The Rev. Neil Gray The Reverend Neil Gray

Welcome to Holy Trinity!

We are really pleased that you are worshipping with us and hope that you will want to find out more about this community.

Like all Christian congregations we have a great diversity of backgrounds, views and experiences, but we are united in our belief in the life and witness of Jesus of Nazareth. Like the disciples he called two thousand years ago, we try to follow his example of care and compassion, and do all we can to understand and pass on his teachings.

I would welcome an opportunity to get to know you and find out how we can help you in your spiritual journey. We can also explore together the ways you might want to be part of the Parish of the Holy Trinity.

Welcome!

The Rev. Neil Gray, Rector

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 2014

One of the highlights of 2014, for me and I think for most of you, was the visit of our new Bishop, the Right Rev’d Melissa Skelton.  It was wonderful to experience all the warmth and joy she brought to celebrating the eucharist and to listen to the sensitivity and insight of her sermon, coming as it did so shortly after those awful shootings in Quebec and Ottawa.  After worship, she tried to engage with as many of the congregation as possible over coffee and cake, with enough energy left to have a lunch with the wardens and then an interview with me.  The bond between a parish priest and his/her bishop is a very special one. It is important that the priest has the support and confidence of the bishop – I certainly feel this with Melissa.

During her time with me, Bishop Melissa commented very positively about our parish.  She highlighted three things with which she was very impressed.  The first of these was our worship – “It is so well organized” she said.  I told her what I have told you in previous reports – that I take my responsibility here very seriously.  I put a lot of time and attention into the planning and preparation of our liturgy, making sure all the participants are trained and their activity co-ordinated.  This way the people in the pews can pray, sing, listen and receive without anxiety.  In this regard, I am delighted that we have added two new readers to our 10:00 a.m. team, and two new servers at each of our eucharists.

Another source of joy and pride for me in the area of worship is the handsome new lectern bible given to Holy Trinity by our Men’s Group.  I look forward to dedicating it on Sunday 22nd February as we prepare for our annual vestry.  The old binder with the lectionary inserts was convenient, but it is much more significant symbolically to have the whole of the Holy Scripture before us in church.

The second aspect of our ministry on which Bishop Melissa remarked was our team of lay Eucharistic ministers.  She said how important it was to ensure that the sacrament is available to people who cannot worship with us regularly.  “What you are doing enables many more people to receive Holy Communion much more frequently than if you were doing this alone”.  I pointed out to her that in addition to this, we have a vast informal network of visits, flower delivery and phone calls, as well as an increasing use of social media to make sure shut-ins are not neglected or isolated.

The third compliment that Bishop Melissa paid us was in the area of welcome and hospitality.  “I have never encountered a church that doesn’t describe itself as ‘friendly’, but Holy Trinity really is a warm and loving community”.  But then she added a gentle warning that we must be aware of the dangers of becoming too inwardly focused.  Wise words!

Her warning and the inspiration of her leadership has led us to become more aware of the needs of our growing local community.  We have a population explosion right on our doorstep and we have a unique opportunity to respond.  Some of the newcomers will be families with children - they may be interested in joining us, but for many of them Sunday is an increasingly difficult day.  Others will be people with an interest in the spiritual side of life but who do not find that regular worship serves their needs. Still others will be devout members of other faiths.  And some will be people of goodwill and a social conscience but no religious affiliation.

Addressing the needs of such a varied locality needs original thought, open minds and a willingness to risk and grow and change.  Maybe we need to listen more and talk less!  Perhaps we can be more creative in the use of our church, hall and gardens?  Can we work more closely with the other local Christian churches?

As we consider these important issues, I am encouraged by a number of things.  The first is that Paul Richards, our diaconal postulant, will be back with us in June.  He has been on a placement at St. Faith’s, Vancouver, a parish that has done some very exciting and effective ministry in the area of local outreach. We can all learn from Paul’s experience.  I am also encouraged by the enthusiasm that has been shown about sending a parish team to the Diocesan School for Parish Development.  They will be supported by a group of men and women from our congregation who meet under the name “Infinitely More”, looking at the ways in which the plans we make can be put into practice.

The other thing that encourages me is the amazing way you all rose to the challenge around our projected deficit.  At one point in the summer it looked as though we were facing an unprecedented loss at the end of the year.  But thanks to your commitment and generosity, the figure is only $1,400 more than budgeted!  I like to think of the turnabout not only as a response to the “2014 has 13 months” appeal, but also as a vote of confidence in the plans for our future that I mentioned above.

I would like to respond, as I conclude my report, to a comment made to me after a recent funeral.  “How are we going to survive as a parish with so many people dying?” My answer was that while it is always sad to say “goodbye” to a member of our parish family, we need to remember that each week we say “hello” to somebody worshipping with us for the first time.  It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can to ensure they want to remain and join our community. 

My final words will be those of thanks.  I am very grateful to all those who kept the good ship “Holy Trinity” happily and healthily afloat while I was away on study leave and to the Reverend Arthur Nash, my locum.  Naturally, much of the responsibility fell on the corporation – who had the added complication of Paul Richard’s impending resignation as a requirement of his diaconal training.

An individual note of praise is appropriate here:

  • Sean Latimer is a man of enterprise and zeal.  In addition to his other duties, he represents the oversight of all our financial matters that is the responsibility of the whole corporation.  He also takes a welcome, personal interest in the pastoral care of the rector!
  • Audrey Mistiades is a person of enormous reliability and faithful dedication to her tasks.  As a member of our choir, she encourages all of us to sing our parts and make a harmonious whole!
  • Paul Richards’ talents of compassionate leadership and creative organization were shown during the months he was a warden and will be available to us again, when, God willing, he is ordained as a deacon.
  • Richard Keats, elected at the Special Vestry in November, brings a perceptiveness and practicality to the team.  Valuable assets indeed.
  • Last year Helen Davison decided not to seek re-appointment as our Treasurer.  We are grateful that she has made herself available as a mentor and guide to Mary Ponsford, our new bookkeeper, to whom a great vote of thanks is also due.

It is the prerogative of the wardens to thank the staff, but I cannot forbear to add a sentence of appreciation to our Office Manager, Jann Callaghan Cullen.  Her enormous energy, unflappability, conscientiousness and great sense of humour make her an invaluable part of our parish.

Respectfully submitted,
Neil Gray

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