On the Feast of St. Matthew, September 21, 2021, the Reverend Marnie Peterson was inducted Rector of St. Anne, Steveston by the Right Reverend John Stephens, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster. In the 12 months prior to August 3, 2021 (the first of the late summer early fall 2021 slew of inductions and installations) there had not been a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist in the diocese and many of the 12 new Rectors and Vicars now in parish ordained leadership had been appointed many months prior to the “official” inductions or installations. This was not the case with the Reverend Peterson who had completed her ministry as priest associate with responsibility for the St. Brigid’s congregation and the Maundy Café compassionate service food ministry at Christ Church Cathedral in early September.
The previous rector of St. Anne’s, the Reverend Brian Vickers resigned his post in March of 2019, and concluded his incumbency April 28 of that year. For most of the time since then and up to the end of summer 2021 the parish has been served by Priest-in-Charge, the Reverend Roberta Fraser who with the laity of the parish did a superb job of guiding the parish through the transition not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of the parish, St. Anne’s boasts a topnotch Zoom and livestreaming capacity which has served to keep the parish engaged and active during the many months of gathering restrictions.
The liturgy was broadcast via Zoom, however, the congregation included many members of the parish, a number of visitors from Christ Church Cathedral and a good cohort of diocesan clergy. Marnie who has been active in ordained ministry for much of the last two decades is well-known around the diocese for her work on Synod Staff and for her years of leadership at the Diocesan School for Parish Development as well as her leadership at All Saints’, Ladner and the aforementioned Christ Church Cathedral.
The preacher for the Eucharist, was the Reverend Andrew Halladay of St. Andrew the Apostle, Langley. Andrew and Marnie are clergy colleagues and both of them were in leadership as instructors at, and principals of the Diocesan School for Parish Development. Andrew took the conversion of St. Matthew whose feast day is celebrated on September 21 for the text and also asked some questions about how Marnie and the members of the parish will find their common purpose and work together. Early in the sermon, Andrew said:
“This new beginning is also a time of discernment for all of you. Where do we all need to be matched up? What will you and Marnie be good at together…right away? Where will Marnie’s gifts and skills present a challenge the congregation here asking you all to stretch and grow? And where will the congregation’s gifts and skills push Marnie to a place where she will have to stretch and grow? You may have some ideas, some answers to those questions already, but the next few months will really be a time to dig into these questions, to get to know one another more deeply, more intimately. Learning each other’s dreams, learning each other’s “no-go zones.” It’s going to be fun. I know from experience that getting to know Marnie is a really fun thing to do.”
The Reverend Halladay gave some background on St. Matthew and his conversion and went on to speak in detail of the arrogance and the ignorance of the ‘colonial church’ of which the Anglican Church of Canada is certainly a member.
“The colonial church would’ve put Matthew the tax collector in jail, and might even have had him executed… the colonial church had no time to sit down and get to know people over dinner, it was too busy trying to fix them. But, my friends, let’s not make that same mistake again. So many of our churches make that same mistake of spending all their time wondering how they can draw people in, rather than heading out into the world to meet people where they live. So often we waste time waiting for people to come to us… the lesson from today’s Gospel reading is that we never follow Jesus into the church, or into the temple or into the synagogue (we all remember what Jesus did when he went into the temple), we always follow Jesus into our everyday lives, and if we want to embody Jesus’ ministry we should not ask people to follow us into the church, that’s simply not what he did. Instead, he followed them into their lives, and this is what we must do too, we must meet people where they are at, ask them ‘how they are doing?’ and then shut up and listen. There is a great benefit in learning the spiritual practice of shutting up and listening. What a beautiful place the world would be if more people maintained the spiritual practice of shutting up and listening.”
(The sermon is available below on this post.)
The liturgy unfolded as all Celebrations of a New Ministry do with: the Covenant in Ministry, the Examination of the New Rector, the Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry, the Welcome from the bishop, parish, regional dean and regional archdeacon, the Intercession and the Eucharist.
Many parishes are including in the Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry, the presentation of a pot of soil to signify the baptismal vow to strive to safeguard the integrity of the earth. Like the seed planted into the small container of fertile soil presented to Marnie that evening by Caroline Burgess may the shared ministry of the Parish of St. Anne, Steveston, open up, burst through and flourish.
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