Skip To Content

Nominees respond to questions

As part of the discernment process for our upcoming Electoral Synod, the Nominations Committee has created a Facebook group for nominees to answer questions. Discussion opened at 10 a.m. on May 22 and will close at 4:30 p.m. on May 31. The nominees’ participation in this group is completely voluntary.

Two questions developed by the Nominations Committee were posted on May 22, and two questions were posted on May 28. Below are the nominees’ answers. They have not been edited.

Jump to:

Q1: How would you engage in conversation with a parish about a potential amalgamation or closure?

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

With openness, directness and a strong sense of possibility.

I lead with the principle of “adaptive leadership” whereby a group of people are given space, safety and encouragement to grapple honestly and faithfully with the challenges which are before them. The leader’s responsibility is to open up the space for discernment, to create a culture of trust and openness, and to help the community envision the possibilities for its future.

As an amateur historian of the diocese, I know that parishes opening and closing is nothing new. It has always been such. The parish in which I was baptized (St Judes’, Roncesvalles) closed many years ago, and I know its closing brought pain and loss for my family. But I also know that its closing led to new life at St Judes’, Brampton. As the incumbent of St. Thomas’, Brooklin when we built new worship and program space, I know this was only possible because of the generosity of funds from parishes which has lived life faithfully and had closed.

Possibility. I see, for example, in the Church of St. Martha & St Mary in Toronto a wonderful model where four parishes have come together to make something stronger AND where an exciting possibility remains to redevelop their site on Lawrence Avenue for affordable housing, refugee resettlement and other vital community needs.

In the midst of life we are in death. And, in the midst of death we are in life. Closures and amalgamations will always bring loss; we must not deny that. But they can also bring exciting possibilities. And I believe that the people of this diocese, lay and ordained, have the gifts, skills and vision to imagine those possibilities. And to act.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

I have had quite a lot of experience with amalgamations in the Diocese of Christchurch NZ so I will answer the question by describing my experience rather than imagining a future action. In the city of Timaru, in South Canterbury, one small parish with two church buildings requested amalgamation with another parish, with one church building and a large hall, after they had met together numerous times, especially for working bees, and the clergy and some lay folk had gathered to pray morning prayer together three times a week for a year. Gradually there came the realisation that one strong parish would be the best way forward. A similar amalgamation happened further south in the Diocese when three Anglican parishes amalgamated along with the rural Presbyterian parishes into one Waimate Regional Co-operating Venture.

However, the question of amalgamations in the city of Christchurch was a more complex matter and needed addressing. I began by asking parishes across the Diocese to speak with each other about possible amalgamations. It was widely agreed upon that after the earthquakes we should not reinstate every damaged church but of course, most people believe that it was not their parish church that should be sacrificed. I explained it was not about matching theologies but seeking to find ways of making parishes stronger. Conversations happened but there was an understandable reluctance. Diocesan staff were made available to assist the process by facilitating meetings but still, there was great hesitation. Then at Synod, I announced that there would be a working group to offer advice about possible amalgamations across the city. Nominations for the membership were sought and a group was appointed. There was a tight timeline and the group, chaired by the Archdeacon for Mission, worked very hard indeed, visiting every parish and engaging in conversation about the parish’s sense of mission. A report was published which was bold and far-reaching. Area preSynod meetings were held and robust debate ensued. Synod was also highly engaged and there was a lot of criticism of the report. I offered my deep appreciation to the members of the working group because the working group had achieved exactly what I had requested. They had provided one way forward. I also acknowledged that there was an abundant criticism of the report so I was now asking the archdeacons (their role in Christchurch is similar to Regional Deans in Toronto) to visit every parish and with a recorder present, to receive the opinions of every parish. This was then fed back to the parish to make sure the recorded response was correct. Again this was a major effort but worth every minute of the time and energy spent. When all that was done I asked the parishes yet again what they thought needed to happen and invited them to engage in conversations with each other. This time they did engage and parishes began to request amalgamations. A Bill about the process for amalgamations was passed at Synod and it provided certain guarantees. For example, no clergy person or full time lay staff would lose a position in the diocese because of the amalgamation. There would be a trial period during which time there would be a transitional priest in charge and a transitional team. Parishes could only exit the transitional period with by resolution of Synod and the support of Standing Committee (Executive Council equivalent). In other words, there were many checks and balances and the process served us very well. A number of amalgamations happened with good results. The clergy who moved to another parish after the parishes moved out of the transitional phrase have settled well and in some cases, the finances to support a second priest were diverted to support a full-time theologically trained children’s and youth lay worker. I believe the amalgamations and the process we followed, made the Diocese both stronger and more collegial.

