From our Bishop

Remarks delivered by The Rt. Rev. Dr. John H Chapman, 9th Bishop of Ottawa
at the first service of the renewed yet historic St. Alban's Parish,
July 3, 2011

Greetings in the name of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Welcome to St. Alban the Martyr Parish, which began its witness and ministry as a parish in early Bytown as it was known then, and continues to this day. St. Alban's begins a new chapter of renewal in its long history, now that the building has been reclaimed and the parish restored by the Diocese of Ottawa, Anglican Church of Canada.

Before I continue, before we can begin a renewed ministry here in this location, I do need to recognize past parishioners. You may recall, in 2007 the Diocese decided to address the matter of human sexuality more intentionally. To the surprise of everyone and most especially me, the clergy of this parish decided to call a vote among the current parishioners and it was decided that this community would leave the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Ottawa. If I were to be honest with you, I did not expect such a radical response. St. Alban's was the first to leave. We were much better prepared to deal with the few that followed but that does not ease the burden or the pain for those remaining members of the Anglican Church of Canada in this parish church. To those who were left in the middle of all that followed, and dare I say "overlooked" during the height of the crisis, I extend to you, on behalf of the Diocese my sincerest apology.

It will be my role to oversee the work to build up a vibrant renewed community in a Spirit-led, Christ-centred and contemporary urban church.

As you probably know, the Diocese has returned to St. Alban's more than three years after the previous clergy resigned from the Anglican Church of Canada to join the breakaway Anglican Network in Canada. It is most regrettable that the parish felt it needed to take this step because they opposed the direction the national church was taking.

However, through mediation and negotiation an agreement was reached for the clergy to leave the church so that we could re-establish the Anglican Church of Canada here.

We should point out that only the clergy were forced to leave - the members of the congregation are most welcome to stay. We also hope to build up membership with the help of former parishioners who were alienated by the direction taken in recent years.

We are recovering our ancient mission as an Anglican church to be totally welcoming and inclusive.

That means that everyone-including the poor and the marginalized-are assured of a warm welcome here- " ... Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart …" reads today's Gospel from Matthew.

As part of this mission, we shall be welcoming back Centre 454, our Diocesan Community ministry that provides drop-in support services and social support activities for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. It offers a wide range of services to assist homeless men, women and their children to transform their lives with respect and dignity.

To sum up, our ministry here will emphasize the normative tradition in the Anglican church of simply welcoming the world.

It is also most appropriate that we are launching this renewed community with a baptism when the sacrament of "new birth" is offered.

May God continue to bless the ministry that will unfold in this community in the name of our Lord Jesus.

May God bless your new Incumbent, The Rev. Mark Whittall as he assumes leadership of this parish community in my name and in the name of the Diocese of Ottawa.

† John Ottawa

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