Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our Bishop: The Right Reverend Barry B. Clarke

The 11th Bishop of Montreal, Barry B. Clarke was consecrated and installed on October 14th, 2004 at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. He was born October 10th, 1952, in Montreal, making him the first Montreal-born Bishop of Montreal. In 1977, he graduated with a Bachelor in Theology degree from McGill University, followed in 1978 by his graduation with a Diploma in Ministry from the Montreal Theological College, becoming the seventh alumni from the college to be consecrated Bishop. While at the College, Bishop Clarke was ordained to the diaconate on May 21st, 1978 and to the presbyterate on May 20th, 1979 by the Right Reverend Reginald Hollis, ninth Bishop of Montreal.

Having served as assistant at St Matthias, from 1978 to 1980, he was called to be Rector of Trinity Church, St-Bruno, where he served from 1980 to 1984. In 1984, he was called as Rector of St Michael and All Angels, where he served from 1984 to 1993. He was then named Rector of St Paul’s, Lachine where he served until relocating to the See City of Montreal, upon his election in 2004.

During his parish ministries, Bishop Clarke was involved in community and youth work, and served on numerous diocesan councils, commissions and committees including the Synod Planning Committee, the Diocesan Youth Group, Diocesan Council and the Lay Pastoral Visitors. He also served as Regional Dean of the Deanery of Ste-Anne from 1988 to 1992, Regional Dean of the Deanery of Pointe-Claire from 1997 to 2003, and Archdeacon of St Lawrence from 2003 to his election. He was also Chaplain of the International Order of St Luke the Physician and Priest Associate to the Sisters of St John the Divine.

In his nominee’s statement, Bishop Clarke expressed that his vision of the Episcopal Ministry are based on the following words of our Lord:

“I came not to be served, but to serve. Episcopal ministry, as I understand it, is modeled in Jesus. It is a vocation and a response to the baptismal covenant I inherited in baptism. Jesus is the servant. In ministry I respond to his call and follow him. By the grace of the Holy Spirit I am equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of Episcopal ministry. The three biblical images that inform my vision are; pilgrim, pastor, and steward. The image of a pilgrim bishop encourages me to be at the grass roots of the Church where ministry and mission happen. My desire would be to visit and share in the life of the faith communities, parishes, institutions, and organizations that shape the life of our Diocese and the wider community. My objectives: to observe, to listen to the wonderful stories of faith, to hear about the hopes and dreams of these communities. My view of the Diocese is that we are interdependent; we need each other for mutual support, growth, and planning our life together. The image of a pastoral bishop is to be a pastor to the clergy and their families. My vision of Episcopal ministry is that the bishop is also a steward. I am deeply aware of the riches of our Anglican heritage and the resources of our Diocese. As a steward of the Gospel I am entrusted to care for the natural, material and personnel resources of our Church. As stewards, we serve together in witnessing to the Gospel as we proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. We seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbours as ourselves. We strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”

Bishop Clarke has a daughter, Melissa, and three grandchildren, Joshua, Julien, and Cassidy.

Source: Montreal Anglican

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Parishioners on Spirituality: Finding God in Movement and Nature

As the social media coordinator at St. Philip's I have been asking parishioners about their personal relationship to spirituality. This is the second installment in an ongoing series where parishioners offer their take on spirituality. Here is Lori Ann L's moving response to the question of what spirituality means to her: 

Finding Spirituality

I was quite perplexed when first asked about my spiritual journey. As a child it was easy! My mind was less cluttered with life’s stuff. Many moons later, with days filled with to-do list upon to-do list, the challenge is far greater.

To begin, I make prayer, meditation and writing in a gratitude journal a daily practice.

As a person who loves to be on the move, taking time out to practice sports is essential. Whether I am in the ice arena, the dance studio or outside, the beauty of movement connects me to the Spirit, and I am at peace.

Otherwise, I make it a priority to enjoy the Earth’s visual feasts: summer moments spent gazing at the sunlight glistening on wind-swept lake waves . . . stopping in the middle of a winter walk to marvel at an intricate snowflake that’s found a new home on my bright red mitten. The scents of damp earth and the visual explosion of baby green leaves remind me of renewed life energy in spring. The fall colours that blanket my lawn remind me of the cozy warmth of home and family, fill my senses and envelope my soul.

Time stops and I can feel God . . . I am touched by the divine. Filled with gratitude and love, I gaze in wonder at these magnificent gifts from the Earth and I am in awe of the enveloping presence of God.

 Lori Ann L.

Anyone who would like to share their views on what spirituality means to them please to do so in the comments below. Alternatively if you wish to have your reflections published in the SPC blog, write a short summary of your ideas and submit them to Richard Matthews.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bishop Barry Clarke's 2012 Comments on Obama's Support for Same Sex Marriage

Here are excerpts from a 2012 Anglican Journal article in which Montreal Bishop Barry Clarke discusses US President Barack Obama's endorsement of the rights of same sex couples.

