This is our concluding entry on St. Alban’s and the path on which we’re travelling. This series of articles, with interviews from former and current worshippers and leaders at our church, has given us a clearer view of ministry at St. Alban’s.
Angus Muir and Martina Duncan have been on a particular path for a good many years now, which has led to their being ordained as Anglican deacons in April of this year. Their next step is ordination to the priesthood sometime in 2017. Their process began with discernment and encouragement by the people in the congregation, and has been formally affirmed at our annual general meetings several years running.
The path of ordination via a local training model began while Bishop Gordon Light was our leader, and is fully supported by our current bishop, Barbara Andrews. The Revd. Dan Hines was instrumental in leading, teaching, and developing our ministries, and his teaching continues to influence our collaborative ministry model at St. Alban’s.
Angus notes that he and Debbie arrived in 2009; he was excited about attending St. Alban’s, because he had heard of the new ministry model and was eager to become a part of it. And it was great for Angus to be coming home to Ashcroft, as he had been raised here as a child.
While he and Debbie were in Merritt, Angus was involved at St. Michael’s from 1997 as a lay minister. He says that “The church was a huge part of my life!” and it continued to be when they moved to Ashcroft.
Upon his arrival, Angus was in the discernment process of deciding whether going to seminary would be the direction he would take. Then practicality set in, when he needed employment as the house needed repairs. It wasn’t long before Angus became a lay minister of word and sacrament at St. Alban’s, and by January of 2010 he had joined the roster of lay ministers who regularly led services.
“Discernment is something we’re good at,” Angus notes, along with “including people and developing their ministries.” Dan Hines’s ministry developer role was helpful, in that he gave St. Alban’s “the push to become a ministering community, in contrast to a community gathered around a minister. Dan shifted a lot of people’s perception on ministry and what it is; people see the vision of a different way of doing church.”
Now church is more outside the walls and in the community. People help each other, and that is ministry in action. And Angus is certainly part of what’s going on outside the walls of the church. He works at Silvagro, and often has stories of spiritual questions that come up when people gather for their breaks. And Angus knows, too, that ministry happens through who we each are in our work, as well as our worship, settings.
People turn to Angus, and he often assists someone who needs help, and encourages them to help others with their gifts. “And isn’t that sharing the knowledge and love of God?” Angus asks rhetorically. He believes that “Without spiritual transformation in one’s life, the passion of helping isn’t as strong. Spirituality brings passion to the picture.”
Martina and her daughter Makiba moved to Ashcroft in 2001. Their move was from the Salmon Arm area, where they attended St. John’s Anglican Church, and where Martina was a licensed lay reader. Prior to that she had worked for several years at Sorrento Centre, a spiritual conference centre associated with the Anglican Church.
After a short time, the congregation discerned spiritual gifts, and Martina was licensed as a lay minister of word and sacrament. When Dan Hines arrived and taught more about the kind of ministry that was already happening at St. Alban’s, she was affirmed by the congregation to move toward becoming a priest. This affirmation process happened several times, due to the fact that we had one bishop retire, had several years without a bishop, and then finally had the election of our present bishop, Barbara Andrews.
Martina particularly likes the collaborative ministry model, where each person is helped to discern their spiritual gifts. Ministries one might never expect have unfolded from that perspective. Working with others is important to her, and when everyone understands that what they are called to do is ministry, they grow spiritually.
Both Angus and Martina have been in a continual process of training while on their journey to ordination. Education for Ministry, a four-year university extension program, has been of considerable assistance, and courses through Sorrento Centre and the Kootenay School of Ministry, and teachers from our territory, continue to educate them. Martina completed the two-year Pacific Jubilee Program on Spiritual Direction, and several years ago Bishop Andrews licensed her as a spiritual director for our territory. Through the Diocese of New Westminster, a two-year program on church leadership through their school of parish development has been of great assistance.
Coursework is an ongoing process with Angus and Martina: some courses are directed by Bishop Andrews, and some are taken on their own to help them deepen spiritually.
They have been involved with the Living Stones Ministry, a group of people—clergy and lay—who gather yearly from all over North America to exchange ideas about collaborative ministry: the model of ministry we practice at St. Alban’s. We have brought home and implemented ideas recommended by the group with which we were paired, and the yearly conferences help us to learn and expand ministry in Ashcroft.
Some of the ministries at St. Alban’s include weekly Bible study and art classes; Sunday services on the first Sunday of the month at Jackson House; Soup’s On every Friday; Monday morning prayer team; the monthly Plum Village meditation group; individual spiritual direction; a number of 12-step groups; the Art Club; youth ministry (as requested); the multi-faith summertime service; the local Legion branch, with Emily and Daphne as regular Friday night dinner hosts, and Martina as chaplain; and Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society concerts are all considered ministry by the people at St. Alban’s.
Our collaborative ministry model, with locally-trained clergy, is one that is endorsed and supported by the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Fred Hiltz. He has visited us here in Ashcroft, and supports this as an emerging model of ministry, while acknowledging that it often arises out of necessity. While not being seminary-trained, the skills and competencies are equivalent to seminary trained priests.
This model is valuable because it is collaborative rather than hierarchical. It harkens back to the first century church, where leaders were not paid for their ministry, and all people were encouraged to develop their God-given gifts to share with the community.
The collaborative ministry model is being developed within the structure of the Anglican communion. It is reassuring, being part of a world-wide church where you would find the same practices and liturgy whether in Africa, England, the United States, Australia, or Canada, and where the church world-wide is finding itself in similar circumstances.
Now, as we mark our 125th anniversary celebration, we are thankful for the life that fills the church on a regular basis. We share leadership each Sunday, and gain different perspectives on the spiritual journey.
Transformation and deepening continues to nourish us in our learning opportunities and gatherings. And you are welcome to join us to experience the Spirit that is Love, and who teaches us how to “Love our neighbours as ourselves.”