1) What is your vision for Huron?
“Building up the body of Christ and preparing God’s people to live God’s mission in the world”. This, our Diocesan mission statement captures the essence of my vision for Huron, in that it conveys that our mission is to join in the work that God is doing in the world around us, and to discern what God is inviting us to, as part of that plan. My vision for Huron is that it will be a healthy and vibrant place in which people with a variety of gifts and skills for ministry work collaboratively to share in this co-mission to which we have been called, furthering the mission of the church at both the parish and diocesan level. We will be intentional about nurturing a culture that is open to the ways in which the Holy Spirit is guiding us as we move forward in faith, understanding that while the message of God’s grace hasn’t changed, the ways in which we proclaim it must. As I consider the resources that God has placed in our care, my vision for Huron includes:
- the on-going nurture and development of our lay and ordained leadership in a way that is representative of who we are as the people of Huron, including those from our indigenous communities, our LGBTQ2+ communities, as well as our youth and young adults.
- a recognition of the demographic changes in our Diocese and our need to address the question “where are we, and where should we be” as it pertains to each of our communities. Do we have too many churches in some of our urban centres, placing us in competition with each other? Are we effectively serving the rural communities in our Diocese, many of which have seen their churches close due to a lack of resources? Seeking out viable alternatives for ministry in our diocese will be essential.
- affirming the need that we must be more actively engaged in the care of creation by being good stewards of the earth.
- the development of Huron Church Camp into a facility that has the capacity to be more fully utilized and resourced for its on-going sustainability.
Most importantly, my vision for us as the family of Huron is that we will be a place where all feel included and feel that their particular gifts have value as we seek to take up anew our mission to prepare God’s people (make disciples) to live God’s mission in our world, or, as I have said before, to be the Church God created and intended us to be.
2) How would you describe your leadership style? What role do you foresee Synod playing in the administration of the Diocese?
I would describe my leadership style as being collaborative, a style of leadership which seeks input from and considers the feedback of those with whom leadership is shared. In both my pre-ordination life, as well as in parish ministry, my aim has been to establish leadership teams whose gifts of experience and expertise are valued, and who become fully invested in the life and ethos of the community.
I am committed to the on-going mentoring and nurturing of new and future leaders, to create what the corporate world commonly refers to as a succession plan. I believe that this is essential for our diocese, especially in key leadership positions. I believe that we need to nurture and prepare the next generation of Territorial Archdeacons. Our Diocese been blessed by its clergy who have, in their retirement, served as archdeacons. Going forward, I believe that we should be asking our retired leaders to act as mentors for new archdeacons, allowing their wisdom and experience to be a resource and support for those within our church who are called to be archdeacons.
In terms of our Diocesan leadership, I believe that we need to enhance our capacity for episcopal ministry, in the re-establishment of a suffragan bishop who would share in the work of being a pastor to the entire diocese. I also believe that we must be mindful of our financial resources, and the current and impending demands on them, knowing that it would be irresponsible to commit ourselves to the addition of a second bishop without the proper accommodations in place. To that end, I would invite our recently retired bishops into a conversation about their willingness to serve as bishops, and not simply as fill-in or interim clergy. I believe that our congregations hold their episcopal leadership in high regard and look forward to regular parish visits from them. My vision would be to invite those bishops who are willing, to share in regular parish visits and to form a Bishop’s council as a source of support for the diocesan bishop.
As our church is synodically governed and episcopally led, I see the role of Synod, as well as that of Diocesan Council, as a decision-making body on behalf of the diocese, with the concurrence of the Bishop. I believe that our church is healthiest when the body of Synod is engaged and active in the life of our Church.
3) Given the wide range of positions in the church locally, nationally, and internationally on difficult issues, how will you shepherd the diverse flock that is Huron?
At our recent gathering of the Bishop’s Clergy Conference, we sang a hymn entitled Yearnings, found in the Iona hymnal by hymn-writer Pat Bennett. In the fourth verse, we sang:
We yearn to feel at one
With all who call your name
To breach the walls that separate
And end division’s pain.
