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 2015
“Is it your will that these persons be ordained for the office and work of a deacon?” This question was put by Bishop Melissa to a capacity crowd gathered at St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale on June 28th last year. We responded positively and so Paul Richards and the three other diaconal ordinants were consecrated to a ministry of servant leadership. It was an occasion of great pride and joy for me personally. For Paul and the parish, it also represented the fulfillment of a number of years of discernment and preparation. From the moment his clerical collar was fastened, Paul has contributed very generously of his time and energy. He has made his organizational and leadership skills available in so many aspects of parish life. He is a man of energy, vision, commitment and, above all else, compassion. I really value having him as a colleague. In all he does, he is supported by his wife, Lenore. She is, of course, involved in several ministries in her own right – notably as a chorister, money counter and Synod delegate.
The main areas of Paul’s responsibility are pastoral care and outreach. To my mind, these things are inextricably linked. We care for each other within the congregation so that we are equipped and energized for ministry outside. St. Francis of Assisi put it more radically. It is by offering support and consolation to other people that we find ourselves supported and consoled. With regard to pastoral care – a number of you expressed a concern in my evaluation last year. You felt that this area needed more of my personal attention. Message received! I have done all I can to free up more of my time for pastoral calls, home visits and sacramental care. This process has been helped by having Robin Inglis take some significant responsibility for matters connected with the building and by the capacity of our office manager, Jann Callaghan Cullen, to oversee so many other aspects of our life and work. She does this with efficiency, patience and great good humour. I am very grateful to Robin and Jann.
With regard to outreach, I am pleased to let you know that we are in the process of adding to the list of organizations that we support. It is already quite impressive. It includes Sources Food Bank, the Mission to Seafarers, Atira Society, A Rocha and PWRDF. Now we are working with Alexandria Neighbourhood House, with our J2A program encouraging us to contribute to the practical needs of local youth in need. We are also engaging in serious consideration of how we might respond to the devastating and heart-breaking humanitarian crisis in Syria.
For a couple of years, we have been wondering how we might be a greater service to our most local community – the population explosion right on our doorstep. We had thought that the Diocesan School for Congregational Development might help us do some research and learning in this area, but its focus has shifted to training individuals for leadership in the church. A great idea – but not entirely what we wanted. So I have begun conversations with a number of individuals from the dwellings around our church about setting up a neighbourhood association. There is clearly a need to do some intentional community building – getting to know our neighbours, making our part of White Rock a safe, clean and an enjoyable place to live, and providing an opportunity to discuss larger issues that may impact our locality. You will hear much more about this.
We had some wonderful social events during 2015. We were transported to an Italian trattoria, a Palace of Romance and the meeting place of two Duelling Pianos. We even launched our stewardship appeal in the context of an English ploughman’s lunch! Gatherings like these really help us to get to know each other and so pave the way for understanding, co-operation and mutual ministry. They also can be great occasions for some creative fundraising.
Talking of money, it has been a challenging year financially. We are not alone in this. Almost every parish in the Diocese struggles to pay for its ministry simply from what comes in on the collection plate. The current economic situation, the lower Canadian dollar, and competing demands for charitable gifts are all factors. The great thing to avoid is panic. Stewardship education is an ongoing process and has a cumulative effect.
One of the many things I enjoy about Holy Trinity is the seriousness with which spiritual formation is taken. As you now, preaching and teaching are my passions. It was great to be able to put before the parish some of the things I learned during my recent sabbatical. This I did in the form of our Lent Course on “Acts” and, with the help of our diligent deacon, our Advent course on different kinds of prayer. A number of you have asked for Another thing that gives me enormous pleasure is sharing the leadership of our church with such dedicated and energetic people. Long lists of “thank yous” can be a little tedious and invidious, but I have to name four:
- Richard Keats decided for personal reasons to stand down as a warden before the end of his term. But it is typical of his commitment that he is still willing to put his wit and wisdom as well as his perceptiveness and practicality at the disposal of our congregation.
- Audrey Mistiades is a person of deep faith and admirable dedication. A day seldom goes by without her popping by the church in the course of her many ministries, and always with a smile!
- Sean Latimer has been my warden for five years and he feels it is time for a break. I have enormously appreciated his enthusiasm and energy for our mission here, and am grateful for his sensitive pastoral care of me.
- Last year Helen Davison agreed to her being re-appointed as our Treasurer, and this arrangement will be renewed at Vestry. Helen brings an eye for detail, a sensible head for caution and a warm heart for the ministries made possible by our finances. She works well with our resourceful and deeply reliable book-keeper Mary Ponsford.
Let me finish with something that will stay in my mind for a long time. It was seeing the newly baptized Ava Finley with her prayer shawl proudly around her shoulders helping her Godmother Mollie Hedley walk to the altar. It spoke more eloquently that any sermon about the truly intergenerational ministry that occurs at Holy Trinity.