AMO Search Committee
Questions for Episcopal Candidates
- What interests you about the ministry of the Bishop Ordinary?
The ministry of the Anglican Military Ordinariate is incredibly important to me. In my 23 years as a military chaplain I was the beneficiary of the pastoral care and support of a number of Bishops who served as the Ordinary. It would be an honour for me to be able to provide such vital prayerful and pastoral support to the Anglican faithful and their families currently serving in the CAF.
The Bishop Ordinary is a vital link between the AMO and the wider church. I am passionate about the ministry of the AMO, and I am equally avid about the ministry of our Anglican Church of Canada. It also matters to me that we are part of a worldwide communion and that we have always been a church that is able to broker compromise and promote common ground.
Anglicanism is a unique middle way in a world where polarization is increasingly the “go to” response. I continue to believe that the strength of Anglicanism is its ability to be a communion that accepts diversity. I am not at all naïve about the tension this creates, but I also have a great deal of hope for who we are, and who we will be.
I believe the AMO has much to teach the wider church about how you can live with that tension. In my time as a military chaplain, the AMO, and certainly the wider chaplaincy community, represented a number of divergent views; but that has seldom impacted our primary mission to provide sacramental and pastoral care, and to advise our Commanders on the spiritual needs of their subordinates and families.
There are many other ways that the AMO can teach the wider church. My return to my home Diocese has made me increasingly aware how aging infrastructure is limiting the ability of the church to provide ministry. Chaplains, particularly in operational theaters, do some of their finest ministry unencumbered by buildings. Chaplains also have a heightened awareness of mission, and a deeper understanding of our world’s challenges and the human needs those challenges create.
I would also observe that much of our uniqueness as Anglicans in the AMO is tied to our relationship with our Bishop. I have seen the importance of the role of the Bishop Ordinary grow substantially in the past fifteen years. I am particularly pleased that the current Bishop’s Council and Clericus have been able to find the way forward to electing their own Bishop. In one of my first conversations with Archbishop Peers, when I was first elected to the Council of General Synod, I noted that our Anglican military chaplains were the only clergy in the church who fell under the discipline of three bishops (i.e. our own Diocesan, the Bishop in whose Diocese we were serving, and the Bishop Ordinary) without having franchise to elect in any of those episcopal jurisdictions.
In summary, I feel very positive about the ministry of the AMO. I believe the Bishop Ordinary is integral to its good work, and I would welcome the opportunity to return among my friends to exercise this ministry.
- Please describe why you discern you are suited to the ministry of the Bishop Ordinary emphasizing how your perceived gifts relate to those listed in the call for nominations letter.
I believe there are very few priests who would declare themselves ready to be a Bishop. What I am prepared to say is that I believe I have been an effective chaplain and priest leader, and I am willing to enter into this process of discernment with you to determine if I might be the person with the right gifts and skills to exercise the vocation of a Bishop. I am comfortable leaving the rest to the workings of the Holy Spirit and the prayerful consideration of the Electoral College. I would highlight my gifts and experiences by speaking to the primary task identified for the Bishop Ordinary.
Support of the clergy and families in the AMO:
I want to note the great work done by the present Bishop Ordinary in this capacity. Chaplains know the value of a ministry of presence, and so I would hope to continue Bishop Peter’s pattern of scheduled visits to bases and Areas of Operation. During my military service I did a number of deployments, and I found contact with my Bishop during those times, in particular, to be very helpful and deeply appreciated.
I have always interpreted our mandate as Anglican chaplains to be, in the widest sense possible, a ministry both to our military personnel and to their families. I know firsthand the wonderful work that our Regular and Reserve Chaplains do in supporting military families, particularly those who are in crisis. Many of these family members are living well beyond the geographical locations of our military bases, requiring us to engage our Reserve Chaplains and, in some instances, even civilian clergy resources. This is just one reason why it is important for the Bishop Ordinary to nurture good personal relationships in the House of Bishops. The ministry of the Bishop Ordinary is after-all an extension of their ministry, and my sense is that most of our Bishops are willing to help with local resources where they can.
I believe there are key times in a chaplain’s life when the Bishop Ordinary can play a pivotal role. Transitioning into, and out of the CAF would be two of these key times. The posting season is another time when a Regular Force chaplain and their family might welcome some contact and support from the Bishop Ordinary; and in particular, the Bishop can help to introduce a chaplain to the local Anglican Church. Certainly, for my wife and me, postings were often the most stressful part of our military service.
