St Andrew’s Day

Today is the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church of Canada and the 30th anniversary of the same in the Diocese of British Columbia, where I serve. As someone pointed out yesterday, women have been ordained in this church for longer than I have been alive … though again, not in this diocese.

I am grateful for those first six women who pushed through that particular stained glass ceiling and began to forge a way for many of the rest of us to follow. I am grateful for many women in leadership in the church, both lay and ordained, who have shown me what it means to be a strong woman of faith.

And while I have been fortunate to know many of these women and follow in the footsteps of these women, I cannot help but think of other women in other parts of the church who do not worship in a place where they get to see a woman holding the bread and say, “this is my body, broken for you…”

I think of my teenaged self in the year 2000, sitting in the general assembly of an evangelical Christian denomination where it was decided not to decide whether or not women would be allowed in positions of leadership in the church. And then five or six years later in a congregation of that same denomination (yes, I stayed for six more years) where I was asked to be on the elder search committee. Because while they recognized I had what they were looking for to be an elder, I was a woman so all I could do was choose the men who might serve in that role.

I think of my godmother who is more qualified than I am to be a deacon but cannot be (yet?), who faces opposition when she even sets foot behind the altar to serve priests, deacons, and bishops. But yet who persists so that her granddaughter will know that women can also serve Jesus in church.

I think of some of my classmates from seminary who so obviously have a call on their lives but who, as of yet, have to content themselves with lay leadership while they push for a change in the church that they love.

So today I am thankful for the women who have gone before me. And I know that I cannot take where I am for granted and must keep striving for equality for all of us while celebrating those who have gone before.

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A to B in 4500km

Apparently it is May.

In the last month, Matthew and I have: completed our Master of Divinity degrees, finished up my work with CMHA, said goodbye to family and friends in London and surrounding cities, packed up our house and overseen it being loaded onto a moving truck, and packed up the corolla and driven through six states and five provinces with ourselves and a cat.

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After 4500km, we are in Victoria!

13091910_10101404984637131_5467908939173001290_nIt is a bit surreal. A month ago, we were both finishing up our last week of classes and looking at spending the next couple of weeks writing papers. It is hard to believe that three years (2.5 for Matthew) are over and done already. In so many ways, it feels like just yesterday that I was packing up everything in Victoria to move to London. And now it is all in boxes again…

The boxes remain on the moving truck and we are eagerly awaiting their arrival sometime in the next week or so. Meanwhile, we drove ourselves across the country, stopping in Minneapolis, Brandon, Lethbridge, and Sorrento before heading over to the Island.

For Matthew, most of the drive was new. For me, the entire route south of the Great Lakes was a new adventure and the cross prairie trek was a lovely reminder of the beauty of our country, as it has been 20 years since my family made our first major move from Belleville to Lethbridge.Attachment-1 IMG_7009 IMG_7011We crossed Manitoba and Saskatchewan in nearly one day, flying along the prairie Trans-Canada highway. Matthew marvelled at the flat flat flat of the land, attempting to see the horizon at every turn (who am I kidding: there were no turns in the road) but continuing to remark instead: “Nope, it’s still very flat!”

I drove from Swift Current to Lethbridge. Once we turned onto Highway 3 from the Trans-Canada, it was remarkable how familiar things began to look. I learned to drive in Lethbridge and it showed. I was still able to navigate the city quite well, taking Matthew by my old home, down to the Oldman River Valley to see the famous high level bridge, and around by my old high school.

bridgeThen it was off north through more prairie to foothills, through Calgary to the mountains. We could see the mountains from Lethbridge, but it never ceases to amaze me how one can drive all day and not seem to get any closer. Three hours from Lethbridge, however we finally entered the Rockies.IMG_7017

Their majestic peaks were still topped by snow and there were some valleys thick with snow alongside rushing streams as we wound through the mountain passes. Then we were out, into the Interior.

