- Bilingual coverage of November’s Synod meeting, including a review of canonical amendments, the bishop’s charge, and a recap of Primate Linda Nicholl’s address.
- “The Good News:” Stories shared by Synod delegates and guests about signs of growth, change, and hope in their corners of the diocese.
- Election results.
- Highlights from Synod guest speakers.
- A note about Irène Brisson receiving the Order of the Diocese of Quebec.
- Updates from the Saguenay area and the Eastern Townships.
- A post-Christmas reflection by Louisa Blair
- A look back at January 1920.
- An interview with the Rev. Canon Jeffrey Metcalfe, canon theologian of the Diocese of Quebec
- German Christmas Eve in Quebec City
- Bishop's Reflection: Great Expectations of Advent
- Thoughts on faith and the environment from the Rev. Cynthia Patterson
- Spiritual reflection from columnist Louisa Blair
- Gleanings from the past...
Since being called to serve as your bishop (four years ago next week!) this has become what you might call my “go-to” prayer, and you should each have a copy of it on a little bookmark that was hopefully waiting for you. If not, there’s other copies. It goes like this:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go forward with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
One of the reasons I love this prayer is because it’s realistic but encouraging, honest but hopeful. It doesn’t deny difficult truths, but neither does it succumb to sterile pessimism. It was written in the first part of the twentieth century by a Church of England priest named Eric Milner-White, who among other things was one of the founders of the religious community to which I belong, the Oratory of the Good Shepherd. Like many good prayers from another time and place, it sounds like it was tailor made for us here and now.
This prayer begins by acknowledging that we have been called “to ventures of which we cannot see the ending.” However, you may have read recently about some statistics that suggest we can, in fact, see the ending of the venture that is the Anglican Church of Canada. Recently compiled numbers reveal that nationwide our denomination has lost 50 per cent of its members in the past 25 years. If that trend continues, it’s projected that there won’t be any Anglicans left in Canada by the year 2040.
I don’t know where you’re going to be 20 years from now, but—God willing—I’ll still be around and presumably still be an Anglican, so there will be at least one of us left! I suspect there will be others, too. In fact, one of the recent responses to that statistical projection has been a number of younger Canadian Anglicans publicly declaring, “I’m not going anywhere!” And as one of my fellow bishops helpfully wrote just last week about these grim-sounding statistics, “The Christian church has always been one generation away from extinction, and so our situation is not unique.”
That we’ve grown smaller as a church shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here. It’s what we see each Sunday as we gather in congregations across this vast diocese, or as we drive by deconsecrated church buildings that at one time were home to active worshipping Anglican communities. In fact, we’ve been consistently growing smaller in number since the early 1960s. That’s when membership in the Anglican Church of Canada and a number of other Christian denominations in this country hit its peak—60 years ago.
The Diocese of Quebec feels the effects of this numerical decline more sharply because we’re an historically English-speaking church in an overwhelmingly French-speaking (and historically Roman Catholic) land, often located in communities that are demographically skewed older, and we’re in a part of the world where the turn away from religious practice of all kinds has been particularly intense. So we’re small in number, and probably going to get smaller still. But we know we’re not alone, and in any case that’s not the end of our story.
One of the first things I did in setting up my office at Church House a few years ago was to put up on the wall a big map of the Diocese of Quebec—all 720,000 square kilometres of it. And on that map I placed a little coloured pin for each of the diocese’s congregations—all 68 of them.
After I’d put in the last of the pins, I stepped back and looked at the map with a mixture of awe and panic: awe at how Anglican Christianity had over more than two centuries spread across so vast and diverse an expanse, and panic at wondering how in the world I was going to help support these scattered communities, all of which are small. Our own statistics tell us that there are now just over 3,000 Anglicans who belong to one of our diocese’s congregations, and that on an average Sunday about 800 of us are in church.
The other thing I realized when I stepped back and looked at the map was that the colour I had unconsciously chosen for the pins marking the congregations was yellow, and my instant thought was that they looked like a bunch of scattered mustard seeds. A clump in the Eastern Townships (I say “clump” with affection) around the U.S. border; and then kind of hugging both sides of the mighty St. Lawrence; and then up the North Shore out to the coast; up to Kawawachikamach, little one got blown up there; and up to the Gaspé Peninsula; and a couple more got blown out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Magdalen Islands.
In the gospels, Jesus calls mustard seeds “the smallest of seeds.” But he also says that when sown, they have the potential to grow into something great and good. And faith the size of a mustard seed, says Jesus, can move mountains.
What I’ve encountered in my travels across the length and breadth of this diocese over the past few years are many examples of just that: small but faithful communities, small but faithful efforts that each in their own way have been offered up to and blessed by God, and are revealing something of the kingdom of God here among us. As another fellow bishop recently said, a bishop named Stephen Conway, who’s the Bishop of Ely, a very historic and significant diocese in the Church of England, “The church does not let its small attendance prevent it from being a light to the community and a place to which people turn for support and encouragement.” So even great, historic dioceses of the Church of England are facing something of the same challenges we are.
