William and Lydia

By on July 1, 2010

Dr. William Winter, a highly respected elder in Kingfisher Lake, Ont., had a dream many years ago of establishing a program for training indigenous people for ministry. The Dr. William Winter School of Ministry was established in 2003 and since then, many men and women have graduated for ministry in northern Ontario and Manitoba.William also had a vision that some day, one of his own people would be called and consecrated as their bishop. That vision was fulfilled on May 4 when Lydia Mamakwa was ordained as the area bishop for the region of northern Ontario in the diocese of Keewatin.The two-hour celebration of a new ministry was held in the school gymnasium and the whole community gathered to witness this wonderful and sacred moment.Elderly and in need of personal care, William was wheeled into the assembly. He was dressed in a white alb and was wearing his doctoral hood. His smile was as broad and gracious as ever I have seen. His hands reached out to young and old alike.William gathered the assembly in prayer and during the Litany for Ordination, he embraced Lydia, who is his granddaughter. Through the laying on of hands, we all prayed that the Spirit who had hovered over Lydia at the election would now be poured out, giving her grace and strength for the ministry to which she was called. At her commissioning as the area bishop, William was brought again to the front of the assembly. Lydia knelt down and he blessed her. It was so moving to hear his voice-so frail and yet so strong in spirit. He would utter a few sentences and then pause for breath. Then another few sentences and another pause. That rhythm went on until he finished praying. I shall never forget those moments.We saw a grandfather and his granddaughter, an elder and a new bishop. We saw love and blessing. We saw a vision realized, a dream come true, a prayer answered. We witnessed a historic moment in the deep desire of indigenous people for self-determination within the Anglican Church of Canada. May God bless William and all who care for him. May God bless Lydia and her ministry as a bishop. May God bless us all as we journey together in faith, hope and love. ΩArchbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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