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Christopher Holmes Ordained in Anglican Church
On Sunday November 22nd 2009, Christopher Holmes, associate professor of Theology and Ethics, was ordained to the transitional Deaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada by the Bishop of the Diocese of Rupert's Land, Donald Phillips.
This is a necessary step to Holmes's being ordained a priest in the spring of 2010.
“The Deacon has a significant role as an ordained minister,” says Holmes, who also serves as a Deacon at the mission of St. Benedict’s Table in Winnipeg. “My task is to represent to the congregation the central call of our lord to his followers to be servants, servants of one another and in the world.”
“The Deacon is to be a servant in his or her life and in his or her work in the church. The Deacon is ordained to lead and to organize the church for service. Also, the Deacon is to interpret the needs of the world to the church. Indeed, the Deacon is to be a sign in the church and for the world of God's loving service to all humanity.”
Holmes feels it is therefore his responsibility to be accountable as an ordained minister to the Bishop and the congregation for servanthood.
“I am to lead, call, and nag God's people into service,” says Holmes, “and I am to do so primary in the context of worship: that is, in reading the Gospel, leading in the prayers of the people, setting the Communion Table, administering, and dismissing the people, to the end that their ministry be focused on the risen Lord who is also our Servant.”
Within the Anglican tradition, there are three "orders" of ordained ministry - bishop, priest and deacon - each of which is called to live out a specific sort of ministry.
Rev. Jamie Howison, Priest of St. Benedict’s Table, says, “What can make this a bit confusing is that while some deacons do remain in that order for the whole of their vocation, exercising a ministry built around servanthood, pastoral work, and an attention to the needs and hurts of the world, all who find themselves called to priestly ministry must first be ordained as deacons.
“Chris's discernment has been to priestly ministry, yet like others similarly called he will spend a transitional period as a deacon, exploring ministry within that context. While some people will be tempted to see this as a bit of a probationary period, in fact it is not. Rather, all bishops and priests need to have some grounding in a ministry which emphasizes servanthood, in order that they never forget what lies at the heart of all Christian ministry.”
As many of the members of the wider Providence constituency will be aware, Holmes has accepted a Theology post at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and in spring, he and his family will be relocating there. That means he will be moving away from the congregational context of St Margaret's Church wherein he first began to explore this call to ordained ministry, and from the community at Saint Benedict's table where he is currently serving a ministry placement. It also means that he will at least temporarily be leaving behind the Anglican Church of Canada in which he has been ordained.
“Does that make much sense, for Chris to present himself for ordination and then more or less promptly leave?” says Howison. “Well, yes, it does, but only if one understands Chris's ordination as a deacon (and in time, as a priest) to be toward ministry in the whole church, and not simply in this particular local context.
“A deacon ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada does not in any way forfeit that vocation by crossing an international border. It will take a quick communication between the bishop of this diocese and the bishop of the diocese in New Zealand, and Chris will be called and challenged to take up his ministry, serving the people of God there in that place.
“As an academic with a heart and passion for a lived faith, Chris has much to offer his church and the seminary, as he explores the deep calling embodied in those words.”
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