Primate pays tribute to ‘a great, great person’

Published April 1, 1999

ROBIN GIBSON was “not just able and competent, but a great, great person. He was among the most distinguished thinkers in the development scene in Canada.” That assessment of Mr. Gibson, late director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, by a colleague at the Canadian International Development Agency, was part of the celebration of Mr. Gibson’s life at a eucharist in Church House in late January. Mr. Gibson died after a long battle with cancer Dec. 27. “The same competence and creativity, the same discipline and determination, the same wry humour and open heart, the same grace and grit, which were such a gift to us all and to the work to which he set his hand, were also a resource to him in the last weeks of his struggle,” said Primate Michael Peers in his homily. Archbishop Peers also spoke of touching and holding, referring to the way people in the weeks before Mr. Gibson’s death would touch and hold him in order to share life with him. There were many people “far away whose prayers and spirited touch were real to [Mr. Gibson],” added Archbishop Peers. He picked up on the theme in referring to receiving the bread in the eucharist Archbishop Peers recalled that many staff were at Church House for the Christmas Eve service when “we reflected on this bread, this house of bread, this Beth-lehem as strength for the journey.” The Primate used the same words – strength for the journey – later in the day when he took the sacrament to Mr. Gibson and his family at home. Archbishop Peers referred to the service at Church House as a threefold celebration of the community, Mr. Gibson and God. All three “come together in this powerful word of God – ‘I am the Bread’ – not just any bread, but the Bread of Life.” “No wonder they said to Jesus – ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread.'”Archbishop Peers noted that the Primate’s Fund “establishes networks for one purpose: to serve justice. [But] they serve another purpose, equally deep and serious,” he added, “the sharing of life among its own members.” The Primate also spoke about God’s love in Jesus, who says in the Gospel that everything is returned to the Father, that no one is turned away. “Robin is in the hands of God – not only loving and cherishing hands but shaping and moulding hands,” said Archbishop Peers. “Nothing is wasted, nothing is lost in the everlasting purpose of God.”


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