There is always a lot going on at a parish where the Reverend Miranda Sutherland is priest-in-charge. And even on this Sunday, March 5, Lent II, her penultimate Sunday as vicar of the parish, a day when she was welcoming Bishop John Stephens on the first visit of his episcopacy to his venerable parish in Surrey’s northerly Port Kells district, the Rev. Sutherland had lots planned. It was a beautiful early spring day, sunshine, blue skies and a good-sized congregation.
With the bishop preaching and presiding and no deacon or bishop’s chaplain available, the Reverend Sutherland took on those roles as well as her default ministry as priest-in-charge. There was of course the Celebration of the Eucharist for the Second Sunday in Lent, but there would also be: the Investiture of the parish’s 2022 nominee to the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster, Sheila Snell, who had not been able to attend the diocesan liturgy and investiture held in New Westminster’s Massey Theatre, November 5, 2022; the installation by Bishop Stephens of the parish’s wardens; the distribution of Certificates of Recognition (that Bishop John signed upon arrival at the parish) to every member of the parish; and a celebratory luncheon in the hall.
For his text, Bishop John examined the Gospel for the day, John 3: 1-17, one of the most famous passages of Scripture in the New Testament. Before he began his message he had this to say about the Reverend Sutherland:
“I am grateful for the work that Miranda has done here and in other parts of the diocese. She brings with her an infectious energy and an enthusiasm for faith. She will soon be moving from St. Oswald’s, and I thank her for the work she has done in this place.”
As alluded to in the first paragraph, the next Sunday, March 12, Lent III would be the Reverend Sutherland’s final Sunday as Vicar of St. Oswald’s. She had been appointed Interim Priest-in-Charge of St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford and also continues her ongoing ministry as Vicar of Holy Spirit, Whonnock. Both are half time ministry positions.
To put his sermon on John 3: 1-17 the story of Nicodemus’s questioning of Jesus into context he quoted Richard Rohr,
“There are commonly two kinds of human beings: there are people who want certitude and there are people who want understanding; and these two people often cannot understand one another.”
Following the sermon, it was time to invest Sheila Snell into the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster. As Sheila and Bishop John stood together at the chancel entrance, the Reverend Sutherland read the full Citation. Bishop John invested Sheila but did not have the ribbon, medal, or printed Citation summary at hand but that didn’t really matter to anyone. The Citation prepared for the investiture is as follows:
Sheila is a dedicated member of St. Oswald’s Church where she is instrumental in many activities such as the yearly Surrey Food Bank drive. She has involved St. Oswald’s parishioners and her daughter Laura in assisting with a centre where vulnerable young mothers can shop for free. Sheila is someone who is “on speed dial” if a question needs to be answered. She is a conscientious caretaker of church finances and a “go-to” hard worker who is looked up to by everyone in the parish.
Bishop John also installed the 2023 parish officers: Stephen Stow, Vicar’s Warden; Sandra Cattermole, People’s Warden; Sheila Snell, ODNW, Alternate Warden. Following the Eucharist and prior to the Episcopal Blessing, Closing Hymn and Dismissal, Bishop John assisted by the Reverend Sutherland handed out personalized Certificates of Recognition to every member of the parish. Following worship about 70% of the congregation gathered for a posed group shot (the other 30% went to the hall to prepare and/or wait for the luncheon to be served).
And when the bishop went back into the vestry to change and to pack up his vestments he found the medal, ribbon and Citation for Sheila. They took a quick selfie. Oh well, the ribbon is visible anyway.
We hope you enjoy this selection of photos from a very busy morning at the Parish of St. Oswald, Port Kells.
 Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation Daily Meditations from Wednesday, July 19, 2017