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Installation of the new Dean of Huron and the Rector of St. Paul's, April 7, 2024


By Very Rev. Kevin George

On April 7, 2024, I was installed as the Rector of St. Paul’s and the Dean of Huron.

It was quite a grand affair. It was a night I’ll never forget. The music, the preaching, the gathering of family, friends, and the faithful, along with the multifaith and ecumenical and community presence, made for a great night of celebration. As one does on momentous occasions, I found myself looking back at my journey. Is it only me that gets startled to his senses now and again asking “How did I get here?”

When I look back, I am certain that love is what got me here… wherever here is. G.K. Chesterton insisted that we all need to let “religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”

I have held these words close on my journey. I’d have to say, that I have been having a mad love affair since my teenage years. As I listened to Azarlya, a twelve-year-old who is a brand-new server at St. Paul’s read from the Hebrew Scriptures, I was cast back to my adolescent self. When I was her age, I was struggling socially. I was badly bullied and hated going to school. I felt safe in two places – at home with my family, and increasingly at church. It was at the little church of St. George the Martyr on the shores of Trinity Bay that my love affair with religion really began.

Rev. Morley Boutcher was rector of the Parish of Heart’s Delight, a four-point charge with St. George the Martyr in Whiteway being one of them. “Rev. Boutcher,” as we called him, is a kind and gentle soul and I am not overstating it when I say that his humble and pastoral care for me saved me.

I don’t know if Morley Boutcher knew what I was suffering in school. But, as good pastors do, he discerned that I needed to be loved and to love. He then set out to model for me what love looks like.

“Kevin, how would you like to be an altar server,” he asked over a cup of tea at our house. “What is that,” I asked. 

This little church would see twelve to fifteen people a week. It was tiny. We had never seen anything like that before. He explained in broad strokes what I would do, he ordered me a robe, I grabbed a chair from the old one room schoolhouse next door to the church and set it between the altar rail and the altar, and we were off to the races.

Within three months he had me reading in church. My first-time reading?  Christmas Eve! There had to be 35-40 people in the church. I was so nervous my knees were shaking. When it was over, I was relieved, and I was falling in love with the community of faith as a place where I could be loved and where I could love others.

The church has many failings. We have not always gotten things right. At its worst, the church has not only not made room for love, but it has actively destroyed it. Thank God that two things can be true at once. Because sometimes the church raises up the likes of Morley Boutcher who had the eyes and heart to see and feel a young seeker’s pain.

And Good News – it isn’t just clerics that the church raises up. Once I knew that I was beloved, and that I could be me, I had all kinds of people to show me the ways of living a love affair with the church, with God.

One of those souls was Mrs. Emma Pardy. She died the week before my installation. Mrs. Pardy always had a kind word and a listening ear for me. She loved church. She would have loved I was installed as Dean of Huron. And, she'd remind me to watch for those who need to be loved. I only pray I can live up to her example.

Very Rev. Dr. Kevin George is Rector of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and Dean of Huron.

Photo: Dean of Huron V. Rev. Kevin George with his wire Catherineanne inside St. Paul's Cathedral, London, Ontario.