On May 9, President Barack Obama announced his personal support for full-fledged same-sex marriage. Obama once said that his faith defined marriage as a man-woman union and believed that civil unions would suffice for same-sex couples. But as Obama told ABC News, "At a certain point I've just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

The impetus for this shift in thinking, he added, was witnessing same-sex couples raising children in committed relationships and realizing that many gay U.S. military personnel who were putting their lives on the line overseas "were not able to commit themselves in a marriage."

The Anglican Journal spoke about Obama's change of heart to the diocese of Montreal's Bishop Barry Clarke, who also supports same-sex marriage and civil unions between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. "From my perspective, this is a good-news story, especially as a statement from someone with such political clout and international presence," says Clarke. "It's a good way to move forward for the community." He notes that many gay American couples have come to Quebec to legitimize their unions.

Clarke wonders, however, about Obama's motives at this election year and also whether he may have created a problem for himself at the voting booths come November. He concedes the declaration may be driven by political expediency or it may be a case of "someone bold enough to stand up regardless and say, 'We have to move forward around this issue of human rights, justice, dignity and equal treatment.'" Equality—in health care and the military, for example—has been one of Obama's strongest platforms, he notes.

In 2004, same-sex marriage became a reality in the U.S. after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that it was required under the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution. Before this year, same-sex marriage was also legalized in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. Other states are grappling with the issue, and early this month, North Carolinians voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Source: Anglican Journal

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bishop Barry Clarke: Quebec Charter May Foster Racism

By Harvey Shepherd

The Quebec government’s proposals for a Charter of Quebec Values appear “on first reflection” to contradict the existing the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, says the Anglican bishop of Montreal.

In a message prepared for the October issue of the diocesan newspaper The Montreal Anglican, Bishop Barry Clarke says, “I would hope that the government of Quebec would seriously consider the implications of this Charter that potentially would foster prejudice and racism.”

Proposals for a Charter of Quebec Values that, among other things, would prohibit public employees from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols at work were made public by the Quebec government on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The cabinet minister piloting the issue, Bernard Drainville, said in the Quebec national assembly that if the charter were adopted by the legislature, the wearing of skullcaps, turbans, hijabs and "large" crosses would be prohibited for civil servants while they are on the job. On-the-job proselytizing would also be barred.

Bishop Clarke cites passages from the Quebec, Canadian and United Nations charters of rights, along with passages from Old Testament prophets, the gospels and Anglican liturgy, in setting out his objections to the government bill.

He notes that Bernard Drainville, the Quebec minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship, has stated: “The state must be neutral because it must show the same respect for all religions, regardless of their beliefs.”

But, the bishop says, “I am not convinced that this Charter is neutral when people’s rights and freedoms of expression are being denied. As a Christian, my convictions are stirred up as a disciple of Jesus…”

The bishop says that “religion, faith and symbols are ways in which we express our beliefs” and are necessary for people to learn to live in a just and free society, described by Drainville himself as ”increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-religious.”

In his message, Clarke adds: “Ponder, pray and let us, as the People of God, live our faith with generosity, compassion and justice to the question: Who is my neighbour?’…I would hope that the government of Quebec would seriously consider the implications of this Charter that potentially would foster prejudice and racism.”

Harvey Shepherd is editor of The Montreal Anglican, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal.

Source: Anglican Journal

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Personal Message from Bishop Barry Clarke: Sabbath Leave – The Winter of My Discontent

Montreal Bishop Barry Clarke, left on a “Sabbath leave” in March, and returned to his regular duties at the beginning of August.

I went on a Sabbath leave in March of this year, because I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. The demands of the last number of years as Bishop and as caregiver to Leslie caught up with me. I knew I would be of little value to myself or to the Diocese without taking this Sabbath time off. I was restless, irritable and discontent. I am convinced that this Sabbath was God’s intervention into my life, to take time for my own self-care and wellness. This is an important ministry to ourselves which we often ignore. As I sat in the chapel of the Southdown Institute, in Aurora, Ontario, I was focused on the crucifix and I heard the words of Jesus say to me... “Come to me, all you that worry and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

The invitation I heard from Jesus inspired and challenged me for the next twenty weeks on a journey of wellness of body, mind, soul and spirit. My Spiritual Director invited me to take this time away from the daily routines of my life and see it as a wilderness time, not looking back to my Egypt or looking ahead to my Promised Land. As painful as it is staying in the wilderness experience because of fear, sadness and isolation, the benefits were fruitful.

I had to admit to myself that depression is real, it is frightening and it is paralyzing. Depression spoke to me of the deep and painful sadness I was living with in my life. It speaks of the fear, the isolation and the darkness that was so overwhelming. I am filled with gratitude for the community of professionals I was associated with, who journeyed with me.

Parker Palmer, in his book, “Let Your Life Speak”, describes de - pression: “I could feel nothing except the burden of my own life and the exhaustion, the apparent futility of trying to sustain it”. In spite of all the challenges of facing my reality at that moment, I was assured of God’s providential care for me.

