With so many others across our beloved Church, I am giving thanks for the life and labours of Jim Cruickshank, who died in his 80th year on December 30, 2015.
Jim had an amazing life and an incredible ministry that has left a wonderful mark upon our Church. He was known for his intellect and his kindness, his wisdom and his wit. He had a keen mind and a big heart. He loved stories – he loved to hear them and he loved to tell them. Indeed that was a hallmark of his preaching and teaching. He had a profound knowledge of the New Testament and had an incredible way of helping us see our lives as words within the Word. Jim’s teaching, as much by example as by word, brought many people to faith in Christ.
As a pastor he was modest, humble and constant in his labours. As a priest, he knew the heart of his ministry to be the Eucharist, that wondrous meal in which Christ nourishes us for our work in the world. As Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, he was innovative and imaginative. He opened its doors to absolutely everyone. Beautiful liturgy and remarkable outreach gave the Cathedral a profile in the city for which it is renowned to this day.
Deeply committed to theological education and ongoing spiritual formation for all the baptized, Jim was the founding director of the Sorrento Centre. From its earliest days to now, it has been “a holy place of transformation, for learning, healing and belonging”. As a Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Continuing Education at Vancouver School of Theology, Jim influenced a couple of generations of those preparing for ministry in our Church. With characteristic humility he would say he was as engaged by them as they were by him.
I came to know Jim as the Bishop of Cariboo. At the height of litigation around the sad legacy of abuse in the Indian Residential Schools, Jim enabled the Church to express contrition and remorse for the wrongs committed in the schools. He was absolutely committed to acting on the 1993 Apology of our Church offered by Archbishop Michael Peers. He listened to stories of survivors and he wept with them. He prayed and he vowed to accompany them in their journeys of healing. He was unwavering in his work for reconciliation. Along with his Chancellor Bud Smith and other leaders in the diocese, he guided the Church in making decisions that were difficult but necessary – and more than that – right. When financial resources were depleted Jim quietly said “the people will still gather, the word will be proclaimed, the bread will be broken and the cup will be shared”.
Jim believed that out of its contrition the Church would be renewed. It would be more humble. The gospel would be placed afresh at the center of its living. In time the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior would emerge as a new expression of the Church, and its life and witness would be marked by a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Jim set the tone for the kind of episcopal leadership required for this work. I know it was a source of great delight for him that both Gordon Light and Barbara Andrews have taken a similar approach in their ministries, the result of which has been considerable healing, beautiful gestures of reconciliation, and amazing development in the spirit of self determination envisioned by Indigenous Peoples in the Covenant of 1994.
I am so pleased that on February 12th there will be a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops. For many who cannot get to the celebration at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, this will be their time to remember and to give thanks, to sing and pray Jim into the nearer presence of the Lord.
With the utmost of respect I remember Jim as a faithful servant of Christ. With the utmost of gratitude I remember him as a dear friend, whose life and labours were marked by that very love of which St. Paul speaks in that well known 13th chapter in his first letter to the Corinthians.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end… For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
May our dear Jim, rest in peace and rise in glory.
This article was posted by General Synod Communications on their website, January 12, 2016.
The photo is Bishop Jim speaking at General Synod in 1995 and is Courtesy of the General Synod Archives