Archbishop Barry Curtis closed the 62nd Synod of the Diocese of Calgary by saying he will retire June 30, 1999. “After 40 years of active ministry, it is time for me to retire,” he said.
The archbishop has also tendered his resignation as metropolitan of Rupert’s Land.
The news was greeted with surprise, some tears – and a great many hugs.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for serving Christ,” Archbishop Curtis told the gathering, “and I pray for this diocese, as I do every day, to take courage: don’t be intimidated by anyone. God will help this diocese become everything it can be.”
Dean of Calgary, Robert Pynn will act as senior diocesan administrator after the archbishop steps down and until a new bishop is elected, possibly next October or November.
Most archbishops retire at 65, Archbishop Curtis said in an interview. He reached that milestone last June but “I just wasn’t ready to retire then.”
Archbishop Curtis was ordained to the diaconate in 1958 in Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral. He was ordained a priest the next year in Smiths Falls, Ont., was named bishop of Calgary in 1983 and became archbishop and metropolitan in 1994.
High points of his tenure include the diocesan centennial celebration at the Jubilee Auditorium, and the signing of Covenant ‘96 between the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches.
The archbishop hesitated to name a low point then said, “One of the difficulties is that all bishops are former parish clergy. I was hopelessly naive – it did not occur to me how much time bishops spend settling parish fights.”
It’s a sign of the times, he said. “The church as a whole is wracked with controversy over homosexuality, over liturgy, over hymn books. We expend so much energy debating this – and it puts a poor, an unappealing public face on the church.”
Bill Hart is editor of the Calgary diocesan newspaper, the Sower.