Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Remembering Canon Ralph Billard (1936-2014)

Remembering Canon Ralph Billard (1936-2014)

Anglican Life lost a faithful friend and supporter with the death of the Reverend Canon Ralph Billard on 2 March 2014. He served Anglican Life, and its predecessor, the Newfoundland Churchman, for sixteen years. Bishop Martin Mate appointed Canon Billard as Diocesan Editor in 1990 and he served under three Editors-in-Chief and three Bishops. His last Editorial from November 2006 is reprinted below as a tribute to him. In this editorial, Ralph wrote how much he enjoyed his work, and talked of the importance of communications in the life and work of the Anglican Church in this province. He was a passionate advocate for this Church newspaper and he will truly be missed. Your prayers are asked for his wife Kay, children Kathie and Michael and numerous family and friends. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him. Amen. - The Rev’d Sam Rose, Editor.



By the Rev’d Canon Ralph Billard

Communication is at the heart of everything that we do. It seems that all my life I have been involved in the “communication industry” in one way or another. From being, as a young boy, a newspaper carrier for the “Western Star”, to Editor of our High School Yearbook, to writing “Twin-Town Notes” for the “Western Star”, to editing newsletters for the Radar Technicians’ publication, and parish newsletters in the various parishes served, to actually training and working as a Radio Operator in my first career and still holding an Amateur Radio Operator’s certificate.

So, it wasn’t by accident that in 1990 I became appointed as Associate Editor of the, then, Newfoundland Churchman (now, of course, Anglican Life.) The experiences I have enjoyed, the learning opportunities of which I have availed, especially by attending the Anglican Editors Association annual conferences where “workshops” were always a major part of the agenda, and the opportunities afforded me to write and to edit have been a richly rewarding part of my life.

I have continued as Associate Editor since my retirement from parish ministry in 2000. I feel that it is now time for me to resign this particular activity. I have tendered my resignation as Associate Editor, effective January 1, 2007, to Bishop Pitman who is responsible for appointments of this nature in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. 

So, there it is. I suspect – my final editorial type item for Anglican Life. I want to thank Bishop Mate for the appointment in the first place, and Bishop Harvey and Bishop Pitman for allowing me to continue. Also, a “thank you” to the three Editors-in-Chief and the several Associate Editors from the other two dioceses with whom I have worked over the years. And a great, big thank you to the readers , many of who have been kind enough to compliment me from time to time on my contribution to this paper.

The importance of this tri-diocesan paper to the life of the church in Newfoundland and Labrador should never be underestimated . For years I have maintained at nearly every Management Committee meeting three major factors about Anglican Life:

1) It is one of the symbols of unity within the three dioceses; it is the best evangelism tool that we possess as a tri-diocesan family.

2) It is the one piece of church literature that gets into every Anglican household in Newfoundland and Labrador once a month for ten months of each year.

3) It is a reflection of the life of the church in the three dioceses.

I am glad to have been part of this very important ministry. Communication is at the heart of it all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Venerable Dr. Geoffrey Peddle elected Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador

The Venerable Dr. Geoffrey Peddle elected Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador

The Most Rev'd Claude Miller (left) congratulates the new Bishop-elect The Venerable Dr. Geoffrey Peddle (right).
Photo by Sam Rose.

16 November 2013 

By The Rev’d Sam Rose

The Venerable Dr. Geoffrey Peddle, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s College was elected Diocesan Bishop in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador on November 16, 2013.

Bishop-elect Peddle was ordained a deacon in 1987 and made a priest the following year. He has served in various parishes such as Cartwright, Lake Melville, Arnold’s Cove, and Mount Pearl. He also served as the Diocesan Executive Officer with Bishop Cyrus Pitman from 2005 until 2009.

“My vision of Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador is of a ministry close to all the members of our Church in their cares and concerns. A bishop must guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church while constantly reminding the people of the love of God. In Holy Scripture and in the teaching of our Church a bishop is referred to as both Shepherd and Pastor but I believe he or she must also be a “Father in God” (or a “Mother in God”), embodying all of the love and respect, mutual care and nurture appropriate to a family, expressed within Christian community,” he wrote in his Nomination Letter to the Synod.

Bishop-elect Peddle was elected on the second ballot. Other nominees were the Reverend Gregory Mercer, the Very Reverend Josiah Noel, and the Rev’d Canon David Pilling.

Quoting his hero Archbishop William Temple, he asked the Synod to pray for him and especially for the Church and the world.

In his vision for Episcopal Ministry, the Bishop-elect wrote, “Bishops today should also embrace the role of teachers and be able to engage both the Church and secular society confidently, creatively and respectfully. Bishops need to know the Kingdom of God well enough to recognize and affirm it in the Church while casting a renewed vision of what the Church might still become."