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw

  1. Bishops don’t close churches
  2. encourage people to tell their story, listen with respect & humility
  3. with gratitude, acknowledge grief and death, and the possibilities they allow us in our relationship with Christ
  4. urge the parish to study the book of Acts together, to hear the call to engage in missional ministry & evangelism
  5. utilize Diocesan staff and resources to strategically plan and assist
  6. pray, reflect & dream together
  7. offer prophetic vision as it is revealed to me – invite parish to catch the Spirit of that vision for their engagement with the Word and with the people of God in their communities

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

Over the past year and half as an area bishop, I have been engaged in several conversations with parishes about viability. In each case, it has been important to visit the parish personally for an open forum with the congregation. In those gatherings, I have invited people of the parish and the wider community to tell stories of the past, including the “glory days”, and to share honestly their hopes and fears about the future.

I have also brought with me the support of our capable staff and volunteers, who have been able to share key data about parish history, demographic shifts, attendance patterns, and financial information. I have learned that these conversations take time, and that this initial congregational meeting is just the beginning of a process that must be filled with prayer and a commitment to actively listen to the Spirit’s leading. What follows is the assignment of a coach to walk alongside the parish as it discerns options, and the appointment of a priest-in-charge who is skilled in the pastoral care of those in transition.

In these conversations, I would continue to uphold models of successful reconfiguration within our Diocese. One of the great success stories of the past few years has been the amalgamation of the parish of St. Peter, Carlton Street and the parish of St. Simon the Apostle. The collaborative efforts of the clergy, lay leaders, diocesan staff and coaches, and the former area bishop, were instrumental to the realization of this collective vision. The new parish retains some of the distinctive qualities of each of the former congregations, as it is also being grafted into a new community, full of hope.

Our new strategic plan, “Growing in Christ”, calls us to be better stewards of our resources. This means taking risks, and making bold and courageous decisions. Our ongoing conversations about amalgamation, closure and reconfiguration must be hope-filled as we trust that God’s power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

Conversations with parishes about potential amalgamations or closures are challenging and often painful, but are also opportunities to discern where the God of mission is calling us. A Bishop is a broker for mission – bringing together resources and mission opportunities.

As an Area Bishop I have been part of conversations with parishes about possible reconfigurations, and I always begin such conversations with intentional times of prayer. Prayer is essential as we are seeking God’s will for the future of Anglican ministry in the context of a parish that might be amalgamating or closing. In those times of prayer – both in open forums, where I have been present, or in smaller focus groups – we have thanked God for all the blessings of the past, been honest with God about our fears and disappointments, and then asked God to make clear for us what future we are being called to. I have found that prayer is essential to walking pastorally with a congregation in a time of grief and discernment.

Alongside that time of prayer and spiritual discernment, I have then brought to bear the considerable resources of our Diocesan staff and skilled volunteers. They come alongside parishes to share information about demographic trends and what we are learning from other amalgamations, and to outline healthy processes for moving forward. Finding the right coach to come alongside a parish is important, and I have worked closely with the coach and key lay leaders as the parish discerns its future options. I believe that even if an individual parish does close or move to amalgamate, that does not automatically mean that we should sell the property, as there very well may be opportunities in the future, as demographics shift, to use that property again for Anglican mission and ministry. We must think long-term while acting decisively now.

One fruitful amalgamation already mentioned on this thread is that of St. Mary and St. Martha. It has been a joy to work closely with the Board of Management of this amalgamated parish to navigate the ongoing pastoral challenges of blending four congregations into one, while thinking strategically – and with a mission-focused mindset – about how we are going to re-develop the two properties that remain, in ways that are financially sustainable and life-giving to the neighborhood.

The history of the Church has always been one of decline and renewal, decline and renewal, and since now is no different, we must keep our eyes on the horizon of ministry for future generations. As we make difficult and yet hopeful decisions about the stewardship of the resources that God has entrusted to us, we can be confident that we have been given everything we need to do God’s will at this time and in this place.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

My first inclination is to learn the narrative of the parish or parishes. I would start in the archives to read about how the community has recorded its history. By reading old vestry reports, council minutes, and historical records one begins to hear themes of success, hardship, faith, ministry. I would want to know who has served as incumbents, lay readers, deacons, music directors and lay leaders over the years. Have the communities been blessed with able and long leadership or have there been many transitions. In the same way, I would learn about the village, the town or the part of the city where the parish is situated to understand how the Church has played a part in the life of the wider community.

It is important to know the history of a place or places. We sometimes assume that geography and close proximity of parishes makes it a simple and obvious task in bringing parishes together, but we forget that long ago a split in one congregation or a difference in piety led to the formation of the other congregation. Sometimes one small community would dare not even dream of amalgamating with a neighbouring community because the towns have long held rivalries that are not just expressed in the hockey arena or on town council.

