Fr. Neil has been rector of Holy Trinity since May 2003. He moved to White Rock from Vancouver's West End where he had been at St. Paul's Church since 1988. During that time he served as both associate priest and rector as well as chaplain to the Anglican patients at St. Paul's Hospital. Prior to that, he worked at a number of parishes in London, England. He was trained for ordained ministry at St. Stephen's House, Oxford.
As a priest, Neil places a very high priority on the liturgy. "I agree with Matthew Fox, the theologian, that it is a great sin to bore people to death for an hour on Sunday morning and call it worship!" He says "We try to make our time together a really positive experience - involving as many people as possible with a balance of ages and gender as we equip ourselves by word and sacrament for our ministry". Growth was one of the priorities named by the parish when it produced its profile in 2002. This happens, Neil believes, when a Christian community meets two specific needs of its members. "People are increasingly clear about their reasons for choosing a church - they need help with the spiritual life and want to be part of making the world a better place. We need to look at how effectively all the things we do as a church help meet these goals".
Quite a lot of Neil's time and energy goes into helping people identify their gifts and talents and then encouraging them to use them in the service of the Kingdom. Holy Trinity is a church that sees itself as a ship with no passengers - all crew!
The Rector is in the office most mornings and is easily contacted at other times. Monday is his day off. He looks forward to meeting you and doing what he can to help and support you.
RECTOR’S REPORT 2013
2013 was a really special year for me. I celebrated sixty years on God’s green earth – half of them as a priest! It was also the tenth anniversary of my coming to be your rector. The wardens had the brilliant idea of combining all three occasions into a special eucharist of thanksgiving, followed by a parish party. They invited the former Archbishop of New Westminster, The Most Rev. Douglas Hambidge to be our preacher and guest of honour. I was greatly moved by the many wonderful things that were said on the day, and also want to thank you all for the very generous gift that was presented to me. You are a parish that truly takes care of their priest.
You also take care of each other. That care is expressed in a great variety of ways. It is the motivation behind the team of lay people who visit and administer Holy Communion to those who cannot worship with us regularly, whether they are at home or in hospital. It finds expression in the people who deliver flowers to our shut-ins, knit prayer shawls and lap robes and in the way you always keep me informed about those individuals who might need some comfort or spiritual support.
In addition, you are a parish that reaches outside of itself, offering care to our local community and beyond. The huge generosity of your support for the Food Bank caused an expletive to slip from the mouth of the man who came to collect all our donations at Thanksgiving. He was very impressed! A Rocha, the Christian community agricultural project, was similarly impressed by the $2000 raised by the team of 13 Holy (Trinity) Terrors in their run for the Little Campbell River Valley. Your commitment to outreach provided Hot Sox and home-made cookies for cold and hungry seafarers as well as the hosting of a whist drive and tea party to raise money for the Breast Cancer Society. We also took the unprecedented step of “moving our liturgy downtown” on Sunday 22nd September as we walked in solidarity with our First Nations brothers and sisters. This was a very powerful climax (if an extremely wet one!) to the week of events organized by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also inaugurates a new era of partnership and equality, following Archbishop Michael Peers’ apology for the abuses that took place in our residential schools.
In my report last year, I said how pleased I was that we have a member of our congregation, Paul Richards, who is exploring his vocation to the diaconate. As his parish, we have a significant part to play in this process of exploration and excellent progress has been made in this regard during 2013. The support group has completed its evaluation of Paul’s suitability for ordained ministry. In addition, the discernment group has given a positive and enthusiastic answer to both questions asked of it – that we do have a “deacon-shaped space” at Holy Trinity, and, if Paul is affirmed, we would want him to fill it. The next stage of the process is an examination of Paul’s sense of calling, by representatives of the wider church.
If Paul is ordained, his work here would have two major components. He will share with me the responsibility for co-ordinating the ministry of pastoral care and will help our parish to discover and, if possible, to respond to new opportunities for outreach in the community. He has already taken initiatives in both areas. He organized an “in service” training session for our Caring Connection and was involved in two educational workshops – one on the “Harsh Realities” of drug abuse and gang-related violence, and the other on elder abuse. Both were extremely well received. Please keep Paul (and his wife Lenore) in your prayers.
Underpinning all that we do at Holy Trinity is our corporate liturgy in the eucharist. As your priest, I really do all that I can to provide worship which is both lively and reverent. I like to encourage as much participation as possible from different sections of our congregation – young and old, women and men, well-established and newcomer. An essential element in our worship is music and here I have to add a note of profound appreciation for the leadership provided by the choir. We have a consistently high quality of singing Sunday by Sunday and always something extra special at the major festivals. You showed how much you value the ministry of our choir by the way in which you quickly collected enough to pay for their elegant new robes. Thank you.
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. We managed to combine fun and fundraising in our Strawberry Tea and Christmas Bazaar, and also in the Pancake Supper hosted by our Men’s Group. Increased numbers of people
consult our website and “like us” on Facebook. We also hosted another of our gatherings to welcome and integrate newcomers.
As you know, I will be away from April 23rd to July 23rd for my period of extended study leave at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford. I want to thank you for all the encouragement you have given me as I have been preparing for this. As well as studying St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, I will be taking part in the life and worship of the spiritual community there. I will greatly enjoy the discipline of regular communal prayer, participating in the eucharist (rather than always presiding) and listening to other people’s sermons. As a parish, you will benefit from a spiritually renewed priest, and one with lots more ideas for sermons and educational courses. St. Stephen’s House is located in an area which is ethnically diverse, socially deprived and largely secular. It respects, engages and reaches out to that community. It is an example from which we could learn much.
I want to finish my report by saying how much I value the way in which you all contribute so generously of your time and talents to support the mission and ministry of this parish. In particular, I want to acknowledge the huge amount of work undertaken by our Corporation. They are a great team – each with their individual interests and skills, but with a common understanding of commitment and responsibility. Helen Davison has decided not to seek re-appointment as our Treasurer. She has given eight years of dedicated and faithful service and has more than earned a break! I am so grateful for all that she has done and for her willingness to help smooth the transition to our new financial arrangements.
Peter Johnson has also made a decision to stand down. He is not seeking re-election as warden – although I am sure he will continue with the impressive variety of ministries that he has made his own. I am delighted and proud that his contribution to the spiritual and pastoral life of this parish was recognized by the diocese in its decision to make him a member of the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster.
I am very pleased that Sean Latimer is prepared to serve for another year as my warden. He is a man of enterprise and resourcefulness with whom it is a pleasure to work. Paul Richards, whom I talked about above, is seeking re-election as one of our people’s wardens. His sensitivity and sensibility make him an ideal candidate.