Bishop-elect Peddle succeeds the Right Reverend Cyrus Pitman who is retiring.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Noah's Walk

Noah's Walk
Priest will walk Trans Labrador  Highway for autism awareness
The Reverend Wayne Parsons
Rector, Parish of Labrador West 

On May 30, 2008, at 5:46am, our long awaited child was born! He arrived so quickly in the delivery room that the doctors and nurses had to scramble just to catch him literally as he was being delivered. Afterwards, I held him and was so thankful that I and Annette's prayers for a child were finally answered. After a little while in St. John's, it was time to return back to the parish. At the time of Noah's birth, I was stationed in the former parish of Battle Harbour now known as Southeast Labrador. We would remain, in that beautiful part of God's creation, for roughly another year we then proceeded on to the equally beautiful Parish of Labrador West where I have served as its rector nearly 4 years.

About the first year in Labrador West, when Noah was about 2 years old, we noticed that he was not speaking very much and would stare blankly at times. Family members, grandparents, and others told us not to worry, as he would "grow out of this." However, despite there well meaning assurances, my wife and I felt best to have Noah assessed. After the initial consultations had taken place, we were advised that we would be traveling to St. Anthony to have Noah evaluated by the rainbow team of specialists. So early June, in 2009, we flew to St. Anthony and on to Curtis Memorial Hospital to let the process unfold. After 2 days of very detailed information gathering, interviews, and evaluations, it was decision day. I will always remember Annette and I sitting in the doctor’s office with Noah on Annette's lap. The doctor and other team members present advised that Noah has autism spectrum disorder (ASD.) Although it was evaluated as mild, the moment the news was delivered, it felt like a ton of bricks had fallen upon us. Shock and the grieving process had begun.

However, the next morning, we began to talk about this in a little different light and realized we were extremely lucky to have Noah diagnosed at a very early stage. Shortly after arriving back home in Labrador City, the ball began rolling in conjunction with Labrador Grenfell Health in the provision of services for Noah. Looking back now, almost 3 years later, we see the tremendous benefit that has been achieved with Noah working weekly with speech and occupational therapy at our local hospital. Likewise, through direct home services, private speech pathology, and two wonderful brothers who are his home therapists, he has come leaps and bounds!  Noah also attends Wee College pre-school which he enjoys and is set to begin Kindergarten this September. Likewise, Annette and I are truly thankful for our support of families, friends, the bishop and archdeacon.   

Are there challenges ahead, absolutely, there will indeed be many. However, we know that we are not alone, as ultimately God is with us. Noah is God's child and we are wonderfully made in God's image. However, as his parents we wanted to do something to increase the heightened awareness of the "many faces of autism." After some thought, I decided with Annette's full support to do a walk from the border with Quebec along the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH) to St. Paul's church in Labrador City. The walk will be approximately 18kms and I will do this solo walk (knowing God is with me) on Saturday, June 8th, rain or shine. I will begin my walk roughly 7am and should arrive at St. Paul's by noon (maybe even sooner.) I walk this highway regularly during spring to fall and am familiar with this route. Upon arrival at St. Paul's, we will host a reception in conjunction with the parish and Labrador Grenfell Health. Families, friends and care givers of autistic children will be invited to attend. Pledge sheets will circulate as well in the community in advance of this. Funds collected, will go to support the local autism chapter in Labrador West. The next day Sunday, the parish will host a special service in conjunction with other community groups who represent those with challenging needs. We will congregate and give thanks to God for all his children and blessings, despite the challenges faced. Afterwards, we will hold a BBQ.

As parents of an autistic child, we applaud recent efforts of heightened awareness in our diocese such as racing with the Reverend that the Parish of the Ascension carried out. It is certainly heartwarming and encouraging to see this. The truth is, autism has a multitude of faces and many varying degrees. However, we must look past this and see the gifts that God has blessed these individuals with. Personally, as Noah’s parents, we wouldn't change a thing! We love Noah unconditionally and will do everything we can to support him in this transitory journey we call life. After all, God was so kind and loving to answer our prayers for a child, the least we can do is everything we can to support him.   

On Saturday June 8th, I will walk the TLH for our son. It will be a walk for autism and a journey of faith, one I truly thank God for.             

Friday, March 22, 2013

St. Philip's Parish moving forward - April 2013

St. Philip's Parish moving forward
The Rev'd Ed Keeping

Over the past nine years, the people of our parish have been faithful in continuing and building upon the ministry and work begun and encouraged in the past while being focused on our present work and ministry. Even in the midst of our trials, known throughout the province and beyond, we have maintained our sense of unity, have worked together to enhance fellowship and to live out our collective stewardship in response to God for all his tender mercies.

