Welcoming a Stranger

By on February 1, 2021

Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.
Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.
May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.

Excerpt from John O’Donohue, “Blessings for a New Position,” To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (2008) Used by permission.

As we begin this new stage of our shared journey, I ask for your prayers as you are in mine. Since my election, I have been on the receiving end of the ministry of hospitality and welcoming of a stranger, and I am so grateful. I have much to learn and my focus for the first months of my episcopacy will be nothing more and nothing less than building relationships of trust.

As much as possible, I’m also trying to schedule meetings with other church and community leaders to get my feet under me in this new place.  While COVID makes this challenging, technology is a help. I look forward to meeting the active clergy of the diocese in a series of virtual regional meetings throughout the month of February and to attending other distanced meetings and gatherings when they become possible. Please have patience with me as I am very clear that, at this point, I don’t know what I don’t know!

In these next months I will also be focusing on sustaining the clergy and laity of the diocese through the challenges of COVID-19. We are all tired and long to be back together. However, COVID-19 is still very much with us and we must remain vigilant in keeping one another safe. The diocese of Calgary lost one of its beloved clergy, the Rev. Margaret Waterchief, to the virus in July.  A Blackfoot elder and member of the Siksika Nation, Waterchief was the first Indigenous woman and among the first women to be ordained in the diocese.  Her death was an immense loss to so many, and a reminder of why it is more important for us to stay distanced and stay safe, even if it curtails our ability to gather.

Please watch the diocesan website beginning Wednesday, February 17 for short video reflections that I will be offering throughout Lent in a series we are calling “Renew.” While I won’t be able to travel throughout the diocese in person for a while, I look forward to being present by a variety of other means including videos like these.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Ansley Tucker, Barry Foster and all the synod staff, officers and other synod leaders who have clearly done a remarkable job of shepherding the diocese through both the episcopal transition and the pandemic. The depths of talent and dedication within this diocese are obvious to me and I feel blessed to be joining such a remarkable team.

Author

  • Anna Greenwood-Lee is the 14th bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia and the first woman to hold that position.

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