I’m not going to name any specific examples now of those points of light, of those mustard seeds, because over the next couple of days together we’re going to be hearing a sampling of some of those stories of support and encouragement from fellow members of our diocesan family. We’ll also be hearing from a number of special guests about some of the mustard seeds they’ve encountered in the patches of the church they serve.
We of course want our mustard seeds to grow, but there’s more to growth than numbers. We know that’s a cliché. It’s easy to say, in a diminishing church numerically, but I believe it. At one point in Luke’s gospel the disciples come pleading to Jesus, saying, “Increase our faith!” They don’t come to see Jesus, saying, “Increase our attendance!” or, “Increase our dividends!”—however nice both of those might be. Because bigger numbers, whether they’re in the “communicants” column of our parish vestry books or on the “positive” side of our parish ledger, are really only meaningful if we’re also growing in our Christian discipleship.
That’s something else I’ve regularly encountered in my visits with Anglicans across our diocese: a desire expressed by many, pretty much everywhere I go, to better understand the Christian faith they profess, to grow spiritually, and to apply their faith in Jesus Christ in concrete ways, both as individual Christians and as congregations.
As Christians, we claim to be a people who, though living in the world, “do not belong to the world.” As we’ll be reminded on Sunday, the feast of Christ the King, our primary allegiance is not to crown, country, tribe, political party, family, or even church. Rather our first and foremost loyalty is to God as revealed in Jesus Christ and to the heavenly kingdom his incarnation has inaugurated and which we, his disciples of today, are commissioned to reveal on earth.
To live into this radical and counter-cultural claim and mission, we necessarily need to conduct ourselves differently from the dominant culture—“the world”—that we inhabit. And helping Christians do that is one of the roles of the church, described by American theologian Stanley Hauerwas as an institution “calling people to be an alternative to the world,” so that we can become “a different people with different habits and practices from that of the world.”
What’s supposed to set us apart as followers of Jesus Christ is not so much our buildings, our rituals, or even our doctrines. What’s supposed to set us apart as followers of Jesus Christ is that we do things differently, according to a different ethic—whether it’s how we deal with people, how we make decisions, how we manage our money, how we treat the environment. The church is not primarily, as Hauerwas has said, “about providing for greater participation; it’s about being a people in a hostile environment capable of sustaining the witness to Jesus of Nazareth, who has brought to us a way of life that we know to be life giving.”
That’s why the first term used in the New Testament to describe Christians is “followers of the Way.” Because, as Anglican monk Brother Geoffrey Tristram once put it, “Christianity has never been a static body of doctrine, but rather is a dynamic way of life.” That’s what growing in our Christian discipleship means: being equipped to more effectively live and speak the gospel of Jesus Christ in our everyday lives, and to serve as Christ’s ambassadors whenever and wherever with whomever.
For our diocesan church, the task of making and equipping disciples is, in the words of that opening prayer, one of those “paths as yet untrodden”—or at least it’s a path that hasn’t seen much traffic for some time. A lot of our collective time and energy over the years has been channelled into managing decline. And while we’ll need to continue to be good stewards of the buildings, cemeteries, and investments with which we’ve been entrusted—and helping congregations wishing to remain open to do so as long as they can—we also need to be reminded that surviving just as we are isn’t enough. God calls us to so much more, and our communities and the world need us to be so much more. We need to remember that the church’s primary task remains making and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ to participate in God’s redeeming work in the world.
And it’s an opportune time to remember this because not only do we already have many people in our diocese who want to become better equipped as disciples of Jesus, but the means to help do that equipping are already at hand. We have wonderful teachers of faith among our clergy and laity. We’re developing new partnerships with centres of Christian formation here in Quebec and beyond. Even the necessary communications technology (like high-speed internet access) is now available to almost every Anglican in the diocese, wherever they might live—even on the Lower North Shore, hallelujah. We already have everything we need for our mustard seeds to grow.
Some of this discipleship work has already begun, and my hope is that it will broaden and deepen in the years ahead. In doing so, we may find that being attentive to our spiritual growth also positively impacts our numerical growth, as others are drawn by our Christ-like love for one another and to the world, because those are among the fruits of Christian discipleship.
Another path “as yet untrodden” is this very gathering. The last time our diocesan Synod met was in 2015, it was decided to make significant changes to its size and composition. So this Synod is about half the size of the last one; lay representation is based on deaneries and regions, not individual congregations; and a cross-section of the diocesan clergy (10 in total) are members of Synod, rather than the entire active clericus. This is a new way of meeting for all of us, and we’ll be seeking your feedback on what you think works well, what works not so well, and what may need changing in the future.