Through faithful and consistent offering towards our debt reduction, towards maintaining our budgetary requirements, and also through many fund raising events, we have reached a milestone for which we give thanks and praise to our Lord. We have met all our financial obligations and are debt free as a parish. Now we are preparing for the Consecration of our New Church Building.

While we realize that we need to continue to be financially healthy and to provide for future major maintenance on our new structure, we also realize that we need to grow and deepen our spirituality as God’s People. We want to grow and ripen the fruits of the Spirit that are in all of us. In that regard, we remember the words of our Lord; “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5a)

Last June, I attended the national Meeting of Cursillo in Ottawa as a member of the National Secretariat. I was deeply inspired by talks presented by Father Chuck Owens of South Carolina, USA. I returned with a desire for renewal and to do all I could, with God’s help, to deepen the spiritual life of our parish. On the fifth Sunday of Trinity, I was celebrating Holy Eucharist from the BCP. The Gospel reading was about when Jesus asked Peter to launch out further from shore. It was a moving experience, and I felt that a good theme for our Parish would be “Launching Out Into The Deep…..Into New Spiritual Depths.”  Along with the retired clergy who act as Honourary Assistants, we have been maintaining this Theme to help us keep focused in our worship, prayers, and living out our life in Christ.

Alongside other things, one of the things we have done is to pray a Collect every Sunday to help keep us focused on our Theme. I would like to share the words of our Collect: “Bless, O Lord our God, the worship and work of this Church. Grant that it may faithfully Launch Out into the deep and respond to the call of Jesus to be fishers of people. By the power of your Holy Spirit, make it a House of Prayer, a Centre for Christian teaching and disciples in learning, a community of loving and sacrificial service, and a witness to your redeeming love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

We have used this Collect to guide us in the development of a Parish Mission Statement, which was approved by our congregation at our Annual Meeting of February 24, 2013. I wish to share our Mission Statement: “God’s People in the Parish of St. Philip, in a covenant relationship with God through  Baptism, are called:

To be fishers of people in response to the call of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit;
To be a House of Prayer;
To be a Centre for Christian teaching;
To be disciples in learning;
To be a fellowship of loving and sacrificial service;
To be witnesses to our Lord’s love through word and example.

I wanted to share the good news of what is happening in our parish with other Anglicans. Also, it is with a joyful and thankful heart that I share my thanksgiving with others, as I give thanks to God for the support, work, and ministry of all our people, especially over the past nine years. Along with the entire parish, I acknowledge and give thanks for the work and ministry of all our former rectors, especially for their part in this milestone of having such a beautiful House of Prayer. Thanks be to God.  

Your Servant is Listening - April 2013

Your Servant is Listening
Ron Clarke

In the Old Testament God often speaks directly, man-to-man with many people. Abraham, for example, Moses, and the Prophets. And, in the New Testament he speaks to Jesus. Jesus himself, after his ascension, speaks to Paul on the road to Damascus.

Why aren’t we hearing God speak directly today?

Good question!  The fact is that God the Father, and Jesus Christ, do speak to us today. Perhaps more than ever. Then, how come we don’t them? Mainly because we’re “too busy”.
Life today, for too many of us, is absolutely full of “noise” and confusion. So, we become so distracted that we seldom, if ever, have the time “to be still and know that I am God”. Our ears today are besieged and battered by such a cacophony of sounds. Traffic roars, machinery clangs, radios blare. Far too often our ears are blocked anyway by hearing devices that pipe loud “music” all day long.

So, God speaks, but we do not hear!
How, we might ask, does God speak to us? God speaks to us when we seriously and sincerely read the Bible- “the word of the Lord”. Sincere readers are often astonished when Biblical passages seem to speak specifically to them and their special concerns, if we don’t read scriptures, we don’t “hear” God’s voice.
God speaks to us through other people, as he did through the Prophets in the Old Testament times. Our priests speak through sermons. Friends, and even strangers, inspired by God, sometimes convey his messages.  God uses all kinds of media to convey his messages.
And, yes, God frequently speaks DIRECTLY to us. Sometimes, maybe in tragic or traumatic circumstances, we hear a “voice” within distinctly speak words of comfort. Or in times of severe temptation words of caution or warning. We may call it conscience or whatever, but believers know that we have really heard the voice of God.

I, like so many more Christians, have often heard the voice of God. Our duty is to listen intently and respond. “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth”. (Young Samuel’s response to God in Samuel 1, chapter 3).

