By Gisele McKnight
Two long-time lay leaders are now deacons, and three deacons are now priests after the June 18 service of ordination at Christ Church Cathedral. The church was just about standing-room only as a huge crowd celebrated the event.
John Galbraith and Dwight Stuart have long served in their respective parishes of Douglas and Nashwaaksis, and Fundy and the Lakes and were ordained deacons in the service on Sunday.
David Peer and Kevin McAllister have served the past year as deacons in their parishes of East Saint John; and Minto & Chipman and Marysville respectively. Dan McMullen has served as deacon/missioner in the Kennebecasis Valley and the Parish of Upper Kennebecasis. All three were ordained priests during the service.
The Rev. Canon Kevin Stockall, priest and rector at the Parish of St. Mary, York, preached a sermon on St. John the Baptist, beginning with the shocking statistic that, as of the end of 2016, a record 65 million people have been displaced and are essentially refugees due to conflicts, violence and persecution. The United Nations report says civil war in South Sudan and Syria and other crises have uprooted millions of people from their homes.
“That’s the population of two Canadas,” said Fr. Stockall. “It’s a problem that requires incredible compassion and incredible resources.”
Referring to the reading from Isaiah 40, he described the spiritual crisis the prophets had warned of.
“In addition to the loss of all the outwards signs of their deeply held symbols, they lost God too,” he said. “They were a people who had lost all in every conceivable way. The words Isaiah spoke were a call to sit up and take note.”
The fulfillment, though, didn’t come for centuries, until the birth of a baby boy and the mute Zachariah’s insistence that his son be named John.
That birth, said Fr. Stockall, was so that “those who sit in the shadow of darkness might have light. The birth of this son was a sign to Zachariah that God was doing what he promised.”
To the ordinands, he said, “You are called to the path of John the Baptist, to prepare the way. The call to righteousness and justice has never been more timely.
“Darkness takes a lot of different forms,” he said. “For those who risk their lives, those living in dehumanizing poverty, those who live in London high rises and on our streets, those who reside in the lowest tax brackets. Wherever you are called, it’s always to be with those who sit in darkness.
“When the night comes and your work is done, Christ won’t ask how many meetings you attended, how many motions you seconded. He will ask if the words you’ve spoken served to guide people in the way of Christ.”
Bishop David Edwards presided at the ordination. After the service, everyone moved to Cathedral Memorial Hall for fellowship and refreshments. Bishop David called each of the newly ordained to the microphone to introduce family members and receive their certificates of ordination and licences.
This week, each of the five was asked to reflect on the day and his path to ordination.
David Peer It was a perfect day, surrounded by friends and family. It had the feel of a celebration. I remember meeting with Archbishop Miller in July 2010 at the start of this journey, determined to enjoy it, whatever the outcome.
Seven years later I was back in Fredericton, on another warm summery day marking the end of one phase of what will be a lifelong journey.
I didn’t choose this path; God chose it for me. I finally said yes in 2010.
My goal is to walk with the Lord and with the Lord’s help, be the pastor he wants me to be.
My move from Deacon-in-Charge to Priest-in-Charge of All Saints East Saint John will mean some changes in the way we organize our services, and I am really looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us as a community.
Kevin McAllister I was completely overwhelmed by the support I received from my church families of Marysville, Chipman & Minto and Oromocto/Maugerville who were on hand to offer their prayers.
During the service you could physically feel the love that was in the Cathedral.
It was a very surreal experience and I became very emotional when I knelt before the Bishop and all the priests laid their hands upon me. You could feel the power of the Spirit in that moment.
Following that I was able to participate in that ancient ritual that was handed down from Christ and laid my hand upon Dan and David. That was a very special moment for me.
I didn’t choose this path. I believe it was chosen for me when God came calling. Like many clergy, I ran from it until I could no longer keep running.
Goals? I would like to be able to demonstrate to people, through the life of the church, the abundant riches that are available through Christ Jesus, and not mess it up.
Dan McMullen If one were to ask me about the most important events in my life as a follower of Jesus, two immediately come to mind: (1) 2,000 years ago, over 9,000 km away, when the humble Galilean carpenter changed everything we know about everything, and (2) twenty-some years ago when I was baptized into this same man’s death and resurrection.
This ordination is one of a handful of events that measure after these two. One thing immediately different between the ordination and the other events listed above, is that I personally will be able to remember that warm day. And my memories will be fond ones.
Dean Hall and the Cathedral were welcoming and organized, the music was uplifting, and Canon Stockall’s message was inspiring. Merely being with all the great people of our diocese who love Jesus, know Jesus loves them, and want others to know this love as well, was powerful.
A big thanks to the many people who were there supporting the newly ordained. I was lucky enough to have people from almost every part of my life present with us — from Apohaqui to Belleisle Creek, Bloomfield to Upham, Hampton to Saint John, and even from Toronto!
I had little clue why God and His people were laying down this path for me, and I have little clue what any future as a minister might look like.
With the help of the Spirit, who makes any of this possible in the first place, may we all continue to gather people to receive Christ, in order to scatter them, so that others can receive him too.
John Galbraith I have been involved in ministry for quite some time. It started when I was teaching canoeing in the early 1980s at Camp Medley. I have loved the ministries I’ve been involved in throughout the years.
Through this time I had never seen ordination as something to seek out. If it was to be, it would have to come some other way.
A couple of years ago I met with our bishop and well, one thing has led to another, and here I am ordained a transitional deacon.
Through the whole process I’ve been seeking God’s will — that if this is his will for my life, then I am in.
During the service when I was up by the altar, Dean Geoffrey Hall said “set the table.” Put me in the kitchen and I know what to do! Put me behind the altar — well …
The two highlights for me were when I was standing at the altar having no idea what to do, and my legs were getting weak. ‘It’s not about me, Jesus, but all about you,’ was running through my mind.
The other was when Bishop David was handing out the licences and he said ‘this paper is to give you permission for the past 20 years of ministering and going on.’ It brought a real peace to my heart and my head.
Thank you for all those who have been praying for me through this discernment.
Dwight Stuart As many know, I have been chipping away at this discernment process for several years, but recently put it on the side burner due to the sickness of my wife and her subsequent death last fall.
Keeping my promise to her, I began again in earnest after Christmas with reading, study and coursework, while at the same time struggling with bereavement and such an abrupt life change after 47 years of marriage.
I found the studies, and more particularly the ACPO process, and the Rogersville retreat at Our Lady of Calvary Abbey to be a healing experience and wonderfully confirming of what I have perceived as a call to ministry over the years.
The ordination service itself was the most spiritually uplifting experience I have ever had.
I have no idea what God has in store for me over the long haul, but for now my hope is to be able to assist in ministry in the Parish of Fundy and the Lakes in worship services, pastoral care, hospital and nursing home visitation, and anything else the rector may assign.