An already innovative partnership linking two parts of the Anglican Church of Canada has added a new, high-tech wrinkle. A covenant that has linked the diocese of Montreal with a group of British Columbia parishes called the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) was renewed for a second five-year term with the help of a Skype link.
A priest and three laywomen from APCI came to the annual synod of the Montreal diocese on Oct. 19 to sign the renewal document for the covenant. But Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal and Bishop Barbara Andrews, responsible for APCI parishes-along with delegates to the synod and participants in an APCI gathering for lay eucharistic ministers in 100 Mile House-were able to exchange greetings and waves face-to-face, thanks to screens set up at the two gatherings and a Skype link reaching 4,430 kilometres.
The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior was created by the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon after the diocese of Cariboo, which had occupied the same 168,350 square kilometres with its see in Kamloops, ceased to operate in 2001 because of financial pressures related to the residential schools crisis.
In October 2008, Bishop Clarke and Bishop Gordon Light, then responsible for APCI on behalf of the ecclesiastical province, signed a covenant of partnership for mutual support and the strengthening of mission in the two areas.
The new bishop for APCI, Barbara Andrews, paid her first visit to Montreal as a bishop in 2010. A crozier for the APCI bishop was commissioned by the diocese of Montreal and presented the next year.
Over the five years of the covenant, bishops, top clergy and committee members have visited back and forth; parishes from each area were added to the other’s prayer lists; APCI clergy have led two lay readers’ retreats in the Montreal diocese; and there have been youth exchanges, particularly a visit by seven “Youth Ambassadors” from Montreal to APCI in 2012.
“As a result of our face-to-face meetings in Montreal and in APCI, we have reached a comfortable level of intimacy and comradeship in our increasingly frequent correspondence and dialogue,” said Susan Winn, a lay leader in Montreal who represented her diocese at the APCI Assembly in Kamloops in 2011. “We see ourselves as equal partners, striving to achieve the aims of our original agreement of 2008.”
The covenant was signed on behalf of the two bishops by the heads of the two partnership committees, Capt. The Rev. Isabel Healy-Morrow of APCI, a parish priest and reserve army chaplain, and Penny Noël of Montreal.
Speaking at the Montreal synod, Andrea Mann, global relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, praised the effort: “You are leaders in life-giving partnerships.”
Harvey Shepherd is editor of The Montreal Anglican, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal.