Following the procession and the singing of the hymn, Unto Thy Temple, Lord, We Come, Bishop Michael Ingham welcomed the congregation to worship with a short reflection on Wednesday evening, September 18th. St. Matthias and St. Luke is the third of the three parishes returned to the diocese after lengthy litigation, to have an incumbent appointed, and that in itself is a significant event. Bishop Michael reminded everyone present that our recent history has been a very sad chapter in the life of our diocese and the inability of Christians to find common ground is not something that should be celebrated. However, the moving forward and the embracing of new, shared ministry is something joyful and we are all grateful to be worshipping together and welcoming Vivian. Bishop Michael also gave thanks for the ministry of The Reverend Randolph Bruce who had been Priest-in-Charge of the Parish since August of 2011, and to The Reverend Ruth Monette who had been and is currently serving as Assistant Priest-in-Charge through to year-end.
Vivian’s family was present in the sanctuary on the warm September night, having travelled from New York City. Her spouse, Bascom Guffin, had also arrived so that the two of them could begin their lives together here in Vancouver. Vivian is a new priest, she was ordained in January, 2010, in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Her Father, Peter, is the Rector of Church of the Holy Spirit, Brooklyn and her mother, Nancy, is completing her PhD dissertation in Sociology. Her brother, Jonathan, is completing a PhD in Forensic Psychology at Fordham University in NYC, and husband, Bascom, is also completing a PhD. Their presence at her induction combined with the closeness of the small St. Matthias and St. Luke worshipping community brought a warm, family feeling to the liturgy.
The preacher for the liturgy was The Reverend Douglas Fenton, Director for Mission and Ministry of the Diocese of New Westminster. Through his prior ministry position with young adults in the Episcopal Church, Douglas became acquainted with Vivian. He knew of her academic studies at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California and attended her ordination to the priesthood in 2010. He also knew that she had completed her curacy in the Diocese of Long Island
As was also the case with The Reverend Fr. Michael Fuller, the recently inducted Incumbent of St. John’s (Shaughnessy) (Douglas was the preacher at his induction), Douglas had a great deal of involvement in the process that brought Vivian into contact with Bishop Michael and the parish community resulting in her appointment.
When Douglas began the conversations with all of the principals to bring about the arrival of two new priests in the Diocese of New Westminster he probably had not considered that he would be asked to preach at both inductions.
He began his sermon with these words,
“I suggested to Vivian that I could re-work my sermon from last Wednesday night (Father Fuller’s Induction on the 12th)—change a few names, locations, etc. ‘Really?’ she asked with a surprised, and worried and perplexed tone all in one. I could tell from her tone of voice that Vivian wasn’t liking my idea.”
He continued on in his homily to address the three scriptural offerings heard that evening: Hebrews 11.32-35, 39-12:2 (read in Cantonese and Mandarin by People’s Warden, Helen Cheung), Psalm 89: 1-4 and John 4.32-38
Douglas’s address was in many ways an enthusiastic charge to the congregation of St. Matthias and St. Luke to draw inspiration and courage from the parish’s past and …
“to be thankful to those who laid the groundwork for the new ministry we are about to take up and to learn the lessons such stories teach us. It’s also important not to be distracted by what was, if it restricts, inhibits or impinges upon where we are as we look forward.”
He urged the congregation to support Vivian in the full awareness that it is the entire community that enters into shared ministry together and to take responsibility for taking the message of God’s Love through Jesus Christ out into the neighbourhood.
The next section of the Celebration of New Ministry liturgy was the Covenant in Ministry and this is often when the personality of the parish is revealed. There were two distinctive presentations during the Covenant. The first was the presentation of a THERMOS to Vivian to “encourage us to look beyond ourselves, actively engaging the needs of our surrounding neighbourhoods and being a beacon for Christ in all places.” The second was a YOGA MAT and the presenter was Vivian’s husband, Bascom. Bascom read these words, “Vivian, we look to you to be a living example of wholeness and health not only as a priest, but in your other vocations including; spouse, sister, daughter and friend. Take this yoga mat as a reminder to care for yourself as you care for others.”
At the completion of the Covenant in Ministry, Vivian was presented to the parish as the leader of their ministry. Now it was time for Vivian to be welcomed first by her Archdeacon, The Venerable Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Archdeacon of Burrard and second by her Regional Dean, The Reverend Markus Duenzkofer.
Ellen took a few minutes to offer Vivian a very warm welcome and then it was Markus’s turn. He came to the chancel entrance proffering a bouquet of flowers, upon their being received by Vivian he pulled out a sheet of paper and proceeded to read his welcome to Vivian in Cantonese and Mandarin. Reports after the fact were that Markus’s Cantonese was pretty good but his Mandarin could use considerable work. Regardless of his linguistic execution, Vivian, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in New York was visibly delighted by his efforts.
As is the tradition at Anglican churches the world over the service was followed with a reception in the Parish Hall and the homemade treats served were among the best the diocese has to offer.
Please keep the community of St. Matthias and St. Luke, The Reverend Ruth Monette and new Rector, The Reverend Vivian Lam in your prayers as they embark together on their journey.
Images: Top, The Reverend Markus Duenzkofer welcomes Vivian in Cantonese and Mandarin. Upper Middle, Vivian's family exchange the Peace with the congregation of St. Matthias and St. Luke and the clergy of the Diocese of New Westminster. Upper left, Bishop Michael congratulates the new Rector. Middle right, The Reverend Douglas Fenton. Lower right, Mr. Alex Lee, Mrs Angel Lee and Mrs, Rosina Koo present the Thermos to Vivian. Lower left, Bascom presents the Yoga Mat.