This Synod is also a little different in that it’s relatively light on legislation. Canons and the constitution are important for the ordering of our common life as a diocesan church, but so too are prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and encouraging and building up one another—and that’s how I hope we’ll be spending most of our time together in this place: a space consecrated for four centuries now to prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship.
Part of the process in choosing a new bishop for this diocese four years ago included each of the candidates describing what kind of leadership we might bring to the diocese in 500 words or less. I wrote (in part) the following: “I would seek to offer a kind of leadership that is chiefly characterized by hope. These are challenging times for our church, and in the midst of these difficulties, it can be easy to succumb to what Pope Francis calls ‘sterile pessimism’ or the ‘evil spirit of defeatism.’ Yet as Christians we are called to be a people of hope—the sure and certain hope of Christ’s resurrection and the redemption of all things, including the church.”
In the four years since I wrote that, I confess that pessimism and defeatism against which Pope Francis warned have at times been real temptations—but they’ve always been fleeting. They’ve always, always given way to hope.
- in the faithful and dedicated clergy of this diocese, who are a gift to call colleagues in ministry. You’ve really got great priests serving you;
- in the diligent and committed staff and officers of the Synod, who it’s a joy to work with on a daily and weekly basis, who love the diocese and serving it;
- in the lay leaders of this diocese, whether they serve as lay readers, wardens, secretaries, treasurers, Synod members, deanery council or diocesan executive council members, musicians, servers, Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders, in ACWs or altar guilds;
- in the faithful people who hold no particular office or position, but who form the faithful backbone, week after week, that is the body of Christ in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec.
You are all not only living, breathing signs of hope, but you also have my profound thanks for all that you do, and it is my privilege to serve you and to serve with you.
It seems fitting, in this particular holy place, to quote the Bishop of Rome a bit more, because Pope Francis spends a lot of time talking about hope. He’s a pretty hopeful guy. The Christian hope, Pope Francis says, “is not being afraid to see reality for what it is and accept the contradictions. [...] This hope invites us to enter the darkness of an uncertain future and to walk into the light.” Christian hope isn’t some vague, optimistic wish that things might turn out okay. “Christian hope,” says Pope Francis, “is the expectation of something that has already been fulfilled.”
What’s been fulfilled is the victory of Christ over the powers of evil—including even death—through Jesus’ own life, death, resurrection, and ascension. What’s been fulfilled is Christ’s promise that not even the gates of hell will prevail against his church. Isn’t that liberating? We of course care about the church’s future, but we don’t have to feel guilty or anxious about the church’s future, because in Christ the church’s future—indeed, all creation’s future—has already been secured in an ultimate way.
So when your starting point is that Christ has already won the victory over the forces of evil, including death itself, then we’re liberated. We’re freed to channel our energy and resources into staying true to the church’s mission, which is helping make present God’s future. So whether the church as we know it has 20 years left or 20 centuries left doesn’t really matter, because our Christian hope and our Christian calling don’t change.
We’ve together been called to this “venture of which we cannot see the ending.” One dictionary definition of “venture” is “a risky or daring journey or undertaking.” So rather than playing it safe, what risks can we undertake for Christ’s sake? Rather than exhausting ourselves trying to maintain a way of being the church that doesn’t fit our reality anymore, what new and daring journeys can we embark on for the sake of the world?
If you add two letters to the beginning of “venture” you get “adventure,” and that’s how Christianity has sometimes been described—as an adventure. It doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time, eh? It feels like an obligation or a downer, ponderous, but Christianity, the Christian faith at its best is an adventure, and that’s defined as “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” What experience or activity could be more unusual, exciting, or potentially hazardous than making and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ to be his witnesses, to be Good News, to challenge the forces of evil and darkness and death in the world that surround us, and instead to reveal God’s kingdom of peace, justice, and reconciliation in every corner of the diocese where we are still present?
I cannot see the ending of this venture (or adventure) to which God has called us. I do not know the path we have to trod, or how we will navigate the many perils still unknown. But I do have faith—faith that even though I do not know, I don’t have to know, because there is one whose hand is leading us, whose love is supporting us, as we journey through the unknown together and in sure and certain hope.
Secretary of Synod provides an overview of the meeting, which will offer time for reflection on mission, ministry
By Matthew Townsend
Delegates to the Diocese of Quebec’s upcoming Synod, to be held Nov. 21-24 at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City, are set to experience a gathering that differs from past Synods in both membership and agenda. A number of honoured guests, including the newly elected primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will greet the delegates, as well.
Synod is the diocese’s governance meeting held every few years to make policy decisions, elect leadership and gather members of the diocese around worship and prayer. This Synod—the 85th Ordinary Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec—marks the first time the diocese will meet under revised guidelines approved in 2015, the last time the body gathered.
