The Reverend Paula Porter-Leggett’s last Sunday as Rector of St. Faith’s
in Kerrisdale was a very special day. Bishop Michael Ingham was in attendance to preach, preside and consecrate St. Faith’s new altar during the 10am Celebration of the Eucharist, February 13th. The liturgy was followed by a sumptuous potluck buffet lunch served downstairs in the parish hall.
Bishop Michael began his sermon by expressing his personal gratitude to Paula for her caring, compassionate ministry to the St. Faith’s community and to join with the congregation to say goodbye and thank-you.
There was a certain amount of irony around the fact that Paula had been urging the congregation to commission the building of a new Altar for the sanctuary since very early in her incumbency 10 years ago. However, Bishop Michael reminded the congregation that the consecration of the new Altar on that day was particularly meaningful, for as Paula moves on in her ministry a new table for spiritual food is welcomed. This reminds us that Paula may leave, but Christ remains with us.
Of the three readings assigned for the day, Bishop Michael chose the Epistle, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
for his sermon text.
Bishop Michael reminded the congregation that Paul’s message was delivered to a small Christian community in an ancient seaport. That community was divided into at least four factions of followers (although only two are made reference to in the passage) with different leadership. It was a fragmented church. Paul was no fan of factionalism. In his writings he made it clear that he saw that as a sin of the flesh, equivalent to idolatry, sorcery and fornication. Paul’s message directed to that small group was to let them know that God reduces us to defeat and failure when we remain in competition with each other. When we break into groups we fail to grasp the meaning of the Cross and of servanthood. We are justified only by the sacrifice of the one Christ, not by theology. Bishop Michael said “When we turn our backs on each other we turn our backs on the Cross. It is our task to accept one another.”
The Bishop went on to brief the congregation on his upcoming trip to Burundi and Tanzania to meet with African Bishops.
Following the Bishop’s Blessing, the community enthusiastically sang Bishop Gordon Light’s hymn, Draw the Circle Wide
, complete with choreography. The acolyte, deacon, associate priest and bishop all processed out through the sanctuary to the nave leaving Paula at the front of the chancel to offer some further announcements and directions about the rest of the day. Before she could speak, the entire congregation (the church was nearly filled to capacity) rose to their feet as one and began applauding. There were tears and smiles on the faces of the applauding congregation, all by-products of the appreciation felt for their priest, pastor and friend.
Paula will be inducted by Bishop Michael as the Rector of St. Andrew the Apostle in Langley
on March 17th at 7:30pm. The preacher will be the Reverend Paul Guiton.
Paula’s spouse the Reverend Dr. Richard Leggett has been appointed priest-in-charge at St. Faith’s for a one year term March 1st, 2011 to February 29th, 2012.
St Andrew's Langley has scheduled a Farewell Dinner for their outgoing Interim priest-in-charge Arthur Nash on Friday, February 25th.
Images: Top - Paula and David Searle and the Farewell cake baked and decorated by David. Centre right - Bishop Michael with Gene Wrankmore and Linda Lepard.
Bottom - The table. Before saying Grace, Bishop Michael observed that more than giving thanks for the bounty "we should ask for forgiveness."