The Bareneed Canon - April 2013

The Bareneed Canon
Burton K. Janes

Which Bareneed native had his picture taken by the well-known Armenian-Canadian photographer, Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002)? Was honoured as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire? Has both a school and road in Flower’s Cove named in his honour?

The answer to all three questions is one and the same: John Thomas Richards (1875-1958). According to E. Rex Kearley, Richards, who served as the Anglican priest in the Flower’s Cove Mission from 1904 to 1945, has "become legend in the part of Newfoundland that he served for so long."

Irving Letto, who grew up in L’Anse au Clair, in Coastal Labrador, attended the Canon J.T. Richards Memorial School, Flower’s Cove, in 1960-61. After 16 years teaching, he was ordained as an Anglican priest and worked in several parishes in Atlantic Canada, including Bay Roberts.

In 1971, Letto took upon himself a research project revolving around Richards’ life and work. The fruit of his labours is the book, "Sealskin Boots and a Printing Press: Piecing Together the Life of Canon J.T. Richards," which he self-published late last year.

"My interest in Canon Richards began very early," Letto says, "because I grew up with people who thought he had been God’s gift to them. He was their beloved pastor, priest and friend–yes, someone they honoured as a Saint with a capital ‘S’ although, not being Roman Catholic, they never thought of having him canonized."

Following a visit with Richards’ wife, Dora, in 1971, Letto realized "he was an important historical figure in the development of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador." Letto "wanted to delve more deeply into his personality and work."

A strong bond of friendship existed between Richards and Wilfred T. Grenfell (1865-1940). Indeed, in 1989, Letto published Richards’ own book. Letto explains: "I’ve never found (a book) that presents such a personal and firsthand description of the man as I found in Richards’ ‘Snapshots of Grenfell’ and ‘Grenfell’s Monologue on the Ice Pan.’ They present, I think, a significant perspective from which to understand the person and work of Wilfred Grenfell." Letto released a revised edition of Richards’ book last year.

Richards was a well-known and respected individual. Letto is convinced his "memory needs to be preserved." Further, it’s important that Richards' involvement in what Letto calls "the spiritual, social, cultural and educational development of the people in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador...be preserved for future generations."
Richards was a writer of both prose and poetry.

One poem concerns a man who died on a vessel returning from the Labrador: "No more the sterile rocks of Labrador / Shall know his presence as thou hast of yore. / No more his loved ones shall their loved one see; / No more! No more on earth!! Oh can it be!!!"
In "Skipper Dick’s Feast," which won honourable mention in the O’Leary Newfoundland Poetry Award in 1950, Richards pays tribute to fishers: " ’Tis a novel work, ’tis a manly work / ’Tis a work that makes men bold, / This work on the ocean wave, / Gives life to the lads in the salt-sea air, / Long life to the fisher brave."

Richards' most biographical poem is "Home," in which he reflects on his Bareneed hearth: "Dear home! Cradle of youth! Greeting! / Long have I yearned to tread thy quaintly shore; / And here thou art, gem of all lands to me, / Sparkling thy lake, charming thy bright blue sea. / Faults sure thou hast, for what, / By human creature touched, has not? / Yet in thy fairest guise, I see thee now, / Thy balmy air detracts from sorrow’s brow."

Letto wants readers of his Richards biography to, "first of all, know Canon Richards and how important a figure he is in the history of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador." Second, he believes Richards’ "poetry, too, is an important contribution to the literature of early 20th century poetry and needs to be known." Finally, he hopes "the people of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador, especially, will gain a greater appreciation of the history and the work of Canon Richards and Dr. Grenfell."

Letto's triad of wishes are admirably fulfilled in "Sealskin Boots and a Printing Press." He has indeed pieced together the life of a Bareneed boy who did well for himself, leaving an enduring legacy for a new generation.

Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at burtonj@nfld.net

Taking up my cross - April 2013

Taking Up My Cross
Stella Walsh

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Whenever I have read this passage from the gospel of Matthew I have wondered about the meaning of the expression, “Everyone has their cross to bear.” I used to take it to mean that we all have our own things that we struggle with or suffer from on a daily basis. In which case, I could go on and on to you about my digestive problems and food intolerances. I certainly struggle with them every day and they have placed me in some pretty dark places at times. But is that really my cross to bear?

Jesus had a cross to bear, causing him a lot of suffering, but he chose to bear it for our sakes. And knowing that he made a conscious choice to do so changes what I originally thought it meant to take up my cross and follow Him. When Jesus said “yes” to God’s plan for Him and that He wanted God’s will to be done instead of His own, He was preparing to literally take up His cross and bear all that would happen. What happened on the cross was God’s purpose for Him.