“At our last Synod, we voted to change the canon on how delegates are elected to Synod,” Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary of Synod, told the Gazette in an interview prior to the meeting. “We are a shrinking diocese, and it was felt that we could also look at reducing Synod for a variety of reasons, including financial ones.”
The view at the time, he said, was that a smaller Synod logically followed the diocese’s smaller population.
“The way of electing people who serve as delegates has changed significantly,” Kohner says. In the past, delegates were elected by each congregation in the diocese. All licensed clergy were invited to participate at Synod, as well.
For this Synod, delegates have been elected by each deanery in the diocese; 10 total clerics have been elected, representing the various deaneries and one region.
In a conversation with the Gazette in August, Bishop Bruce Myers said he is keeping an open mind to the revised synodical membership structure, adding that he views this as a trial run on something still evolving. Kohner agreed.
“Have there been growing pains? Absolutely,” Kohner said. “However, we want to give it a try. We want to see how this reduced-size Synod actually works—and if necessary, we’ll look at maybe changing our electoral process.”
Kohner said the election process has been “very smooth” and that it has worked. The “growing pains,” he explained, centred around concerns that large congregations might have disproportional representation within their deaneries. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “When we look at the delegates coming to Synod, there’s a really fair representation. It’s actually worked out.”
The secretary said he thinks the body of delegates offers a mix of newcomers and those with solid experience in church governance.
‘Where do we want to be?’
In addition to the new election process developed in 2015, Myers has brought a different vision to Synod, increasing emphasis on worship and storytelling—delegates to Synod will hear stories of mission and ministry from around the diocese.
Invited guests include the Most Rev. Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; the Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson, bishop of Montreal; Mgr Pierre Goudreault, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pocatière; the Rev. Dr. Jesse Zink, principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College; and Mr. Robert Jordan, vice president, central and national accounts, Ecclesiastical Insurance. These guests, the secretary said, are expected to add to a mood of contemplation, reflection, and perspective of the wider church.
“I believe it’s going to be a breath of fresh air, just looking at the invited guests that are coming,” Kohner said. “They’re wonderful people who have a wealth of experience.”
The guests and delegates, he added, will “flesh out our orientations, our trepidations—but also, at the same time, help us consider, ‘Where do we want to be as a diocese? What directions do we want to take?’”
Part of what will allow for a reflective atmosphere, Kohner said, is a lighter legislative agenda than previous years. Only 11 canonical amendments were slated for discussion at Synod, he said, and he anticipated none of them to be particularly controversial. By contrast, past synods devoted more time to legislative discussion.
“When Bishop Bruce says he has a desire to ensure there is time for this reflection, prayer and fellowship, that’s being reflected in these proposed canonical amendments,” he noted.
Kohner said the move towards more pensive synodical gatherings began under the leadership of Bishop Dennis Drainville, who “challenged us to be the church” and to not view church buildings as monuments “but rather, to look at our communities. Bishop Bruce has taken that up, and he’s going to push it even further.”
“We’re making more room for pastoral matters.”
Four years since gathering
Kohner, who is from Montreal and works as a principal and teacher at a small English school in Baie-Comeau, was first elected to the secretary role in 1999. He told the Gazette that the diocese had not gathered in Synod over the last four years for a variety of reasons.
“One is Bishop Bruce wanted to ensure he had a full portrait of the diocese before calling a Synod—the time to meet with people, to examine the issues, to have a sense of where the diocese might want to be headed,” he said. “What are the priorities? What might the mission look like?”
This, he explained, has taken time to develop. “It’s a process, not an end product.”
The other reason is financial. “We simply have not had the necessary funds to call a Synod,” the secretary said. “They cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000, so that’s a huge chunk of the budget.”
He said the length of time since the last meeting served as encouragement to incorporate more pastoral and reflective discussion, acknowledging that the diocese’s constitution and canons would eventually need updating. “There are quite a few inconsistencies,” he said, noting that the DEC will form a subcommittee to explore resolutions to those problems.
“We felt that this Synod was not the time to go into the nitty gritty work of unpacking the constitution and canons to get them absolutely picture-perfect,” Kohner explained. Some of that work will be easy, but some “might take years. We’re talking about legislation that goes back to Queen Victoria. How do you change it? It’s very complex and could be very expensive.”
Thus, he said, this Synod would provide more of an opportunity for long-time members of the diocese and new arrivals to unite—and since the last meeting was held in 2015, a number of staff and clergy have never been to the Diocese of Quebec’s Synod.
“There’s been a lot of change, new people coming in,” he said. “For new clergy who have been here three years, we haven’t met them yet.
“This is a great opportunity. When you talk to people on the phone or communicate via email, it’s one thing—but face-to-face conversation is wonderful. It’s very empowering for people to connect with each other and see how much we have in common. And at the same time, to understand the regional differences.”
