Facilitated by Bishop Melissa Skelton, seventy clergy (priests and deacons) of the Diocese of New Westminster met at St. Dunstan’s, Aldergrove for a day of discussions and reflections primarily about liturgy.
The meeting began with Morning Prayer led by the Reverend Jeremy Clark-King, rector of St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale and regional dean of Point Grey.
After worship, the Bishop moved into the centre flanked by the customary flipcharts. After welcoming the group and thanking them for their attendance she thanked the parish, staff and clergy of St. Dunstan’s and asked those who had not previously attended a clergy day in the diocese to stand. There were four who stood up: the Reverend Philipa Segrave-Pride, Assistant Priest at Christ Church Cathedral; the Reverend Karen Urquhardt, rector of St. Catherine's, Port Coquitlam; the Reverend Robin Ruder-Celiz, vicar of St. Martin's, North Vancouver; the Reverend Howie Adan, currently providing sunday supply at Church of the Holy Spirit, Whonnock. Each of them shared a little bit about themselves, how they arrived in the diocese and their current ministry.
Bishop Skelton began by presenting the themes for the day - themes that had emerged from the small group conversations that took place at the Clergy Day October 24th, 2014. At that meeting the Bishop reminded the group that “we did some work around some deep questions concerning liturgy and today the plan is to delve deeper and move to action.”
The themes were grouped under the sub-headings: Our Strengths as Parishes in Liturgy; Areas Needing Strengthening in our Parishes in Liturgy; Clarity and Flexibility on Roles in Liturgy; Criteria and Process to Gain Authorization for Liturgies/Texts; and then the question “What is strong and needs strengthening in the way you function in the liturgy?”
Bishop Skelton went through these themes, clarifying and extrapolating many, and illustrating with examples. She discussed the role of preaching in liturgy regarding content and teaching. At the end of the presentation of the themes the Bishop asked the clergy if they recognized this content and “did they see themselves in this?”
Then the Bishop’s delivered a response to the themes. The following is a summary of her response:
Bishop Skelton then asked the clergy to form small groups of three and four and answer the question: What likes, concerns and wishes do you have about this (her response)?
After 20 minutes of lively discussion, a representative of each group responded and gave the Bishop a variety of responses to her question.
To fulfil the next item on the agenda, the Bishop handed out a sheet with seven questions to explore what is happening in parishes liturgically. She asked the plenary to form parish groups. There were a large number of clergy present who were the only representatives of their parish so they answered the questions independently or formed into small groups each filling out their own form.
After the lunch break, the Bishop then asked the plenary to break up into groups of 3-5 with the sheets they had filled out answering the 7 questions and to discuss the following two questions:
1. What did you learn in compiling the information, then listening to this material?
2. What are you going to spend time on to strengthen what you’re doing?
This exercise took up most of the early afternoon part of the program and was followed with a report from the Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton on the progress of the renovations underway at the Administration Building on the grounds of St. John’s, Shaughnessy to house the Anglican Archives, the Synod Office and teaching and meeting spaces for diocesan functions. After the Archdeacon’s report, the Director for Mission and Ministry Development, the Reverend Ruth Monette using St. Dunstan’s projectors led the plenary through a brief tour of the new diocesan website that was scheduled to be launched the next morning.
By 2:30pm the agenda had been covered and clergy donned their coats and said good-bye until the next time. The next clergy day will again focus on liturgy but will include workshops and more specific focus on various liturgical facets. The next clergy day is scheduled for May 7th.
PHOTOS: Bishop Melissa presents the themes: The Reverend Gordon Shields, priest-in-charge of St. George's, Maple Ridge and the Reverend Stephen Muir, St. Agnes, listen carefully to the Reverend Christine Magrega, deacon of Holy Trinity, New Westminster: The Reverend Ruth Monette records the responders reports: The afternoon discussion groups examining liturgical practices in parishes.