Discernment and deacons

 on October 1, 2021

On Sunday, September 12 Stephanie Wood, John Thatamanil, Colleen Lissamer and Marion Edmondson were ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. 

Prior to the recent ordination service for our new deacons, I was blessed to lead a three day pre-ordination retreat for the four candidates at Bethlehem Retreat Centre in Nanaimo. For the theme, I took a line from an ancient prayer, “Make us O God, masters of ourselves, so that we can be servants of others.” Ordained ministry requires not only theological and pastoral expertise but also a level of emotional maturity.    

The work of discernment, of raising up individuals for ordained ministry, is the work of the whole church. On the first evening when we gathered, all four candidates mentioned feeling the presence and prayers of all the people who had mentored and supported them in their life of faith and their journey of discernment.   


Many ordained people, myself included, never considered ordained ministry until someone else said, “You know, you should really consider…” Sometimes people see gifts in us that we cannot yet see ourselves.   

The diocese is hosting a Vocations Day on Saturday, November 6 beginning at 9:30am, to be held at the Multifaith Centre at UVic (COVID-19 permitting). The format will be for 12 people to each speak for 12 minutes about their understanding of ordained ministry. After each group of three speakers, there will be a brief Q&A. If you are interested in attending register here: www.bc.anglican.ca/events/vocation-day

While individuals discerning a call to ordained ministry are invited to come, I hope that the bulk of those who attend are simply church members ‘at large’ who wish to understand their role, as lay people, in lifting up faithful people for ordained ministry. 

There is no one ‘type’ of person we are looking for when we are, discerning who is called to sacred orders. However, as our newly updated ministry discernment process (www.bc.anglican.ca/resources/ordained-ministry-discernment) outlines:

  • We are seeking those who have both an inner awareness of a call from God and are affirmed in that call as observed by others.
  • We are seeking people who show both passion and realism in their commitment to the Church as a bearer of God’s mission in the world, and a current involvement in that mission through the life of a congregation within the diocese.
  • We are seeking those whose spirituality is centered in their baptismal identity, rooted in a relationship with God, lived out in their practices of private and public prayer, and demonstrated through the stewardship of their relationships and their resources.

While Stephanie, John, Colleen and Marion began discernment long before I arrived in the diocese, I am thrilled to say that each of them incarnates these gifts. I have every confidence that they will faithfully and creatively serve the church and the diocese in this liminal season. 

Stephanie Wood has been and will continue to serve at St. John the Divine, Victoria. She has remarkable gifts in pastoral care and, apart from her work at St. John, is also active in chaplaincy and chaplaincy training.

Colleen Lissamer recently accepted my appointment to serve at Church of the Advent, Colwood, and to assist the parish and clergy there during their interim time. She interrupted her holidays and began that work in mid-July.

John Thatamanil will continue in his teaching role (by distance) at Union Theological Seminary and will also serve as volunteer curate at St. John the Divine, Victoria, and as Diocesan Theologian (see pg. 5).

Marion Edmondson will serve as deacon at St. John the Divine, Courtenay, where she is involved with various ministries including outreach to street-involved people.

I ask you to keep Stephanie, John, Colleen and Marion in your prayers as they begin their ordained ministry. I encourage you also to help the diocese and the church in the work of discernment. Please consider attending the November Vocations Day and please, always and everywhere, listen to who the spirit is calling to ordained ministry.

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