At the time this article was being written, the agenda for Synod was still being finalized. Kohner said in addition to legislative discussions and reflection on the life of the diocese, Synod would also include time for social events. “Those are always something people do look forward to, though one has to be careful how late one stays up at Synod. Bible study comes awfully early!”
Kohner said he was “ever hopeful” that the changes brought to this Synod, along with the fellowship and prayer in the meeting, would spark new ideas within the diocese. “It’s also a time for synergy. We’ve got a lot of wonderful people out there, and Synod is probably one of the few times, if the only time, when we can put all the energy and the ideas and the missions together in one place. That’s pretty exciting. That’s wonderful.”
The challenge, said Kohner, will be to ensure that the members of Synod feel empowered to return to their congregations, their deaneries and their communities with a “bold sense of mission and ministry.”
When Synod gathers on Nov. 21-24, it will consider two kinds of motions: those brought to the floor and canonical amendments that have been reviewed by the Diocesan Executive Council (D.E.C.).
Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary to Synod, said the 11 proposed canonical amendments had been received by the D.E.C. 60 days prior to Synod and have been forwarded to delegates. “When Synod convenes, there will be times in the schedule to deal with proposed canonical amendments,” he said.
Each resolution must be moved and seconded, with discussion to follow. After discussion, a yay-or-nay vote occurs. “There has to be a majority,” Kohner said. When the vote is tight and the result unclear, anyone can request a vote by orders, in which laity and clerics vote separately—though the result is still determined by simple majority of the whole. The purpose is to give a sense where each group stands and to “figure out how many votes are actually cast.”
In addition to proposed canonical amendments, delegates can write resolutions at Synod and forward to the resolutions committee formed to ensure motions neither conflict with diocese’s constitution and canons nor impact negatively on the diocese’s budget. “So there’s a team at Synod working quite diligently to come up with the proper wording.”
Once a motion of any kind is approved or defeated, Kohner explained, individual delegates are expected to respect the decision and move to the next legislative item.
As a technical point, the secretary said, the diocesan bishop must sign the “schedule of enactments”—the list of all motions that passed at Synod—before the gathering adjourns. This puts the passed motions into effect. The bishop, he says, is entitled to withhold assent from any motion on the list. The secretary said a decision to withhold assent would be quite unusual but noted the diocese’s constitution stipulates the possibility.
In addition to legislative matters, Synod will also vote on nominations. Nomination forms must be submitted to Kohner by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 14; they then go to the Nominations Committee for review and creation of slates.
Kohner said Synod will consider nominations for the D.E.C., delegates to provincial synod, assistant secretary of Synod, registrar, and a lay member of the Cathedral Centenary Endowment Fund. Clergy will be voting for the Board of Triers.
Documents related to nominations, including the form and frequently asked questions, are available on the diocesan website. Kohner suggested delegates keep an eye on the website, as documents will be posted there as they become available.
For newcomers to Synod unfamiliar with any or all of these voting procedures, the bishop will hold an hour-long newcomers’ meeting before the official start of business so people can “get a sense of what to expect from Synod,” Kohner said. That review will cover, he said, “how motions work, how to vote, what happens if you want to make a resolution, and who to complain to when the coffee is cold.”
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
Last month a few of us from the Diocese of Quebec had the wonderful opportunity to pay a short visit to the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Between 2009 and 2015 our two dioceses, along with the Diocese of Bujumbura in Burundi, were in an official companionship agreement bound by a covenant signed by the diocesan bishops of the day. Even though that formal relationship concluded a few years ago, the bonds of affection between our dioceses remain, and this was my first opportunity to visit our Scottish Anglican brothers and sisters. What I encountered was a diocesan family and a context ministry very much like our own in Quebec.
Moray, Ross and Caithness is—by British standards—a geographically vast diocese, covering the northern quarter of mainland Scotland (which itself would fit within the territory of the Diocese of Quebec nine times). The diocese’s nearly 40 congregations are strewn across the expansive Scottish Highlands, served by about 20 clergy, fewer than half of whom are full time, and most of whom serve multiple congregations. A typical church service would see between 10 and 20 people in the pews, in part because Anglicans are a tiny minority in Scotland, which though historically Christian is a rapidly secularizing society. Sound familiar?
Among my discoveries in Scotland was that what the Anglicans of Moray, Ross and Caithness may lack in numbers, they more than compensate for in terms of faithfulness—another similarity between our dioceses. The people who make up the body of Christ in our respective dioceses are extraordinarily committed and deeply faithful, even if their numbers are small.A few weeks ago, the Sunday gospel reminded us that faith the size of a mustard seed (“the smallest of seeds”) can accomplish meaningful and important things for the revealing of God’s kingdom in our midst.