For Reserve Chaplains the challenges are different. I learned in my time at Land Forces Area Atlantic that Reservists feel a different kind of isolation from the Ordinariate. They have to balance their military duties with demanding civilian jobs. I know there has been increased effort to honour the work of Reserve Chaplains and as Bishop Ordinary I would certainly want to continue that effort by communicating with their Bishops and Congregations about the value of their work. In my time in LFAA I sought and received permission to be a priest in charge of several parishes. I believe I came to a new understanding of how skilled you have to be in setting priorities and organizing your schedule to meet the demands of two ministries at once. During my time as the Navy Command Chaplain I fought for Reserve Chaplains to be funded to attend our Conferences and to have opportunities for training and education.
In my present job, I am also using technology as a means to meet people beyond those who are coming to church. I blog regularly and try to write significant, timely, scripture-based reflections. I believe this could be a valuable tool for reaching a national audience.
The gifts that would enable me to do this job are varied. I have the gift of experience. I understand what it is to serve as a chaplain and to deploy. I have led effectively, and I have been led effectively; I have been around long enough to know that most problems have a solution, or more than one. My present parishioners would tell you that I am a very effective communicator, and that I am a good listener. They would describe me as determined, and they also see me as patient, compassionate, energetic and encouraging.
I have a great deal of confidence in my ability as a recruiter. I served as the Canon Recruiter for over ten years. Many of the present chaplains would have been recruited during my time as the Canon Recruiter. For some of them I was intimately involved, and for others hardly at all. I believe I was effective in, not just recruiting candidates for the Regular and Reserve Force, but also diversifying our clericus so it included more female chaplains, more people of colour and younger chaplains. We became more reflective of the church we serve. I believe I was effective as a Recruiter because I was innovative, interpreting statistical information already available, in new ways to reach out to those parts of our church where suitable candidates could be found. I also took a team building approach, encouraging every chaplain to see themself as a recruiter.
In my present job as the Diocesan Dean I am also the Examining Chaplain, so I continue to work with new candidates entering the ordination stream. In our Diocese where there have not been sufficient local vocations I have also made visits on behalf of the Bishop to the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge MA, where I have interviewed and assessed candidates for suitability to minister in our Diocese.
As the Bishop Ordinary I would look forward to working with the present Canon Recruiter to continue to identify candidates for Anglican chaplaincy. I believe this is one of the areas where effective communication with the House of Bishops about our unique needs is a vital role for the Bishop Ordinary to play.
I have also learned that one of the greatest resources for discerning vocations is among the people who know the ministry needs the best. In the case of the Ordinariate that would include already serving members and CAF families. The Bishop Ordinary should be engaging their people in vocational discernment just like any other Bishop of the church.
I have a great deal of experience working in Church Governance. In the AMO I was a long-time member of what is now called the Bishop’s Council. I believe I contributed positively and in a supportive way to our collective mission and calling.
I have a great deal of respect for the work of the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy (ICCMC), and a deep understanding of the value of their work for the chaplaincy as a whole. I know many members of the House of Bishops and would also welcome the opportunity to work alongside them as Bishop Ordinary. I believe my gifts for consensus-building, my love of working with others, and my ability to establish priorities would all be valuable assets in these contexts.
My already expressed affection for the national church and the Anglican Communion would see me as a loyal servant to the Primate, willing to help and establish bonds of friendship within the wider church.
The Spiritual and Liturgical Life of the Community
In my present capacity as the Dean of the Cathedral, the spiritual and liturgical life of the community is at the centre of what I do. In the past three years I have been able to return to the roots of Anglican liturgy, and to live-out the liturgical calendar in ways that were often more difficult for me when I was serving as a military chaplain. I am also frequently complimented on my skills as a teacher.
I believe I possess the gifts to be effective in contributing to strengthening the spiritual and liturgical life of the AMO, and of those we are called to serve.
I regularly celebrate at the Eucharist using both the BCP and the BAS. I regularly preside at marriages and baptisms, and do much of the preparation work. I provide pastoral care and sacramental support to those who are sick and dying. I counsel those who are bereaved. I do a great deal of funerals. Those are the normal duties of someone called to serve as a parish priest.
A Cathedral Dean is required also to do some additional liturgies. The opening worship for Synod and for our Clergy Conference is held here at the Cathedral. All Ordinations to the priesthood happen at the Cathedral and I am the facilitator for the pre-ordination retreat.
In the past three years I have written an adult study program for Lent called Rediscovering the Saints. Using small groups and other adult education techniques, I have developed a program that incorporates Icons and other art images, poetry, scripture and prayer, the stories of the saints and opportunities for questions and discussion. This is all set in the context of the Eucharist, and has been very effective in deepening our spiritual journey.