And so, I now understand that my cross is not my personal burdens or struggles that I grapple with each day. Rather, taking up my cross should mean that I willingly make the choice to commit myself to God’s will and plan for me. I must surrender my life to Him and allow Him to use me for His purpose. That purpose is my cross to carry. That said, it doesn’t mean He won’t use my struggles and weaknesses for His work, but they are not necessarily my cross.

And like Jesus, it has to be a conscious choice to accept God’s will and let go of my own, even knowing that it may cause me to be taken out of my comfort zone and perhaps to suffer. I must be willing to surrender completely in order for God to use me to the fullest for His glory. If I walk around with the notion that my ailments and frailties are my cross, then that turns the attention away from God’s will and onto my own self-centered concerns and makes it all about me.

I live with the hope that God will strengthen me to take up my cross and follow Him wherever He leads. And I pray for all of you reading this to be blessed with that same courage, knowing that it comes from the source of eternal love.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Clarenville church caring for cancer survivors - April 2013

Clarenville church caring for cancer survivors

Harvey Locke

How do you have a time of fun, have a time of community fellowship and do something great all at once?  Answer:  make some turbans, hats, scarves and pillowcases.  That’s what the ACW of St. Mary’s Church at Clarenville organized and facilitated on one cold and blustery day in January.

On January 22, 2013 the Angus Drover Hall of St. Mary’s Church was temporarily converted into a sort of seamstress shop complete with electric sewing machines, pretty pieces of multicoloured fabric, coloured yarns, knitting needles, assorted accessories and decorations and some twenty or so very skilled workers from St. Mary’s ACW and the Milton Women’s Institute.  The ladies from both of the groups and some friends had gathered with a purpose, to help those, especially women, who had lost their hair from the effects of the treatment of various cancers.  Relieved by only the odd joke or comment and a lunch of soup and sandwiches from the kitchen, they sewed and knitted: turbans, hats and scarves to cover and comfort the head and preserve dignity and pillow cases from flannels and other soft fabrics to give warm comfort to the sleeper.  While the daylong session produced many of the articles, many more were created by the ladies in their homes.  The final tally at the dedication at the 11:00 Eucharist on Sunday, February 24, 2013 was 233 different pieces. There were enough to fill a large plastic patio box. And there was even enough work to engage some others.  

Some of the work got spread to others at St. Mary’s. Some youth from St. Mary’s Youth Group became engaged in the project and spent time on several of their Tuesday evening meetings to create and apply labels.
The turbans, knitted hats and other items will serve well those who are suffering from or have survived cancer but the project also did something else. There was a day of fellowship that reached beyond the walls of St. Mary’s as ACW and the Milton Women’s Institute came together to work and share. It also pulled the ladies of the ACW, the Milton Women’s Institute and the youth of St. Mary’s Youth Group into solidarity with those who are afflicted by an enemy that either directly or indirectly touches everyone. It was a warm project for a cold winter!

Jerusalem: religious toleration and the inequality of women - April 2013

Jerusalem: Religious Toleration and the Inequality of Women
Archdeacon Gerald Westcott

I’ve recently been on sabbatical leave which also included a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the heart of the Holy Land is Jerusalem. What a city! What a history!

When it comes to the world’s three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - Jerusalem is the center of the religious universe.

On the rock on the Temple Mount, Abraham was going to sacrifice Issac.
On the Temple Mount, Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion. 
The Temple Mount was, before the move to Mecca, Islam’s center for prayer and pilgrimage.

The Hebrew’s have lived in and controlled Jerusalem.
The Christian’s have lived in and controlled Jerusalem.
The Muslim’s have lived in and controlled Jerusalem. 

As a pilgrim or visitor make their way in and around the Temple Mount and the Old City, the presence and identity of all three religions are clearly visible.  

Christian Churches
While in Jerusalem, I was in the Christian Churches of: Bethpage, Dominus Flevit, Gethsemene, and St.Peter in Gallicantu. We celebrated the Ash Wednesday Liturgy in the Anglican Cathedral of St.George. And while doing the Stations of the Cross on Friday, we were in the Churches of The Resurrection and St.Alexander.

Islamic Temple Mount
The Israeli’s control access and security on the temple mount, but this holy place is for the sole use of the Muslim’s for prayers and community life. There are strict Islamic rules when in their holy place: no bibles, prayer beads or images are allowed on the Mount (and you are scanned at a security check point!). Women and men are not allowed to touch each other when on the Mount; and if you do, you are quickly identified and instructed not to. And, when it is time for the Muslims to pray, all non-Muslims are escorted off of the Temple Mount. 

It was a strange feeling being in that holy place. There is definitely something special and holy about it. But with the presence of soldiers, Islamic watch dogs, and the sense of being forced in and forced out, I felt tolerated, but far from welcome. 

