The Rt. Rev. Stephen Andrews. From Algoma to Wycliffe College

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At the end of an exhausting week, both physically and emotionally, Anglican Bishop Stephen Andrews sat down with Saultonline in the Algoma Diocese offices on Wellington Street, Friday, July 15, 2016. Having just returned from General Synod in Richmond Hill Ontario, (July 7 – 12) Bishop Andrews was undertaking final preparations for his departure from The Diocese of Algoma to take up his new post in Toronto, Ontario.

Anglicancanada.relBishop Andrews accepted a position with Wycliffe College, a graduate theological school affiliated with the University of Toronto and Toronto School of Theology. He and his wife Fawna, while looking forward to this exciting chapter in their lives, will leave Sault Ste. Marie, and the Diocese of Algoma with some hesitation.

In a letter published in ‘Algoma Anglican, June 2016’, Bishop Andrews wrote: “It is with a mixture of emotions that I share with you the news that, just as I begin my eight year in The Sault, I will be leaving the office of Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma in order to take up responsibilities as the Principal of Wycliffe College, August 1,2016.” Bishop Stephen goes on to say,  “I confess that I have earnestly desired that the process might have identified someone else more suitable for the position. But when offered the post, I believed it was right to accept.”

‘Wycliffe College has its roots in an evangelical Anglican tradition but draws passionate and intelligent students from a wide variety of backgrounds and denominations.’ (https://www.wycliffecollege.ca)

“I’ve been on the Board (trustees) of Wycliffe for a number of years. I was elected to become the Bishop of Algoma from a position I held at Laurentian University.”

AlgomaDioceseMap Bishop Andrews was President of Thorneloe University, where he spent 8 years.  In 2001 he was appointed President, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Thorneloe University College, a founding member of the Laurentian University Federation in Sudbury, Ontario. Here he was the Director of the Thorneloe School of Theology programme. He held this position until his election as Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma in 2008. As an Adjunct Faculty member, he occasionally teaches in the Joint Department of Religious Studies at Laurentian University, where he holds the rank of Associate Professor. He served on the Thorneloe Board.

” When the last principal of Wycliffe was elected as the Bishop of Dallas, I was contacted about applying for the position of Principal . Because of the importance of leadership in the Church today, I felt that I had to consider this possibility. I prayed and discerned about this, and in the end, I felt obliged to take the position when the invitation was issued to me.”

“My wife and I will be living in downtown Toronto at The Principals Lodge, right in the heart of the University of Toronto campus.”

Bishop Andrews and his wife Fawna have 2 daughters, Clare and Ellen. “My  daughter who lives in Sudbury just delivered our first grandchild on July 11th; a little boy. My other daughter teaches English in Japan.”

With The 41st General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada now behind him, Bishop Andrews reflected on portions of the agenda and resolutions which took place.

DioceseAlgomaLogo“General Synod takes place every three years, and is the National meetings for the Anglican Church of Canada. It is a gathering where decisions are made about the life of the church. Where we ratified reports, determine strategic directions, and make financial determinations; It’s an opportunity to see the church at the macro level.”

One contentious resolution debated at General Synod created a firestorm of media attention, and was widely reported. The resolution was about amending the marriage canon to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages. “I knew it would be a big story whichever way the vote went, but I did not anticipate how procedurally complex the vote would be at General Synod.”

In fact, in an article dated July 18, 2016, ‘The Anglican Journal’ reported, “None of the electronic votes cast by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald were recorded at the recently concluded General Synod, July 7-12, because he was “erroneously listed” as “non-voting,” Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, confirmed today. The error, which the Anglican Journal and another publication brought to Thompson’s attention on Friday, July 15, came on the heels of a vote miscount July 12, which dramatically reversed General Synod’s vote on same-sex marriage.” (http://www.anglicanjournal.com)

Bishop Andrews wasn’t kidding when he said that procedurally, the voting at General Synod was ‘complex’.

Resolution Number A051-R2: Amendment to Canon XXI (On Marriage in the Church), can be found here: (http://www.anglican.ca)

Voting records for A051 R2—which was (eventually) declared: Carried, are here: (http://www.anglican.ca)

20160715_104842In order to attend General Synod, every Diocese across Canada elects a number of delegates. Algoma had 6 delegates attend. The geography of the Diocese of Algoma includes Thunder Bay all the way to Gravenhurst, Ontario. “In our cohort we had four delegates from Sault Ste. Marie, including a youth delegate, 1 delegate from Muskoka and one from Sudbury.”

Reflecting on the structure of the Anglican Church, Bishop Andrews shared, “Recently, The Anglican Council of Indigenous peoples was formed. One of our diocese in central Canada was dissolved; The Diocese of Kiwedin. The northern diocese, which are in northern Manitoba and northwestern ontario communities have now become a ‘Spiritual Jurisdiction’.”

“Mishamikoweesh or ‘Big Beaver House’ (Oji-Cree) together with their Bishop Lydia Mamakwasent were delegates to General Synod 2016. It’s still early days on this emerging and evolving spiritual jurisdiction.”  “There was some discussion at General Synod about a group of northern regions consisting of indigenous peoples becoming their own ‘province’ which would potentially lead to more autonomy within the structure of the Anglican Church of Canada. How this will look, and how it would unfold, is still a work in progress.”

“The Anglican Church of Canada has a ‘Full Communion Partnership Agreement’ (2001) with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada. Anglican Priests can serve in both churches, and vice versa.”

One of the possessions inside the Diocese office that will no doubt be packed for the move to southern Ontario is a favourite coffee mug. “My brother and sister-in-law live in London, (England) and sent me the William and Kate mug.”  Even PhD academics like Bishop Stephen can’t help but get in on the fanfare of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who are formally known as The Duke and  Duchess of Cambridge.

After all, Prince William, in his royal role and lineage, passed down through his Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and his father Charles, The Prince of Wales, are considered to be ‘Defenders of the Faith’.  This role is outlined in The Anglican Church of Canada, 39 Articles of Religion.

Bishop Steven wears, with great pride, a gift he was presented, while working in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was gifted with a beaded cross from a Chief of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation. Since coming to the Sault, Bishop Steven has worked to build a strong relationship with members of First Nations communities. “That has been an important part of my ministry here in Algoma. I will very much miss my relationship with First Nations people locally. We now have four Oji-Cree lay readers in the Algoma Diocese, including Thunder Bay, Ontario. They have so much to teach us; Their way of life and spirituality redresses some of the sterility and defects of our western ways of religion. They have been very generous to me.”

Bishop Steven shared, “I’ll miss the beauty of the Diocese of Algoma; The physical beauty of this Diocese is quite breathtaking. As I’m creeping along the 401,  I’ll miss being able to walk along the St. Mary’s River.  One of the wonderful things about being a Bishop is that everywhere you go, you’re always the reason for a party. It’s been a real privilege to be part of these communities and play some kind of role in the nurturing of faith here. I’ll miss the people in the Diocese office here. We’ve become very close. They’re a very dedicated and professional group of people.”

Saultonline extends a warm congratulations and fond farewell to Bishop Andrews as he embarks on the next chapter in his spiritual and leadership journey. Giga-waabamin menawaa.