In that same gospel reading, Jesus’ disciples pleaded with him to “increase our faith!” They did not say, “Increase our attendance!” We would of course welcome more people to join our churches. However, we also seek to cultivate the faith of those who already form a part of our local churches, and to live out that faith daily, however few in number they may be.
Jesus encourages us when he says that smallness does not limit our potential to do great things for the sake of God’s kingdom. And this is good news for Anglicans in places like Quebec and the Scottish Highlands. As Stephen Conway, a bishop in the Church of England, recently put it, “The church does not let its small attendance prevent it from being a light to the community and a place to which people turn for support and encouragement.”
As our own diocesan family in Quebec gathers for Synod later this month, we’ll hear stories about how some of our own small congregations across eastern and central Quebec have been places of support and encouragement in their communities. I hope that we in turn be encouraged as a diocese that the smallest of faithful efforts will be blessed by God and can bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
- Canon Stephen Kohner, secretary of Synod, offers an overview of the Diocese of Quebec's upcoming Synod, including format and structural changes.
- Bishop Bruce Myers reflects on a recent trip to Scotland—where a small church thrives in a large diocese.
- Louisa Blair considers the relationship of the physical world to the spiritual one.
- Cathedral Dean Christian Schreiner shares details of his carpentry-focused sabbatical.
- Diocesan Historian Meb Resiner Wright looks back to 1919's synodical gathering.
- Updates from the Deanery of St Francis, snapshots, and more.
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGSLater this month Canadian citizens will have another opportunity to decide who will represent us in the federal House of Commons, and what kind of government will be charged with making important decisions about our common life as a country.
As you discern which candidate will receive your vote, I’d invite you to try doing so through the lens of our baptismal covenant, which is one of the guideposts for our life in Christ.
For example, when you’re looking at a political party’s platform or listening to a candidate’s declarations, ask whether they advocate policies that will promote “justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Do they advance an agenda that strives to “safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth”?
The Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, which flow from our baptismal promises, can also provide some good questions to ask. Do any candidates propose to “respond to human need by loving service” or do they “seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation”?
When we vote, Christians do so as dual citizens. It’s our citizenship in a particular earthly jurisdiction—in this case, the federation that is Canada—that entitles us to exercise our franchise on October 21. But when we mark (or spoil) our ballot, we do so while also acknowledging that our “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
This means our decisions as electors will necessarily be informed and guided by our faith. We don’t leave our Christian convictions at the door of the polling station. Rather we try to live in the uncomfortable tension of being dual citizens of both an earthly country and a heavenly kingdom—always acknowledging that our primary allegiance is not to a state, but to Christ the King.
- The Rev. Cynthia Patterson writes about Archbishop Fred Hiltz's visit to the Parish of Gaspé, the parish's milestone anniversary, and its plans for the future.
- Matthew Townsend reports on Holy Trinity Cathedral's efforts to raise funds for improvements to the cathedral close and completion of organ restoration.
- Katrina O'Neill, who visited the Diocese of Quebec from the Scottish Episcopal Church as part of preparation for ordination, reflects on her time in our diocese.
- In "Voting by Faith," Bishop Bruce Myers offers thoughts on how to approach voting as a follower of Christ.
- Louisa Blair considers the nature of sin—and admitting our sin.
- Snapshots from around the diocese
- Gleanings: Loss felt after the first world war
Citizenship officials flank the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda (left) along with his wife and daughter, Yaël and Gemimah (centre and right), at their citizenship ceremony. Ntilivamunda has started a new intercultural ministry in Quebec City. Photo: Contributed
By Matthew Townsend
The Diocese of Quebec has as a new intercultural ministry—and it’s being organized by one of Canada’s newest citizens.
Earlier this year, the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda was named bishop’s missioner, a role that tasks him with two different but related challenges in the diocese: forming an intercultural ministry for newcomers to Quebec and offering the diocese’s parishes counsel on missional outreach.
The intercultural ministry officially launched on July 7, with about a dozen worshippers joining Ntilivamunda. Hosted at All Saints’ Chapel (adjacent to the bishop’s residence) on Sundays at 3:30 p.m., the ministry, the priest says, was launched to serve newcomers not presently connected with a church in Quebec City. It also diversifies the diocese’s services, both in style and time, allowing people who work late on Saturday night to more easily attend church.
“It went well, with a few logistical challenges here and there, but we had a good service,” he says.
Ntilivamunda began the project by reaching out to five people he knew to be “same-minded about mission and evangelism”—people who appreciate the difficulty immigrants can face integrating into a place of worship in Quebec. Ntilivamunda knows the experience of immigrants firsthand. From Rwanda, the priest and his family came to Quebec as asylum seekers.
He, his wife Yaël, and their daughter Gemimah became Canadian citizens a few months ago.
After meeting, the group decided the ministry was worth a try. So far, the participants are, like Ntilivamunda, African—Burundians and Rwandans, he says. Thus, one of the ministry’s major purposes is to integrate “various aspects of the Anglican church from all over the world,” giving people who come “an opportunity to express their way of worship.”