Coincidently, as we were leaving the Temple Mount, the city was going through an air raid siren drill! What a place.

Jewish Wailing Wall
After a strong Arab coffee, we made our way to the Jewish Wailing Wall. That was another very interesting experience. 

First of all, the Wailing Wall is right below the Temple Mount. So when the Muslim’s were entering the Mosque above for their prayers, the Jews were directly below on the outside of the Temple Mount, offering their prayers at the Wailing Wall. 

The day I was at the Wailing Wall, there was a lot of energy in that particular Holy Place because of Bar Mitzbah. The place was filled with music and song and celebration as young adolescent boys made their right of passage into manhood. It was wonderful to observe this beautiful Jewish custom. But it was also sad to observe the separation of men and women in the celebration. Women are not allowed in the section of the Wailing Wall where the men gather. So the mothers and grandmothers and sisters of the boys going through Bar Mitzbah had to stand outside their own wall and look on at the men in their celebration. 

Inequality of Women
On top of the Temple Mount, women and men worship in separate places, and non Muslims are not welcome during the prayer time. Below the temple mount, the separation of Jews and Muslims is made clear: the Muslims on top, the Jews below. And yet another separation of men and women at the Wailing Wall in Jewish custom. 

The Christian principles of freedom and equality for all people - which Jesus’ death and resurrection at Jerusalem inaugurated for all people of every nation and language - has taken christian societies hundred’s, in fact, thousands of years to work through in our collective consciousness, and is still working itself through when it comes to issues like the equality of women and men. 

Being at the Temple Mount that day was a real challenge for me as I experienced two different cultures, and how women are excluded and unequal. That same week I was there, 10 Jewish women were arrested at the Wailing Wall for wearing a prayer shawl that only a man is allowed to wear. 

But on a more positive note, I did experience religious toleration in one of the most religiously diverse and charged places on the face of the planet. 

Religious Moderation
Religion of all stripes is certainly here to stay. We need leaders in all of the world’s religions who are moderate, loving, compassionate, reasonable, and not threatened by those who share different views. What is also required of all religions is the deeply spiritual and mystical dimension that allows us to see that we all share the same Divine Life - we are equal, free, and united in the One Life that is God.

Soul listening - exploring the possibilities of ordained ministry - April 2013

Soul Listening: Exploring the Possibilities of Ordained Ministry
The Rev'd Dr. Joanne Mercer
Queen's College

Queen’s College exists to provide “an opportunity for women and men to respond to the call of God”, as stated in our College Calendar.  But what does it mean to have a call of God?  How does a person begin to explore and understand what it means to make such a decision?

There are many different calls of God and many different ways to explore what it may mean.  One possibility is that God is calling you to the life and witness of an ordained priest.  At Queen’s College we have a series of historical boards which record all of the students who have entered to study for ordained ministry since we opened in 1841.  A quick look at the numbers show that the number of vocations in this province has been on a steady rise over the decades.

The Church is in continual need for well-trained, enthusiastic, devoted leaders.  It is a privilege and a blessing to be called into leadership of the body of Christ as an Ordained Priest.  It is an opportunity to walk with people through the most intimate moments of their lives.  It is a call to lay aside much of what you have known for the adventure of following God into the unknown.  It is a wonder and a struggle all at the same time.  It is a personal call and it is also the call of the community. It is a call rooted and lived in prayer.

We often tell people to listen for a “call” but we rarely set time aside to provide the quiet needed for such listening or the spiritual tools for the discernment.  To this end, Queen’s College in conjunction with the three dioceses will sponsor a vocations retreat entitled: Soul Listening: Exploring the Possibilities of Ordained Ministry.  The retreat will be held May 10-11, 2013 at St. Catherine’s Renewal Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.  If you would like further information please contact The Rev’d Dr. Joanne Mercer at jmercer@mun.ca or call Queen’s College toll-free at 1-877-753-0116.

This time for retreat will allow participants to explore their possible call to ordained ministry.  There will be time for worship, listening, silent reflection, group sharing and fellowship.  In our busy lives we rarely set aside the time and quiet needed to listen deeply.  This is such a time.  It will give you the time to listen with your soul and will provide some spiritual tools to aid you in the process of discernment.

Please prayerfully consider joining us.

Editorial - Nurturing New Believers - April 2013

Nurturing New Believers
The Rev'd Sam Rose

One of the most important things I do as a priest, in addition to celebrating the Holy Eucharist, is to baptize.

It is an honour to be part of a special moment in a family’s life.  I have baptized well over 150 people in the past 13 years.  The majority of which are babies.  While I cannot remember every single baptism, I do remember the process for preparing them for baptism.

