10th December, 2012
To the Saints of Qu’Appelle.
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I am very moved at this moment, and somewhat overwhelmed by the faith that God and the electoral synod have bestowed upon me in calling me to be the twelfth Bishop of Qu’Appelle. It is an awesome responsibility but one, that with God’s help, I humbly accept.
Though very different from one another, each of the former Bishops of Qu’Appelle has made an outstanding contribution to the life of this great diocese. Through 130 years of our history there have been many trials, challenges, joys and celebrations as the Gospel, the Good News of our Lord and Saviour has been shared, in season and out of season, across our portion of the Prairies. It is now my task to take up the crozier and to lead, love and Pastor all of God’s people in this diocese.
I believe the vote at Synod signifies concurrence with the direction the diocese is moving, ‘from maintenance to mission’. The diocesan council certainly expressed a desire for continuity as we move into the next phase of the Diocesan Mission Action Plan. Therefore, it is my firm belief that we are called to make mission our priority and, in my response to the diocesan profile and in my answers at the regional synod gatherings, I indicated what I believe our priorities are to be (please see my response on the diocesan web site http://quappelle.anglican.ca).
Almost twelve years ago I felt a strong call from God to go to Canada. Lorraine and I left family, friends and belongings behind, to come, sight unseen, to a parish that struggled to pay a full time parish priest and to a diocese teetering on the threshold of bankruptcy. It has been an amazing journey and a sacrifice we have not regretted. God has been most faithful as we stepped out in faith to follow His call, and time after time, we have seen his miraculous hand at work. The Diocese of Qu’Appelle is certainly a place we are both proud to call our home.
I shared with the Synod on Saturday, that I believe, as a diocese, we are called to be a family. Archbishop Rowan Williams said this week, ‘not as loosely connected and distant relatives who annually send one another a Christmas card but a true family and fellowship in which we share our hopes and are responsible for each other’s well-being and integrity before God’. Therefore, as your brother in Christ and as your bishop-elect, I want you to know that I will do my all, in the service of Christ, to build up our family. I invite you to join me in doing the same.
Details of my consecration service will be announced as soon as arrangements are made. Due to various reasons the service may be later than the previously announced date of 2nd February but hopefully before March. In the meantime, the Administrator, Dean Mike Sinclair will continue to fulfil the duties of the Ordinary so please uphold Mike, Robin and their children in your prayers. Lorraine and I would also value your prayers in this time of transition as we look for a larger house, and prayerfully prepare for my episcopacy.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks:
· To all the Synod delegates for faithfully and prayerfully voting on Saturday.
· To all the officers of Synod and to all who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the election run so smoothly.
· To all who have been fasting and praying these past months; people from many dioceses and denominations around the world.
· To our wonderful hosts at St Luke’s Regina.
· To the Search Committee, especially the chair, the Reverend Deacon Susan Page, who together with the diocesan administrator, Dean Mike Sinclair, have worked incredibly hard and have shown great leadership throughout this election process.
· To Archbishop David for the prayerful way he led the election and for his inspiring words and Spirit filled leadership.
· To David, Malcolm, Norbert, Patricia, James and Peter, the six other incredibly gifted candidates, for their courage to; accept a nomination; share of themselves; and for their willingness to be part of the election process. May God, in particular, bless each one of them, in full measure, for their dedication and faithfulness. I certainly look forward to continuing to work with Malcolm and Trish and hope that their particular gifts will continue to be shared across the diocese.
Last but not least, I thank my friends and family for their support and I thank Lorraine especially, from the bottom of my heart, for her love, encouragement and faith in me over the years and especially now.
I know too well my shortcomings but humbly accept this call to be the twelfth Bishop of Qu’Appelle knowing that Christ Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, will never leave us nor forsake us and will be with us wherever we go. He who calls (Qu’Appelle) is faithful! Therefore, confident in the faithfulness of God let us journey onward and enter into the mission that God is calling us to.
May God bless you with an abundance of Advent Joy as we await our Lord’s coming.
Archdeacon Rob Hardwick