I would approach a conversation about amalgamation or closure with an openness and sensitivity knowing that a parish or parishes were struggling financially, with shrinking numbers, that their future was less about thriving and more about barely surviving. I would want to spend time with the incumbent and lay leaders to listen to their own experience of ministry in the place; the successes, the hardships, the pride, the ministry that has made a difference. I would want them to tell their history and then speak about their future. When they imagine a future is it with deep sighs of worry and heaviness? Is it with anxiety or excitement? Do they have a vision of a ministry steeped in a faith in Jesus Christ? Do they have hope?

I would want to paint a picture of reality mingled with possibility. I would want to talk about financial anxieties, assuming that not everybody is privy to the realities facing the community. I would want to speak plainly; if we keep everything the same, if we just keep doing what we are doing now, how much longer can we keep going? Is this the future that God imagines for us here? Sober talk shared with love is holy conversation. At the same time, I would want to speak about possibilities for the future…what if we let go of this place and imagined moving with the folks from a neighbouring community, what would that be like? What would it be like for us to worship together, serve together? What name would we give ourselves? What would we need to take with us that would honour our history while helping us move into the future?

I would want these conversations to take time. Slow everything down so that the community or communities have time to listen to each other, to listen for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to build trust and with grace to move.

Q2: Can you share a moment or event when you laughed at yourself?

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

Playing duplicate bridge once a week is one of my hobbies which keeps me balanced and healthy. A while back I “doubled my partner”. Bridge players will know right away that this is entirely out of order. For those who don’t play, it means “Partner, there’s no way you are going to make that contract.” It isn’t done!

Well, the Director was called and I had to fess up to this never-seen-before call. All I could do was laugh and myself, as others laughed with (at?) me.

There’s such freedom in being wrong!

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

When I was approached to allow my name to be nominated for the position of Bishop for the Diocese of Christchurch, I laughed and said, “Certainly but being elected to a diocese in Aotearoa New Zealand, sight unseen, is simply not going to happen. That would require the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit!” When the phone rang and I was told I had been elected, (the correct word is nominated as the diocesan vote requires the confirmation of the General Synod), I again laughed and said, “Well, the joke is on me, that’s for sure”. I hope and pray I am even more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit now.

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw

we had a variety show at church a few years ago, and I really wanted to participate – so, with my 11 year old son on harmonicas (key of C and key of D flat ), my husband on guitar and our choir director on piano, I sang one of my all-time favourites “Easy (like Sunday Morning)” by Lionel Richie

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

When I was a young priest, I was asked to attend the Bishop’s Company Dinner to accompany the Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic. My job was to introduce the Cardinal to other guests, and then to sit with him at dinner and make pleasant conversation. When the day arrived, I was determined to make a good impression; I wore my best suit and made sure I knew how the Cardinal liked his scotch. Everything went very smoothly, and I was feeling rather pleased with myself. But then, about halfway through the dinner, I suddenly realized that I was drinking from the Cardinal’s water glass. I’m sure he realized it too, but he was far too polite to say anything. I was mortified. Looking back on that night twenty years later, I laugh at my own pride, and also at how the small stuff sometimes seems so big in the moment. In hindsight, it may have been one of the rare occasions that an Anglican priest shared a common cup with a Roman Catholic Cardinal!

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

One exciting period of my ministry was when I was a young priest and served for five years in the Diocese of London in the UK. I was working in a church re-boot – an intentional revitalization of an historic parish – in the heart of the city, just a few minutes’ walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral. I ran a spiritual explorers’ group for young women who lived in the area.

One day, a woman had a breakthrough in our weekly discussion, and I was elated driving home. My mind was wandering, and our baby daughter Emma had begun to wail in the back seat of our car. I proceeded to drive into the oncoming roundabout on the wrong side of the road, in the wrong direction, which is of course very dangerous. A police officer on a motorcycle had been waiting and immediately pulled me over. My heart began to sink as I rolled down the car window.

The officer launched into a lecture on how dangerous this was (which was true), and when he heard my Canadian accent, he asked me if I was “even allowed to drive in this country.” He warned me that he could immediately impound my car and suspend my license – yikes – and asked me for my driver’s license. As I pulled it out, although I was not wearing my clerical collar, I noticed to my quiet surprise that my license had the words “The Reverend” on it, which was not a title that appeared on any of my other documentation. I passed him the license, beginning to hope. He took a minute to read it, handed it back to me, and paused. “Ma’am,” he said, “you are really lucky that I go to church.” He walked back to his motorcycle and zipped off.

I drove home very carefully.

