This Is Our Cornerstone: A Word from the Archdeacon of Brandon

By on October 30, 2023

Brothers and Sisters, fellow children of our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, may God’s peace be with you!

Our diocese continues in a time of transition, and that can be somewhat unsettling for us. This month will be a month of decision for us, however, and so I have felt led to offer some solid common ground, at this time. By the end of the month we will have held our electoral synod, and so the decision regarding our next bishop will have been prayerfully made with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The one who will lead us into the future that God has prepared for us will have been chosen, by divine selection. To get us to that place of clarity from the uncertainty that we currently face, it is important for us to remember where we have been and where we are going.

Perhaps because, at time of writing*, our Sunday lections have included the Exodus stories of the people of Israel in the desert, this has become my metaphor for our diocesan journey. We are not in a settled state – either in Egypt or in the Promised Land – but the in-between place of the wilderness. To get through the journey and to arrive at our destination holding on to the faith that God has led us to, it is important that we hold on to the truths that we have learned from the struggles we have faced in the past; important that we continue to trust our Great Provider to attend to our needs again.

We are not a stepping stone. The Diocese of Brandon is not a holding place for clergy to raise themselves up by degrees in preparation to go elsewhere. The Diocese of Brandon is a place of vital ministry, where the Name of Jesus is proclaimed and people’s lives are transformed by God’s Spirit.  Bishop William did not consider the work of this diocese to be some kind of dress rehearsal for 

“the real show” somewhere else.  He saw the intrinsic value that the ministry of Jesus held for the people within this diocese.  What we continue to labour at, in the freeing service to our great Redeemer, is an end in itself – not a means to some other end.

In our parishes we have become accustomed to clergy who come and go in the midst of what God has called them to. For a time, God calls them to serve in our parish; then God calls them to serve somewhere else. The lessons they learned while serving in previous parish settings will inform the shape of their future work in the Church – but those earlier experiences in ministry were not steppingstones. They were the exact places that God had prepared for them, and prepared them for, for those times. There is nothing more delicious, in life, than to live with the assurance that we are where God would have us be, doing what He has invited us to do there.

So it has been with Bishop William. He has been called to a different episcopal ministry in another diocese, but we were not a stepping stone to something else, in his mind. We were the place that God had called him to be; the people that God had moved him to work among; we were the place of God’s delicious life for him, while he was here. God has now called him to minister elsewhere, and we wish him well in that, recognizing that while God uses his experiences among us to inform his ongoing work in the Diocese of Ontario, God will also use our experiences with Bishop William to inform our ongoing work in carrying out God’s mission for us, here.

And if God has been preparing us for a next stage of ministry in our diocese, with a new leader, then we know that God has also been preparing that new leader to come to us. The experiences that they are having in faithfully serving God where they are now will inform their leadership of our diocese when they come to us. While we don’t yet know who this person is, we know that God does; we know and trust that God is moving in our next bishop those formative experiences in ministry and in discernment which will serve the ongoing work of this diocese in powerful ways. Please pray for our next bishop, as yet unknown to us yet even now in God’s hands.  Please pray for our diocese as it continues to seek God’s Kingdom first as God’s mission is carried out through our parishes.

If there is a stone associated with our diocese, it is not that we are – collectively – a stepping stone, but that Jesus Himself, who is the stone rejected by the builders but has become the chief cornerstone upon which He has built His Church; this is the stone of the Diocese of Brandon. And we, ourselves, are living stones built into His Church – fitted together according to His will upon the testimony to Jesus and the trust in God handed down to us by the generations of Christians who were in this diocese before us.  And we place ourselves in God’s hands to form His Church as He will, that the way would be prepared for those generations who will follow us.

Our task is to rise to the faithful discernment of God’s choice for our next leader – may God’s will be done among us!

*Editor’s Note: this article went to print around the Thanksgiving long weekend.


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