Sermon preached by Peter Elliott

Here is the sermon preached last week by the Very Rev Peter Elliott, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver.

Our own little Anglican Communion

We had a great day yesterday at St Mary’s with the Very Rev Peter Elliott visiting from Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. The way that the rotas resolved themselves meant that we had a preacher from the Anglican Church of Canada, a celebrant (me) from the Scottish Episcopal Church, a deacon, Chucks from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Scottish Episcopal Church and a subdeacon (Akma) from the US based Episcopal Church. Fluttering delicately around all of that were servers who bring skills and experience from the Church in Wales via the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, the Methodist Church in the USA and the Roman Catholic Church in England. And that isn’t to start on where the congregation came from.

We are at St Mary’s sometimes our own little Anglican Communion and it is lovely.

Peter Elliott and his congregation in Vancouver showed me great kindness when I was travelling in North America on my sabbatical last year and it was a delight to have him here in Glasgow.

Peter and his husband Thomas were travelling to Iona in the company of other North American clergy who are heading off for a time of refreshment and renewal with one another and a few of them were around in St Mary’s on Sunday too.

The world of deans and rectors of larger churches is quite different in North America to the world of Provosts here in Scotland. Generally speaking, their world has far greater financial resources to draw on and it can be quite seductive. Not a few people have asked me since I returned, “ooh, aren’t you tempted?”

However, it is not simply a case of the grass being greener. Having travelled over there I know that quite well. Those who have roles equivalent to mine in ecclesiastical terms do some things the same and other things quite differently. Many, for example, on the other side of the Atlantic need to spend their time on fund raising in a way that would be unimaginable here. (Scheduling several fund-raising visits or lunches a week is not that unusual). I’ve learned that those jobs are very different to my own. Here in Scotland we tend to do things much more on the cheap. It is a very different fund-raising culture. That isn’t to say there are not important lessons to be learned from those on the other side of the pond on this topic, but things are very different.

Here in the UK though we have differently developed key skills. Not least, clergy here in larger places need to be very skilled at building a community where people want to serve and want to offer something. Helping people to offer their gifts is a core skill and not always one which we think about enough. If we have any expertise, it is in gathering a congregation that is so focussed on a vision of life-enhancing and world-renewing worship that they want to join in and collaborate in bringing that vision of the kingdom in.

It has its own excitement and yesterday at St Mary’s was one of those days where that excitement was tangible.