On June 25, 2007, I was installed as the 13th primate of our beloved church. It was a hot and humid night, and St. Matthew’s Church in Winnipeg was like a sauna! I was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the ministry to which I had been called, I remember little of the liturgy except the great relief of the congregation in being sprinkled with water as we renewed our vows in baptism! While momentary, the relief was welcomed!
And here we are, 12 years later, prayerfully poised for the election of a new primate, called to lead our church in serving God’s mission in the world.
In these few weeks that take us into General Synod, I have much work to do by way of my own preparation—spiritual, pastoral and administrative. It seems there is so little time for reflection, but in the moments I seize, my heart overflows with gratitude.
In the first instance, my gratitude is to God. I could never, ever have imagined the joys and blessings of being called to the ministry of primacy in our church. By its very nature it is a servant ministry in which one is expected to travel extensively, visiting every diocese on a regular basis. I remain ever grateful for these visits—for synods, missions, quiet days, retreats for clergy and laity, town hall gatherings and ecumenical events. Thank you, one and all, for the warmth of your welcome. I also want to say what a joy it has been to celebrate with hundreds of parishes marking milestone anniversaries in their witness to the gospel.
It has been a great privilege to gather the national House of Bishops for spring and fall meetings. We have rejoiced together, we have struggled together, and we have stayed together through challenging times. In the opening of the Scriptures and the breaking of bread, in joyful song and in quiet prayer, in “our” upper-room chapel on the third floor of the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls, we have been graced time and again, and we are grateful.
I am thankful for those with whom I have been surrounded in my work as chair of General Synod and its council. It has been an awesome task to chair three meetings of General Synod— 2010 in Halifax, 2013 in Ottawa and 2016 in Toronto. My fourth and last will be 2019 in Vancouver. I have been so ably and cheerfully supported in this role by the officers of General Synod— notably the prolocutors (Stephen Andrews, Robert Falby, Harry Huskins and Cynthia Haines-Turner) and their deputies (chancellors Ron Stevenson and David Jones), whose knowledge of all things canonical and procedural has been such a great help. I also acknowledge the host of faithful servants who have given so much in their work in planning our meetings.
I am also thankful for the invitation of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples to be a guest of four Sacred Circles: 2009 in Port Elgin, 2012 in Pinawa, 2015 in Port Elgin and 2018 in Prince George. My role was to listen and learn, to speak and pray when invited to do so. I rejoice in the milestones in our journeys of healing and reconciliation, and in our ventures of partnership in building a truly Indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada. There is much to celebrate and much to anticipate!
In this limited space, I cannot adequately express the measure of my gratitude for the privilege of having worked alongside three General Secretaries—Michael Pollesel, Sam Carriere (acting) and Michael Thompson—each with a keen mind and huge heart for our beloved church.
As I look around Church House, I am continually awed by the competence and commitment of all those who provide leadership for the various ministries of the General Synod, be it in Faith, Worship and Ministry; Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice; Truth and Reconciliation; Government Relations; The Healing Fund; Indigenous Ministries; Communications; Anglican Journal; Anglican Video; Resourcing our Mission and Stewarding our Finances Wisely. They are all servant–hearted leaders whose dedication to their work and guidance of the committees and commissions they support are stellar. And they, in turn, are well served by a host of support staff, whose work, while often behind the scenes, is critical to the manner in which work is accomplished.
Within the Primate’s Office I have been supported so very well by the administrative associate, Jo Mutch. She has done tons of work for me, not the least of which has been attending to the details associated with every visit I make throughout our church and beyond. Grateful for her support, I am also indebted to Paul Feheley, the principal secretary, especially for his work with the House of Bishops—and with the staff of Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office in arranging for my annual meetings with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General.
Beyond the General Synod, it has been a great privilege to serve as chair of the Anglican Foundation of Canada. Its tagline is to “Imagine More.” It supports not only major repairs to church buildings, renovations and repurposing, but also projects reflecting innovative approaches to ministry in ever changing social and cultural contexts.
I also shout out a huge debt of gratitude for the privilege of having been drawn very close to the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund in its vision of “a truly just, healthy and peaceful world.” What a joy it has been to be associated with initiatives in prevention of HIV/AIDS, in ensuring food security for all the peoples of the world, in advancing “Maternal Newborn and Child Health” in parts of the world where such care cannot be taken for granted.
Thank you to all who work for the Pension Office Corporation. What an incredible ministry they provide for clergy and laity employed by our church.
So much, dear friends, for which to be so very grateful. How can I thank you for all your ministries, for all your remembrances of me, by name, in your weekly and daily prayers? I can do no better than to quote St. Paul writing to the beloved in Christ in Philippi:
“I thank my God every time I pray for you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of your because you hold me in your heart” (Philippians 1:3-7)
As you have held me in your hearts, so I hold you mine, praying for God’s blessing as the church moves on with the leadership of our new primate.