In response to the biblical illiteracy of many of the young people who come to us for confirmation training, I have been involved in the development of a new biblically-based confirmation program. Two other priests and I have co-written a set of ten lesson plans that teach some of the great themes of the Old and New Testament. Young people are encouraged through different media to engage in the scriptures and to see the Bible in new and exciting ways.
I give these examples of my present ministry to illustrate that I have an innovative and creative side. I have always enjoyed helping people to nourish their spiritual hunger. I also have a great deal of experience as a mentor. As a military chaplain I was always keen to have new chaplains join my team. In my final years as a chaplain I was twice asked to be the Mentor/Supervisor to the Chaplain Advanced Course for those preparing for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or Commander. This past Fall, I successfully supervised a seminary student in a full-time parish placement at the Cathedral.
I am an effective communicator. I like to write and I love to engage in conversations with people, and even participate in debates that are a true exchange of ideas. I have a good sense of humour, and try not to take myself too seriously. I am told regularly that I have a gift for preaching.
I was a regular contributor to “Dialogue” when I was a member of the CAF chaplaincy, and also to the AMO Newsletter. In my current position, I use a variety of techniques to stay engaged with my parishioners, including bulletins and newsletters, our website and my blog, and even our electronic billboard.
- Given your understanding of the work of the AMO
a. Do you have a 5-10 year vision for the ministry of Chaplains and Lay Readers of the AMO;
I have been absent from the day to day ministry of the chaplaincy for over three years. So the first thing I would want to do is meet with Bishop’s Council and Clericus to get a sense of the current “state of the union”. My sense in speaking with chaplains is that the work and ministry continues to be done at a very high standard.
There are a couple of issues that I might like to work on right away. In my present position I have had a great deal of success in increasing our financial resources for ministry. Prior to my becoming Dean, the Cathedral was a place where there was seldom any money, but the day-to-day financial picture has changed dramatically. In addition, in my first year as Dean, I initiated a project to make the Cathedral accessible by installing an elevator. We were able to raise the $225,000.00 in 6 months. Last month we raised $30,000.00 to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.
As Bishop Ordinary, I would enjoy working with the Bishop’s Council to reach the identified goal of $2,000,000.00 for the Ordinariate Trust. There are a few lessons that I have learned: (a) People do not give unless they are asked; (b) they will give if they have heard the story and understand the need; and (c) enough little gifts become a big gift.
I would also like the AMO to do some work on the “Marks of Missions”. It would be good to examine our ministry in light of this document.
In the Cathedral where I am the Dean we have a very vibrant ministry of Layreaders and Eucharistic Assistants. I know it has been much more difficult creating a robust Layreaders group in the Ordinariate. I know that Layreaders are one of our distinctive Anglican ministries, and while I don’t know if there is an easy solution, I would commit myself to looking-again at how this ministry might be encouraged and strengthened within the AMO.
b. How would you support Chaplains while stationed at bases across Canada and deployed with troops in areas of conflict;
The AMO has remained one of the ministries of our Church for which I regularly pray, and the first thing I would do is to ensure that the chaplains and their families and all of the Anglican faithful serving in the CAF become the centre of my prayer life. Then I would commit myself to a vigorous and intentional visit schedule in as much as resources would allow. I am prepared to give as much time, and to visit as many locations, as I am permitted. I would also work hard to meet individually with chaplains at the Annual Retreat, regional training conferences, and on other occasions when we are together. I would want to re-establish friendships and get to know the new members of the Ordinariate. I would also use the telephone and the internet to stay in touch with people separated by geography. I would immediately provide chaplains with an email address and telephone number where I could be reached at any time. Perhaps I should point out, here, that if I were elected as Bishop Ordinary, it would be my intention for my wife Nancy and I to relocate our home to the Ottawa area, as quickly as possible.
c. In what way will you also minister to and support the lay members; and,
I will do all I can to raise the profile of the Bishop Ordinary and to exercise a ministry of presence and availability to all. Of course, in our Anglican tradition, this is a ministry that I will share with every chaplain.
I understand how difficult it is for Anglican laity to nurture their identity in the CAF and particularly in Protestant chapels. I would envision making time and space in all my visits to meet with and encourage our laity. I would also continue to use resources like the AMO newsletter and website to stay connected and keep them informed.
The reality is that our structure and our governance requires the voice of our laity. Anglicans are traditionally episcopally-led but synodically-governed. We need to identify our most involved laity so we have a pool of young people and adults ready to serve the wider church in places like General Synod.
One example of how this might be accomplished would be offer some financial support to a young person who might want to attend a youth event sponsored by the Anglican Church such as the annual Stronger Together conference. It might also be time for the Bishop’s Council to have a discussion about the appointment of a Lay Canon.
d. Given the mandated polices of the CAF around gender equality, sexual orientation, public prayer and liturgy, would you explain whether or not you would anticipate this plurality and inclusiveness to be a challenge?