I believe that these words capture both our desire as a church, and our Lord’s desire for our church. Throughout history, we have expended much time and energy on issues which have been divisive, often in the hope that one side might convince the other that their position was correct. Many of the conversations dominating our Church over the past 40 years have been about human sexuality, and most recently, around the practice of marriage as our Church understands and orders it. Although this particular issue has generated much conversation and debate, it is certainly not the only one that has caused angst within our Church. Matters such as liturgical renewal, the ordination of women, medically assisted deaths, to name a few, have caused some degree of discord within the Church.
Following General Synod in 2016, in which the motion regarding the proposed change to the Marriage canon was first voted on, and from which there was an increase in tension within our Church, we also began to hear murmurings of finding a different way forward, a way which recognized that many had prayerfully and faithfully considered this matter, and that while we weren’t of one mind, this need not be an obstacle to our sharing in ministry as the Body of Christ. This is not be the first time that our Church has come to an understanding of agreeing to disagree, and while I recognize that some matters are easier to address than others, I also understand that our Church continues to be diminished when we lose sight of who we are as the body of Christ, and when we fail to live into our baptismal covenant which calls us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons… respecting the dignity of every human being.” It is my belief that as followers of Jesus Christ, our yearning, regardless of the issues we face, is to feel at one with each other and with the God of our creation.
4) Do you have a plan in mind to address the related issues of decline, sustainability, and mission? If so, can you speak to that plan? How would you root it in your own theology and spirituality?
This question is undoubtedly one of the most important for our Church to address, as we come to grips with a new reality in which we have fewer resources, greater expenses, and an uncertain role in the communities we serve. The issues facing many of our churches today can leave us feeling helpless, unable to change the direction or fate of our Church. As difficult as this is, I believe that we are being called to something new and life-giving, albeit different from the past we have known. There is a Eucharistic prayer which comes out of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa which says “ As our past is in You, so our hope for the future rests with You”, which expresses fully my theology and understanding of where God is calling us to be.
At the Meet the Candidates gathering in September, I posed the question “Where are we, where could/should we be?” In 2018, Statistics Canada released the results of a survey, indicating that the top 5 fastest growing cities in Canada were in Ontario, and of those 5, 3 are in the Diocese of Huron: Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo, Windsor and London. I believe that one of the questions we need to be asking is whether we have churches in the right places, and perhaps equally important, do we have the right number of churches in these places. Within our Diocese, there are several communities (including those listed above) with multiple Anglican congregations, each offering similar forms of ministry, each trying to attract parishioners from the same constituent body, each devoting resources to maintain buildings, staff and programming. I believe that this is not the most faithful use of our time, talents, and treasure.
As well, I believe that we need to discern how best to serve our rural communities, which make up a large part of our Diocese. We have closed many of our rural congregations in communities that continue to suffer from depopulation, leaving many of them without viable options for Anglican ministry in their towns and villages. Our plan forward must include finding ways to offer ministry in these communities.
Regardless of where we are serving, urban or rural, single or multi-point, we must continue to nurture a commitment to excellence in ministry for our lay and ordained leaders and to provide on-going support and continuing education opportunities to insure that our leaders are as fully prepared as they can be to offer ministry in our time and place.
As we seek to prepare God’s people for mission in the world, we must use our resources faithfully, looking to a future that we may not be able to see, but one in which we trust in the God of our past and present. I believe that the questions raised for both urban and rural communities invite us to examine how best we can offer ministry, and to consider new ways to work collaboratively as the Body of Christ. These conversations will not be easy, for they will demand of us an openness to change, in the recognition that through careful and faithful re-structuring, new models and opportunities for parish ministry will be open to us, utilizing both lay and ordained leadership. Prayerfully, we will look to our future with an understanding that preserving our past doesn’t simply mean retaining our buildings and past practices, but rather, it invites us into an understanding that the Spirit who has guided our past, from generation to generation, is the same Spirit who will lead us into our future. As we look toward that future, my prayer for our Diocese of Huron is that we will faithfully be the church God created and intended us to be.