As I laughingly told Tim later that day what had unfolded, he wryly noted that this was at least one of the more tangible benefits of my serving in holy orders.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

Oh, my goodness there are so many…

So imagine, it’s Sunday morning, 11:00 am service at St. James Cathedral. There is a good crowd on hand. I am playing the part of the Presiding Celebrant. The organist begins to play, the choir and chancel party process. The Deacon, Sub-Deacon and yours truly arrive the high altar. The first hymn is sung with gusto and enthusiasm. Following the hymn, I gather the community with the words… The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ… The community responds… And with thy Spirit. We say the words of the Collect for Purity. And after a collective AMEN. I sing the introit to the Gloria. Marbecke never sounded so good… Glory be to God on High…. And nothing comes back, not a peep from the congregation. Half of the choir turn in my direction with a look of “what are you doing?”

The Music Director, with calm and precision hummed the starting note for the Kyrie, the congregation dropped to their knees, the choir sang.

Lost in love, wonder and praise I had sung the Gloria too soon. I bowed my head. The crimson tide of embarrassment climbed to the crown of my follicly challenged head. I must have glowed behind the altar. Embarrassment soon turned to humour, and I began to giggle to myself. By the time the choir finished the singing the Kyrie, I was smiling from ear to ear and lifting my head to once again sing… Glory be to God on High, this time hardly containing myself.

Q3: What do you consider to be the most significant issue facing the Diocese of Toronto today, and how would you begin to address it once you are installed as Diocesan Bishop?

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

I believe the most significant issue facing the Diocese of Toronto today is discipleship, and I am committed to making this a top priority. I would continue to address this issue by investing more in the formation of young people. In parishes large and small, I hear young people asking the big questions of life, and exploring how a living faith in Jesus can address those questions. I believe that we need to come alongside young people more intentionally to listen to their stories, and allow the Church to be formed by them. As a bishop, one of the first things I did in my episcopal area was to double the hours and the budget for our York-Scarborough Youth Coordinators. This kind of investment needs to continue across the Diocese.

Discipleship also means the ongoing formation of adults, and the rekindling of faith for those who have been in our churches for some time. I have been so pleased to see the explosion of faith formation tools in our Diocese over the past few years, and I would work hard to make sure even more resources for catechesis and Christian formation were developed and made available.

Discipleship also means challenging each parish and ministry to be replicated, rebooted or replanted. Communities of every shape and size have something to share beyond themselves. I believe we need to continue to create a culture where taking risks is encouraged and supported by the Diocese. Parishes need to have permission to try new things for the sake of Christ’s mission in the world.

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

It is in Christian communities of all different shapes, sizes, cultures, traditions and settings that the “rubber of ministry hits the road.” The most significant issue facing the diocese today is how to achieve the mission of building healthy, faithful, missional communities that proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of significant demographic and cultural shifts all around us.

I have a vision for the next decade of this diocese (which would be how long I would plan to serve as diocesan bishop before standing aside for new leadership to emerge). My vision is of a diocese full of creative possibilities in which our resources (faithful people, buildings, real estate) are employed in a collaborative and constructive way to build and sustain Christian communities centred around Word and sacrament in order to be the Body of Christ in a world which is crying out for reconciliation, healing and the freedom of the gospel.

In the first year of my episcopate I would focus on three things:

(1) “Inverting the triangle” so that the College of Bishops and diocesan staff become not the summit of an organization but rather the roots which nourish and connect Christian communities throughout the diocese. Spending time with laity and clergy for study, prayer, discernment and decision would be the priority for my own time. Each area bishop would have his or her office in their episcopal area, in order to focus on local ministry. I would, by word and example, model a flatter, more collaborative organization where leadership is raised up and nurtured across the diocese.

(2) Building a robust strategy for the Christian formation of children and young people. We all know the familiar pattern of young people often “drifting” away from the Church as the grow older. But we also know that when this happens they are far more likely to return to their faith tradition if they have one. I believe a convincing case can be made to the wider Anglican community within the diocese for a major investment in Christian formation for young people so that every community, whatever its size or location, can be engaged in this kind of Christian formation. I know first hand the hope and excitement that youth brings to Christian community.

(3) Creating conditions ripe for dynamic congregational development. For the last two years I’ve been enrolled in a Doctor of Ministry focused on Congregational Development, learning new skills and perspectives. I believe our current Strategic Plan, while setting out the right vision and mission, doesn’t address parish life “on the ground”. Parishes are having a difficult time relating the diocesan strategic plan to their ministry. Without getting bogged down in another elaborate and time-consuming exercise to address this, I would rather roll up our sleeves together and envision what ministry will look like in five years time in each parish, and what possibilities exist if we establish a culture of trust and collaboration among parishes. How can the bishops and diocesan staff best provide support to allow lay people and clergy to get on with ministry, and how will we best invest our parish income (for that is where most of the diocese’s fiscal resources lie) to build healthy, faithful, missional communities.

