Ordinations to the Diaconate of Stephen Black, Amanda Ruston and Leah Skuro by the Most Reverend Melissa Skelton took place on Saturday, June 20 at 10:30am. This was the first in-person diocesan liturgy since the March 9 installation of the Reverend Katherine Hough as Vicar of St. Augustine's, Marpole. The liturgy was celebrated at Christ Church Cathedral. This was also the first in-person diocesan liturgy since in-person worship was suspended by Archbishop Skelton on March 18. With the June 14 phased re-opening of parishes now in play, the directives and guidelines for in-person worship have been put in place and those parishes that want to open are now following the protocols that involve many restrictions including rigorous adherence to physical distancing and limiting attendance to a maximum of 50, or an amount of people gathered who can safely and consistently maintain a 2 metre physical separation.
For the ordinations on June 20, the congregation was by invitation and reservation only and restricted to the aforementioned total of 50 which included the ordinands, sanctuary party, cathedral/synod staff and audio/visual staff. Storybubble media did a great job of the live-stream and if you didn't view the service please check it out on YouTube, it is linked below.
Christ Church Cathedral’s rector, the Reverend Christopher Pappas coordinated the rehearsal before the liturgy and welcomed the congregation prior to the Procession, both those in the building and those watching online; the cathedral’s, organist/director of music, Rupert Lang provided music for reflection and prayer; parish administrator, Vincent Carey oversaw the set-up of the chancel entrance/altar area and served as crucifer; the Reverend Jim Short, a United Church minister and military chaplain read the first reading, Baruch 4:21-24 (Padre Short is from Ladner where the now-Rev. Steve Black has been serving his internship at All Saints’); the Reverend Helen Lingham, deacon at St. Andrew’s, Langley was the psalmist leading the reading of Psalm 116: 1-8, (St. Andrew’s is the now-Rev. Ruston’s home parish); the gospeller proclaiming Luke 12: 4-12 was the Reverend Carole Neilsen of Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster (Rev. Neilsen was standing-in for the now-Rev. Skuro’s presenters who were not in attendance); Archdeacon for Deacons for the Diocese of New Westminster, the Venerable Bruce Morris was present in his official capacity and he also served as the litanist; the Venerable Douglas Fenton, Executive Archdeacon of the diocese officiated during the signing of the Declarations and led the reading of Veni Creator Spiritus prior to Archbishop Skelton beginning the Prayer of Consecration. Archbishop Skelton was the officiant and preacher.
In her sermon, Archbishop Skelton presented detailed information about the martyr, Bernard Mizeki whose Memorial Feast Day on June 18 was being celebrated that morning. The archbishop wove in the stories of the three ordinands within the context of Mizeki’s faith, ministry and martyrdom. The sermon is available in the archived YouTube linked on this post at the 14:40 mark and a PDF of the text is downloadable below.
The Reverend Black was presented for ordination by Dr. Megan Otton and the Venerable Richard Leggett. Dr. Otton, a long time liturgical assistant at Christ Church Cathedral has served with Rev. Black at the cathedral in that capacity for many years, and the Venerable Richard Leggett is Archdeacon of Westminster. The Reverend Ruston was presented by the Vicar of the Parish of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Reverend Andrew Halladay with Alison Minto. The Reverends Black and Ruston were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate as they are on track to be priested.
The Reverend Skuro was presented by the Reverend Barbara Blakey a long-time honorary assistant and interim at Rev. Skuro’s home parish of All Saints’, Burnaby and Heather Duff. Rev. Skuro, currently an intern at Holy Trinity Cathedral begins her ordained ministry as a deacon.
Although celebrating a liturgy with strict adherence to physical distancing protocols can be challenging , the ordination went forward without any perceivable glitches. Families of the ordinands and other family groups present gathered together in their “bubbles.” It was uplifting and inspiring to see Rev. Black with his spouse and children sitting together. Rev. Black’s family assisted him in the traditional “vesting according to the order of deacons” following the laying on of hands by the archbishop.
Please keep the newly ordained in your prayers as they begin this new phase of ministry.