Archdeacon Helen Kennedy has been elected the 13th bishop of the diocese of Qu’Appelle in southern Saskatchewan, winning on the second ballot at an episcopal election Oct. 17.
Previously rector at St. George’s Anglican Parish (Transcona) in Winnipeg, Kennedy takes over as bishop from Rob Hardwick, who retired on July 31. Other candidates in the election included the Rev. Kyle Norman and the Rev. Ali Tote.
Kennedy described herself as “excited and terrified” upon learning that she had been voted the new bishop of Qu’Appelle.
“I think it’s a good thing for me,” the bishop-elect said. “I felt as though I needed a bit more of a challenge, and I guess I got it, because this is going to be a challenge.”
Key issues facing the diocese, she said, will be the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the church’s relationship with Indigenous communities following discoveries of unmarked graves in residential school sites across Canada.
“We’re hopefully coming out of COVID, [but] Saskatchewan is not coming out quite so well as Manitoba has or is,” Kennedy said. “How are we staying connected and how are we maintaining a life of community when isolation is what we’re being asked to do?
“The second [challenge] obviously is Indigenous residential schools and that tragedy that continues to unfold, and how that impacts the church and the relationship with Indigenous folks.”
Originally from England, Kennedy moved to Canada in 1999 and lived in Winnipeg until her election as bishop. She earned theology degrees at the University of Winnipeg and Canadian Mennonite University and was ordained in 2007, beginning her service in November as a parish priest in St. George’s Parish.
The bishop-elect said her time living and preaching in Transcona, a small suburb of Winnipeg, helped prepare her to focus on supporting rural ministry in Qu’Appelle. The diocese has three urban parishes in Regina, compared to 49 parishes outside the city.
“I’m going to be on the road a lot and figuring out how to support rural parishes as they are struggling to maintain themselves,” she said. “Within Manitoba, I’ve been to services in rural churches. You see the declining population where there are five people in the church, and they’re desperate to keep it open.”
“Although I live in the city … I do know a little bit about rural [ministry], because I live in a little town which happens to be in Winnipeg,” she added. “The sense of community that that small area has is extremely deep.”
Kennedy’s consecration as bishop is planned for Jan. 22.
Congratulations, blessings and prayers for Kennedy poured in on social media as she prepared to take up her new office in Saskatchewan.
“I went to St. George’s as a student and I leave as a bishop,” she said. “So I think that’s going to be a very hard transition, because this community has become family and is home … But it’s a new and wide horizon that I venture into, and I do it with God’s help.”