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw

Our society & culture are becoming increasingly secular – many people are at best, indifferent – at worst, hostile to the church. On a large scale, people are lonely and isolated.

Address this by working to build trust: equipping, enabling & empowering our leaders to be evangelists, to articulate and share by example their own faith stories, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities, in our neighbourhoods, in our society. Continue to lift up our vision of courageous innovation, diversity in mission, and animating reconciliation with creation and with our First Nations, Inuit & Metis peoples.

Building relationships for the love of God = building trust across boundaries of parish, community, ecumenical and interfaith, to deal with global issues facing humanity and creation. Jesus did everything by relationship. In raising up disciples and leaders from the priesthood of all believers – lay leaders, deacons, priests – teaching faith and sharing hope, we can begin together, with God’s help, to shine the Pentecost light of the Holy Spirit into people’s lonely hearts. Read the book of Acts.

A place where we experience the divine in the ordinary is where the leadership of the church is a welcoming and loving example of the real presence of Christ in life – both in the church and especially in the world. This brings hope, relationship, discipleship and deepening faith.

Think of Beth Ferkranus (1974-2018) ~ a wonderful lay leader in her parish in Bradford, a church warden and a high school drama teacher in her day-job, as well as being a triplet-sister and a Mom. Her untimely death brought a flood of students, past and present, plus fellow teachers, family and community members to her funeral at St Paul’s, Newmarket. I witnessed such testimony to Beth’s life of service to others, her spark of joy and determination, her creativity and devotion to family and faith that has made her a model of discipleship in action. She inspired and included, accompanied and adapted. She wore her faith on her sleeve, with loving-kindness. Her habits were faith and integrity.

Together, as we grow in our life in God, we deepen and expand to live out the Gospel.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

The most significant issue facing our Diocese is how we renew our emphasis on forming people’s faith as followers of Jesus Christ. As Diocesan Bishop, I would make it my constant purpose to foster in each of our parishes a culture that promotes intentional, life-long discipleship and faith formation, for both the young and the old.

Throughout my diaconal and priestly ministry – in which I served in a wide diversity of contexts – and now in my episcopal ministry, I have seen first-hand, over and over again, how placing faith formation at the heart of a parish leads inevitably to spiritual renewal and an increase in outreach ministry and frequently also to numerical growth. I have also seen that it lays the necessary groundwork for the eventual planting of new churches and other forms of Christian community. For this reason, I have always put faith formation and discipleship at the centre of each Christian community that I have served.

Celebrating the rich diversity of our Diocese, I know how important it is to provide a broad range of faith formation resources in multiple formats. As Diocesan Bishop, I would ensure that parishes will be able to find and implement resources that work in their contexts, some of which will be new and creative, and others will simply be a re-discovering of the ancient rhythms of the Church. I would endeavor to help our churches engage with children and youth, with life-long Anglicans (many of whom are seniors), and with those who are spiritually searching, and I would ensure that parishes receive support as they seek to form faith in a wide range of different cultural and linguistic contexts.

I would also prioritize the coaching of lay and clerical leaders as a key aspect of creating this culture of faith formation. As an Area Bishop I have invested in coaches for individual clergy, and in a coaching cohort for groups of parishes. I find that coaching helps leaders think proactively and prayerfully about their own contexts, and about what steps to take to prioritize faith formation and the mission that flows out of it. Coaching is encouraging and intentional and builds accountability. An investment in coaching across our Diocese will be invaluable for creating parishes that effectively form disciples of Jesus Christ.

Creating an intentional culture of faith formation will take time. There are no short-cuts, but as Diocesan Bishop I would seek prayerfully to lead us forward, encouraging us in the long, patient, and hopeful reclaiming of a Church culture where the ministry of “making saints”, of shaping people of all ages in the gospel of Jesus Christ, is front and centre.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

In the dioceses I have served as bishop, I have tried by the grace of God, to proclaim Jesus as Lord and to keep the diocese Christ-centred. We live in a world that would have us distracted in numerous directions but I do believe that Jesus always must be front and centre. This, of course, means seeking the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our ministries as we in all things give glory to God. As I read the documents describing the Diocese of Toronto and her episcopal ministry, I questioned whether the language of the corporate world of business has somewhat replaced the language of faith. We are nothing if we do not have our identity in Christ and understand our calling to be the hands and feet; the heart and voice of Christ in this broken world. There is the old adage that Christians should work as though it is all up to us and then pray knowing it is all up to God. In ministry in three different dioceses, and especially as a bishop in the Church of God, I have found that prayer needs to be central to the life of the bishop of the diocese. It is only as a deeply prayerful bishop that I am able to encourage clergy and laity to pray the daily offices and commit themselves to Bible study, regular reception of the sacrament, self-examination and repentance, as well as private and corporate prayer, Christ-centred clergy, I have found, bring the clergy and laity closer together and form a deep Christ-centered community. Out of this community and culture of faith comes the commitment to make disciples who make disciples. Where this is evident, there is an increased interest in becoming a follower of Jesus among all ages, and especially among young people. People of every age and stage of life do not want a church that resembles the world; they want a church that that is a foretaste of the Reign of Christ. I would seek to do this to the greater glory of God, in the name of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, if called to be the Bishop of Toronto.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

