Primate installed amid pageantry and ceremony

Published June 26, 2007

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, gives his blessing at a service where he was installed as the new primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. In the background is his predecessor, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison.


In an inner-city church that symbolized the diversity of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Frederick James Hiltz was installed on June 25 as the 13th primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and national archbishop.

“Overwhelmed and humbled by the selection, I enter into this ministry saying, ‘I will, with God’s help,'” said Archbishop Hiltz in an address to the church.

St. Matthew’s church was filled with about 400 General Synod delegates, bishops, and representatives of Christian denominations and other faiths. Festive bunches of multi-coloured balloons were added to the church’s decorations of an aboriginal blanket and banners that read The People of God: Faces, Not Races and May the Streets of our Community Be Holy Ground Beneath Our Feet.

To the soaring sounds of pipe organ, trumpet and choir, bishops, dignitaries and guests entered the church preceded by young people waving silk banners of purple, red, gold and silver.

Plants sacred to native peoples – sweetgrass, tobacco, cedar and sage – burned by the church entrance in a purification rite. The service began with aboriginal drumming and chanting. It also included a celebratory dance and song by the Dinka Youth Group, members of a Sudanese congregation that meets at St. Matthew – one of four diverse worship groups.

In his address, Archbishop Hiltz mentioned the most contentious issue of the just-concluded seven-day meeting, saying that some would see synod’s refusal to allow blessing of same-sex relationships as a rejection of synod’s motto: Draw the Circle Wide. “Others will see it as drawing the circle wider as we discern the need for more study,” he said. He counseled wise use of the church’s theological resources “so we may be known as an inclusive church.”

International guests included the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the secretary general of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, both of whom presented Archbishop Hiltz with symbols of the communion. The newly-elected national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Susan Johnson, presented a gift on behalf of Christian churches in ecumenical partnership. Jewish and Muslim representatives presented gifts that symbolized service to the “God of the family of Abraham.”

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, during his homily, advised, “Archbishop Fred, just be yourself. Whatever people expect, be yourself. God is calling you to loiter with intent at the crossroads.”

He added, “If you stand out in a crowd you are being carried on the shoulders of others. Maintain your passion for God and his world. See opportunities for the positive engagement of love. Nothing can shut God up when he decides to call.”

Archbishop Hiltz expressed appreciation for the many messages of congratulations and prayer he has received since his election on June 22 and especially thanked his wife, Lynne Samways Hiltz “for standing by me and for her love and support.”

He also said he was glad the liturgy was in the style of a celebration of new ministry. “It is not just about me but about all of us. I pray this will set the tone for our years together,” he said.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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