The Right Reverend John Stephens was ordained Co-Adjutor Bishop on January 23, 2021, at Christ Church Cathedral. The Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC/Yukon and Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, the Most Reverend Melissa Skelton presided and was joined by the Right Reverend David Lehmann, Bishop of Caledonia and the Right Reverend Lynne McNaughton, Bishop of Kootenay fulfilling the roles of Provincial Presenters and Co-Consecrators. Bishop McNaughton was the preacher.
The Dean of the Diocese, the Very Reverend Chris Pappas; the Executive Archdeacon of the Diocese, the Venerable Douglas Fenton were present as Diocesan Presenters and also as Witnesses. The Reverend Jeffrey Preiss, Deacon of the Word and Table completed the ordained membership of the Sanctuary Party. Rev. Preiss was the Gospeller and Litanist.
Ruth Stephens was present as one of the Diocesan Presenters. Ruth also assisted with the vestments and helped place the Episcopal pectoral cross and ring on the newly ordained Bishop, her husband the Right Reverend John Stephens.
The Chancellor of the Diocese, George Cadman, QC, ODNW read the Testimonials of the Election prior to the Co-Adjutor Bishop-elect's declaration to the Archbishop.
Teofilo Bosang, ODNW of St. Michael's, Vancouver shared the First Reading, Acts 26:9-23 in Tagalog and Helen Cheung, ODNW of St. Titus' (formerly St. Matthias and St. Luke) presented the Second Reading Galatians 1:11-24 in Mandarin.
Only the principals were present onsite for the liturgy which was livestreamed.
Apart from Ruth Stephens, the lay people present participated in the service from outside the sanctuary and only came into the sanctuary when they were required, one at a time.
In her sermon which followed Reverend Preiss’s proclaiming of the Gospel, Matthew 10: 16-22, Bishop Lynne McNaughton reflected on John and her long personal relationship with him. Bishop Lynne than wove in the readings from the Holy Day being celebrated at this Eucharist, The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25).
At the completion of the consecration and vesting, Bishop Stephens paused the liturgy prior to “the peace” to address the diocese and all those participating online. He began by saying:
“Thank-you so very much people of our beloved diocese for your prayers; for your support; for your kindness; for your encouragement, as we all begin a new chapter in this diocese; and for me as a bishop in Christ’s church. I really wish that all of you could be here today, that we could’ve gathered and celebrated in-person, but sadly that was not to be… There are so many people that I’d like to thank, people who have been so influential in shaping me, my faith and my life, but I will keep it short. I’m so grateful to my wife Ruth for her love and support and her presence here today. To our adult children, Sarah and Matthew, who are not able to be here due to COVID restrictions (I know that you are both watching at home), I love you both. To my family and friends who are tuning in from many, many places: here is BC, other parts of Canada, California, Ireland (lots in Ireland), England, New Zealand and other places around the globe. Especially my mum, who is watching from her home in Ireland.”
Bishop Stephens then thanked by name and locations, the parishes where he has served and he thanked Archbishop Melissa for her “leadership, mentorship, graciousness and guidance.” support. He thanked Haida artist, Alvin Adkins for the beautiful cross and ring and for his support and friendship. The new bishop concluded his brief address with this message to the diocese of New Westminster:
“And to all the people of the diocese, I am so thankful to you, your trust in me; your prayers for me; your walk with me to this day (which is) inspiring and much appreciated. Despite this pandemic, each parish and place of ministry has continued to offer beautiful and Holy Spirit-filled worship and creative ways to be a community of Christ despite it all. It has not been easy and continues to be a challenge and a burden. You are all in my prayers and I am so looking forward to visiting the parishes and other places of ministry in this great diocese in person and as often as possible. May God’s light and blessing shine upon you.”
In his January 25 scheduled communique to the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese, Archdeacon Fenton supplied some additional information:
Bishop Stephens is the third bishop coadjutor in the diocese's history. Bishop David Somerville was bishop coadjutor with Archbishop Gower, and Bishop Douglas Hambidge was bishop coadjutor with Archbishop Somerville. [For those who may be wondering - it is only coincidental that our Diocese has had a bishop coadjutor now on three occasions whilst the diocesan bishop is also an archbishop.]
The service begins at the 20:30 mark and is available for viewing below.
On February 28, 2021, Archbishop Melissa Skelton's retirement date, now Bishop Stephens will be seated and installed as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster.
Information about the February 28 liturgy will be broadly circulated as it becomes available.
PHOTOS IN THE SCROLL BY Randy Murray