Infinitely more than we can ask or imagine

 on February 29, 2024

Lynn Mills was ordained on February 3, 2024 by Bishop Anna at St Mary of the Incarnation, Metchosin. Lynn is the incumbent at St Mary. Here she tells us about her education and the spiritual journey that led to her becoming a priest and scholar. 

Lynn Mills holding a two-week-old lamb during a blessing of the animals service. Photo courtesy of Lynn Mills.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. My dad was in the air force, so we lived in a number of places during my childhood: Cold Lake, Alberta; Germany; North Bay, Ontario; and Ottawa. This is likely the reason I love to travel. At 19 I volunteered on a kibbutz in Israel for a few months. I loved it so much I went back the next year for another six months. This is where I met my English husband, who was also volunteering. Our mutual love of travel has taken us around the world, living and working in eight countries and on four continents.  

My career before pursuing a theological education was mostly in administration, HR and finance. I have worked for the Canadian and Australian governments and a wide variety of companies, including a hostel in Israel; a hotel in Germany; a medical mission in Nepal; a sheep farm in New Zealand; a ski resort; and a large-scale concert and extreme sport producer in BC. Now, I use my admin and finance skills to assist the finance department of the synod office from time to time. 


My spiritual journey begins with my father finding sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous when I was seven years old. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, the Jesus movement, and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, my father and mother rediscovered their creator and their faith. One day, at the age of nine, as I was walking to school, I suddenly felt completely filled with the love of Jesus. This love was very tangible and frankly overwhelming. I would describe the experience as an epiphany. God revealed Godself to me through the person of God’s son, Jesus. That experience has stayed with me all these years and is almost as intense and tangible now as it was then. It has also been the foundation of my faith and my understanding of a compassionate God. 

At the age of 12, during my confirmation process, I asked our priest if I could be an altar server like the boys. I was drawn to the liturgy and the beautiful rituals and symbolism. I wanted to serve God. Fortunately for me, our priest was very progressive for the time (1975), and he suggested I petition the bishop, who agreed. Our bishop thought I was the first female altar server in all of Canada. I did not realize how significant that was at the time. All I knew was that I wanted to serve, and I could see no reason why I couldn’t. 

Looking back now, I can trace my sense of call to the 12-year-old girl who wanted to be an altar server. While not grasping the theology, serving in the liturgy resonated deeply within me. After we left the Roman Catholic church, and joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance church, I started to think that maybe I could be a missionary. That was, after all, how you served the Lord. Plus, I would get to travel! But the idea of having to raise the funds, to ask for money from churches and individuals, was very uncomfortable for me. I gave up the idea, but still looked for a way to have a job that would, in essence, be service to God. Unfortunately, there were very few opportunities for women at that time. So, I put it aside, thinking it was just not for me. 

When my husband, Phil, and I moved to Vancouver Island in 2006 and started to attend an Anglican parish, I felt like I had come home! In no time at all I was once again serving at the altar as a lay assistant and reader. I served at St John, Cobble Hill for over 10 years and then in Dublin, Ireland at St Ann for five years. In the last two years at St Ann, I was preaching and leading a service of sung matins once a month. 

My education has been a bit unorthodox. I never got an undergrad degree, choosing to travel and work instead. I was very fortunate to be able to jump directly into a master of arts in theological studies at Vancouver School of Theology (VST) at the age of 51. What an absolute gift it was to study formally after so many years. I loved all my courses. They were water to a thirsty soul! The professors engaged my mental and spiritual intelligence. They challenged my understanding of scripture and my theology. I resisted the call to the priesthood and answered the call to teach instead. This led me to Dublin, Ireland, where I earned a PhD in biblical studies. I chose a topic that would allow me to conduct research in Israel. It was a joy to return to Jerusalem on three occasions for extended stays of one to three months. My plan was to return to Vancouver Island, continue as a lay minister and teach at VST and in parishes. 

However, the Holy Spirit had other ideas and she can be very persistent and patient. When I learned that I could be both priest and professor, I stopped resisting and started the discernment process online, while still in Dublin, during COVID-19. When we returned home in 2022, I started a diploma in denominational studies to fill in the pastoral and preaching classes I had avoided the first time around at VST. I have just completed the final course and will graduate this May. Concurrently, I have been teaching at VST this academic year and have done some parish teaching.  

I would say that I am now in my ideal posting. Priest and scholar. I am thrilled to be serving St Mary, Metchosin quarter time, and as respite or pulpit supply in other parishes as needed and available. I love to serve in all the holy moments: baptism, eucharist, confession and absolution, weddings, anointing of the sick, and funerals. I want to stand on holy ground with God’s children. Phil and I are very happy to have found a spiritual home in the neo-monastic Emmaus Community in downtown Victoria, with whom we pray the daily offices. I am extremely fortunate to be able to serve in parishes in the morning and still be a part of our Emmaus Community worship at the AbbeyChurch on Sunday afternoons. 

I love our scriptures, both canonical and extra-canonical, and want to share that love with others. I strongly believe that people in the pews have been done a terrible disservice by not being given the education their clergy receive in seminaries. I once heard that religion is like a swimming pool, all the noise is in the shallow end. In our time, the loudest voice is the far right. While most people in the pews of mainline churches disagree with that voice, they are ill-equipped to answer it. We have to change that! 

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