This includes musical diversity, too. At the first gathering, a few people brought guitars. The internet, Ntilivamunda says, was also a helpful instrument—they put up a screen to project hymns.
“My philosophy is the people are the ones to determine the music they want. The important thing is to check the theology in the music, that is the role of a priest,” he explains. “But whether it is American music, African music, Jamaican, whatever, that is their culture—if they are there, we have to offer some opportunity for them to express themselves, to feel at home and sing in their regional mode.”
As the mission moves forward, the priest hopes to provide more translation and diversity of instruments. For now, he says, he is inviting people to pray for the intercultural ministry and is reaching out to others who have yet to find a church home.
The intercultural ministry isn’t Ntilivamunda’s only new venture—the priest, with support from Bishop Bruce Myers and Canon Theologian Jeffrey Metcalfe, is also offering consultation with parishes on how to expand their own missions.
While some congregations are involved in feeding ministries, Ntilivamunda says he hopes to help Anglicans consider new ways of “making human contact.” The priest thinks that the church’s survival and its commitment to mission are intertwined. “The church, at its beginning, is a missionary church,” he says. “When Jesus called the disciples, then he sent them out…. Mission is the backbone of the church. Without mission, the church does not stand.”
Part of this work, he says, involves looking at how the church can serve people outside of political systems which confine the church to buildings that only pull people inward and send financial assistance outward.
For Anglicans who want to have this discussion—and brainstorm ways to get involved in mission and evangelism—Ntilivamunda can be contacted at the diocesan office at (418) 692-3858.
By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS
For one week in July, hundreds of people from across the country assembled in Vancouver for the 42nd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
National church gatherings like the General Synod have been described as “part legislative assembly, part revival, part marketplace, and part family reunion”—and all of those aspects were in evidence during our long and jam-packed days together in Vancouver.
Some important milestones were reached. Our church offered a formal apology for spiritual harm inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples during the era of colonial expansion, particularly through the Indian residential school system. New structures were approved to help advance Indigenous self-determination within our church. We chose a fine new primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls. Our commitment to the church’s unity was reaffirmed, particularly in our relationships with Lutherans and with the United Church of Canada. Important interreligious bonds were strengthened with Jews and Muslims.
The General Synod also continued its conversations about whether to change our church’s canon law on marriage to include same-sex couples. Although the proposal to approve same-sex marriage in our church received the support of more than 70 per cent of the members of the General Synod—including all of the members from the Diocese of Quebec—it failed to receive the required number of votes among the bishops, and so the motion was defeated.
This decision was heartbreaking for many people in our church, particularly the significant number of LGBTQ2S+ Christians who have been faithful members and leaders in every expression of the Anglican Church of Canada, including the Diocese of Quebec.
Following the General Synod’s decision, my fellow bishops and I offered a statement acknowledging that while we are not of one mind on the specific matter of same-sex marriage, we are nevertheless “walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as ‘local option.’”
The Diocese of Quebec will have an opportunity to discuss the implications of the General Synod’s deliberations about same-sex marriage when we gather for our own Synod in November. This won’t be the first time we’ve talked about these matters as a diocesan church. In 2007 the Quebec Diocesan Task Force on Human Sexuality held a wide consultation touching specifically on same-sex marriage, and in 2012 our diocesan Synod authorized the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the midst of these discussions, the General Synod overwhelmingly agreed on some important affirmations. One accepts that there currently exists “a diversity of understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada, and we affirm the prayerful integrity with which those understandings and teachings are held.” At the same time, we affirm “our commitment to presume good faith among those who hold diverse understandings and teachings, and hold dear their continued presence in this church.”
My prayer is that these affirmations might guide us in whatever conversations our diocesan Synod may have about same-sex marriage, such that we will treat one another “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
- A new intercultural ministry
- Bishop Drainville's Green Party run
- Ties with the church in Japan
- Thoughts on General Synod
- Updates on lay reader training
- A theological reflection from the Rev. Joshua Paetkau
- And more...
Bishop Bruce Myers is pleased to announce the appointment of four new gifted and committed individuals who will be contributing the ministries of communications and administration in the Diocese of Quebec.
Missioner for Communications
As Missioner for Communications, Matthew Townsend will serve as editor of the Quebec Diocesan Gazette, manage the diocese’s web and social media presence, and support the diocesan leadership and congregations in sharing stories about their life and work. A journalism graduate of the University of South Florida, Matthew has worked in editorial, journalistic, and web development roles with a variety of organizations, including The Living Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. Currently based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he is also the editorial supervisor of the Anglican Journal and a member of St. Paul’s Church. Matthew can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jody Robinson, Archivist
The diocesan archives, based at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, will be under the care of Judy Robinson. After earning a bachelor of arts degree at Bishop’s, she continued master-level studies in history at the Univeristé de Sherbrooke. She has also worked as the archivist for the Eastern Townships Resource Centre, an organization committed to the preservation of the heritage of the Eastern Townships. For more than a decade, Jody has worked with many heritage organizations on special projects as well as an archival consultant. Jody has also served on the board of directors for a variety of heritage and community organizations and is presently vice-president of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network. Jody can be reached at email@example.com.
