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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! A change in the calendar can bring fresh hope, dreams and aspirations, determined resolutions, and opportunities for new beginnings.

As I write this, the Very Rev. Dr. Stephen Hance is en route to arrive in our Diocese this very day, to take up his new responsibilities as Dean of Toronto and Rector of St. James Cathedral, starting with his service of installation on Sunday. Dean Stephen and his wife Jacqui are coming to us from the Church of England, where he has been serving as national lead for evangelism and witness, and before that as the Dean of Derby. He brings with him a wealth of experience not only as a dean but as a canon missioner and director of mission and evangelism in the Diocese of Southwark. We have so much to learn from him, and I couldn’t be more excited about his arrival.

In other dioceses, particularly those with only one bishop and a small staff, the dean is often the “right-hand person” to the bishop and takes a strong lead in the life of the Church. I’m hoping that the giftedness of Dean Stephen can be used in our Diocese in exciting new ways. I have already invited him to be the preacher at next week’s installation of canons service, and he has agreed to be the speaker at this year’s Clergy Pre-Lenten Day on Feb. 6.

My wife Mary and I think of my short but happy time as Dean of Toronto as a true privilege. I know first-hand some of the challenges that Dean Stephen is going to encounter in this ministry, but also the tremendous opportunities and deep joys ahead. I’m grateful to our previous Dean, Stephen Vail, and Interim Dean, Peter Wall, who served us during the recent challenging chapters of the pandemic and post-pandemic years. I well know that their leadership has laid the foundations for Dean Stephen Hance’s taking the cathedral community and our Diocese into the future, from strength to strength.

The cathedra (Latin for bishop’s seat) serves as the central church in our Diocese. In our current understanding of our diocesan “net,” St. James can be thought of as the centre knot in the connectedness. We can all feel a link to our cathedral and can work and pray for the flourishing of St. James, that it will be a faithful community of Jesus Christ, a light in the city of Toronto, and a leader in the Diocese: a place that every Anglican can call home.

The installation on Sunday is a family affair for the whole Diocese, and I invite you to be a part of it. Some of you will be present in person for the service at 4:30 p.m., and others may want to watch the livestream. Whether you’re with us or not, I ask your prayers for Dean Stephen and Jacqui Hance, and for our Cathedral Church of St. James, its mission and ministry in our Diocese, and for all of us in this new year of Grace.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto