Faith Tides congratulates Lynn Mills and Leslie Flynn who were ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria on Sept. 14.
As the ordinations fell on Holy Cross Day, Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee, who presided, spoke to the congregation of its origin. She recounted the story of Constantine, who inspired by a vision of the cross, won a great battle and became emperor. In gratitude, he legalized Christianity — a “persecuted and treasonous religion” — throughout the Roman Empire.
Just as significant a figure was Constantine’s mother Helen. She had taken upon herself with Constantine’s approval — “we all want to please our mothers, don’t we?” Bishop Anna joked — to seek out the very cross upon which Christ was crucified. Helen then built a shrine (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) over the sacred spot where it was found. Holy Cross Day, as the bishop told the assembly, is observed to mark its dedication in the 4th century.
This symbol of “torture and death,” but also of “resurrection and hope,” has a complicated history, Bishop Anna admitted. Over the centuries, the church, which has spread the message of the cross, has done “tremendous good,” but also “tremendous harm.” Here in Canada, its legacy of colonization and oppression of Indigenous peoples has continuing repercussions.
Because of the church’s contentious history, Bishop Anna did not shy away from the challenges ahead of Lynn and Leslie. As the Anglican church’s new transitional deacons, it will not always be easy for them, she said. They are entering into a new life in both “deep wisdom and deep foolishness.” The regard for Christianity has much changed in today’s world — the Diocese of Islands and Inlets is in fact the most secular in North America — and one cannot help but wonder at times if there is still a need for it anymore?
But yet, as Bishop Anna continued, “we have two wonderfully gifted and faithful women who have accepted the call to serve.” It is with individuals like them that there is hope for the future of the church and in bringing goodness and reconciliation. Despite the “complicated times” in which we live in, Lynn and Leslie have heard the call to be of service and say, “Here I am. Send me.”