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A cross-border ministry of the Episcopal-Anglican kind

A cross-border ministry of the Episcopal-Anglican kind

The Anglican Journal profiles the ministry of one of three Episcopal priests serving parishes in Newfoundland.

Growing up in Lunenburg, Mass., of Finnish Lutheran and French-Canadian Roman Catholic descent, [The Rev. Steven] Maki was raised a Lutheran but gravitated as a young adult to The Episcopal Church. “For me, it was a via media between my father’s Lutheranism and my mother’s Roman Catholicism,” he said. Graduating from the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Mass., in 2003, he was invited to the diocese of Western Newfoundland during a visit by retiring Bishop Leonard Whitten and ordained in Flower’s Cove by then Bishop (now Archbishop) Percy Coffin in 2005. After serving that parish for four years, he returned to Boston for a four-year inner-city ministry on Newbury Street.

Maki likes the friendliness and the strong basic connections between people in the Anglican church in rural Newfoundland and the informal way things get done. “In the U.S., The Episcopal Church is seen as the church of the elite, of the Mayflower bluebloods who go way back, but here in Newfoundland it’s the church of the people,” he said.

Maki also likes Newfoundlanders’ passion for music, fondness for fellowship and the sheer authenticity of their congregations. “I’m especially fond of Holy Trinity at Codroy, the oldest and most traditional church in my parish,” said Maki, who also ministers to St. John the Evangelist in Cape Ray and St. Paul’s in Grand Bay.

For decades, U.S. Episcopal priests, many from EDS, have been recruited—to all three Newfoundland dioceses to serve congregations lacking Anglican clergy. Facilitating that vital recruitment is the Rev. Alexander “Randy” Daley, a retired Episcopal priest from the diocese of Massachusetts. “We had a surplus of clergy down here and I felt strongly that that people who had finished divinity school should have a place to go and do the Lord’s work,” said Daley, who himself served in Western Newfoundland’s Stephenville parish after leaving the military. “I’d work with [now retired] Archbishop Stewart Payne of Western Newfoundland and sometimes with [now retired] Bishop Eddie Marsh of Central Newfoundland to send people up there.”

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Rev. Mark H. Hatch

Thank you @Rod Gillis. One of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life and of my ministry was spent in the Diocese of Caledonia, at St. Matthew's, Terrace BC. Magic time, great spirit, some of the finest people from every corner and background that I have ever met. It was "welcoming" beyond words, and a memory I still and shall always cherish. I am a better man for all of it.

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Mark Hatch

The "history" is quite off here. Mayflower descendants and their ilk were anything but some "blue blood" arm of the Anglican Church. Congregationalism was the established religion in Massachusetts until the mid 19th century. Before that (and arguably still) Unitarianism was where the money, power, trust funds and social elitism were. As the old historical saying goes, "they came here to do good, and ended up doing well."

Religious pilgrims fleeing first England and then the Continent had no alliance with Canterbury. And on and on. Nice human interest story here, but I hope this doesn't reflect the current teaching in seminary.

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Geoff McLarney

In fairness, Fr Maki does say "seen as." I wouldn't be surprised if the gum chewing public isn't au fait with the denominational patterns of settlement and equates the old Fifth Avenue-type Episcopal establishment with the Mayflower, the DAR, and so on.

It does seem to me that the broader point he's speaking to holds. A lot of jokes and cultural references to the Episcopal Church's supposed WASPy pedigree go over my head as a Canadian. (I'm thinking of things like the "Episcopal cryogenic freezing service" held for Rip Torn's character on 30 Rock, or the silver-spoon title character in Archer getting kicked out "Episcopal Prep."). I think it's fair to say that in Canada being Anglican doesn't necessarily have the same kind of class or ethnic connotations.

Although as Rod points out the then-C of E in Canada was once a force for political conservatism (and as a new Trinity student it was an adjustment for me to discover the cultus of Bishop Strachan, something of a villain in my Whiggish school history lessons), Anglicans are a bigger proportion of the population (if not as popular as Presbyterianism or Methodism) and thus more of a mass movement here than in the US, where the Episcopal Church's influence historically outstripped its actual size. Canada also has long had close cultural ties to the West Indies, and predominately black parishes are still common.

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Rod Gillis

@ Mark Hatch re, seminary attitudes, there is an interesting observation in the original Journal article by the Rev. Alexander “Randy” Daley, a retired Episcopal priest from the diocese of Massachusetts. Daley, who is described in the article as facilitating recruitment of U.S. postulants and clergy for Canada, comments on the reaction, "One seminary professor got angry and said, ‘You’re thwarting our system.’ And I said, ‘Listen, you’ve got about 100 people wanting to go into the ministry and you can only take 10. You’ve got well-qualified people coming out of our seminaries and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t go up there.
It’s very welcoming.’ ”

Whether blue bloods or just regular gum chewing American priests, we've been happy to have them lend a hand in parishes that have had historic challenges attracting priests, Canadian or American.

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Rod Gillis

Great human interest story! Brought back memories of serving in the diocese of Western NF in the eighties. There were about 40 full time clergy in the diocese at that time, with priests from all over; U.S., Ireland, South Africa, mainland Canada, and of course, Newfoundland. The weather, and for some of my colleagues who were in more remote parishes than I was, it could be a challenge; but the people are marvelous. Archbishop Payne, who is mentioned in the article, was a terrific guy to work for.

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Jay Croft

The "Mayflower bluebloods" weren't C of E loyalists!

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Geoff McLarney

Yes, that was my immediate reaction as well. The only thing I could think was that perhaps many of their descendants later gravitated to the Episcopal Church as being, as the article puts it, the church of the elite.

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Rod Gillis

And don't forget, that during The War of Independence the Tories were embedded in the Church of England in America. The first bishop of Nova Scotia, Charles Inglis, is a case in point. He was rector of Trinity Church New York in 1777, where he openly supported George III. After the war the Tories migrated across the border to British North America ( modern day Canada) where they were known as Loyalists. Of course, the Loyalist tradition is the fertile ground for the family compact of early 19th century Ontario. Its connection with Anglicanism and elitism is well documented. In some regards, the ghost of the family compact in Ontario and the Chateau Clique in Quebec still haunts the country here.

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