The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

Ordination Dates:

Deacon: 18 May 1979
Priest: 18 May, 1980
Bishop: 12 February, 1994

Age: 64 years

Academic Background and 3 most important Professional Qualifications

B.A. (Hons) from Trinity College, University of Toronto
M. Div. from Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, USA
M. Th. from Trinity College, Toronto School of Theology
D.D. from Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, USA
Member of numerous national committees for the Anglican Church of Canada; Founding Chair of the Primate’s Theological Committee; member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission of Unity Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion.

Parish Placements and Ministry History

1979-1983 Church of St Andrew, Scarborough, Diocese of Toronto
1983-1987 Parish of Georgina, Diocese of Toronto
1988-1994 Parish of All Souls and 1992-1994 Regional Dean of York Mills Deanery
1994-1997 Area Bishop of Credit Valley in Diocese of Toronto
1997-2007 Diocesan Bishop of Edmonton, Alberta.
2008 (4 months) Bishop in Residence at Wycliffe College, Toronto
2008-2018 Diocesan Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand

Describe your spiritual journey and your prayer life:

My deep commitment to serve God in Christ through the power of the Spirit, as an ordained minister of the Gospel is fruit born of my baptism, Christian formation and daily worship in an Anglican School; confirmation and a vocational experience in my teenage years when I believe I was called to priesthood, although the ordination of women to the priesthood would not happen in the Canadian Anglican Church for another 7 years.  As an undergraduate I re-discovered my Anglo-Catholic roots and I became committed to regular attendance at the Eucharist.  I also developed the discipline of reading theology that further formed me as a disciple of Christ.  My intellectual interests and my devotional life are yoked. Assisting this greatly was the mentorship of Bishop Henry Hill and being a companion of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd.  At present I am committed to meditation and the daily offices; I read widely and I am committed to fostering the prayer life and Christian journey of those who work alongside me. 

Other formative influences have been Taizé; walking the Camino; and personal retreats.

What is the most significant leadership role you have played in your Diocese?  What was your role and how did it contribute to your development and the mission of the Church?

The experience of major earthquakes and aftershocks from late 2010 to early 2015 demanded regular contact with the local, regional and central Government.  The earthquakes also required me to engage with the national and international media on a daily basis early on and has kept me as a recognized media presence.  When the controversy about the Christchurch Cathedral in the Square became a national focus; when we built and opened the Transitional Cathedral; when a recovery process for 234 damaged or destroyed buildings was needed, I was required to participate in insurance negotiations; community consultation; and the pastoral care of the many people who had lost their homes and businesses.  I accompanied families into the cordoned-off red zoned central city so families could see where their loved ones had died on 22 February 2011.

Apart from the earthquakes, floods and fires that have impacted this Diocese since 2010, I  also significantly supported the ‘greening of the Diocese of Christchurch’ which has been recognized as a leader in the formation of young people as disciples of Christ, and in the raising up of young leaders.  I have spoken out about the need for exemplary theological education and championed the best church based research action regarding Social Justice (Slavery on the seas; social housing crisis; tenancy concerns; the dire state of women and girls locally and nationally with respect to sexual harassment and abuse; prison reform; and the need for housing and health care for vulnerable youth in Christchurch).

What is the most significant challenge you have faced as a priest or bishop to date?  How did you address that challenge?

The most significant challenge has been becoming the focus of an attack about the reinstatement of the Christchurch Cathedral in the Square.  I chose to address this as a pastoral matter caused by the pain and grief over the extraordinary loss suffered across the city and country.  I believe it was resolved in September 2017 by a decision agreed to by all parties, although not surprisingly the matter of financial commitment to the reinstatement of the Cathedral in the Square is still somewhat disputed.

Describe what you intend to do in your first 100 days as the Diocesan Bishop (between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2019) to address the vision of the Diocese of Toronto and Growing in Christ, the strategic plan?

I would, alongside the appropriate area bishop, visit and form alliances with the Provincial and area political and community leaders.  If there is no relationship formed early on, there will be no partnership later.  I would also immediately begin to address what is happening in terms of outreach and discipleship training with youth.  Having acquainted myself with the social justice leaders of the Diocese I would encourage a more public voice.  I would seek to better understand where evangelism is, and is not, happening and where else it needs to be developed and encouraged across the Diocese.  I write this assuming that by 1 January 2019 I will have developed an excellent and productive relationship with the area bishops and other key leaders in the Diocese and would seek in all matters to delegate authority appropriately away from the centre.  It will be very important to raise up able and skilled leaders to assume the mantle as Diocesan Bishop before too long.  That process would start immediately.  

Given the realities of numeric decline in congregational participation and the need to steward our resources (including people and capital resources), how would you address the present situation?  What do you see as the future of an Anglican presence in the geographic area of the Diocese?

 I know that urban parishes function very differently from rural parishes.  So there would be very different strategies for the various parts of the Diocese although each process would require extensive consultation and teamwork. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 2.2, I would seek to encourage a culture of discipleship that makes disciples who make disciples.   I would endeavor in all matters (property and financial) to be a prudent trustee.

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