The entire upper level of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver was filled to capacity by 3pm, January 16, for Bishop Jim Cruickshank’s Requiem Eucharist. Hundreds of people gathered to worship together in the church where Jim had been dean and rector and more recently a parishioner and respected elder. In the words of Jim’s colleague, friend and current pastor, the Very Reverend Peter Elliott they had gathered to “commend (to God) Jim, our beloved teacher, pastor, bishop and friend.”
Many more gathered around their computer screens and mobile devices to participate in the liturgy via the live streaming online broadcast produced by Christ Church Cathedral staff and consultants. Thirty attended a live screening event at St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale, a parish where Jim had in recent years served as Honorary Assistant and had made a lasting impact on a cohort of “college and careers” seekers who met weekly in his home.
The liturgy began with the procession, and the Right Reverend Melissa Skelton, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster reciting the solemn words, “I am the resurrection and the life says the Lord… “ as bells softly rang beneath the sound of her voice. She was followed by the sanctuary party, the assembled bishops, the family, the casket and pallbearers.
Prior to the singing of the first hymn, “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation”, Bishop Skelton gathered the community with words of welcome.
The readings that Bishop Jim chose were: Genesis 28: 10-19; Ephesians 4:1-16 and Mark 8:27 –9:1. The other hymns he chose were: “How Great Thou Art”; “Ubi Caritas” (during the Intercessions); “Alleluia Sing to Jesus”; “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” and following the Doxology, members of Cathedral Choir led the singing of Rupert Lang’s “Kontakion”. Bishop Jim was a great admirer of Rupert and of that composition in particular. All the music chosen invited congregational participation, not surprising considering that Bishop Jim was an outspoken and active champion of the ministry of the laity. The music was beautiful and the participation by the congregation was enthusiastic.
The homily offered by the Dean of the Diocese and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Peter Elliott was a brief but poignant and moving look at this (in the words of an admirer posting her comments on social media) “good and faithful servant…this dear Christian man.” In the first paragraph of his sermon (which you can access by clicking this link), Dean Peter said, “In his clearly articulated directions for this funeral liturgy, Jim indicated ‘no eulogy’, and requested that I preach. Of course I will respect his request but how can we not speak about him today. So I’m grateful to the many of you who responded and sent me a few words expressing the Gospel according to Jim. I received over 50 emails with quotes and remembrances from so many of you describing how you heard the gospel from Jim: and it’s been a very moving experience to read them all.” Dean Peter had sent out a request with the announcement of the details of the Requiem Eucharist asking people to send in a twenty-five word message sharing something that they had heard Jim say that had resonated with them, or something that had stayed with them that they had learned from Jim.
The Prayers of the People were led by six individuals, all with a strong connection to Jim’s ministry: the Reverend Louise Peters, current Executive Director of Sorrento Centre; the Right Reverend Gordon Light, retired Bishop Suffragen of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior; the Reverend Helen Hill, priest associate during his time as dean of the Cathedral; the Reverend Dr. Richard Topping, currently Principal of Vancouver School of Theology; Thomas Roach, close friend of Jim’s, program presenter at Sorrento Centre; the Reverend Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Vicar of Christ Church Cathedral; and the Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC/Yukon, the Most Reverend John Privett. Archbishop Privett also celebrated the Eucharist.
After the singing of “Kontakion” the bishops in attendance gathered around the casket and the Right Reverend Barbara Andrews, Bishop Suffragen of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI – the parishes that were the worshipping communities of the former Diocese of Cariboo) presided at the Commendation:
Gracious God nothing in death or life in the world as it is or the world as it shall be nothing in all creation can separate us from your love.
We commend Jim into your loving care. Enfold him in the arms of your mercy. Bless him in his dying and in his rising again in you. Bless those whose hearts are filled with sadness that they too may know the hope of resurrection for the sake of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Go forth Jim on your journey from this world in the love of God the Father who created you in the mercy of Jesus the Redeemer who suffered for you in the power of the Holy Spirit who keeps you in life eternal.
May you dwell this day in peace and rest in the presence of God.