Note: The sermon begins at 29:36

The Collation of The Venerable Christopher Parsons as Executive Archdeacon of the Diocese of Kootenay, and the Installation of Andrew Stephens-Rennie as Director of Diocesan Missional Renewal and as a Lay Canon of the Diocese.

The Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, Kelowna, British Columbia

Propers for Embertide: Isaiah 44:1-8; Ps 87; 1 Peter 2:4-10; John 17:6-19 (20 + 21)

   +  In the Name of God. Amen.

Three men walk in to a Cathedral, to emerge later as an Archdeacon, a Canon, and an Interim Administrative Assistant. We gather to praise God for Carlos, Andrew, and Christopher, to honour them, and to rejoice with them and to commit ourselves to work with them in the day-to-day tasks that, in many ways, define Diocesan life. We commit to engaging in our Archbishop’s efforts to renew our common life in Christ, to grasp and to use the energy of the Holy Spirit, and to act upon God’s vision for a redeemed humanity in the midst of a hurting and broken world.

For the past several years, as a Diocese, we have been focused on the 43rd Chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, verses 18 – 21. We began with “I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” We engaged in seeking where we saw God in our midst, even, as around us in many places we saw shrinkage and inaction. We brought both our fear and our hope to Synod and established a Structures Working Group, a group that struggled to name the blight that seemed to be affecting many of us. The Group saw that its primary purpose was . . . “to hold up an honest mirror of the structures and procedures of the Diocese and to critically examine what is working and not working. The SWG will make practical recommendations on restructuring or changes needed to enable the Diocese to adapt nimbly to serve Christ’s mission, now and in the generations to come.”

The Report of the SWG came to the Diocese in January last year, stating that “the institution of the Diocese of Kootenay—as it exists today—has entered a palliative state.”

Many read those words, reeled at them, were infuriated by them, and without placing them within the context of the entire document failed to perceive the vision of hope that the SWG presented in the document “A Path Forward.” Nowhere did the document say that the Church in the Diocese of Kootenay was going to cease to exist. Instead, the SWG became the voice of Prophecy to today’s Disciples of Christ, saying, – “Here we are, our present structures aren’t working, if we continue in this way, we are dead, if we look to God and not to old ways, and adapt nimbly, we will “serve Christ’s mission, now and in the generations to come.” NOW AND IN GENERATIONS TO COME – not a prophecy about our imminent demise, but one which calls us to enter into the serving and saving Vision of the God who calls us to Life.

This voice of Prophecy has been for the whole Church, not just for us in Kootenay. As our western culture continues to spiral into greater and greater degrees of narcissistic individualism, the Church has the opportunity to embody and to exemplify caring community. It is the Church that is salvific, not the structures that assist its salvific work.

We speak of ourselves as the Body of Christ – many members, but one body in Christ. Many members, but each called into a whole variety of service, with our natural and spiritual gifts, for ministry in the world as, together, we grow into “the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ep. 4:13)

The Special Synod last year grasped that vision, accepted the recommendations that offered hope, endorsed the Implementation Plan put forward by the SWG, and, grasping the hope offered in “A Path Forward” we proceeded with the appointment of Andrew Stephens-Rennie to the position of Diocesan Director of Missional Renewal.

Andrew, with deep faith, many gifts and abilities, and with a wry humour, has taken up that task and has begun to work with individuals, congregations, and parishes in this task, a task that at one and the same time is exacting and exciting; a task in which we are being called to discern and respond to how God is calling us to be Church today. Andrew’s job is not to “save us” – but to enable us.

In appointing and Installing Andrew to be a Canon of Kootenay, the Archbishop is acknowledging the importance of his work. Canons, through generations of Church life have been both shapers and guardians of the structures of the Church. Cathedral and Diocesan Chapters of Canons have guided the Institution as it has reimagined itself in changing times.

