You’ve Got a Friend.

This first program year of Café Church is scheduled to wrap up in June of 2017. Here is a list of the 2017 dates.

  • February 4, Alison & Juanita, Meditation in A Busy World
  • March 4: The Rev. Elizabeth Mathers, Creators In God's Image
  • April 1, Dean Peter Elliott, Is There Humour In The Bible?
  • May 6, Dr. Jack Blaney, Everyday Generosity
  • June 3, Dr. Marilyn Chotem, Many Religions, One God 

St John's is located at 220 West 8th Street in North Vancouver.


  • The community gathers with prayer
  • Bishop Skelton's spouse, the Reverend Eric Stroo lights a candle
  • The Reverend Patrick Blaney begins the Q&A
  • Bishop receives a winter bouquet in a coffee cup as a gift for her participation