Bishop Edmond Browning, retired primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States, attended the farewell party for his friend, Michael Peers.
Niagara Falls, Ont.
In a long evening of tributes both live, videotaped and musical, delegates to General Synod and other distinguished guests bade farewell on May 30 to the outgoing primate, Archbishop Michael Peers.
The gala dinner event at a hotel several blocks from the Falls was opened by Dean Peter Wall of the diocese of Niagara, who referred to Archbishop Peers’ wife, Dorothy, when he joked that the 525 guests were there to honour “the obvious person – and Michael, too.”
Dean Wall then stepped back to join Canon William Cliff and Rev. David Pickett who, as the Three Cantors, have performed sacred and secular music for about eight years. In a playful spirit, using the tune of God Bless America, they sang “I am an Anglican/One step from Rome/I am high church, not low church …” They also entertained guests with hymns such as O Lord, Lead Me and popular classics such as As Time Goes By.
Master of ceremonies Canon Bryan Bjerring introduced a video tribute produced by Anglican Video, featuring advice from retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu (“Michael, throw away the diary for a little while and contemplate your navel!”) and some words from the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold (“It is with real reluctance that I say adieu. I need you up there at your telephone.”). The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said he and Archbishop Peers “shared a vision of what Anglicanism was.”
Among the guests attending the dinner were two retired primates – Archbishop Edward Scott of Canada, who said grace, and Bishop Edmond Browning of the United States.
Archbishop Peers’ pivotal role in achieving full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada was recalled by Telmor Sartison, retired national bishop of the ELCIC. “He was a door opener, not a door closer,” said Bishop Sartison, who urged Anglicans to be a church that opens doors.
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of the national church, hailed Archbishop Peers’ “profound commitment to the welfare of the church.” Archbishop David Crawley, the acting primate, praised his capacity for friendship. In his response, Archbishop Peers noted that the week marked the 45th anniversary of his ordination and reminisced about each of the 15 General Synods he attended. He obliquely referred to international pressure on the Canadian church regarding the blessing of same-sex unions, telling delegates that “this synod is the final authority in this province.”