On Sunday, September 12, 2021, at the Anglican Parish of the Church of the Epiphany, Surrey celebrating the Feast of Holy Cross (transferred) the Very Reverend Peter Elliott, retired Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and retired Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster was the guest preacher. This was also the Sunday celebrating the 20-year incumbency of the parish's rector, the Reverend Stephen Rowe.
Over those 20 years the two priests have been good friends and close colleagues and in the words of Rev. Rowe have "attended many many church meetings together." The main Sunday morning 10am Eucharist welcomed approximately 60 in-person worshippers and dozens more joined via Zoom.
Following some introductory words of thanks regarding the invitation to preach at Holy Cross Eucharist and also on a day to honour his friend, TVR Elliott shared the words offered by the three bishops with whom Rev. Rowe has shared ministry:
I want to share greetings from our Bishop John, who asked that I convey these words, “I am grateful for Stephen’s ministry over the past 20 years. He brings a wonderful combination to his ministry: pastoral care, humour, attention to detail, hard work and a deep faith. He is appreciated for his ministry at Epiphany but also throughout the diocese over many years.”
About Stephen, Archbishop Melissa Skelton offered these words, “Stephen Rowe, first and foremost, is himself--thoughtful, careful, honest, lovably ironic, and dedicated to his family and friends. He is also, for me, a model of what a faithful rector looks like. He has shown us all what it looks like to love the people of the parish; he has shown us all what fidelity and perseverance look like; he has shown us all what responsiveness to change looks like, especially when that change comes speaking a different language and bringing a different culture.”
And Bishop Michael Ingham sends his greetings today remembering this about Stephen: “I admire many of Stephen’s qualities and talents, but perhaps the one I have most enjoyed is his sense of humour. Stephen always manages to cheer people up and make them smile. I remember one time at Diocesan Synod he dressed up as a hockey referee – complete with striped shirt and whistle – and blew fouls and goals, even sending people to the penalty box. It lightened some“pretty serious” moments. Stephen and Christine could always be relied upon to write a poem or a song for some amusing occasion. Amazing talent!”
Clearly the three bishops in this diocese with whom he has worked admire and respect Stephen.
Following the Eucharist, a self-catered celebratory lunch in the hall took place with all in attendance following COVID protocols. Tributes were paid to the rector by the wardens, Dianne Stebbing, ODNW and Shelley Prendergast, ODNW. Gift bags containing: cards of congratulations, wine, a restaurant gift card, red and black licorice and chocolate were bestowed.
Stephen’s son Tom, daughter Lucy Walsh and one of three granddaughters, Emily Walsh were present.
Apart from the accolades and the rector’s address to the community during the lunch a notable feature was a 20-question quiz about the guest of honour. Questions included: “What is his middle name?”; “Who is his favourite hockey player?”; “Where was he born?”; “Where’s his favourite vacation spot?” etc. Stephen won the quiz contest with a score of 18/20.
Congratulations to the Parish of the Church of the Epiphany and to their rector for this milestone anniversary the bears witness to their ministry, the building up of God’s Kingdom in the Guildford neighbourhood and beyond.
To quote Stephen, “the first 20 years are the hardest.”
At the beginning of the liturgy Rob Miller read a letter from Bishop John Stephens congratulating Reverend Stephen Rowe and the parish on the 20 years of shared ministry. It is linked here and below.
PHOTOS Cliff Caprani