Andrew, we commit to pray for you as you exercise this ministry amongst us, And, because we should not pray for things we are not willing to do something about ourselves, we commit to working with you in discerning for us, both structures that serve us as Church, and ministries for us that serve Christ in this world.

Joined with the Canons, Archdeacons have adapted to changing times and structures as the Institutional Church has shaped and reshaped itself. Whether it was the gathering of funds for a famine driven church in Jerusalem, administering the temporalities of the Diocese of Rome, or keeping an eye on the practises of the parishes and clergy of a Diocese, Archdeacons have taken their part in the organisation of the changing times and seasons of the life of the Church.

Tonight, Christopher Parsons formally takes up the role of Archdeacon of Kootenay and Executive Officer of the Diocese.

Andrew is being Installed as a Canon – appointed and put in place – for a work.

Christopher is being Collated – and no, we aren’t processing into the Cathedral Office to stuff him through a photocopier with a staple through his middle – Collation just means “the appointment of a member of the clergy to a benefice” or office in the Church. Collation is the formal admittance of a person to that Office.

Christopher will work with the Archbishop, the Officers of the Synod, and the Committees of the Diocese in the Administration of the Diocese. Property, Finance, Policies, Personnel, Paperwork – all are under the purview of the Executive Archdeacon.

Chris brings to this work 20 years of experience as a parish priest, and as member of numerous Diocesan Committees in three very different Dioceses. He too, has a deep faith, many, many gifts, a calm presence, and a wry sense of humour!

An important role for Chris as he works into the tasks set before him, will be to print and present for your approval the structural policies you will discern as requirements for the emerging Church in Kootenay. This will require coordination with Andrew, with the Archbishop and Officers of Synod, and with the various constitutional and canonical Committees and sub-committees that will arise, be reshaped or be discarded as the work before us unfolds over the coming months and years. Chris’s calm good humour will be invaluable to us during this process.

Christopher, we commit to pray for you as you enter into this work. We commit to working with you in the administration of our common life, and we pray that as we work together in our common tasks our Diocesan Vision of Wholehearted Worship, Daring Discipleship, Right Relationship, and Thriving Communities will become reality.

Central to the work of these two men is our Archbishop. In her work of “care for all the churches,” Archbishop Lynne requires our constant prayer and support. It is her courageous faith and leadership that has enabled us to name the bleak realities that confront us as a Diocese, and to attack them with the confidence that the abiding and guiding presence of God is in our midst, holding us and empowering us.

Andrew and Christopher are invaluable additions and complements to her leadership of us – but, foundational to that leadership is the third person whose ministry among us we celebrate tonight. Carlos Ferriera takes up his task as the Interim Executive Assistant to the Archbishop.

Carlos comes to us from the Cathedral of the Diocese of New Westminster. His will be the voice and hand that answers our phone calls and emails. He will be the one that communicates meeting dates and meeting content. He has the arrangement of Archbishop’s calendar and her movements among us. Carlos is ‘gate-keeper’ and ‘confidant.’

Carlos is an institutional organizer and communicator. He organized 10,000 youth of the world for a meeting with the Pope in Portugal, so our upcoming Diocesan Synod? No Problem!

Carlos, we commit to pray for you as you take up and enter into this Interim task. We welcome you, and, we ask that you forgive our occasional grumpiness, and what may seem to you to be questions with obvious answers that we direct your way. We look forward to your clear communication through the Kootenay Contact, and we thank you for the steady support you will bring to the Archbishop’s life!

Tonight we are engaged in the Celebration of three New Ministries. But these ministries are reflective of the ministries in which we all share. By God’s grace we are called to service in the Church and in the world. As we celebrate these three men, let us also give thanks for the ministries to which we are called. Let us be mindful of Isaiah’s proclamation of God “doing a new thing,” but let us also be mindful of his words tonight. Isaiah says, “Do not fear or be afraid, have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses!” Each one of us has responsibility for witness, for service to Christ in the Church and the World, and for shaping the Church that is, and that will be.

In the Name of God. Amen.