Stepping aside after 42 years

Pictured (right) is Ansley Tucker, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral. Ansley will be retiring at the end of October. Photo courtesy of Ansley Tucker.
By on August 31, 2022

Ansley Tucker took up her role as rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of Columbia in 2015, having previously served in the Diocese of Toronto for 25 years, and Calgary for ten.

She grew up in a nominally Christian family, and sometimes jokes that her devotion to the life of the Church represents a continuing break with parental authority and values. Following a degree in nursing, she pursued theological studies at Trinity College, Toronto, where she earned both an M.Div. and a Th.M., with a special interest in “the problem of evil,” and ethics.

Most of her ministry has been parish-based, ranging from a small town and a farming village to the downtown urban core, with congregations of varying political views, resources and understandings of church.

Her time at Christ Church Cathedral has offered many opportunities and challenges, including the church’s response to the Tent City encamped on the Court House lawn; coming alongside the community in times of civic sorrow and indignation; negotiating the ever-changing demands of COVID-19; serving as the diocesan administrator prior to the election and installation of Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee; encouraging the church to make an “outward turn” in its sense of purpose; and in this regard, leading the cathedral community through an extensive visioning process, and re-igniting conversations about “Building for the Future.” 

Below Ansley reflects on her time in ordained ministry:  

Dr. Seuss asks, “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” 

There are lots of reasons: but if you’re lucky, it’s because you were so engrossed in what you were doing, and taking such joy in it, that you simply didn’t notice the time fly. By this measure, I am lucky indeed. After 42 years of ordained ministry, the last seven here, I can hardly believe that the time has come to step aside.  

It won’t be easy. Since I love what I do, it’s hard to imagine not doing it. I am still full of big ideas, and I’m still ruminating about big questions. I feel as if it is only now that I have the wisdom to equal the energy of my youth. This makes me more grateful than ever to have been entrusted with what we used to call “the cure of souls.” And I am grateful to all those people who smiled benignly and encouragingly as all my shiny new principles and certainties were tested and burnished in the crucible of real life. 

Deaconed in 1980, and priested in 1981, I was amongst the first generation of women to be ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada. In practice, this meant — at least in the early days — that bishops and rectors and congregations were always taking a chance when they hired “a woman-priest.” (What a funny expression that was!) What we now take for granted was a huge adjustment for the whole Church, and without the advocacy and courage of many people, the whole experiment might well have failed. I don’t discount the fact that I had gifts to offer: but the point is that there were people around who made it their business to ask for them. People who were willing to create a place at the table for an untested, perhaps naively enthusiastic, incarnation of change.   

And now it is time to do for others as has been done for me. Having enjoyed so many privileges of ministry, and a seat at so many tables, it is time to gratefully and graciously contribute whatever sway I may yet have to clear a place at the table for a new generation of leaders. A generation with big ideas and ruminating about big questions. A generation who, please God, will bring the Church to rebirth.  

Author

  • Ansley Tucker is the rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Diocese of British Columbia.

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