(This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of the Anglican Journal.)
As our church observes Jerusalem Sunday on May 17 (the Seventh Sunday of Easter), we will give special thanks to God for the ministry of Major the Rev. Canon John Organ, who has served as chaplain for Archbishop Suheil Dawani in Jerusalem for the past three years. To this ministry, John brought the experience of many years of service as a chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces. Well-grounded in the Anglican tradition, John is also deeply committed to ecumenical and interfaith relations. He has a passion for nurturing strong diplomatic relations and has been enormously helpful in this regard to Archbishop Suheil.
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. John has travelled extensively, sometimes accompanying the archbishop, sometimes representing him. On behalf of all the faithful in Christ, affectionately known as “the living stones,” John has welcomed many visitors to St. George’s Cathedral, College and Guesthouse, and helped them see their time there as pilgrimage. He has helped all of us to gain an appreciation for the priorities in the ministry of the diocese—hospitality, education, health care and reconciliation toward a lasting peace. He has been exceptionally supportive of Archbishop Suheil’s efforts to raise the profile of the diocese of Jerusalem in the wider Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Suheil has expressed deep gratitude for John’s ministry and for Irene’s as well. She has worked with the students at St. George’s School in Jerusalem. In their respective ways, John and Irene have represented our church and served the church there with such distinction and devotion as to make us all glad and grateful.
I am convinced that their face-to-face, heart-to-heart, hand-in-hand ministry has done more than we could have asked or imagined in strengthening the ties between our church and the church in the land of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.
In our resolve to be steadfast in this companionship, we will surely be enriched by the learnings and insights John and Irene have to share.
In the meantime, we happily say, “Well done, good and faithful servants. Welcome home.” ?
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.