Moving beyond survival or just keeping the doors open to embrace the mission of God. Theologian David Bosch once wrote “The Church is not the Mission of God as much as the mission of God has a church”. We are summoned to use our time, talent and treasure in creative ways to pursue the God who is calling us into the world to serve. We live in God’s abundance, not in scarcity and we have all we need for the mission at hand.
As Bishop, I would foster a culture where parishes large and small take creative risks to try, where collaboration amongst clergy and lay leaders is encouraged, where stewardship is not just talked about, but lived. I would gather parishes to tell their stories with biblical imagination and to know that they are cherished and supported. I want our clergy and lay leaders to learn from each other, to trust one another, to lean on each other and to remember that we are one body in Jesus Christ. We are a diocese that needs to embrace our diversity of language, culture and theological expression. We need to hold the rural, suburban, small town and city experience with equal value. There are no boundaries to our mission when we respond to the world with love of Christ.

Implementing the strategic plan helps put this vision into action.

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

This is an easy one! Although pride is said to be the besetting sin, I am unspeakably proud of our daughters Sarah and Rachel, and (yes) proud of the way Mary Lou and I have been parents to them. While far from perfect (at least I am) as a parent, we have watched “the girls” grow up to be independent, thoughtful, engaged twenty-year olds, each moving into adulthood with purpose and possibility. Because they are twins and both chose to “go away” for university, we became empty-nested in one fell swoop in September 2016, and that was a difficult adjustment because we have always been a close family. But that is the deep joy of parenting — equipping our children with the skills and outlook to flourish — and the deep consolation is to watch them do just that, and to struggle at times, and to grow in resilience. (And still to know that they love us, as we love them so dearly.)

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw

For summer holiday in 2001 (with a moderate amount of training) my husband and I took our bicycles, fully loaded with camping equipment, on a self-guided tour around the Kokanee Glacier in interior British Columbia. It was over 200 kilometers, with 1900 meters of climbing (1/5 of a Mount Everest). Problems with my bike aside (I experienced 8 flat tires – we were carrying tubes and repair kits too) we were passed by many logging trucks on those narrow mountain roads. We saw sawmills and abandoned silver mines, elk, deer and foxes – stayed in noisy municipal campgrounds, swam in hot springs and cold lakes, filled our water-bottles from fresh glacier melt-water streams and celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. That was a bona-fide awesome trip!

Now we have developed the everybody-welcome “Anglican Cycle of Prayer” – an opportunity to raise funds for PWRDF and to get Anglicans out on our bicycles together for fellowship and fun – looking forward to riding (just a little!) with Bishop Rob Hardwick as he makes his way across the country raising funds for the Healing Fund and Reconciliation.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

I am pretty delighted that I finished (survived) my first really challenging road bike race last weekend, a year after double foot surgery, grateful for a marriage that is marked by God’s grace, and happy to still be reading widely and staying on top of all the machinations of international politics (a long time passion). And while our children aren’t really a “non work related activity”, our teenage daughters have informed me that it would look odd if I didn’t at least give them a shout out – so, yes, like other candidates, my heart does swell when I think of them.

Outside of work and my home life, I am most proud (and grateful) that I have been able to navigate all the physical moves and changes in my life. By the time I reached high school, I had lived in multiple countries and moved almost every single year of my life. That certainly had its challenges, but I learnt how to continually make new friends, frequently deal with being an outsider, and navigate rapidly shifting cultural contexts and expectations. My adult life has also been marked by living in different countries and contexts, and I’m learning how to make “home” wherever I am – investing in relationships, staying rooted in my faith as change is the only constant, and learning how to eat a wide variety of fascinating foods!

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

I have a holistic approach to life so I often find that what begins as a holiday pursuit, becomes something of a ministry. In the mid-1990s I began a fascination with the Camino, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. By the time I left Canada for New Zealand, in 2008, I had walked the Camino nine times. I called it my healthy addiction. Gradually it became a way of inviting people of different ages and stages into an intentional Christian pilgrimage which integrated prayer, the building of a community, physical exercise, fabulous conversation, laughter, tears and some robust self-examination as we journeyed. The most important learning for me was to recognise that the pilgrimage is every bit as important as the destination.

