Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Visions of the Nominees for Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal

The Episcopal Synod will be held on June 6, 2015 for the purpose of electing a Bishop. This is the only business that will be transacted at the Synod. Registration will take place in Fulford Hall between 7:30 am and 8:15 am. Delegates will then proceed to the Cathedral for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 8:30 am. After the Eucharist, balloting will commence in Fulford Hall at or soon after 9:30 am.

Here are the four candidates and their essays on their vision of episcopal ministry in the diocese of Montreal. For more information, please contact Sophie Bertrand or at 514-843-6577 ext. 232.

Denis Drainville

My Vision of Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Montreal

A bishop is to be the symbol of unity in Christ of the life of the diocese, even as the priest is in the parish and all baptized persons are in the world.

This is our scriptural and historical understanding of the exercise of authority and ministry in the Anglican Church. In today’s world, where so much is called into question, the bishop must be a leader who articulates and promotes a vocation for the church pertinent to our time. I believe that I can do this.

Since becoming bishop, I have traveled to communities throughout Quebec and to many places beyond Canada. I have watched and listened keenly. What I have witnessed has deeply affected my understanding of the state and needs of our Church. People in our pews and in our neighbourhoods, over-consume materially and are afflicted by depression, addictions and other forms of illness. Much of this is caused by want of the spirit in their lives. But despite our best efforts, too many remain unsupported and isolated.

Never have the needs of Creation and the created been so great. And never have we been at such a loss about how to respond. However it is not a crisis of faith that we as Church are suffering, but a crisis of identity. Who are we? What is our message? Where are we going?

My vision of the church has changed as a result of 8 years of episcopal leadership: I affirm the following key priorities for a sustainable and effective witness to Christ in Quebec:

1. Forming disciples dedicated to learning, prayer, and the life of the Christian community; hence, a greater emphasis upon lay training and leadership. This priority recognizes the need for a transition in many of our churches where full time salaried clergy are no longer affordable
2. Promoting greater imagination in the ways in which we speak of Christ and act in the world as his agent. This priority recognizes that in many ways we are simply not communicating with the world nor engaging in it in ways considered valuable.
3. Developing more francophone churches and respond better to the integration of immigrants into our communities Historically, the development of a francophone church has been problematic. I believe that the present context opens up new possibilities.
4. Restructuring the institution. This priority recognizes that the diocesan and parish structures, need to be redesigned to serve a smaller community in a very different social context.

This vision has sustained my episcopal ministry in Quebec. We have restructured our administration and ministries, enhanced support for Francophone communities, renewed and strengthened ecumenical partnerships, expanded work with young people and responded to the Crisis of Creation by increasingly becoming a “Green Church”.

We have also brought order and stability to our financial affairs by balancing the budget of Church Society and doubling our shared investments with the parishes. Our stronger financial situation has been guided by the step by step implementation of ethical investment guidelines. I believe that building upon the strengths of our two dioceses we will be better equipped to evangelize, to care for the people in our communities and our province, and to contribute to solutions for a sustainable future for all of God`s creation.

Karen Egan

My Vision of Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Montreal

Episcopal ministry is a ministry of leadership in the church, yet at the same time, it is a leadership that is characterized by a willingness to humbly follow Jesus, and to oversee that willingness to follow Jesus take root in the church that God loves. In practice this means that a bishop’s life must be grounded in prayer, a deep prayer of the heart that opens us up to the hurts and struggles of the world.

The first Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion reads: “To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.” I think this call to bold proclamation of the gospel is foundational to the ministry of the bishop, but like any Christian proclamation, it is not undertaken simply with words, but with all manner of acts that lead to transformation in the community and the world. For this reason, episcopal leadership is one of encouragement, to lead the church out to participate in the mission of God in the world.

But it is not enough to describe what a bishop must do; it is just as important to describe how this leadership is exercised. I believe that episcopal ministry must be undertaken in a spirit of collegiality, gathering together clergy and lay people in lively dialogue to seek the wisdom of the community and to discern a shared vision that draws on the widest possible number of people, from both the central leadership and the dynamic periphery. Just as Jesus was not born in Rome, or Jerusalem, but rather in a small shack on the outskirts of a small town on the edge of the empire, so too will prophets be found on the edges of our communities, and in the most unlikely of places. In this way, bold episcopal ministry is a ministry of perpetual gathering in, again and again, so that the margins brush up against the centre, and transform tired and static dynamics of power.

The Diocese of Montreal is challenged by its deeply secular context, and its diminishing membership, which creates stresses in every parish and every level of the diocese. For decades we have watched as numbers and finances have diminished. Far from standing by and idly watching, we have made consistent efforts to understand our situation and to reverse the decline. Unfortunately most of our efforts have met with disappointment. I believe that the time has come to abandon our self-concerned efforts to increase the church in numbers and financial capital, and instead focus on vibrant worship which is open and accessible to the newcomer, and energetic mission in the world. I believe this focus on authentic Christian worship and service will surely lead to something more important than growth in numbers and power, namely, to a healthy and vibrant church that lives the Marks of Mission and is able to inspire future generations with a longing for God’s Kingdom, and the faith to live joyfully.

Bill Gray

My Vision of Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Montreal

I believe above all that what matters to God is people. God loves all people, everywhere, in all times. In the words of Jesus, “God no longer calls us servants but friends”. (John 15)

I believe that God loves us not only for what we can become but also for who we are. The term friend redefines our relationship with God. People are not just a means to the church’s ends. People are the church. God lives for us not only in defined roles such as creator, redeemer and sustainer but also as companion on our journey. Similarly, our relationships with one another as God’s people goes beyond roles of clergy, lay person; teacher, disciple, employer or employee. A Bishop must also be more than simply that defined by prescribed roles. A Bishop too must live in relationship with others that embraces our entire person, which involves being vulnerable, open to risk and as friend.

As Executive Archdeacon I am encouraged by the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the Bishop’s office, diocesan staff, clergy and lay leaders. I have made it a personal goal to better communicate, and make visible the reality of diocesan mission and activity. Together, we help to provide the required resources to parishes to move beyond maintenance and survival to become hopeful and vital communities. We are dedicated to support our fantastic clergy and laity who have a heart for the gospel, mission and ministry.

I have been privileged to be part of a diocesan team including front line local clergy and lay leadership that has supported the development of regional ministry, repurposed churches through redevelopment, engaged in collaborative decision making and considered plans for new church planting. I have learned a great deal through this process of what’s possible. My experiences include serving as a diocesan officer, an Archdeacon four different times in two dioceses, and a parish priest of 34 years. My relationships with diocesan staff, deanery leaders, clergy and laity means that I don’t require a steep learning curve but can invest more time in a seamless continuation of building on the great foundation we have built together. My goal is to help parishes manage change and transition. I want to encourage us to be people of hope and confidence in the gospel rather than a community of fear and anxiety.

Mary Irwin-Gibson

My Vision of Episcopal Ministry in the Diocese of Montreal

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