On Sunday morning, February 7, Bishop Skelton attended worship services at St. Catherine's Capilano to provide pastoral care and clergy support to the parish and to the greater diocese following the news of the February 4 arrest of the Reverend Gordon Dominey. Bishop Skelton was joined by the Archdeacon of Capilano, the Venerable Lynne McNaughton; the Chancellor and chief legal officer of the Diocese, George Cadman, QC.; and the diocesan communications officer, Randy Murray.
Following the 8am service, Bishop Skelton and Randy Murray met with the St. Catherine’s Parish Council while George Cadman and the Venerable Lynne McNaughton met with any members of the parish who wanted to ask questions or voice their concerns.
Three TV crews attended the morning worship at St. Catherine’s. They were respectful, understanding and happy to comply with Bishop Skelton’s wishes that the service not be filmed, recorded or photographed. Both Bishop Skelton and George Cadman made themselves available for media interviews. The media also interviewed parishioners.
The 10am service was a Celebration of the Eucharist with Bishop Skelton presiding and preaching. Following the opening hymn, Bishop Skelton read a pastoral letter that had been circulated to the St. Catherine’s email list on February 6. Bishop Skelton’s sermon for the final Sunday of Epiphany inspired by the Gospel for the day Luke 9: 28-36 referred to the current situation asking “where God is, in all of this.” Please click this link to access the sermon notes posting.
After worship, Bishop Skelton facilitated a “town hall” style meeting in the parish hall attended by a majority of those who were at the service. The parishioners were encouraged to ask questions. Bishop Skelton made a list of more than a dozen questions and then she and Chancellor Cadman went through them. Many of the questions and comments expressed concern for Reverend Dominey and his current situation regarding his location, legal counsel and immediate future. There were also questions of concern about those who have brought the allegations against Reverend Dominey and a number of statements and questions to do with the immediate future of worship and programming at the parish.
Considering the stressful and disturbing circumstances, the people of St. Catherine’s were extremely appreciative of Bishop Skelton’s and Chancellor Cadman’s presence and leadership. When asked about the Bishop’s unscheduled visit, St. Catherine’s warden, Vivien McGie said:
“Bishop Melissa's visit Sunday projected a visible and genuine sign of support and concern from herself and from the Diocese for the people of St. Catherine's in the wake of the allegations against our interim priest.”
St Catherine’s deacon, the Reverend Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles had this to say about the Bishop’s visit:
“ In her sermon, Bishop Melissa acknowledged that 'mountaintop' experiences do not last forever and we are called to do the tough work in the trenches of everyday life. I took it as a caring and sympathetic challenge to us to remain steadfast as a community of faith, and continue to work together for a future together in ministry.
In the congregational gathering after the service Bishop Melissa's pastoral heart was clearly evident as she listened carefully and compassionately to the questions, concerns - and pain - of a deeply shocked community, and responded as frankly and honestly as she was able. It was my sense that her presence and her measured and kind response to the situation were greatly appreciated by all and comforting to many.”
A letter from Bishop Skelton was circulated to the parents and guardians of the children who attend the St. Catherine’s preschool on the afternoon of Monday, February 8. On the morning of Tuesday, February 9, the Venerable Lynne McNaughton was present at St, Catherine’s to greet parents and guardians of the preschool students in order to respond to any questions or concerns parents may have.
Diocesan communications will circulate more information about this developing situation as that information becomes available.