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

Without a doubt, I am most proud of being a Dad to our wonderful twins. They are the loves of our lives, and we delight in watching them grow and develop in their own unique ways. I am also proud that we have created a different kind of family. At the playground or in the schoolyard, I love to hear our kids say proudly to other kids: “I have TWO dads – a Daddy and a Papa!” As pioneers, I hope our family gives encouragement to other gay and lesbian couples who dream of building a family.

Of course, parenting isn’t always easy, and same-sex couples face the same kinds of challenges as opposite-sex couples. At the end of the day, kids are kids. The routines of bedtimes, getting to school on time, chores and homework are the same, regardless of the gender of the parents. What matters most is creating a home where children can explore new things, develop strong attachments, build confidence, grow in faith, and learn a deep love for themselves, others, and the world around them.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

Family. Mary, my wife, is a source of profound joy and love. Our five children Hannah, Karl, Bridget, Grant and Sophie ground us, inspire us and keep us laughing every day. I take pride in creating and keeping home.

Friends. For three years I lived as a member of Animal Floor in residence at Renison College, while attending the University of Waterloo. Nearing the end of our undergrad studies a gang from the floor made a pledge, that upon graduation, we would gather each year on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. We wrote the promise on the back of our driver’s licences and signed each others oath (way back then licences were made of paper). We have been gathering every year since 1986. Keeping friendships from each stop along the way in my life is a source of deep pride for me.

I also take pride in home renovations, competitive swimming, keeping fit, playing golf poorly and cheering for the Habs (yes, even this year).

Questions on the Marriage Canon

The Nominations Committee has asked two further questions of each nominee on the subject of the proposed change to the Marriage Canon, the second reading of which will be voted on at General Synod in 2019. These questions were not posted in the Facebook group.

If General Synod were held today, how would you vote on the Marriage Canon amendments?

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

I have been asked these questions during the course of our Diocesan discernment process and have consistently shared the following.

I understand that the laity and clergy of the Diocese of Toronto will feel supported or disappointed by how their Bishop votes at General Synod 2019 and that how the Bishop votes matters. However, there are a number of reasons why I don’t think it is pastorally helpful to answer this first question, today, with a simple Yes or No.

First, in our Anglican polity, Bishops vote “in Synod.” Synod is where Bishops, along with laity and other clergy, make such decisions. I want to be part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in General Synod 2019, and I am not prepared to pre-judge how I will vote then, and am not “in Synod” now. As a Bishop, I take spiritual discernment seriously. At General Synod in 2019, I intend to cast my vote after completing a process of prayer, scriptural discernment, and deep listening to laity, deacons, priests and other bishops, as well as those outside of the Church. I intend to seek the mind of Christ for the Church on this issue, whether I am voting in my current capacity as Area Bishop for York-Credit Valley or as Bishop of Toronto. The Bishop of Toronto also needs to be mindful that she or he serves on a national stage, both participating in the wider discernment of the Anglican Church of Canada and also acting as a witness of Christ’s love to our culture.

Second, the current wording of the proposed amendment is increasingly unlikely to represent what will be voted on in 2019. As our Primate, Fred Hiltz, has recently made clear, there very well may be amendments to the currently proposed canon change. Some other path may also emerge before 2019 as an alternative to a Yes/No vote, a binary and legislative approach that inevitably creates winners and losers, doesn’t account for culturally different ways of making decisions across our diverse Church, and risks oversimplifying the issue at hand. Although I would not abstain from a vote in 2019, locking episcopal candidates into such binary declarations at this stage is premature and potentially divisive.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

I would vote in favour of the motion.

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

I would vote in favour of the change, as I did as a member of General Synod in 2016.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

If the General Synod was being held this week and if I had a vote as the Diocesan Bishop of Toronto, I would vote YES to affirm the amendments to the Marriage Canon. I would do so believing that every Christian is called to interpret Holy Scripture in light of all of Holy Scripture, and I believe the weight of Scripture calls to care for every human person and give special attention and love to the marginalised. Secondly, I believe there are times when the church recognises a teaching in Scripture that has always been there but which has been undervalued. It is the work of the prophet to call the church to read Scripture with fresh eyes. In Luke 2.21-40, Simeon and Anna recognise the Christ in the Temple when everyone fails to recognise the Son of God. May our beloved church have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

Unequivocally, I would vote “Yes” to amend the Marriage Canon, just as I did in 2016.

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw


How will you respond to this issue as Diocesan Bishop in the event that the Marriage Canon amendments are either adopted or rejected at General Synod?

