On Tuesday, August 3, the Feast of Stephen, (the other one, not the “Good King Wenceslaus” December 26 version) approximately 100 gathered at St. David’s, Delta in Tsawwassen for a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist, the induction of the Reverend Simbarashe Basvi as rector of the parish.
This was an historic occasion as it was the first induction of Bishop John Stephens’ episcopacy and the first Celebration of a New Ministry in a parish since July of 2020, when with limited attendance the Venerable Luisito Engnan was installed as Vicar of Christ the Redeemer, Cloverdale. On September 12, 2020, the Very Reverend Chris Pappas was installed as Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral by Archbishop Melissa Skelton with approximately 50 present, however, that is in part a diocesan liturgy and different than a parish celebration.
The Reverend Simbarashe Basvi, his wife Mebbo and their children have been in Canada since the end of 2020, and Rev. Basvi in his new ministry since January 1, 2021. His appointment was announced April 15, 2020 and here we were almost 16 months later celebrating the induction. And it was a wonderful celebration.
In the months since his arrival, Rev. Basvi has quickly got up to speed on the mission and ministry of the parish and despite some setbacks (like the recent hacking of the parish’s website and email server) the parish with Rev. Basvi as rector are now able to develop long range plans and goals following many years of interim ministry that dates back to the departure of their last rector, the Reverend Paul Woehrle in 2015. Pastor Woehrle is the Rector of St. Cuthbert, Delta and was present as part of the sanctuary party as he is the Regional Dean of Richmond/Delta Deanery in the Archdeaconry of Fraser and was there in his official diocesan capacity to welcome the new rector to the deanery.
The preacher was the Venerable Luisito Engnan, Vicar of both St. Michael, Surrey and Christ the Redeemer, Cloverdale and Archdeacon of Fraser. Fr. Louie's sermon is available here in video, audio and text on this website. The message of his sermon can be summed up quite simply that the community shares ministry together and in Fr. Louie's words,
"Bringing people to Christ is our communal vocation"
Reverend Basvi was presented to the bishop for induction by wardens, Gayle McMynn and Anthony Hanna. Director of Music, Sara Ciantar led the music in worship with a varied repertoire which included the Offertory Hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus”, led by Rev. Basvi and his spouse, Mebbo and sung in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Allen des Noyers accompanied the singing of that hymn on guitar and Ms. Ciantar vacated the piano and organ bench in favour of conga drums. The parish, now able to sing together, enthusiastically joined in on all the sung parts of the liturgy. St. David’s is one of the parishes in the diocese that uses a projector screen for the worship content.
Executive Archdeacon of the diocese, the Venerable Douglas Fenton led the initial components of the Covenant in Ministry which included: the explanation of how Rev. Basvi was selected by the canonical committee and appointed by the bishop, the declaration of the Oath of Loyalty and signature, and the reading of the bishop’s licence. The Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry of the Whole People of God took place with several members of the parish participating and Ngaire Meadows at the lectern giving voice to the “people’s” segments for the presentations. Following the presentation of the keys to the buildings, Bishop Stephens said,
“Simbarashe, let all these be signs of the ministry which is mine and yours, and is shared by all the people of God.”
“Amen. May we find joy together in the service of Christ.”
To which Bishop Stephens paused and then said,
“I present Simbarashe as the leader of your ministry and I invite your welcome.”
The bishop’s invitation was wholeheartedly accepted by the congregation who offered a sustained ovation.
All were invited to participate in the Eucharist of one kind only, the Body of Christ, as the Common Cup is not currently being used in order to protect the health and safety of worshippers.
There was a reception in the church hall following the dismissal with a large congratulatory sheet cake, wine, coffee, tea and a large assortment of treats available.
This was the first of 12 Celebrations of New Ministry that will take place up until September 28.
Suffice it to say, that it was wonderful to experience a parish gathering, although with some COVID-19 restrictions in place, i.e., no physical contact during “the peace”, however, there was congregational singing, and the opportunity to worship together without having to reserve a space in the nave or fill out contact tracing forms.
Please keep the Reverend Simbarashe Basvi his family and the Parish of St. David’s in your prayers as they move forward in mission and ministry together.