By Rev. Robert Clifford
A large contingent of clergy and laity from the Diocese of Huron made its way to the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in the See of Brandon, Manitoba, for the Consecration of William Grant Cliff as the 7th Bishop of the Diocese of Brandon. He had been elected at that Diocese’ Electoral Synod. In part they were there to offer our Diocese’ love and support to our colleague in ministry. Their primary goal, for making the trip, was to gather with the Brandon diocesan family to give thanks to God for calling William to the office of Bishop and as a shepherd of the flock of Brandon.
Monday evening the East Meets West Dinner gathered friends new and old around a plate of perogies, kielbasa, and cabbage rolls. The event was a major fundraiser for the approximately 15 youth who are registered to attend the biennial CLAY (Canadian Lutheran-Anglican Youth) Gathering. Costs for youth attending from Brandon are calculated to be approximately $2250/youth, which is decidedly out of reach for many of the youth and their families.
The meal was a fantastic opportunity for the Easterners from Huron to experience the best of Brandon hospitality and conversation. William is in good hands.
The historic Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in Brandon was comfortably filled to capacity on Tuesday, March 1st. As well as we from Huron and other places far afield, some of the parishes of the Diocese of Brandon went to great effort to travel the up to 1500 kms to gather.
The Most Reverend Greg Kerr-Wilson, Archbishop of Calgary and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, officiated a seemly and joyous celebration of this addition to the House of Bishops.
The musical excellence of Huron was offered to God and the Body of Christ gathered in Brandon. Dr. Angus Sinclair, Three Cantors’ accompanist, played beautifully and Mr. Andrew Keegan Mackriell, the Cathedral Director of Music, encouraged the St. Mathew’s Cathedral Choir and the gathered congregation in offering their best to God.
Huron’s own The Venerable Jane Humphreys, Archdeacon of Essex, broke open the Word as proclaimed in Cree and English from Matthew 5:13-16. Jane briefly joked that she had many stories from a long and cherished friendship with William. She then made it clear that she was tasked with preaching the Word of God and that she would keep to her remit. Overheard following the service were many compliments to Jane+ and thanks to God for an excellent sermon that spoke to our being salt to flavour the world with the love of God for all of his creation and the light of God’s good news in this often dark world.
William was presented to the Archbishop by The Reverend Quenton Little (Rector, All Saints’, London), Chad McCharles (Rector, St. George’s, Brandon), The Venerable Lydia Constant (Special Assistant to the Bishop, Archdeacon Emeritus, Deanery and College Elder), The Venerable Don Bernhardt (Diocesan Administrator, Secretary of Synod, Archdeacon of Brandon, Rector of St. Mary’s, Virden and St. Mark’s, Elkhorn), Mrs. Carole McCurry (Brandon teacher), Mr. Brennan McCurry (Brandon youth), Ms Teresa Longworth (Brandon), Mr. Tyrell Bengry-Ringrose (Brandon youth, Ask & Imagine Alumnus), Mrs. Betty Wright (London retired teacher) for consecration as Bishop of Brandon.
As required, William was examined by the Archbishop and his colleagues from the House of Bishops. Our own Bishop of Huron, The Right Reverend Robert Bennett, participated in the examination.
The service continued with the extension of the Apostolic ministry in unbroken succession from St. Paul, the Apostle, by the laying on of hands by the gathered Bishops. The chief Consecrator was, of course, His Grace the Archbishop. Assisting the Archbishop were – Jane Alexander (Edmonton), Michael Hawkins (Saskatchewan), Fred Hiltz (Primate), Adam Halkett (Missinippi – Indigenous Suffragan of Saskatchewan), Robert Hardwick (Qu’Appelle), David Irving (Saskatoon), Donald Phillips (Rupert’s Land), Robert Bennett (Huron), Michael Bird (Niagara), Jim Njegovan (retired of Brandon), Elaine Sauer (ELCIC Manitoba and Northern Ontario)
The newly consecrated William of Brandon was vested with the symbols of his office. Included among the symbols was a beautifully hand carved pastoral staff. It was crafted by Mr. Larry Travers (Holy Trinity, St. George ON). It included symbolically significant pieces of Black English Oak, Cedar of Lebanon, Ontario Red Maple, Spalted Apple, and Manitoba Maple that each speak to the influential places in William’s life.
Also among the symbols presented to William was a pectoral cross that was loaned to the Diocese of Brandon by the Roman Catholic Diocese of London for the occasion. It was offered in thanksgiving for the for Bishop Cliff’s ministry and teaching at St. Peter’s Seminary, and as a sign of fidelity and prayer as well the desire that as Christ commands, we “all might be one”.
+William was installed in Cathedra by the Dean of Brandon, Nigel Packwood.
At the exchange of the peace of Christ, we greeted the newly consecrated Bishop of Brandon enthusiastically and warmly. The Peace of Christ permeated the Body of Christ assembled there and was warmly shared among us all.
The climax of the service, as ever, was the Great Thanksgiving to God for the gift of His Son Jesus. The Eucharistic meal was offered to God in the beautiful traditions of the Church as the Anglican Church of Canada has received them. The musical setting, offered by the talented Choir, animated by Mr. Kegan Mackriell and accompanied by Dr. Sinclair surely closed some of the distance between the Cathedral and the Heavenly Chorus.
The capacity congregation in the Cathedral took the Communion from the hands of the newly Right Reverend William Grant Cliff, as well as the Metropolitan and the Primate.
The recession from the Cathedral could not bring itself to exit the divine moment that we had all just shared. So, while the hymn was played and sung heartily, the procession stalled out at the back of the lovely nave to draw out the experience as much as possible and enfold William in collegial love.
The Diocese of Brandon’s reputed hospitality was on full offer for the reception following the service. Unique triple-decker corner sandwiches and culturally significant confections sated the appetites of the gathering.
Bishop William graciously hosted a reception at Bishop’s Lodge and the floorboards groaned with the quantity of well-wishers. The beautifully appointed residence will keep William safe and warm in a City that is reportedly cold in winter, though there was little evidence in the few days of our stay.
Whether we made a road trip of it or flew into the nearby Winnipeg Airport, we carried from Huron our great love and affection for William over that great distance.
Bishop William made clear during a brief visit to and tour of his office the following day that one of his top priorities is building up a fund to send the approximately 15 youth that have registered to the PEI CLAY gathering this Summer. If anyone would like to support that effort, contributions may be sent to: Diocese of Brandon, 341 13th Avenue, Brandon MB R7A 4P8 (To the order of: Diocese of Brandon, Memo: CLAY)