On the rainy Saturday morning of November 3, 2018, 62 people in the Diocese of New Westminster were invested into the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster. There were 66 nominees, 56 nominated by parishes, and 10 nominated by Archbishop Skelton. Three of the parish nominees were unable to attend and one of the ‘Bishop’s’ nominees had travel plans that conflicted. They will be invested at a later date, likely during episcopal visits to their parishes, which has been the process in the past.
Fifty-six parishes of the 66 in the diocese participated by submitting nominees in this the 9th Investiture of New Members. The venue for the event for the third time was New Westminster’s Massey Theatre which is connected to New Westminster Secondary School, and this was the second time that the investiture had taken place on a Saturday morning within the context of Morning Prayer.
For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘Order’, it was developed in 2008, by the Cathedral Chapter and a small adjunct committee led by the Very Reverend Peter Elliott, Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster. The purpose of the Order is to honour and give special recognition to lay members of the diocese who have given outstanding service over a significant period of time in their volunteer ministry. The Investiture Service takes places every other year within the Octave of All Saints (8 days). The inaugural year was 2009. Details about the criteria for nomination and the process are available on the diocesan website.
For 2018, St. John’s, Shaughnessy’s (SJS) organist and director of music, Michael Dirk, with SJS choirmaster, Ann Chen and five skilled choristers led the music in worship that included well known congregational hymns and some challenging repertoire appropriate for Morning Prayer, sung by the sextet. Archbishop Melissa Skelton was the officiant, Dean Peter Elliott was the preacher and Warden of the Order, Robert Watt read the Citations. More than 30 clegy of the diocese vested and processed.
As in years past there was a dedicated offering collected at the ODNW liturgy, and for 2018, it was directed to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), with the request that the funds be directed to their partners who are providing relief to the victims of the September 15, 2018 typhoon, which brought 24 hours of devastating rain and wind, damaging vast areas of the Philippines. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) is Companion Diocese to the Diocese of New Westminster. While the choir, congregation (audience) and folks on stage sang the 8 verses of “For All the Saints”, greeting team leader, Jane Dittrich and the team of 12 did a seamless job of collecting the offerings from the congregation and clergy. As of this writing on November 8, the total raised was $4,023.75.
The preacher was the Very Reverend Peter Elliott who took the Gospel, Luke 12: 32-40 for his text and more specifically the verse ““For where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also” (Luke 12:35). He began his homily saying,
“How many of you here today remember the little rhyme that you learned when you were a child, it goes, “This is the church and this is the steeple, open it up and see all the people!” Well look around today—see all the people, and even here where there is no steeple. But this is the church—whenever the people of God gather that’s the church. And as I look out this morning, I see three different groups of people. First there’s the Archbishop and her clergy and musicians. Second there are those about to be invested in the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster, those who are already Members of the Order, and their fellow parishioners. And third there are the family members and friends who aren’t part of any particular congregation but you’re here because your friend or your mother or father or aunt or uncle or grandparent is up here on the stage to be honoured by their church. It’s to you, this third group that I want to speak directly to this morning.”
He went on to explain that some of the terms that they would hear during the reading of the citations may not be familiar, he gave some examples and explained the context. He spoke about service, commitment and love, the love that the people on the stage have for God and for their church. Near the end of his homily the dean said, “we’re called to know ourselves as beloved of God and to help each person we meet know that they too are beloved of God”.
As in the recent past, members of the ODNW participated in the liturgy: Midori Seo, ODNW of Holy Cross offered the First Reading, Sirach 35: 1-13 in Japanese; Brian Walks, ODNW of St. Mark, Ocean Park proclaimed the Gospel; and Tom Kerr, ODNW of Church of the Holy Spirit, Whonnock was the intercessor.
The Massey Theatre lower level has seating for approximately 1000 seats and it was very near capacity. At least 10 percent of the congregation were current members of the ODNW.
Following worship there was a reception in the small gymnasium at New Westminster Secondary School catered by Bette Geddes and Associates who had prepared a delicious light lunch consisting of savories, sweets and beverages.
God willing, the 10th Investiture of New Members to the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster will take place within the Octave of All Saints in 2020.
- The 2018 ODNW Group Photo
- The theatre fills up
- Preacher, Dean Peter Elliott demonstrates, "Here's the church, here's the steeple..."
- Warden of the Order, Robert Watt, ODNW leads the applause for the new members
- Archbishop Skelton offers The Benediction.