I have worked effectively in the military environment for many years. I understand, and have indeed been involved in the development of many of these chaplaincy policies. I know the reasons they have been implemented, and believe we have a stronger chaplaincy because of their introduction. I have never felt that my personal commitment as a Christian, or as an Anglican, has been compromised by what I perceive to be “radical hospitality”.
- Please describe your involvement in the larger Church (at the diocesan, provincial and national levels) and your ecumenical, interfaith and intercultural experiences.
Before I joined the chaplaincy I spent five years as a parish priest. During that time I served for several years on the Diocesan Council and was a Clergy delegate to Provincial Synod.
As a chaplain I was elected twice to be a delegate to General Synod. At General Synod I was elected to two terms (6 years) on the Council of General Synod (CoGS), and was also the Honorary Clergy Secretary to General Synod in Ottawa. Following my service to CoGS I was appointed by the Primate to a three-year term on the National Eco-Justice Committee.
I was appointed Canon Recruiter and served on the Ordinariate Chapter for a period of 12 years.
In my current position as the Diocesan Dean, I am a member of the Diocesan Council, Cathedral Chapter and the Diocesan Planning Committee. I am also the Examining Chaplain for the Diocese of Western Newfoundland.
I was an ACPO assessor at the last ACPO for the Province of Canada, and I am one of two elected clergy delegates from Western Newfoundland to attend the 2016 General Synod.
I am a member of the College of North American Deans and have attended the annual Deans’ conferences held in Toronto and Fort Lauderdale, and I will attend the upcoming conference in Erie, PA.
My 23 years as a military chaplain gave me lots of ecumenical experience and, in the more recent years, even interfaith experience. I was the Formation Chaplain in Halifax when we welcomed our first Muslim chaplain to the Navy. In my current position I am very active in local Ministerial.
When I left the CF, one of the nicest gifts I received was a carving from the local Defense Aboriginal Group marking my support for Indigenous people in the CAF. My second military posting was to Masset, Haida Gwaii, where I was made an honorary member of the Raven Clan, and where I remain connected to the community. I am proud to count among my friends there May Russ, the first women to be feasted as a Hereditary Leader in over a hundred years. For a number of years I was appointed as the Chaplain General’s advisor on Indigenous Affairs.
- How do you think “Scripture, Reason and Tradition” informs the life of the Church?
As a cradle Anglican I have always appreciated the tri-fold foundation of our church. We believe that scripture contains everything necessary to salvation. We understand that the scripture must be approached with reason and knowledge, which we also believe are gifts from God. We know that we have inherited the faith from the traditions of those who have come before us.
In many ways it is our liturgy that reflects the best effect of these elements, and I do believe that Anglican liturgy is both worshipful and beautiful. Every Anglican liturgy is laced with scripture from the opening sentences to the final blessing. The sermon or homily allows us to examine the scripture theologically reasonably in order to receive the deeper message for our place and our time. The creedal statements reflect our heritage and our tradition. We say what we believe, and we challenge ourselves to live productive, abundant, faithful lives.
Many theologians have referred to the tension between scripture, reason and tradition as a three-legged stool that will collapse or become un-sturdy without a balanced approach to these three elements. Former Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, has described them as three pieces of intertwined yarn that strengthen each other.
For me, and I believe for our church, the ability to balance these with each other is our greatest strength, not just in deepening our faith but speaking to God’s world. We are not scriptural fundamentalist. We are not logisticians bereft of emotion. We are not so absorbed with tradition that we are afraid to try new things. We hold these principles in balance, understanding their combined strength and the weakness of relying on one or another exclusively.
St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” This at the heart of what I believe we all desire as Christians. The Scriptures encourage us to seek the Lord. The early church Fathers and Mothers, down through our own ancestors, have given us a reasoned faith through their teachings, the Creeds and Sacraments.
Herbert O’Driscoll paints a wonderful picture of the church being a set of concentric circles. At the end of each circle is one of us holding the hand of the person who introduced us to God through baptism. That person is holding the hands of the person who introduced them to baptism, and the hand-holding continues back to the River Jordan in first-century Palestine.
This image speaks to me on so many levels. It reminds me of the continuity of the faith I live. It reminds me of the importance of the relationships and the historic faith being passed on. Most importantly, it reminds me that the source of my faith is God who loves us so much.
My final thought is to thank all of those who will prayerfully choose a new Bishop. Thank you for allowing me to be considered as one who might have the gifts to exercise this ministry.