More than 1000 folks braved the rain and chilly winds on the morning of Saturday, November 5, 2016, to attend the 8th Investiture of New Members to the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster.
47 of the 49 parish nominees and all 9 of the bishop’s nominees were present to receive the medal and ribbon on the stage of the Massey while Warden of the Order, Robert Watt read their Citation. The purpose of the ODNW is to honour people who have distinguished themselves in living out their baptismal identity and purpose in an exemplary way through service whith their parishes, in their broader communities and in this diocese.
For the first time in the history of the event the investiture did not take place within the context of a Celebration of the Eucharist but during Morning Prayer. Michael Dirk, organist and director of music at St. John’s, Shaughnessy (SJS) prepared the music and assembled an octet from SJS under the direction of Ann Chen to lead the music in worship. Michael also arranged to have an electric three manual organ delivered from Carillon music along with 9 portable speakers to accurately cover the entire frequency spectrum of the instrument. The set-up of the organ began at 6:30am.
Jane Dittrich of Christ Church Cathedral (CCC) assembled a skilled and experienced team of 12 greeters who took on the tasks of: managing the reserved seating, ushering, bulletin distribution, information services and the Offertory. Jane was on site by 6:45am to ensure that all would be in order.
The Reverends Jeremy Clark-King and Liz Ruder-Celiz of St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale (SMK) were the MC’s and they had a variety of responsibilities, including planning the flow of the liturgy, organizing the two clergy processions, the Offertory and helping the recipients through the process of leaving their designated seats to line-up, receive the medal and ribbon, be greeted by the bishop, pose for a photo by diocesan photographer Wayne Chose, and return to their seats.
The readers and intercessor for the service were new members of the ODNW. Brigette Castro, ODNW of St. Michael’s, Multicultural Church in Vancouver, offered the first reading, Sirach 51: 1-12 in her first language, Tagalog; Chris Barr, ODNW of St. Laurence, Coquitlam read the Gospel passage, Luke 14: 1-11; the intercessor was Dr. Robyn Woodward, ODNW of SJS. The office of Morning Prayer does not require a full cohort of servers and acolytes but there were two crucifers, Greg Kennelly, ODNW of Holy Trinity Cathedral, and Hootan Alaei of St. Barnabas, New Westminster. Bishop’s Chaplain was Kerry Baisely, ODNW.
In her homily, Bishop Skelton shared a personal story about a remarkable experience during her ministry in the US south, and then she connected the Gospel reading to samples of quotes taken from the Citations to be read during the investiture ceremony that illustrate the diversity, commitment and contribution of the recipients. Bishop Skelton closed out her address referring to the text of the Edward Bairstow anthem, “I Sat Down Under His Shadow (Song of Solomon 2: 3-4)” beautifully sung by the SJS choristers following the Gospel reading and prior to the address.
(Bishop Skelton’s address is available by following this link. Due to an technical glitch the first section of the homily is not present in the audio file but the complete text of the sermon is downloadable)
Bishop Skelton's and Michael Dirk's choice of all 8 verses of “For All the Saints” combined with the organizational teamwork of Jane Dittrich, and the Reverends Ruder-Celiz and Clark-King proved to be a perfect fit for the Offertory and a congregation of over 1000 in a theatre. This year’s offering will be directed to a fund to stimulate new congregational starts and new parish initiatives as a way to honour the Members of the ODNW and their dedication to the building up of the Church. This was also the first time that the diocesan online giving capability was used at a worship event.
Following the Offertory, Warden of the Order, Robert Watt, ODNW stepped up to the lectern and for the next 55 minutes read the Citations of the 56 new members present that morning. The congregation were asked to hold their applause until all the nominees had been inducted, however there were a couple of exceptions, the most notable being the laughter and applause that broke out when Alex Starr, ODNW of SMK the youngest ever recipient of the honour brandished his smartphone in the well-known “selfie” position, and with Bishop Skelton happy to cooperate by turning her head toward the device he snapped a shot of the memorable moment.
Before the intercessory prayer a medical emergency in the theatre was communicated to the greeting team and then immediately to Massey Theatre staff. 911 was called with the result being the arrival of a team of first responders on the scene within minutes. Following the Benediction and prior to the Closing Hymn the congregation were asked to remain in their seats after the hymn to enable the paramedics to do their work in caring for the individual in distress. The on-site evaluation proceeded efficiently and the patient was removed on a wheeled stretcher in minutes. The good news is that reports have come in to say that the patient was feeling much better and had attended worship at their parish the next morning.
The liturgy was followed by a great deal of photographs and a celebratory reception in the small gymnasium of New Westminster Secondary School with food for 1100 prepared by Bette Geddes and her team.
Due to the changes in Regulation 22 the Regulation of our diocese that governs the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster passed by Diocesan Council May 11, 2016, the ODNW, nominations process and investiture now takes place every two years. The next investiture event will be on or around All Saints’ Day, 2018.