Our service today is about celebrating and as we look back over the life time of this parish we have certainly had many, many times of celebrations. Times of gladnesss, of happiness, Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, tears of happiness and even tears of sorrow when we celebrated parishioners lives who have reached the other side of life as we know it and who are with us today in what we know as the Heavenly Hosts.
I want to say how honoured I am to be able to be the one speaking to you today from this pulpit where I was your last Rector until we came together with SSM. And for that I thank Canon Keith for allowing this to happen.
In many ways I have to thank all the Rectors, who were before me in guiding this congregation in Ministry from the very beginning of the dedication of this Church Building. We also need to celebrate the ministry of Canon Keith as he took over the yoke of ministry after me.
Looking back through the lens of time we need to be very proud of what our early parishioners accomplished under the leadership of Rev. Jack James and celebrate that early beginning. Many of those parishioners came together to assist Rev. Jack James in building this sacred place where we have worshipped for the last 60 odd years.,
That was the birth of this place and during the years there were many ups and downs as in any congregation but always there was the knowing that God has blessed this place, this sacred place and the ministry that continued to be done throughout those times.
We have many ways to be thankful and to celebrate the ministries that have happened here. The previous Rectors whose vision carried the Parish forward. We need to be thankful for those members who became Wardens and members of the Council as their job was the actual running of the church.
The Organists, The choir members, the Altar Guild, the Servers, the Sunday School, the Youth Group, and most importantly you the congregation, for without you coming each week there would have been no body of Christ, no church.
The Clergy who have led this congregation from the beginning, together with this congregation now present, have benefited from the many gifts that have been offered up in ministry by all those who assisted in living the dream of building up this parish in the first place.
We are now at a crossroads as we begin another new chapter in the life of our Parish.
For those who are former Holy Trinity members we are moving into a new Church building , but we are still one Parish and have been since January 1st, 2016.
As we change buildings next week it will not be to a strange place as we have already been worshiping there together many times. We are saying goodbye to this building, but not to our congregation, for our two congregations are moving forward together in faith.
For Holy Trinity members, the Sanctuary items, the Altar, all the hangings, the holy hardware, and other items deeemed necessary will come with us to our new home. We are one Parish and we have listened to where God has been calling us together to be able to continue on and do ministry. We need to celebrate this opportunity of coming together, and give thanks as to how all of this has taken place.
I was honoured to have been able to walk with you in Minstry these past 10 years. If we think about it, every time a new Rector comes it is a new birthing, a time where everyone looks at where they are and where they believe God is calling them to be and then to go and act on it. This is a new beginning, a new chapter in the life of our parish. That is what we will be doing once again.
We worked very hard these last 10 years trying to turn things around but it was not to be. What we do need to celebrate thou, is the wonderful ministry that took place here before I came, during my time as your Rector and now with Canon Keith with the Bread Program, the clothing program, the work that we did with C.C. Caruthers School in supplying healthy snacks for the children and in teaming up with the Glen Cairn Community Centre. For extra work besides donating money or food to them.
These ministries were ministries that members gave up time for and were proud to be able to say that our Church was certainly working in this community. We did good ministry, and we need to celebrate all that we did.
A little over 7 years ago the Boken Report was released by the Diocese and out of that report one of the things that was highlighted was that the Congregations needed to get to know their neighbouring churches. Canon Keith and I decided that we would give this a try and began holding one Summer Service for both parishes during the Summer holidays therby eliminating the need to pay extra clergy.
Then we had the opportunity to give Pastoral Ministry to Christ Church, Glanworth. That envolved a change in how we did ministry. That was the beginning of a more direct change in the lives of Holy Trinity and St. Stephens and Christ Chuch, Glanworth. We need to really celebrate that ministry because it allowed us to see ahead and to ask where our Parish was going and where God was leading us.The Holy Spirit was certainly active in helping us to walk in faith.
As my retirement began to come into focus HT wardens and Council realized that financially we could only make it to the end of 2016 with my retirement coming the end of June 2016. That was when Keith and I began to think more about coming together and becoming one Parish with two campuses. For that we need to celebrate perhaps the stubborness of both Keith and myself that we continued on with this new vision while some were not so sure of what was in the future.
Canon Keith is your Rector for now until the end of this month. This was certainly a surprise to all of us but God works in many mysterious ways. This past almost 11/2 years has been very much a rebirthing of who we are as a parish and it has been for all of us a stepping out in faith as we close the Holy Trinity Campus and move to the one building at St. Stephens Campus.
But what we need to remember is that the people of our congregations and our faith is who we are and whose we are. That is not going to change, for HT members only the building will be different, but not unknown.
We the congregation are the living, breathing life of Christ and we know that Christ is walking with us right now. Asking us not to be too sad as we are moving in a new way to celebrate what Christ is trying to say to us. The words of Scripture that says “Do not be afraid, for I am with you until the end of time” Those words speak to me whenever there is uncertainly in my life.
If we find that there is a tear or two today that's okay as well. I'm sure that many of us will shed some tears here today, myself included. But perhaps they can be tears of joy as we move to a new experience in our Spiritual life and faith in Christ.
It is just a new chapter in the lives of this congregation, and I include all of us in this new chapter for we are one and we need to celebrate this oneness, and we need to thank God for all the wardens, council members and the congregation who have allowed this new chapter to begin.
I am in a very unique position that I have been a part of both congregations since 2007 and I celebrate this experience that I have had working with Canon Keith since 2011. What we are doing is stepping out in faith and celebrating all the ministry that has happened here over the years. Those memories will come with us and will live on.
I'm not saying that its not going to be different, It is going to be different for past members of HT as you move from this building that you have loved for many years to St. Stephens building, but its going to be different for SSM people as well. Questions will be asked Where do we sit, are we taking someone's seat? To all of that I would say that all the pews are open, there are no names on any of them and whoever gets there first, well that's there seat for that Sunday.
I want to say that I am very proud of my former parish of HTand I include SSM parishioners as well as both congregations have come together with so much hope. We need to be strong and be there for each other at all times. I believe that what we are doing as a Congregation in coming together is a new beginning, it is a new birthing, The future is never known for sure, and perhaps we need to celebrate that grey area as well, for that is many a time when God is questioning us as to who we are and what we are doing? To me It is a trust walk, a faith walk.
I share with you the words that Bishop Townshend said to me at my ordination, “He Said, Marian, just go into the parish and love them, no matter what has gone on before, love all of them and if you do that good ministy will follow. I followed that example when I came here and good ministry followed.
My friends, love each other in Christian love and do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and our parish will move forward in Ministry. So for Holy Trinity former members we will shed tears as we say goodbye to this our past spiritual home,
but hopefully soon we can shed some tears of joy as we move to anticipate what we can become as we begin officially another new chapter in the life of HTSSM, that of meeting for the first time officially at St. Stephen's. Most importantly, we need to remember that God is with us in the ending of our time here at HT, and God will be with us as we gather in St. Stephens next week..
As we move forward together, and I do mean together, as Bishop Linda has appointed me as your interim for the next while, so our journey continues on, and we need to give thanks to God for all our blessings as we celebrate our memories of this place where we have known God.
I close with a quote from St. Julian of Norwich, that says, “All will be well and all will be well”. Amen.