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Archdeacons, canon administrator appointed

by Stuart Mann

Four new archdeacons and a canon administrator have been appointed to assist the diocese’s bishops, regional deans and parishes with the administrative functions of episcopal ministry.

Archdeacon John Anderson, incumbent of St. James, Orillia, Archdeacon Theadore Hunt, incumbent of St. Stephen, Downsview, Archdeacon Steven Mackison, incumbent of Church of the Redeemer, Bloor St., Archdeacon Cheryl Palmer, incumbent of Christ Church, Deer Park and Canon Administrator Laura Walton, ODT, a member of Holy Trinity, Clearview, were appointed by Bishop Andrew Asbil in December. Their collation service was held yesterday at St. James Cathedral. It was held in-person and live streamed on the diocese’s YouTube channel.

The archdeacons and canon administrator have been assigned to five newly created archdeaconries. The archdeaconries, which are made up of contiguous deaneries, are called North, South, East, West and Central.

The new archdeacons and canon administrator gather at the chancel steps. Photos by Michael Hudson.

Archdeacon Anderson has been assigned to East, which comprises the deaneries of Durham-Northumberland, Oshawa and Peterborough. Archdeacon Hunt has been assigned to Central, which comprises the deaneries of Eglinton, Scarborough, York-Central and York Mills. Archdeacon Mackison has been assigned to West, which comprises the deaneries of Etobicoke-Humber, Mississauga, North Peel and Tecumseth. Archdeacon Palmer has been assigned to South, which comprises the deaneries of Parkdale-Toronto West, St. James and Toronto East. Canon Walton has been assigned to North, which comprises the deaneries of Holland, Huronia, Nottawasaga and Victoria-Haliburton.

Bishop Asbil will have episcopal oversight of Central while Bishop Riscylla Shaw will have episcopal oversight of East and North and Bishop Kevin Robertson will have episcopal oversight of South and West. The bishops will continue to be supported by their office and administrative assistants, and the regional deans will remain in place.

The archdeacons and canon administrator will serve one day per week or 20 per cent of their time in addition to their current ministry positions. Their term is for four years. They will support the bishops in administrative functions to free up the bishops to provide more pastoral ministry and teaching. Much of their work will be administrative tasks, including overseeing the work of area councils, holding deanery events and coordinating the work of regional deans and clergy. There may also be opportunities for archdeacons to represent the bishops at events like celebrations of new ministry in parishes.

The new archdeacons and canon administrator say they are delighted with their appointments.

“I am both humbled and delighted at the opportunity to serve the diocese and the Church in this new way,” says Archdeacon Hunt. “I look forward to meeting and getting to know so many others of my brothers and sisters across this great diocese. I recognize that to serve well in this role means that others will be set free to praise and to serve God in this Church and in one another; and so, with God’s help, that is very simply what I hope to do.” Ordained in the Diocese of the Bahamas, Archdeacon Hunt is a member of Synod Council, a Fresh Start facilitator, and a member of the Bishop’s Committee on Healing Ministries.

Bishop Andrew Asbil receives the Ven. Steven Mackison as archdeacon.

“I am grateful to be chosen to serve the diocese as one of the five new territorial archdeacons,” says Archdeacon Mackison. “I am excited about working with the College of Bishops and the other archdeacons and canon administrator in serving parishes. I look forward to making deeper connections and building stronger relationships through this ministry.” Archdeacon Mackison has served as a liturgical officer both in the Diocese of Toronto and his former Diocese of Montreal, and was chair of the Social Justice and Advocacy Board in Toronto, as well as an honorary clerical secretary of Synod.

“To be involved with the start of anything new is often exciting and energizing, and thus I would say that this appointment fills me with joy and a great sense of anticipation,” says Archdeacon Palmer. “But precisely because the whole endeavour of appointing territorial archdeacons and canon administrators is a new model for our diocese, I also have pangs of anxiety as a member of the first cohort. The reorganizing of the leadership structure could flourish or flounder because of our work.

“Simultaneously as I experience those feelings of joy, anticipation and anxiety, I am also humbled and honored to be considered someone suitable to walk alongside our bishops, as together we work to implement the diocesan vision.” Canon Palmer’s varied ministry roles have included hospital chaplaincy and cemetery management, and she has served the diocese on the Risk and Governance committee and was a long-serving member of the Postulancy Committee.

Canon Walton says she is “humbled but excited” by her appointment. “I think our Church is in a time of change as we continue to work through the world of COVID-19. The positions of archdeacon and canon administrator have an opportunity not only to support the College of Bishops but our parishes and their congregations in this time of change.” Canon Walton is the prolocutor of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. With a career in business administration and certification in mediation, bereavement and addictions counselling, she has served as an honorary lay secretary of Synod, as a member and planner of General Synod, and is on the diocese’s Diocesan Response Team.

“I am very thankful for my appointment as one of the new archdeacons,” says Archdeacon Anderson. “In many ways, my new colleagues and I are on the ground floor of developing a new administrative approach for the Diocese of Toronto. This comes as such an opportune time as we grow into a new vision for our diocese. I look forward to the challenges that await us.” Archdeacon Anderson is the diocese’s canon pastor. A former lawyer, he has served as a regional dean and on the diocese’s Governance Working Group and the Constitution and Canons Committee.

Friends and well-wishers exchange greetings after the service.

Bishop Asbil announced the new archdeacons and canon administrator in a letter to the diocese in December. “There are few things more exciting than watching a big project come to completion,” he wrote. “Last evening, at Synod Council, I was very pleased to make an announcement that concludes a piece of work that started over two and a half years ago.”

In 2020, Bishop Asbil created the Episcopal Leadership Working Group (ELWG) to consider moving the Diocese of Toronto from its 40-year-old system of one diocesan bishop with four suffragan bishops, each responsible for one of five (and later four) geographic episcopal areas. The ELWG eventually recommended a new model of shared episcopal oversight, with one diocesan bishop, the existing two suffragan bishops, and a number of territorial archdeacons or lay canon administrators, to assist the bishops, the regional deans and the parishes in the more administrative functions of episcopal ministry.

After due consultation through mid-2021, Bishop Asbil formed the Episcopal Leadership Implementation Team (ELIT) to bring this vision to reality. The ELIT defined the terms of reference for the new role, devised a recruitment, interviewing, selection and on-boarding plan for the successful candidates, and considered how the diocese might be parcelled into appropriate archdeaconries for the new model.

In his December letter, Bishop Asbil wrote that he was “full of thanksgiving and deep joy” for the gift of expanded and shared ministry in the diocese. “I want to express my deep gratitude to the members of the ELWG under the leadership of Canon Brian Armstrong and Ms. Susan Graham Walker ODT, and to the members of the ELIT, especially co-chairs the Rev. Canon Stephen Kirkegaard and Ms. Susan Abell ODT, and to all those who have brought us to this new day in the life of our diocese.”

A group photo after the service.