Nature and the unfolding of spring from winter, creates newness all around. For me, in my many daily walks outside on the wonderful trails, I appreciated the Canada Geese flying overhead in formation. I saw this as a symbol of God reminding me of the importance of community to support, listen and journey alongside me. I am home now and re-entering into ministry. I am deeply grateful to you, the clergy, laity, and Synod office staff for your support, prayers and love during this Sabbath leave and the many and various ways in which you faithfully embark in God’s Mission in the church and the world.

In the Peace and Love of Christ,


Source: Montreal Anglican

Monday, September 9, 2013

International Buy a Priest a Beer Day!

Did you know that this coming Monday, September 9, is International Buy a Priest a Beer Day? On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer.

Okay, if you’re getting suspicious by now, there’s a good reason. Buy a Priest a Beer Day is not a real holiday. But I would argue that it should be!

Believe it or not, priests are real people, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.

So with that in mind, I would challenge you to do something concrete to show appreciation to your priest in the month ahead. Yes, it could be taking him out for a beer, or it could be inviting him over to share dinner with your family. Be creative if you want, but give back to your priest somehow, and let him know that his ministry is making a difference.

Of course, your priest may be insanely busy and unable to schedule a time for a lengthier visit. That’s okay. You could offer a rosary or a holy hour for him and his intentions (or better yet, more than one), and let him know that you are regularly praying for him. At the very least, express to him your gratitude, in person or via a note, for his faithful ministry and his answering God’s call to the priesthood.

I fully expect there to be a lot of happy, encouraged priests by the end of the month. If you want to participate, leave a comment saying, “I’m in!” Ready, set, go.

Source: The Catholic Gentlman

Friday, September 6, 2013

Parishioners on Spirituality: Nature and Music

As the social media coordinator at St. Philip's I have been asking parishioners about their personal relationship to spirituality. This is the first installment in an ongoing series where parishioners offer their take on spirituality. Here is Carol E's soulful response to the question of what spirituality means to her:

What is Spirituality for me? That is not an easy question to answer, as I find myself able to experience it and live it in many different situations, depending where I am on a given day. At work, there are often moments when I stop to send a quick prayer heavenward. Outdoors, walking in a park, or a garden, seeing the beauty in a leaf, bush or bird connects me to the Spirit. A walk in a forest always reminds me of just how small I am and how great God is to have created this wonderful planet.

At St. Philip's Church, the beauty of the building touches me but that is only a building. What I love most of all is the music on a Sunday morning, sung by the choir, that reaches deep inside me. The words of the motets are also often the words of scripture, but mostly it is the words of praise that bring me joy, as the music is an offering to God. This is when I feel the comfort of God's love, which holds me and supports me through the rest of the week. There is always music inside, even if the world is not going right all the time. God gave us music, as with everything, as a gift to share and enjoy. How lucky we are to have it.  

Carol E

Anyone who would like to share their views on what spirituality means to them please to do so in the comments below. Alternatively if you wish to have your reflections published in the SPC blog, write a short summary of your ideas and submit them to Richard Matthews.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Engaging Volunteers in Ministry: A Deeper View of Stewardship

‘Stewardship’ most often makes one think of money, but there is a strong need for churches large and small to become better stewards of people’s time and talent and energy. This series of three webinars, Engaging Volunteers in Ministry: A Deeper View of Stewardship—given by two well-known Canadian practitioners in volunteer engagement, Marilyn MacKenzie and Suzanne Lawson—will help you better understand how lay ministry is mobilized and led, and the ways that people’s God-given gifts can be best used in service of God’s mission.

You can register to watch this webinar on your own, but an even better way is to watch it as a small team of both clergy and lay people from your church or diocese. The sessions will be no more than an hour long, and there will be good online resources for your team to work with afterwards. You might wish to set aside an additional hour to begin that consultation if you are watching as a team.

Session 1: Introduction to the Leadership of Volunteers in Your Church’s Ministry 
Tuesday Sept. 17 1-2pm EDT REGISTER ONLINE

Beginning with the theological under girding for the way lay peoples’ ministry as volunteers can be more effective and aligned with our Christian values, this first session will highlight the trends in people’s use of their volunteer time, trends that are particularly applicable to the church setting. The Volunteer Leadership Cycle will be introduced as a framework for the series…a look at the various elements of good stewardship of peoples’ time and talents. This is designed to help you identify the elements of effective volunteer engagement, such as recruitment, matching people’s gifts with their tasks or positions, nurturing and supporting people in their ministries, and recognition of their contributions.

Session 2: Getting Started 
Tuesday Sept. 24 1-2pm EDT REGISTER ONLINE

The second session will help you decide how to assemble a small team to lead a church-wide (or diocesan-wide) effort in engaging volunteers, and will give you guidance in determining the readiness of the parish for any changes that may be needed. Then, rolling up the sleeves time: designing jobs or positions for volunteers that are clear, attractive and accountable. And do-able! This step is vital if the church is to prevent future problems with “difficult volunteers” (do you have any?), to fulfil screening requirements, and to also draw people into the life of the church in a healthy and nurturing way.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada