The first licensed lay evangelists of the Diocese of Edmonton were commissioned to proclaim God’s love to the world during an Evening Prayer service, January 14, at All Saints’ Cathedral.
The Rev. Tim Chesterton, Warden of Lay Evangelists and rector of St. Margaret's, Edmonton, presented Alison Hurlburt, Christ Church, Edmonton; Corinna Kubos, St. George’s, Fort Saskatchewan; and Jenny Stuart, St. Matthew’s, St. Albert for commissioning by the Very Rev. Neil Gordon, Dean of Edmonton. Bishop Jane Alexander was unable to preside due to illness. Also representing the community of lay evangelists as participants, teachers and learners were the Rev. Sandra Arbeau, who completed the lay evangelism formation process and was recently ordained a vocational deacon, the Ven. Richard King, Archdeacon for Mission and Discipleship, and the Rev. Stephen London, rector of St. Thomas, Sherwood Park.
“Tonight our Lord Jesus Christ has given a wonderful gift to His church,” said the Rev. Tim Chesterton in his homily address (read full sermon). “He has given us the gift of Alison, Corinna and Jenny to be sent out as evangelists, to spread the good news and to help make new disciples for Jesus.”
Chesterton said the Anglican church has been “a little hesitant to receive Christ’s gift of evangelists,” as described by Alison Hurlburt in her reading of the first lesson, Ephesians 4:1-16. “Some people see evangelists as a nuisance, or an embarrassment, or a theological anachronism. But we’re here to receive that gift and celebrate it together.”
He asked the congregation to pray for the new lay evangelists as God guides them in their mission to “live out the fullness of Christ before the world,” as we, the Church, are asked to do with the gifts that each one us is given. “We Christians believe that God’s gift of Jesus to the world is the greatest expression of the love of God the world has ever seen…” and “evangelism is all about love.”
“These three evangelists are not ashamed of living as Christians outside the walls of the church…In the working world, and in their daily lives with their families and friends, each of them has taken the step of identifying themselves as followers of Jesus. And each one of them is finding ways of effectively engaging the world they live in every day, for the sake of Jesus and His gospel.”
Employed in post-secondary education, correctional services and property management, Alison, Corinna and Jenny are well placed to, through their effective witness, help people fall in love with and follow Jesus amidst the struggles of a largely apathetic or unbelieving community, Chesterton said.
After visiting three dioceses in the Church of England in 2012, Chesterton designed a lay evangelism formation course in the context of the Edmonton diocese’s unique geographical setting. “The new lay evangelists will be working on a volunteer basis in their home parishes on a variety of outreach-oriented activities. But at the heart of all they do will be the desire to make the gospel of Jesus Christ known beyond the walls of the church community, and to invite people to become His followers,” he said.
Chesterton plans to start the next two-year lay evangelist formation process in the fall of 2018. Anyone who is interested in finding out more should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.