At a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist, March 7, 2023, Bishop John Stephens inducted the Reverend Mark Munn as Rector of the Parish of St. Helen, West Point Grey.
In the fall of 2020, the Parish of St. Helen, West Point Grey was in some distress. The once thriving west side parish was faced with the conclusion of the ordained leadership of then-rector, the Reverend Scott Gould, and none of the numbers; membership and finance, were looking particularly hopeful. However, the members of the parish maintained their commitment to the continuation of Anglican worship in West Point Grey and in early 2021, the Reverend Liz Hamel was appointed priest-in-charge at 50% time. Over the next two years the parish maintained its ability to offer public worship of God and the decision (with the approval of Diocesan Council) to sell the rectory located in this very desirable neighbourhood supplied the parish with the resources to hire staff and most importantly a full-time rector. The parish leadership asked that Bishop John appoint a rector without going through the full canonical process and the Reverend Mark Munn was selected.
The Parish of St. Helen, WPG offers these words of description on their parish page on the diocesan website:
We invite children, youth, adults, and elders to come grow your spirit, worship God, (great music!), reach out to homeless friends, in warm community. St. Helen’s mission is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all people. We are ordinary men and women who have become extraordinary through God’s love of us in Christ.
Our aim is to testify and witness to the presence and leading of God’s Spirit in our midst and in the life of the community in which we live. St. Helen’s seeks to be a loving, nurturing, and supporting fellowship of faith for all people. We exist to serve the building of God’s Kingdom in this time and place through worship, education, fellowship and service.
The parish does have a fine tradition of music in worship and of children’s and young people’s ministry. As founding members of the Westside Anglican’s Neighbourhood Ministry the parish is devoted to offering care, companionship and practical help to their most vulnerable neighbours. The parish is very involved in refugee ministry, responding quickly to the Syrian refugee crisis that came to a head with the drowning death of two-year-old Alan Kurdi wo died September 2, 2015.
Raised up for ordination by the Parish of Christ Church Cathedral, the Reverend Munn was ordained to the priesthood June 24, 2017. He continued the curacy that he had begun at St. Anne’s, Steveston following his ordination to the diaconate, June 18, 2016. The rector of St. Anne’s was the Reverend Brian Vickers who prior to his incumbency at St. Anne’s had been the long time Rector of the Parish of St. Helen, Point Grey. The Reverend Vickers who was also the Regional Dean of Richmond/Delta resigned his ministry in the spring of 2019, with his last Sunday as rector on April 28 of that year. The Reverend Vickers accepted the position as rector of a parish in the diocese of Calgary. Following his curacy, the Reverend Munn continued his career and ministry as a chaplain at Covenant House, a compassionate service organization that strives to offer support and sanctuary to marginalized young people. Prior to ordination, the Rev. Munn worked in development at Covenant House and for a time he was the Director of Development at Christ Church Cathedral. In the fall of 2021, the Reverend Munn indicated to Bishop John that he was interested in resuming his vocation in parish ministry and January 1, 2022, Bishop John appointed him Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of St. Martin, North Vancouver, a parish that was seriously considering closing. The Reverend Munn helped shepherd the parish through that process and the subsequent merger with the nearby Parish of St. John the Evangelist. The Reverend Philippa Pride was in ministry as Interim Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of St. Helen, Surrey when she was appointed Executive Archdeacon of the diocese of New Westminster which began on October 17, 2022, with the title Special Assistant to the Bishop until she succeeded the Venerable Douglas Fenton who retired on January 4, 2023. With the departure of Archdeacon Pride from the Surrey parish, Bishop John appointed the Reverend Munn Interim Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of St. Helen, Surrey, October 24, 2022, a ministry that he continued up until February of 2023 and his March 1 appointment as Rector of St. Helen, WPG.
The liturgy celebrated on March 7 was attended by members of the parish, a substantial contingent of clergy from the deanery and archdeaconry, a contingent of the Reverend Munn’s supporters from the parish he attended prior to ordination, Christ Church Cathedral, and folks from the two parishes where he had recently been priest-in-charge. For obvious reasons this is a good sign for the members of the new rector’s parish. The Venerable Philippa Pride successfully led the second Covenant in Ministry of her young incumbency as Executive Archdeacon. The regional archdeacon, the Venerable Stephanie Shepard and the regional dean, the Reverend Lorne Manweiler were both present to welcome their new colleague. Deacon of the Word and Table was the Reverend Jeffrey Preiss form Christ Church Cathedral. The music in worship was led by an SATB quartet accompanied by a pianist/organist. The singers maintained COVID-19 protocols, masked, separated and individually mic’d for the Zoom livestream. Very early in the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Helen’s became skilled at livestreaming worship using the Zoom platform.
The Reverend Munn's father, the Reverend Canon Harold Munn was the preacher. His sermon is available on the diocesan website using the link included with this article. At the conclusion of the sermon, Canon Munn asked that the hymn, “Will You Come and Follow Me” (Common Praise 430) be sung as a prayer and invited the congregation to kneel. The hymn was sung followed by a brief period of silence which led into the Covenant in Ministry.
Following worship there was a celebratory reception which included an appreciation farewell to the Reverend Liz Hamel.
Congratulations to all and please hold the Parish of St. Helen, West Point Grey, the new rector and his family in prayer as they move into this new phase of ministry.