In the Christian tradition Mary Magdalene holds a special place. She is often called the 'First Apostle’ as the first person, female or male, to see the risen Christ and to be given a charge to proclaim that message to others. Her witness to the raising Jesus from the dead formed the foundation of the church’s primary message: life, not death, is God’s last word to the creation.
So it is fitting that on Wednesday night, the 13th of January, Bishop Skelton, with the concurrence of Diocesan Council, declared the establishment of a new Parish, the Parish of St. Mary Magdalene, whose physical home will be located at 2950 Laurel Street. But this new parish is an embodiment of God’s promise of new life.
St. Mary Magdalene represents the on-going ministry of St. Mark’s, Kitsilano now united with the ministry of Saint George’s VGH. After the ending of Anglican worship at St. Mark’s Kitsilano in 2013, the worshipping community of St. Mark's in shared ministry with their vicar, the Reverend John Marsh weighed several options, including other generous offers of hospitality from other parishes, and after prayer, discernment and discussion voted to accept St. George's invitation to share their building and formally relocated the worshipping community (and the altar, banners, tabernacle, handbells etc.) to 2950 Laurel Street. Under John’s leadership, the two communities began to grow together; separate services at first, then occasional shared services, then a common worship service. In February 2014, the two communities affirmed their desire to take the necessary steps to unite their ministries, and a joint parish council was elected. In December 2015, the trustees of the two corporations approved a series of resolutions which paved the way for the creation of a new parish to be named after the ‘First Apostle’.
While John and others were weaving the two communities into a new community, the Reverend Dr. Richard Leggett, Regional Dean of Granville chaired the trustees of the parish corporation of St. Mark’s. Their responsibility was the stewardship of the physical property at 1805 Larch. The seismic upgrades at Kitsilano High School led Tenth Avenue Alliance Church to St. Mark’s as a home for their community and a base for their ministry to the community. Various music groups continue to use the premises for concerts and education. Children are served through the Montessori preschool. An extreme weather shelter and other programmes to reach out to the homeless and hungry continue. What was ‘St. Mark’s Anglican Church’ is soon to be ‘St. Mark’s Place’, an Anglican facility committed to serve the Kitsilano community.
Our liturgy proclaims that life for the faithful is changed not ended. What is true for faithful individuals is true for faithful communities.
We also ask that everyone continue praying for the Reverend John Marsh and for his spouse, the Reverend Paulina Lee, who is rector of St. Chad's located in Vancouver's Arbutus Basin. John suffered a stroke on December 29, 2015, while visiting family in Ontario. Many thanks to Pam Martin, ODNW for the following update regarding John, "John and Paulina flew home on January 16th. John walked off the plane, albeit slowly and with Paulina's support (only to discover that someone else had taken his luggage! Soon straightened out, however). On January 18th he was offered a bed in the in-patient stroke recovery program at GF Strong which amounts to a full-time job of intensive rehab. On Sunday, January 17th, John walked into the church in time to receive communion and hear the reading of Bishop Melissa's letter declaring the establishment of the new parish of St. Mary Magdalene. He still has a lot of work to do in recovering, but he is in the best place to do that and progresshe has already made is amazing. Thanks be to God!"