After an initial call from a parent about “getting the baby done,” I usually ask, “What do you want me to do to your baby?”  The responses are varied: I want to get the child christened or I want to get the baby’s name or because grandmother said so!

Regardless of the reason, I always meet with the family for instruction.  We usually go through the baptism liturgy and I explain the parts of the service and focus especially on the Baptismal Promises and the Baptismal Covenant.

The very first thing we commit to is our belief in the Trinity, that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We do this by affirming our belief in the Apostles’ Creed.  And by doing this we are saying that we are a part of a holy relationship - that we share in a relationship with the God who is the example of a perfect Relationship.  Indeed, this baptismal creed is not just a statement of what we believe, but it is a way of life. Our life with God is one of making promises to live in a certain way, and when we break these promises, that we say that we will repent and return to the Lord.

The first promise asks us, “Will you continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers?”

We promise to take our place in our congregation's communal life, to take seriously our continuing need for learning, to develop a personal spiritual discipline, and to participate in the Eucharist.  In other words, we commit ourselves to be a part of a worshipping community, which is the Church – the Body of Christ.  We commit ourselves not to be Christians in isolation, but to live in fellowship and worship together as a community.

Secondly, “Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?”

The second promise is to resist evil and, when we fail, to seek reconciliation with God. That is, to repent-to change the way we perceive life and our lives-and to return again to modeling our lives after Jesus' life.  We commit ourselves to perseverance, not giving up on the God who never gives up on us.

Next, “Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?”

The third promise is to make known to others, by what we say, what we do, and how we act, that there is an alternative for human life and history-namely, our acknowledging that all human beings are made in the image of God and that God's reign of peace and justice is already among us.  In other words, does your life match up with what your faith believes in?  Do you believe in a Jesus who tells us to love those who hate us, but refuse to put that faith into practice?  Or do you try to practice what Jesus preached day by day?

Fourthly, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?”

The fourth promise is to seek out the needy, neglected, and unlovable-to embrace their suffering and be present to them in ways through which they may experience God's transforming love or grace.   We are to serve those as if we are serving Christ himself.

Finally, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”

The last promise is to respect the uniqueness of all persons. It is a promise to show forth in gestures large or small what it means to live in God's reign-where all people live in unity with God and each other and where the human needs of all people are met with equity.  We commit to the value and dignity of every human being, that no one’s life is worth less than ours, but that we treat others better than we treat ourselves.

In the Baptism Liturgy we are all asked a serious and intentional question - Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ As much as the parents and godparents make promises to God in the Baptism, this is our promise to God as well.

So how should we nurture? Does this mean asking families to come to church?  Does this mean sending out birthday cards each year to the newly baptized? Does this mean praying for these families? I would say yes, and there is so much more we can be doing.

The whole point of this is that nurturing new believers means perhaps thinking a little bit outside the box.  If you want new families, you may need to offer new ways of helping them connect.  

The most important word is relationships.  All of us have some serious relationships that are formed in the Church.  Some relationships go back to your Sunday School days and AYPA or youth group.  Relationships are the key to nurturing faith.  

In order to nurture new believers, we need to listen to them.  We have to listen to the needs of people and then respond.  The Church has to listen, and listen more, to the people who are not part of it.

Bishop Coffin's Message - April 2013

For David Stone, age 13, of Margaree who died tragically February 27th, 2013
The Rt. Rev'd Percy Coffin
Bishop of Western Newfoundland

“How do you know this?” “Someone told me.” If you were blindfolded and led to a bench on which there was a bucket how would you know if the bucket contained water? One way would be to put your dry hand in the bucket; if it comes out wet then you can safely say it contains water. That is learning by experience. Secondly, you could, if the bucket were out of reach, toss a coin or some object in the bucket; you could determine by the quality of the sound made on contact whether or not there was water in the bucket. That is learning by reasoning. Thirdly you could simply ask someone if the bucket contained water. They would tell you and you would know the answer by believing.

The people who study learning processes figure that about eighty percent of what we claim to know is learned by believing. There is a turning point in the Palm Sunday Liturgy that marks the beginning of a story that tells us much. We move from the entrance into Jerusalem to the passion of the Christ. The story is told and retold throughout Holy week until we get to the edge of the burial site on Friday afternoon and there we say it is in God’s hands. In truth we are not fully prepared for this surrender. We are akin to the man on the road to conversion who confessed that he had not died to sin but he felt weak once. Although we know the Easter story we fear death, tragedy, old age and disease. No matter how many times someone tells us the great story of our salvation, making our hearts burn within us, our human nature chills us.

