RECTOR’S REPORT 2012
2012 was a unique year for me! It was the very first one since I left seminary that I was completely without a clergy colleague – no curate, associate priest or honorary assistant. It was a strange experience and something of a challenge. I really missed having somebody with whom to share my responsibilities and also another ordained person, who could function as a sounding board, a source of inspiration and a (gentle) critic. However, I have to say that this situation provided a wonderful opportunity for the Holy Spirit to raise up a number of faithful men and women who are now exercising truly remarkable lay leadership in a great variety of areas of our life and ministry.
One of the most important of these is in connection with the pastoral care we try to provide for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ – especially for those who cannot worship with us regularly. It is of enormous help to me to have a team of six people licensed by the Bishop to take Holy Communion to our shut-ins. We are now in a position to offer this regularly, not just at Christmas and Easter. This ministry is greatly enhanced by our home and hospital visitors, flower deliverers, prayer shawl knitters and a vast informal network of phone calls, e-mails and the provision of rides. Quietly and confidentially, bringing all of this to God is our Prayer Chain.
There is also some enormously effective lay leadership in the areas in which we try to reach out to our local community and beyond. The ACW inspires us by the way they collect Hot Sox for Seafarers, layettes for Atira House and blankets for northern Canadian parishes. During 2012, we were encouraged as a parish to help provide warm winter clothing for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Shelter, and also for the homeless right on our doorstep. We, of course, continue in our partnerships with the local food bank and A Rocha.
Talking of lay leadership, mention must be made of Mary McDougall who, this year, was admitted to the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster. In thanking the parish for nominating her, Mary typically diverted the attention away from herself and towards all of the other ministries that take place in the church. But it is an undeniable fact that in her, we have a wonderfully clear illustration of what the life of a disciple of Jesus looks like, and an example we would all do well to follow.
The areas of church life that remain part of my direct responsibility are, of course, worship and study. With regard to the former, I can do no better than to quote one parishioner who said, “I hate it when I have to miss a Sunday morning at Holy Trinity. There is always something interesting happening.” I really do all I can to provide a liturgy which is lively, participatory and enjoyable. I work alongside our Young People’s programs to find creative ways in which they can be involved in the eucharist. This is very important, as is the way in which music enhances our worship. We now have a choir than is able to bring tears to our eyes when it makes space for our junior Sunday School to join singing in “Silent Night/Night of Silence” and then get our hands clapping with a rousing rendition of the “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy”.
With regard to Christian education, my other area of direct focus, I am always encouraged by the very enthusiastic way in which our educational courses are supported. I also put a great deal of time and energy into the writing of my weekly sermons, but it is not just that. Making time for learning, discussion and spiritual growth is a hallmark of a healthy parish.
Another indication of a parish’s health is the hope it holds for the future. For us at Holy Trinity, we have at least four marvellous visual aids of the next generation of Christians with the “baby boom” in the back row! One of the young guys is so keen to become involved, that he is already training to be a greeter. The “Journey to Adulthood” program continues to bless the transition from childhood to maturity. This year, Hayley Grant made her Rite 13 promises and Meagan Veltri and Forrest Lisle were confirmed at the Cathedral.
It is also important that as a community we try to find ways of getting to know each other, and of sharing the Good News to people outside. So this year, I am pleased to say that you can now ‘like us’ on Facebook as well as consult our website. Our Men’s Group has now functioned for a full year with a growing membership, and in October we had another of our gatherings to welcome and orientate newcomers - over twenty attended.
We have fully implemented the Diocesan “Screening in Faith” policy with police record checks and vulnerable sector searches for all of us involved in areas of medium and high risk activity. It is very important that those people - ordained or lay – whom we place in positions of power and trust are selected, trained and supported so that their ministries may be life-giving. It is in this way that our Christian values are consistent with the legal concept of “duty of care”. Everyone has a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that does not cause harm to other people or their property. I am so very grateful for the help of Kathy Irwin in putting this policy into practice. Next year, we will be responding to two other diocesan initiatives around sexual misconduct and racial discrimination.
I am delighted to tell you that we have a member of our congregation, Paul Richards, who is in the process of exploring his vocation to the diaconate. The diocese has an established process for enabling such explorations and this has been initiated here with the Ven. John Struthers, the Director of Deacons, and the Co-ordinator of Diaconate Formation, the Rev. Dr. Richard Leggett. We now have a support group which will work with Paul to examine and evaluate his sense of call by God to ordained servant ministry. In addition, we have a discernment group which will look at whether or not we have “a deacon-shaped space” here at Holy Trinity and, if we do, whether we would call Paul to fill it. One of the interesting things about this process is that it provides an opportunity for all of us to understand our calling to ministry as a baptized child of God.
A long list of individuals singled out for acknowledgement is awkward and invidious. It is also unnecessary in a parish where people contribute so generously of their time and talents. More importantly, they see what they undertake as real Christian ministry – it is part of their baptismal responsibility. One group must, however, be mentioned – our Corporation – Peter Johnson, Kathy Thornton, and Sean Latimer, our wardens and Helen Davison, our treasurer. They are a great team to work with, each with individual passions and talents and also the commitment to help implement the decisions that they make. I value the way in which they support and encourage me. Kathy Thornton has decided not to seek re-election as a people’s warden, and so I want to express my gratitude for her time in this position.