By Gisele McKnight
If you look at the diocesan calendar this fall, you’ll see it’s rather full with meetings, workshops, conferences and other events and activities to gather our diocesan family.
The past few days have been particularly busy. Last Thursday, active and retired clergy gathered for a Clergy Day. The theme was “Discussing Physician Assisted Death” with several aspects of the topic led by various presenters.
A new federal law on physician-assisted dying was passed June 17. Hilary Young, of the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Law, gave the legal perspective.
Bishop David Edwards considered a theological perspective of life and death, and Dr. Stephen Hart discussed hospice care.
The day wrapped up with a presentation by Gisele McKnight on the basics of dealing with the media.
About 50 clergy participated in the day’s events.
Gathering of Synod Delegates
As Bishop Edwards noted in his pastoral letter in July, the dioceses have been asked to study same-sex marriage in preparation for General Synod 2019. Saturday was the first of several gatherings in the coming three years in response to this request. The aim was to establish an environment in which everyone would feel safe and gain understanding of each other.
Held at Christ Church (Parish) Church, the synod gathering included about 200 delegates. They listened to the Rev. Paul Jennings, a member of the marriage commission that prepared the document called This Holy Estate. Jennings is now a parish priest in Annapolis Royal, N.S., though he spent a good deal of his career in the Diocese of Montreal.
He outlined the process and mandate of the commission’s study, which was released one year ago and had the task of explaining the document further.
It was not the commission’s job to decide or sway, it was to prepare General Synod for the question on whether to change the marriage canon to allow same-gender marriage in the Anglican church, said Jennings.
He answered several questions from delegates.
In the afternoon, Bishop David Edwards addressed the delegates before they broke into small groups for discussion.
“Everything we do today should be done in the context of prayer,” he told them. “I am the bishop of everyone in the Diocese of Fredericton… As much as it is in my power, I will provide a safe environment in which to express your opinions.”
The small groups dealt with two questions and everyone was given the opportunity to speak.
1. How, in light of our differing opinions on the subject of same-sex marriage and other divisive matters, do we work towards Paul’s scriptural injunction (Ephesians 4) to “bear with one another?”
2. How, in light of our diversity, do we ensure that God’s mission of making disciples continues to move forward?
Future gatherings will be planned as we continue to study this issue.
On Sunday there was cause for celebration as two deacons were ordained priests at Christ Church Cathedral.
Sandy MacPherson and Christian Persaud were surrounded by family, friends, supporters and parishioners during the service presided by Bishop David.
The Rev. Paul Ranson preached on Matthew the tax collector and the call of Jesus to “Follow me.”
“It was that encounter that put him on a whole new path,” said Paul. “But the invitation is for everyone. Everyone is invited to get up from their tax booth and follow him.”
Tax collectors were hated, but Jesus looked at Matthew with love.
“Jesus loves us where we’re at. Sometimes church people don’t like that,” he said.
Paul talked about his years-long belief that he had to stay away from sinners to keep himself “pure.”
“But with Jesus, we are pure. We get to go out in the name of Jesus to change [the world.] Remember, the invitation is for everyone… ‘I’ve come to call the wounded, the odd balls, the misfits.’”
Then Paul addressed the ordinands: “Christian and Sandy, are you sure you want to do this? I didn’t really understand what it meant to be a priest until I was a horrible one.”
After the ordination, family and friends joined the new priests at Cathedral Memorial Hall for refreshments. An entire contingent from St. George’s in Bathurst, where Sandy has been deacon-in-charge for the past year, rented a bus to attend the service. Sandy will continue at St. George’s as priest-in-charge.
Christian’s parents and sister attended from Toronto and Buffalo, NY. Christian is now priest-in-charge in the parishes of Cambridge & Waterborough, and Gagetown.
Finally, on Monday and Tuesday, diocesan staff met at Villa Madonna in Rothesay for the second annual staff retreat. It was a time to continue our team building, focus on our mission as Synod staff, and to intentionally reflect on how our ministries support the making of disciples and the building of God’s kingdom.
Coming up this fall:
Oct. 1 Communications Workshop in Fredericton
Oct. 1 Diocesan Youth Ministry conference, Grand Bay-Westfield
Oct. 15 See Through The Scriptures, Saint John
Oct. 22 Diocesan Stewardship Conference, Fredericton
Oct. 29 See Through The Scriptures, Fredericton
Nov. 5 Diocesan Synod, Fredericton