When asked about her initial reaction to receiving a letter of invitation from Archbishop Linda Nicholls to Chair the Worship Planning Committee on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) for General Synod 2022, the Reverend Helen Dunn, Cathedral Vicar had this to say,
“I keep telling people that when I received the primate’s letter, I checked the name and address three times to make sure she had the right ‘Helen’ (as there are a lot of us ‘Helen’s in Anglican-Land!). I should’ve known better than to doubt the primate.”
Rev. Dunn then contacted Archbishop Skelton and CCC’s rector, the Reverend Chris Pappas and they both gave their blessings resulting in her acceptance of the appointment “with great pleasure.”
This role will involve working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCiC) counterpart for the joint portion of the meeting and planning the remaining several days of General Synod worship as well. The co-chairs are appointed by The National Bishop and The Primate. In addition, they will appoint two members (or equal numbers) from each church, in consultation with the co-chairs. The Director of Faith, Worship and Ministry (ACoC) and the Assistant to the Bishop for Worship (ELCiC) are ex-officio members of the Worship Committee.
The Synod will take place in Calgary at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Calgary is Helen’s hometown, so she will be very familiar with the location.
Prior to her ministry at CCC which began September 1, 2017, Helen was the Assistant to the Rector at Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary. Helen studied at St. John’s College, Durham University, U.K. and Briercrest College in Caronport, Saskatchewan. She aims to hold a broad theological perspective and has coordinated a variety of liturgies in her ministry thus far - everything from confirmations and ordinations to National Indigenous People’s Day and a multi-site funeral for 1000+ family members and friends of Vancouver philanthropist and business man, Robert H. Lee , CM, OBC. Helen also served on the GS 2019 Worship Planning Committee under the leadership of the chair, the Very Reverend Peter Elliott and former chair, the Reverend Martha Tatarnic.
With GS 2022 now slightly under two years away we asked Rev. Dunn how she plans to approach her role:
“The first thing I’d like to mention is that the letter from Archbishop Nicholls came just days after we learned of the Reverend Margaret Waterchief’s death. Margaret was a Blackfoot Elder and the first Indigenous woman to be ordained in the Anglican diocese of Calgary. I hope we can find a way to honour her in 2022. When I was reading the terms of reference for the committee, the part that jumped off the page was the responsibility we have to act in ways that ‘respect the inclusivity of rites and persons.’ There are so many qualified and passionate lay and ordained people in the ELCiC/ACoC and I can’t wait to see how the Spirit will lead us in celebrating God’s broad, inclusive church!”
As Chair of Worship Planning, Reverend Dunn becomes one of the 12 members of the General Synod Planning Committee (GSPC) which is a sub-committee of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) and reports to Council. A schedule of meeting dates will be set at the first meeting (TBC) and will also include one meeting following GS 2022. It is expected that regardless of the future of the current pandemic the majority of meetings will be held online through Zoom.
When asked for comment about the appointment of Rev. Dunn, Archbishop Skelton had this to say:
“I’m thrilled Helen has been invited to take on this important role. She has the skills, the experience and the temperament to do an excellent job of chairing the team that will plan the worship for General Synod 2022.”
For those who are interested in more details about the Worship Planning Committee, the TOR is downloadable below.
Please keep Rev. Helen Dunn in your prayers as she begins this exciting phase of ministry.
(Article prepared with files from Helen Dunn)
The Reverend Helen Dunn, Cathedral Vicar, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver