Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Rector's Messages

Message Archive


Annual Report 2008


Each of us has our own particular role to play, in concert with others, as members of the Body of Christ in our parish. In the midst of all the activity here at St. James, I try and be mindful of my particular role as pastor and priest. My calling is to proclaim the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments of redemption, provide leadership for the parish as a caring community, and be a mentor to other members of the whole people of God in this place. Each of these things allow me to contribute to the stated mission of the Parish as a person in an order of ministry.


Proclaiming the Gospel takes place in many settings including Parish Council, committee work, in contact with organizations, and in the many conversations with individuals. I try in each instance to bring the values of the Gospel into those discussions. Teaching is a particular part of formally preaching the Gospel during our liturgies. Each week I strive to bridge the message and meaning of scripture with real concerns presented to us as people of faith in our times. At funeral liturgies I try and link the message of hope and consolation embedded in the readings with the lives of both those who have died and those who continue on their journey.


Celebrating the sacraments of redemption is at the core of priestly ministry. This past year I have made a modest increase in the ministry to folks preparing for baptism. The Sunday Eucharists require some planning before hand so that the sermon, children's talks and hymns coherently reflect the themes of the church year. It is also important the that Eucharist be celebrated in such a way that it is clearly understood to be the work of “the whole people”. Throughout the year there are many opportunities through Communion to the sick and shut-ins, and through the rite of anointing, to celebrate the sacraments of redemption as two or three are gathered around a hospital bed or a family's coffee table.

On January 4th of the current year, we welcomed our Diocesan bishop Sue Moxley, and her husband Bruce, for complete adult Christian initiation and the rite of confirmation. Confirmation instruction began in the fall of 2008. Carmon Stone provided excellent instruction for the candidates. I am indebted to The Rev. Lisa Vaughn of St. Timothy's Parish and their Alpha group who together with Carmon provided instruction for initiation to Kathryn Edgett. ( Pastor Lisa was also a guest preacher at St. James in June).


The past year I conducted 235 pastoral appointments in homes, hospitals, my office or other locations.


Many of these had a direct sacramental context. Others were times for counsel and prayer.


Mentoring others so that they may find ways of discovering and expressing their ministry as members of the whole people of God is an important part of being a pastor in today's church. I discover often in moving to affirm or support others in their tasks, that I myself come away feeling affirmed. There are so many ways that the people of St. James live out their calling to be the people of God. I could not mention them all in a single report . There is one group that I fear are sometimes overlooked in terms of what they contribute to our parish. They are the young people at St. James. The youth are not the largest segment in our parish, but they have an effective presence in our midst. Young people have a ministry in our Sunday school, both as students and assisting teachers, in the orchestra, in the Servers Guild, and in the Scouting programs of which the parish is a sponsor. The enthusiasm of the children during the weekly children's story provides an energetic exclamation mark for the 10:00 am liturgy. The children make a powerful contribution to the Christmas family service and to the Children's Good Friday liturgy. This year we will have an opportunity to experience the children in a single Good Friday service for all ages. Last year Maria Josey led a group of young people from within and beyond the parish for the 30 hour Famine. It was a privilege have Maria presented with the Duke of Edinburgh award during a Sunday service-- the location of her choice. During lent in 2008, several young people played for a series of Lenten vesper services. It's my intention to reprise an adapted version of the same this coming Lent. The theme of the children's stories during Lent was the “I am sayings” from John's Gospel. During the series the children, with the help of Colleen Day and Kate Hinchey Day, constructed an Easter banner for the sanctuary cross. It will adorn our sanctuary again this coming Easter Season. We welcomed the members of 1st Armdale Group for church parade on Remembrance Sunday and during “Thinking Week”. We have been increasing the role of the members of the group during church parades.


Our parish outreach budget is a kind of tithe on the part of the parish to those in need both near and far. We support the Halifax West Ecumenical Food Bank. A number of people whose lives are in disarray get a modest amount of emergency help via the discretionary fund. We support “Streetfeat”, the voice of the poor in Halifax, as an advertiser. The work of The Primate's Fund is actively supported. The Sunday school includes outreach endeavors in its program. The parish hall is used by some non profit organizations. A variety of outreach efforts characterized our observance of advent and Christmas. A crucial and essential component of the message of Christianity is about the kingdom of God—outreach is one of ways in which we actively express this message as disciples of Christ. The United Nations Millennium goals were the focus of the Lenten sermon series. The goals have been endorsed by the Anglican Church of Canada. There is a real correspondence between supporting the Goals and being a Gospel people.


A mini-training event for our servers was held in February. Gael Page has taken over co-ordinating the young people and adults of our servers guild. The ministry of Alice Hadley in that capacity in years previous is much appreciated. Alice continues to be an active server and Eucharistic minister.


After many years of faithful service and strong leadership, Audrey Li retired as Sunday School Superintendent. Her ministry was acknowledged during the Sunday school closing in May. Ken Francis and Rhiannon Morgan began sharing joint oversight of the Sunday school in September.


In order to remain effective as a priest and pastor, it is important to engage in continuing education.


In April I attended a one day preaching and scripture workshop sponsored by the Association of Professional Anglican Clergy. I attended the Nicholson Lectures at A.S.T. in the Spring and one of the MacKinnon Lectures last fall. I have been engaged in planning for a sabbatical leave in 2009. The Sabbatical leave will be of six to eight weeks in duration. The focus of study will be consideration of classic biblical stories for adults in the modern world.


Each of the activities and events noted above, yours and mine, are grounded in the Parish Mission Statement. Our Mission Statement is not an anchor to moor us to the past. It is a compass to guide us into the future. Our parish is changing. I note that the number of home communicants has increased this past holiday season. The Social club has reduced meetings to match the needs of its membership. We have had some active and gifted parishioners who have had to curtail their level of activity because of changing personal circumstances. Several parishioners have passed into the fullness of life, and are greatly missed. The Christmas family service continues to enjoy strong attendance, but there is a decline in the late service. We continue to enjoy the celebration of a goodly number of baptisms; but the sustained participation of young families in parish life is a big challenge. Significant attention has been paid to our buildings as they under go something of a “fifth decade” refit. However, new ventures are emerging as we move into that future to which God calls us. The Property and Finance Committees have been hard at work on the roof project and the Capital Campaign. A very significant amount of educational work has been done in the parish by The Stewardship Committee. It may be that the Faith, Worship, Development Committee will be merged with Stewardship in order to best utilize time and talent in building up the parish. An ad hoc Asset Development Committee has been set up to research possibilities for creative future development of our property. The baptism preparation program is being expanded. Some new social activities have taken root alongside some of the long standing ones.


I wish to conclude with a heart felt thank you to The wardens and Parish Council for all their leadership and hard work during the past year. Bill Li (warden) is stepping down after a very busy and demanding three year term. Appreciation is extended to Nancy Harlow who also stepped down as warden this past year. Thank You is extended to outgoing Council members Robin Calder, Lillian Dodge, Rod Glover, Catherine Too, and Richard Kirkey, the latter, as chair of Property Committee, had a very demanding tenure. I wish as well to extend my thanks and appreciation to the staff: Allen & Karen Simpson (printing/book-keeping), David Wilson (music director), Michael Hadley (custodian) and Betty Rice ( receptionist) together with some key volunteers not mentioned elsewhere: Sharon Stone ( now Sr. warden) Sarah Jane Raine ( treasurer), Hugh McGinn ( envelope secretary) as well as the members of the Altar Guild, Servers Guild, the team of Eucharistic ministers, choirs, orchestra, readers and sides people teams. We should acknowledge with thanksgiving the great opportunities for mission, education, and fellowship provided by The A.C.W., Mothers Union, and Social Club.


This June past I celebrated thirty years as an ordained priest of The Anglican Church of Canada. I have now spent one-third of that time here in the Parish of St. James, Armdale. Once again I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful anniversary celebration June past. Please know how much the ministry of the members of this parish make St. James the community it is. Every one who aspires to mentor others should have a mentor of their own. Thank you Canon David Boston for all your generous support as a colleague. As always, I want to note that as I complete another year as a minister of The Gospel, I could not do so without the support, encouragement and patience of my wife Wendy.

A very profound thank you to her for all that she is.


Respectfully submitted, The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis


Easter Attendance

Easter Vigil 35; 8:30 am 54; 10:00 am 275.

Christmas Attendance

4:00 pm 400+; 10:00 pm 88; 10:00 am 19