It rained all day, but the skies cleared on the evening of Friday, June 7, 2019, just in time for a special service at St. Augustine Parkland Anglican Church. Parishioners, fellow-clergy, friends and family gathered at the Spruce Grove parish, where Bishop Jane Alexander formally inducted the Rev. Billy Isenor into his post as rector.
Judy Kesanko brought the first reading from Acts 25:13-21. The St. Augustine music team lead Psalm 103. Then the Rev. Aaron Parsall-Myler, Associate Priest at St. Augustine Parkland, read the Gospel from John 21:15-19.
Bishop Jane preached on the gospel passage, one of her favourites, which she would informally like to title Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus. It’s the post-resurrection account of Jesus meeting the disciples on the beach after they’d been out for a night of fishing. In the story, Jesus sits on the beach with Peter and asks him three times: “Do you love me?” He then calls on Peter to feed His sheep and tend His lambs. The Bishop made the connection to the church today:
Just like Peter who found in the friendship and teachings of Jesus a message of transformation and hope and love – a way to live – each one of us who follows Christ finds this same message and asks God to come to life in us; or put more properly, to bring us to the fullness of our life; to change us so that we, too, might bring this message of good news into the world.
I know that my prayer as a parish priest, and now as a bishop in the church, is that people will learn that God is a very real part of their lives, and know how very much God loves them. That kind of knowledge leads us to do outrageous things – to believe that God is transforming the world, that God is living and active – that’s pretty outrageous, outrageous and quite wonderful. This is Rev. Billy’s job amongst you: to remind you how much you are loved and to remind you how many gifts you have been given in order to share that love right here in your community.
The Bishop called on the congregation of St. Augustine Parkland to work alongside Rev. Billy in connecting with their friends and neighbours in Spruce Grove. “Faith (like hockey!)” she said, “is a team sport. We are much better at it when we pull together.”
Following the sermon, the Ven. Alan Perry formally read out the license for the new minister. This was followed by the series of presentations that is part of the induction service. Parishioners brought forward seven symbols and invited Rev. Billy to be among them, leading them in various forms of ministry.
For Rev. Billy, the symbolism can’t be overstated.
As for us at St. Augustine’s we are immersed in many forms of exciting discipleship and ministry that is cultivated by our church wanting to share the love of God. I am blessed that I have been given the opportunity to witness this and now to move forward in growing with this wonderful community of believers.
A rousing round of applause followed the Bishop’s introduction of Rev. Billy as “the leader of your ministry.” Elizabeth Rushton then led the Prayers of the People, followed by much hugging and shaking of hands in the Peace, more singing, and communion.
The party carried on in St. Augustine’s spacious foyer after the service, with a chance for all to connect over a drink and a snack, before leaving into the fresh spring evening, ready to embark on the work and joy of shared mission and ministry to come.