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Andison

As I said at the Town Halls, I believe it is critical that the Bishop of Toronto be a focus of unity, and in my episcopal ministry I have demonstrated a consistent capacity to hold the centre. If elected as the Bishop of Toronto, I would take seriously my calling to be Chief Pastor to all, and so this second question is particularly important.

As I stated in my video, if the Marriage Canon does change in 2019, I will uphold it and then meet with those who believe that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, to pray with them and seek ways to enable their continued flourishing in mission and ministry. If the Marriage Canon does not change in 2019, I will continue the pastoral provisions begun by Archbishop Johnson for same-sex marriage and then meet with those who support same-sex marriage, to pray with them and seek ways to enable their continued flourishing in mission and ministry.

In all of this, the Bishop needs to be the most generous and gracious person in every conversation, and while we (not just Anglicans in Toronto, but Christians around the world) discern the mind of Christ on this issue – which may take longer than any of us like – we must treat each other with the greatest love, compassion and grace.

I believe that the next Bishop of Toronto will need to exercise every bit of her or his humility, creativity and intelligence as they prayerfully lead our Diocese forward over the next few years in a way that honours God, cares for each of the children that God dearly loves, and shines as a beacon of grace and hope to a hungry world.

The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil

I would respond in a truly pastoral way, knowing that there is the potential for deep hurt and disappointment on both sides of the question and that the decision, whichever way it goes, will have implications not only in this diocese and across the land but also around the Anglican Communion. In proceeding after the vote it will be important to align our way forward with the guidance of both the Primate and the Chancellor of General Synod, to consult with provincial dioceses, the house of Bishops and to spend as much time with clergy and community members that feel the greatest sense of loss and betrayal. A healing presence and a way forward will be crucial.  Pastoral provisions for parishes, clergy and laity who feel alienated by the vote will need to be developed prayerfully.

The synod in the fall of 2018 will hopefully provide some insight and wisdom for us as we proceed to General Synod.

The Rev. Canon David Harrison

With prayer and, I trust, grace. I am committed to diversity in the Diocese of Toronto of all kinds, including theological and liturgical diversity. I believe that diversity makes any community stronger and that living with diversity and difference, even when it creates tension and conflict, is an invitation into deeper relationship with God and with one another. If the Marriage Canon is changed at General Synod 2019, I will allow but not compel clergy in the Diocese of Toronto to marry same-sex couples. If the Marriage Canon is not changed at General Synod 2019, I will keep in place the pastoral provisions introduced by Archbishop Johnson which allow particular parishes and clergy to be given permission to marry same-sex couples.

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews

If the Marriage Canon amendments are passed again and affirmed in July 2019 at the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod, I would continue to allow the practice presently followed with respect to same-sex marriage in the Diocese of Toronto. This would be done in concert with careful and in-depth conversations with the Anglican Communion, specifically the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Secretary General, and selected representatives of the other Instruments of Communion.

If the Marriage Canon failed its second reading, after careful consultation with Chancellors, the Metropolitan of Ontario and the Primate of Canada, I would hope and expect to continue the practice presently followed by the Diocese of Toronto. I simply do not think this Diocese can reverse what it has committed to do and is indeed doing.

The Rt. Rev. Kevin Robertson

If the Marriage Canon is amended at General Synod 2019, I would move swiftly to allow same-sex couples in the Diocese of Toronto to be married in the same way as opposite-sex couples, and I would continue to engage in gracious dialogue with parishes and clergy who were not supportive of the change. I would also ensure the provision of pastoral and sacramental care for same-sex couples in parishes where the conscience of their priest or congregation was an issue. I would create a transparent process with the highest degree of generosity for those who disagree with the change. Finally, I would work to develop an appropriate marriage rite for same-sex couples that was Biblically grounded, consistent with our liturgical tradition, and guided by the theological principles set out in the Report on the Commission of the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, “This Holy Estate”.

If not amended, I would continue the pastoral provisions that are currently in place, and would engage with other bishops, priests, deacons and lay people to continue the work of changing the Marriage Canon at a future General Synod. For me, it would not be enough to simply be satisfied with same-sex marriage provisions here in Toronto. Rather, I would work for this change beyond our Diocese. When I was speaking at a conference in Jamaica last fall on the Church’s role in the decriminalization of same-sex relations in Commonwealth countries, I heard firsthand the painful stories of LGBTQ+ youth who faced daily discrimination and fear, not only in society and by the police, but also by the Church. These youth need to know that we, in the Diocese of Toronto, are not merely content with justice for ourselves. Rather, if we believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us into a new understanding of Christian marriage, we need to continue that work for the sake of the Gospel everywhere.

The Rt. Rev. Riscylla Shaw

We will continue to fully welcome LGBTQ2S people as full members of our church.