We stopped the night in Sorrento, BC, about an hour outside of Kamloops. The Anglican Church has a retreat centre there and a good friend works there full time. The last time I was at Sorrento was exactly three years ago, when I attended “ACPO” – the Advisory Committee on Postulants for Ordination and was recommended for theological training in advance of pursuing ordination in the Anglican Church of Canada. Talk about full-circle. It is a beautiful haven on the Shushwap Lakes with amazing programming all summer long.Attachment-1 (1)

From Sorrento we drove down the Coquihalla, through Vancouver (waving at Dad and Colleen as we travelled the new South Fraser Perimeter Road to the ferry terminal. After a one-sailing wait, it was onto the Spirit of Vancouver Island and over to Victoria.

We are blessed to have wonderful friends and colleagues in Victoria with whom we are staying while we wait to be able to get into our new suite. It has been an adventure and we are looking forward to what comes next!

Dear Mr Harper,

Yes, I just emailed this to the Prime Minister.

Dear Mr Harper,

I am a politically involved young person, the type of person that your new majority government (congratulations, by the way) does not represent but desperately needs to try to understand and engage.

When I voted in my first election, 11 years ago and just a few months after my 18th birthday, I voted for the Reform Party. I voted for the Reform Party because I had had the good fortune of spending a week in Ottawa with Forum for Young Canadians the previous year, meeting my MP and enjoying the opportunity to ask him questions; and I liked him. I attended, with my father, a rally when Stockwell Day was running for leader of the newly-formed Canadian Alliance and even contemplated joining the party to vote in the leadership race.

Since then, however, I have become increasingly disappointed with the direction that our right-wing political party has taken. I have felt increasingly alienated and disregarded by your party. Seeking alternatives, I have attended meetings where both Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton were speaking, and enjoyed the opportunity to shake the hand of our new official opposition leader. Now, I am extremely proud to live in a strong NDP riding, with a MP I voted for, next door to the riding of our first ever elected Green MP. I have voted Green or NDP in the last three federal elections and I will continue to vote for one of these parties perhaps until you give me a palatable alternative.

In this election, I had three wishes:

  1. The Conservative Party NOT get a majority government.
  2. The NDP form official opposition.
  3. Elizabeth May gets elected in Saanich-Gulf Islands.

Some would say that two out of three is not too bad. However it is the one I did not get that scares me the most. Throughout the last five years and the 2011 campaign, I have been shocked and surprised at the arrogance of your MPs and candidates, proclaiming that the only way to get any benefit for the riding is to elect a government MP: “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Please forgive me if I have misunderstood the way politics are supposed to happen in Canada, but I thought the Government of Canada existed to serve the people of Canada, not solely the 40% that voted for them.

I am also scared because of the precedent you have set in the last few years with a minority government. Since elected in 2006, your government has lied to and mislead the House of Commons. If you have been able to get away with that in a minority government, I am worried as to what you will try with a majority government. I was happy that there was a contempt of parliament ruling and shocked when nothing changed after it (though with the precedent you have set, perhaps I should not have been shocked). I have been upset at your treatment of your own MPs and cabinet ministers, let alone the opposition members and “ordinary Canadians.” I am concerned for our environment and how, since you came to power, we have disregarded our international agreements on fighting climate change: I am tired of being the laughing-stock of the world. I am disappointed because our Canadian identity is changing from one I am proud of to one I am ashamed of: peacekeeper to military presence.

Under the leadership of the Conservative Party, the culture of Canada seems to be shifting. Instead of being a place where people of different nationalities are welcomed, embraced, and given the opportunity to become a part of society, they are “othered” and marginalized. Instead of honouring our First Nations and Indigenous peoples, they have been ignored. Instead of loving our neighbours and empowering and listening to those who have a suppressed voice or no voice at all: low-income individuals and families, women, LGBTQs, minorities, the homeless and drug addicted.

Perhaps what saddens me most about the direction Canada has been heading in the last five years is that I am now becoming ashamed to call myself Canadian. What was once a nation respected and revered around the world is now becoming a laughing-stock. No longer will I proudly travel with a Canadian flag. No longer will I proclaim with pride that I am Canadian. This is, perhaps, the biggest tragedy of all.

And so, Mr Harper, I hope that you will work together with your opposition parties to form a parliament that cooperates and listens to ALL Canadians, not just the ones who blindly supported you. I hope and pray that you do not ride roughshod over those with differing opinions, but respect and honour everyone in our once-great country.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Hoyer