Four Anglicans have been named to receive the Anglican Award of Merit, the Anglican Church of Canada’s highest honour for lay people who have demonstrated exemplary service to the church at the national level.
General Secretary Archdeacon Alan Perry, who serves as warden of the Anglican Award of Merit Committee, announced the recipients to Council of General Synod on March 4. The four awarded are Canon (Lay) Donna Bomberry, George Cadman, Elizabeth Hutchinson and Dion Lewis.
Bomberry served as chair of the Council of Native Ministries, now known as the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), from 1985 to 1994. After two years as a staff member for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, she worked as Indigenous Ministries coordinator from 1995 until her retirement in 2011.
Since then, Bomberry has continued to work as a volunteer for ACIP and Sacred Circle in helping establish the self-determining Indigenous church and in 2019 was among a small group named to represent ACIP for the first time at General Synod. Internationally, she has served with the Anglican Indigenous Network, including a stint as secretary general from 2009 to 2011, and with the International Anglican Women’s Network.
Bomberry says she was surprised to see the email from Perry informing her she had received the Anglican Award of Merit, wondering who put her name in, and shared the message first with her son and granddaughters who were with her.
“What an honour it is to be recognized in this way,” Bomberry says. “I was just happy to be doing the work, meeting the people and for the travel, adventures and learning about myself in the process.”
Meeting and learning from Indigenous Christians and the church community in Canada and the Anglican Communion have been enriching and life-building for me and have been reward enough.”
George Cadman, a litigation lawyer, has been chancellor of the diocese of New Westminster since 1988. Perry said Cadman’s service as chancellor “has had particular impact on the church at the national level, in establishing the means to defend against lawsuits from dissident groups attempting to claim ownership of the parish properties.” The general secretary cited lawsuits filed in the early 2000s against the diocese of New Westminster, with decisions that produced “successful outcomes” for the church in subsequent litigation in other dioceses.
Perry further highlighted Cadman’s contributions at gatherings of chancellors from across the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as his role in negotiating financial compensation to redress historic sexual abuse in the Japanese Canadian community by Anglican priest Gordon Nakayama, who died in 1995. “In so doing, [Cadman] ensured care and concern for the community while also seeking healing for the harms caused,” Perry said.
Cadman says of his reaction to receiving the Anglican Award of Merit: “The two words that come to mind are ‘unexpected’ and ‘humbled.’”
Elizabeth Hutchinson’s work in the church goes back to the 1950s in the Church of South India, a union of various Protestant denominations. As a British student in India, she was active in the Student Christian Movement as well as the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, a non-profit organization in Bangalore.
In the Anglican Church of Canada, Hutchinson served as a member of General Synod numerous times, chairing the worship subcommittee and serving on the Faith, Worship and Ministry (FWM) committee. She participated in the World Council of Churches meeting in Zimbabwe in 1998. Perry said Hutchinson “served for many years promoting the economic and social well-being of women at the diocesan, provincial, national and international levels, including a term as the president of the National Council of Women of Canada.”
Currently a member of Grace Anglican Church, Arundel in Quebec, Hutchinson says she was “impressed and touched” to receive the award. “I feel definitely, really honoured by it,” she says, adding that she looked forward to telling her sister and brother in Britain.
Dion Lewis has served as a member of General Synod and for two terms as a member of CoGS, serving on the FWM, Communications and Information Resources committees as well as the Anglican Journal board of directors. He is currently parish cantor at the Church of All Saints by the Lake in Dorval, Que. Perry highlighted Lewis’s ecumenical work, particularly in music ministry.
Lewis says he was shocked to read the email saying he had received the Anglican Award of Merit, double-checking that the email address was correct. He cried out the news to his partner and, he recalls, “mumbled a prayer of thanks.”
“I am so humbled,” Lewis says. “It is such an honour to be recognized for this award.” He adds that he wants to be “a catalyst that encourages the good.”
The Anglican Award of Merit was first presented in 1986 and was awarded annually in its early years. Since 1994, it has been granted at the last CoGS meeting before General Synod.
Each recipient will be presented with the award in their respective diocese.