Sean Otto, Registrar pro tempore
As diocesan Registrar, Sean Otto will be responsible for ensuring that all of the diocese’s official records—from land registers to parish registers—are properly completed, recorded, and stored. Currently registrar of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec City, he previously served as assistant registrar of Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. Sean earned a doctorate in history and theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and also holds degrees from Wycliffe College and Dalhousie University. He is a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. As Registrar pro tempore, Sean’s appointment is initially on an interim basis until the diocesan Synod makes a permanent appointment in November. Sean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day-to-day administration at the Synod Office in Quebec City will be overseen by Isabelle Morin, who will serve as Executive Assistant on a part-time basis. She has a degree in business administration from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and spent several years as an administrator in the hotel industry. More recently Isabelle has pursued a vocation as an interior designer. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Secretary of Synod, Canon Stephen Kohner, has released
the results of the elections determining the lay and clergy delegates to the 85th
Ordinary Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec, which will be held
21-24 November 2019 at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City.
LAY DELEGATES (in alphabetical order):
DEANERY OF GASPÉ
Bethany Fehr Paetkau
Margaret Ann Major
DEANERY OF THE NORTH SHORE
DEANERY OF SAINT FRANCIS
Spencer Nadeau (youth)
DOYENÉE DU SAINT-LAURENT
DEANERY OF QUEBEC
Lucas Demers (youth)
Meb Reisneer Wright
(The Region of Kawawachikamach will select its two lay
delegates in a separate process.)
CLERGY DELEGATES (in
The Rev. Jesse Dymond
The Rev. Canon Giuseppe Gagliano
The Rev. Francie Keats
The Rev. Canon Jeffrey Metcalfe
The Rev. Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo
The Rev. Joshua Paetkau
The Rev. Cynthia Patterson
The Very Rev. Christian Schreiner
The Ven. Dr. Edward Simonton
Le vén. Pierre Voyer
Premier of Quebec
Édifice Honoré-Mercier, 3e étage
835, boul. René-Lévesque Est
Québec, QC G1A 1B4
Dear Premier Legault,
As representatives of the Anglican Church, which has been present and active in Quebec for more than 250 years, we feel compelled to respond to your open letter, published in several of Quebec’s daily newspapers on Monday, April 1.
We share your conviction that “in a secular society—which we have been since the Quiet Revolution—common sense dictates that religion must not interfere with the affairs of the state. Nor the reverse.” We also agree with your observation that “state laicity respects freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Everyone is free to practice the religion of his or her choice, and is also free not to practice a religion.”
However, rather than maintaining a religiously neutral state, Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, would in fact legislate the very kind of governmental interference in religion that you claim to oppose.
As Christians, we believe that the earth and its creatures have an abiding relationship to their Creator. Seeking to participate and give expression to this relationship in some form is a part of being human. For some this will mean wearing religious symbols and attire—such as a hijab, yarmulke, or cross—objects that can be intrinsic to the practice of one’s faith, and which cannot be removed at a whim.
We therefore embrace the vision of Quebec as a secular state that is pluralistic, privileging no particular religion, yet creating the space in which Quebecers of whatever (or no) religious tradition can fully participate in public life and contribute to the common good, including as public servants.
We appreciate your recent call for the debate around this proposed legislation to be conducted in a manner that is respectful and not divisive. However, we know too well that proposed laws such as Bill 21 risk contributing to a climate of suspicion and fear of others—especially Muslim Quebecers—at a time when we need our government to help protect, rather than further and needlessly target, our neighbours. The horrific mass murder at the Grand Mosque in Quebec City in 2017 calls us to be mindful of how our debates might stoke the fires of fear, and put people’s lives at risk.
We agree with you, Premier, that it is time for Quebec society to move forward on this matter. However, our own experience has taught us there is another way to do so.
One of our church’s principles of dialogue with people of other religions is to “meet the people themselves and get to know their traditions.” This too is common sense, and has helped us change attitudes, challenge stereotypes, and build new relationships with people of other faith communities.
We have been enriched and blessed, not impoverished or threatened, by face-to-face exchanges with these neighbours who have now become friends. It is only in encountering our differences honestly and openly—rather than hiding or suppressing those differences—that we can hope to build a truly secular and pluralistic Quebec that provides all of its citizens with the opportunity to flourish.
The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson
Bishop of Montreal
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers
Bishop of Quebec