On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, there was a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist at the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Vancouver's VGH neighbourhood. The Reverend Tasha Carrothers who was appointed vicar of the parish effective March 1, 2021, was officially installed by regional archdeacon, the Venerable Stephanie Shepard.
Just moments before the 6pm rehearsal of the liturgy was to begin, thousands of people marched west in the north lane of 12th Avenue, two blocks north of the sanctuary protesting vaccination passports etc. The joy-filled, prayerful celebration that began at 7pm was an emotional counterpoint to that rather negative event.
Every member of the parish present had a role to play in the liturgy. The parish is also home base for Urban Aboriginal Ministry, the compassionate service ministry founded and established by the late priest, the Reverend Vivian Seegers who died of complications due to COVID-19, June 2, 2021.
Rev. Carrothers' appointment was a direct appointment succeeding the Reverend John Marsh who had served the parish as vicar for many years and retired at the beginning of 2021.
There was substantial turnout of clergy, many from the Oakridge deanery but also many from outside the region as Rev. Carrothers' ministry is well known and highly regarded around the diocese and around the Anglican Church of Canada. For twelve years prior to ordination and for two years following ordination Rev. Carrothers was Missioner for Parish Development in the Diocese of New Westminster where she was an effective and skilled voice in parish development, church growth and church vitality programs and practice. However, ordained ministry was always her goal and it was a great pleasure for all of us present at this Celebration of a New Ministry to see that goal fulfilled.
Although not unique, the parish has a particular worship style, seated in the round, all who are present are part of the worship and there is a connection to the liturgy that one does not usually find at a more conventional Anglican church. Sound is an important part of the spiritual practice of the parish not only the human voice but singing bowls and bells are used as calls to prayer and mark different sections of the Eucharist. Liturgist Pam Martin, ODNW with musicians Marianne Huestis and Pat Mullins facilitate a worship experience that creates a beautiful environment for prayer and contemplation.
The preacher for the Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist was the Reverend Sharon Smith, Vicar of St. Catherine, Capilano who was a member of the parish prior to her ordination to the transitional diaconate in 2018 and her priesting in 2019. Rev. Smith made references to her connection to the parish in her homily which is available here on the diocesan website.
During the Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God which is a significant component of the Covenant in Ministry section of a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist there has been increasing emphasis on symbols which highlight the Anglican Church's priority to journey toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Métis and Inuit. St. Mary Magdalene shares its space and resources with Urban Aboriginal Ministry so the commitment of the parish to support reconciliation is even more profound. On September 1, during the presentations, Jean Senior of UAM presented Rev. Carrothers with a ceremonial drum and said these words,
"Tasha , we look to you to work with the Urban Aboriginal Ministry and the Indigenous peoples of this land, that we may be faithful allies, sharing the path of healingm and agents of reconciliation,"
To which Rev. Carrothers addressing all those gathered, replied,
"I invite all of you to join with me in working for healing, celebration and right relationship."
Please keep Rev. Tasha Carrothers, her family, the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene/Urban Aboriginal Ministry in your prayers as they continue on their journey together.