The burial rites of our church leave no room for doubting the existence of God or the resurrection power of God.  Yet we have fallen victim to contemporary secular funeral rites. The best dressed folks at our funerals don’t want us to see death. They don’t want us to see dirt. Cosmetics, Astroturf and white sand become the order of the day. What would Lazarus, who rose from the tomb resembling the dust he had become, say? What would Jesus say? 

The storytellers of the death and resurrection of Jesus also told us about baptism. Believe that too. Baptism itself is a death wherein we die and give ourselves wholly to God. In the waters of baptism we are united to Christ in death to be once and for all pulled from the tomb of mortal life into God’s realm. Hold fast to this profound truth. Rehearse it again and again in worship by saying “I believe in God…”. We have occasion to empower ourselves for all the unimaginable experiences our hope contains in water, wine and bread.  Jesus says we can no longer look on death and see only death. While believing we wait while the power of God shows itself in the lives of his abandoned ones; “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

Rest in peace David, and rise in glory.

+ Percy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

St. Thomas' hosts Mission Week 2013: "The Power of God's Healing"

St. Thomas' hosts Mission Week 2013: "The Power of God's Healing"

The Parish of St. Thomas', St. John's, is looking forward to the arrival of the Rt. Rev. Michael Hawkins to lead in a Lenten Preaching Mission this month. Bishop Hawkins is a native of Nova Scotia. He graduated from the University of King's College, Halifax, and completed his theological studies at Trinity College, University of Toronto. He was ordained in 1987 and served parishes in Nova Scotia (Pugwash/River John and Petite Riviere/New Dublin), before being appointed Dean of St. Alban's Cathedral, Prince Albert, SK. He was elected Bishop of Saskatchewan and consecrated in March of 2009. Bishop Hawkins is well known as a passionate proclaimer of the good news of Jesus Christ and has travelled widely across the Canada and in Africa, where he is in high demand as a preacher and missioner. He will be leading St. Thomas' Parish in a Mission Week, March 5-10. He will speak on "The Power of God's Healing" at three evening mission services @ 7-8 pm (Wednesday March 6: "Healing which forgives", Thursday March 7: "Healing which restores" and Friday March 8: "Healing which enables"). He will also be speaking at the Lenten Luncheon on Wednesday March 6 @ 12:30 pm on "The Spiritual Gifts" at at the Sunday services on March 10 (8:00 am and 10:30 am). He will speak at the parish luncheon after the main Sunday service on "God's Prodigal Love". We invite all interested persons to join us for all any or all of these gatherings.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Bachelor of Arts Program begins with 30 Students in Eastern Diocese

New Bachelor of Arts Program begins with 30 Students in Eastern Diocese

This January the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador begins its new Bachelor of Arts in Theology for Discipleship and Ministry at two sites: the Parish of the Good Shepherd in Mount Pearl and the Parish of Labrador West in Labrador City. A total of 30 students will begin (23 in Mount Pearl and 7 in Labrador West) with a second registration already underway for September at a third site, bringing the anticipated total number of students to over 50 by this fall. The diocesan facilitator for this program is the Venerable Dr Geoff Peddle in Mount Pearl and the local facilitator in Labrador West will be the Rev Wayne Parsons. This BA program will be offered in conjunction with Glyndŵr University in Wales and the St Mary’s Centre in Wales.

The program is highly innovative and designed to be offered to Local Education Groups in their home settings (there will be a lending library created in both parishes) and does not assume previous university experience. The BA is delivered over three terms every year with nine classes in each term for a total of 27 classes per year. A Saturday day school at the end of every term led by Dr Peddle (three times per year) draws together the work covered during that semester. Essays and reflections are submitted online and the work of each student is assessed by relevant members of the theological staff at Glyndŵr University and the St Mary’s Centre.

Students are free to complete either two, four, or six years of the program and depending upon how far they decide to go they will receive a certificate, a diploma or a degree. Those who complete the first two years will receive a Certificate of Higher Education. Those who complete the second two years will receive a Diploma of Higher Education. Those who complete the third two years (for a total of six years) will receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology for Discipleship and Ministry from Glyndŵr University in the UK.

The program is offered locally through the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador in partnership with the Parish of the Good Shepherd. In 2013 it is planned to conclude the first two modules by the end of June and then complete a third module in the fall. Formal registration into the program on the Avalon Peninsula part of the diocese is tentatively planned for Sunday, February 17 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Anyone interested in learning more about this new venture in theological education is asked to contact The Venerable Dr Geoff Peddle at: 

The Parish of the Good Shepherd
111 Richard Nolan Drive, P.O. Box 428,
Mount Pearl, NL, Canada A1N 2C4
Tel: 709-747-1022, E-Mail: geoffpeddle48@gmail.com

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