It’s a unique gig that allows a bird’s eye view of the church. For the past four years, Dean John vanNostrand Wright has criss-crossed the country as executive director of the Anglican Foundation, the community foundation for the Anglican Church of Canada. He has announced he will retire August 31.
“I’ve enjoyed the freedom I’ve had to travel the Canadian church, to meet people, to help them plan, to be able to give [the national office] some perspective of what happens outside of Toronto,” said Dean Wright, who is 67. His job often required travel to outports, suburbs, and downtown cathedrals to visit foundation-supported projects or potential projects.
The Anglican Foundation offers grants and loans to Canadian Anglicans for church renovations, camps, drama programs, publications, bursaries, and more. Launched in 1957, the foundation has distributed over $26 million to Canadian Anglican ministry. The foundation is independent from General Synod and is sustained by bequests, investments, and individual Anglican Foundation memberships, which begin at $50 annually.
Dean Wright noted that the foundation traditionally supported “bricks and mortar” projects, but during his tenure he worked to focus more on programming. He said he particularly enjoyed working with theological students, who he dreams will someday be fully funded by their church.
Dean Wright was also a driving force behind the recent launch of Anglican Foundation Sunday, intended to raise awareness about the foundation’s ministry. The 2010 Sunday is planned for May 2 and a service outline is available for download [PDF].
As someone who has ministered in five Canadian provinces over 41 years, Dean Wright was well suited to link local and national ministry. Born in Toronto, Dean Wright has worked as a chaplain in Port Hope, Ont., a priest in Montreal, Que., and dean of two cathedrals—in Fredericton, N.B. and Victoria, B.C.—among other positions. He is also a chevalier, Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, and a former co-chair of the Conference of North American Cathedral Deans, Spouses, and Partners.
Dean Wright plans to retire to his home in Bridgewater, N.S. He and his wife Mary have one daughter, Joanna.
Over the next few months the Primate, who chairs the foundation’s board of directors, will oversee changes in the Anglican Foundation staffing structure. Michael Wilmot, who has served as administrative assistant since 2007 and previously worked in the Anglican Book Centre, has chosen to leave as of April 30. Currently the foundation also employs a full-time executive assistant, Kavitha Gunaseelan, and a part-time treasurer, Jim Cullen.
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