On Thursday, September 21, the Most Reverend Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada arrived in her former hometown of Vancouver in the Diocese of New Westminster for the second time in 2023. The first time was in early April during a layover on her way to Prince Rupert and Terrace/Nass Valley in the Diocese of Caledonia to preach and preside at Easter liturgies. On April 6, Archbishop Nicholls visited the Synod Office and spent some time with Bishop John Stephens and Synod staff.
This second time had a specific purpose and that was to award the Chancellor of the diocese of New Westminster, George Cadman, KC, ODNW, AAM the Anglican Award of Merit, the highest honour bestowed on a lay person in the Anglican Church of Canada. The AAM recognizes and celebrates lay people for their service at the national or international level.
George Cadman is only the fourth person from our diocese to receive this honour and the first since Rob Dickson, AAM received the medal and ribbon from then-primate, the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz at his parish church, St. Christopher, West Vancouver in September of 2010. The other two recipients are the late Garth Walker, AAM, ODNW; October 7, 1914 - September 19, 2012, and the late Cynthia Llewellyn, AAM, ODNW; August 28, 1920 - December 4, 2016.
George who has served our diocese as Chancellor (the chief legal officer) since 1988, has also been involved in the life of the national church, contributing his valuable knowledge on the law and the Church at national chancellor’s gatherings, through his work with the national church and his leadership in the ongoing work of reconciliation with Japanese-Canadian Anglicans and much more.
The tradition is that each recipient of the AAM is honoured by the Primate during a Sunday Eucharist following that year’s summer General Synod at their home parish. In this case, St. Agnes, North Vancouver on the morning of September 24.
Prior to the Sunday morning liturgy, on Friday the 22nd, Archbishop Nicholls preached and presided at a Eucharist followed by time together with the students and faculty at the Vancouver School of Theology. And on Saturday the 23rd she with Bishop John Stephens welcomed fifty diocesan clergy for a “Conversation with the Primate” in the Trendell Lounge at the Synod Office. The meeting began at 9:30am and continued until just after 12noon. At the beginning of the meeting Archbishop Nicholls reminded everyone that her early formation in faith took place between the ages of 6-16 when she lived in Vancouver and was a member of the Parish of St. Philip, Dunbar. She assured the clergy present that no topic was off limits and that she would listen to all points of view and do her best to answer the questions posed to her. Following the time with the clergy of the diocese she and Bishop John travelled to St. Laurence, Coquitlam to attend the parish’s 60th Anniversary celebration and present the wardens and clergy with a certificate from the Primate recognizing the milestone.
On Sunday morning the Parish of St. Agnes was buzzing with anticipation. It was a beautiful early fall day, the Sun was shining brightly and the church was full. Not only would George Cadman be honoured by the Primate, but this was also the Sunday, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost when Brianna Audrey Trenaman would be confirmed by Archbishop Nicholls.
During the homily, (available here on the diocesan website) the Primate examined the readings: Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16, and concluded the brief examination of the texts saying: “It is our human comparison and competitiveness that often makes us complain at a moment when we should be rejoicing and thankful that we have received enough, and our neighbour has received what they need.” She then changed course and said “The church does a wonderful job of celebrating clergy moments. We pull out all the stops to rejoice in an ordination of a deacon or priest, a diocese celebrates those made honorary canons and really pulls out the stops when the consecrate a bishop. But it does seem that we only rarely remember and celebrate the call and ministry of lay people. And today is one of those days. Today we recognize and celebrate the ways in which our most important calling is lived and that is the calling of our baptism."
The sermon was followed by the Creed, the Litany, the Confirmation of Brianna and of course the Eucharist. Following Holy Communion, the Primate presented the AAM to George Cadman, ODNW, AAM. Prior to handing George the Certificate, placing the medal and ribbon around his neck and giving him the lapel pin that he may wear on a daily basis she read a letter from the Right Reverend John Stephens.
It is as follows:
“I write today on behalf of the entire diocese to give thanks to you for the incredible work that you have done over many years for the Church. You have offered your time and your talents with such willingness and generosity that it is inspirational to all around you.
The role of Chancellor is one that those outside of the Bishop's Office may not fully understand, as it extends far beyond your more public presence in the Diocese as seen at Synod. As Chancellor, you have made yourself available for conversations, meetings or email exchanges when you were sometimes at the busiest time of your schedule.
When I was installed as the Tenth Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster you were present as part of the legal obligations. But more than that you were fully present to offer your prayers and full support. I appreciated it very much on that day, and it has not wavered since then. On a particular occasion when I commented about how much time and skill you offer to the Diocese, you simply offered that this was what you signed up for. I continue to be so grateful.
I am proud and delighted that you will be receiving the Anglican Award of Merit as presented by our Primate, The Most Reverend Linda Nicholls. It is so well deserved for all the work that you have done in this Diocese and the National Church. It is the highest honour that the Anglican Church of Canada can bestow upon a lay person, and you are so deserving. With your humility, wisdom, determination and good humour, you have gone far beyond what is asked of you and it is greatly appreciated.
When Jesus called each of his disciples, he often simply said, "Follow me." Simple words that clearly they felt compelled to live into. You too have heard these words, George, and we in the Diocese of New Westminster and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to give thanks that you agreed to this calling. May God bless you and keep you always."
Following the dismissal and many photos a celebratory Salmon lunch catered by Bette Geddes was served in the parish hall. Nobody went home after church on September 24, the hall was full.
Congratulations Brianna and congratulations George may you continue to live out your baptismal covenant to the best of your abilities and to the Glory of God through Jesus Christ.
Photos: Randy Murray (except where noted)