It had been a very busy week and weekend in the D of NW what with the 115th Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, And Always We Begin Again wrapping up at the Italian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver about 20 hours prior to the beginning of worship at St. John’s. The sanctuary of St. John’s was well on the way to being full by 10am as clergy and lay of St. Agnes’, St Catherine’s, St Clement’s, St. Martin’s, St. John’s (the five Anglican worshipping communities), Gloria Dei and Mount Olivet (the two Lutheran worshipping communities) arrived in time to get a seat. The music in worship team led by Director of Music and pianist, Galina Martyniouk; Choir Director, Christie Smith; and Organist, David Millard were putting the instrumentalists and the combined choir through their paces, preparing a very ambitious program of music which was presented beautifully throughout the 2 hour liturgy.On a wall in the northeast section of the sanctuary a large blue banner decorated by the children of St. John’s bore the simple message, “WELCOME Bishop Melissa!” This would be the 9th Bishop of New Westminster’s first parish visit to any church in North Vancouver.
Bishop Melissa was the preacher and presided over the Eucharist. As mentioned earlier, the music at this liturgy was very good, an excellent balance of congregational singing and rehearsed repertoire offered by the choir and instrumentalists. The readings and the intercession were prayerful and presented with confidence. Bishop Melissa chose the Gospel for her text, John 14: 15-21 unpacking the message of Jesus’ words in this section of John commonly referred to as the Farewell Discourses with a personal story and then at the end with an anecdote that she had heard from a clergy colleague in Washington State. The text of Bishop Melissa’s EASTER IV SERMON is available by clicking the link.Bruce Bodwell (now ODNW), a long time parishioner of St. John the Evangelist, North Vancouver who also served as the parish treasurer for many years had been too ill to attend the 2013 Investiture of New Members to the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster officiated by the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, November 4th, 2013. So it was Bishop Melissa's happy task to present him with the honour at his home parish. After Bishop Melissa held up the ODNW medallion and ribbon for all to see she read the Citation regarding Bruce Bodwell: "Bruce’s dependable practice of faithfulness, stewardship, hospitality and caring has shown great leadership and encouragement to parishioners of all ages, for many decades. He has offered particularly strong and vital leadership in his role as Parish Treasurer in times of crisis." It was an emotional moment for Bruce and his family as Bishop Melissa placed the ribbon and medallion around his neck and clasped his hands in hers. A little bit of history was made as Bruce Bodwell is the first ODNW member to receive the honour from Bishop Melissa Skelton.
Prior to the dismissal, The Venerable Lynne McNaughton Archdeacon of Capilano and Incumbent of St. Clement's, Lynn Valley made some announcements and facilitated some presentations. Lynne asked that the Reverend Laurel Dykstra join her at the front as she told the congregation about Laurel’s considerable contribution to North Vancouver Regional Ministry and to the greater church. Laurel has completed her part time position as curate on the North Vancouver Regional Ministry Council and this was a great opportunity for all seven worshipping communities to show their considerable appreciation for Laurel’s ministry over the past two years. After Lynne spoke, the Chair of the North Vancouver Regional Ministry Council, Alison Watt of St. Catherine's, Capilano made the official presentation to Laurel of some beautiful planters. Laurel responded with some sincere words of observation, reflection and gratitude to the members of the seven worshipping communities present that morning.Following the presentation to Laurel, the Venerable Lynne McNaughton presented Bishop Melissa with a gift of a handcrafted prayer shawl. The St. John's, North Vancouver community is particularly well-known for their excellent skills in quilting and knitting crafts.
Of course everyone knows that a special event like the first ever visit of the new Bishop at a combined worship service must be followed by food and the May 25th event was no exception. However, the lunch and reception would not take place downstairs in the St. John’s Hall but half a block west in the brand new gymnasium of the beautifully renovated Queen Mary Elementary School. According to Reverend Patrick Blaney, the principal of Queen Mary School upon hearing of the special Sunday Eucharist taking place at St. John's, and the presence of Bishop Melissa Skelton contacted Patrick and offered the space at the school to the North Vancouver Regional Ministry Council. What a great example of community building. Thank-you Queen Mary School!