With all that it has taken away, it is important to notice when the COVID-19 pandemic causes something to happen that is actually beautiful. Such was the case on September 29, 2020 when ten people gathered at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Edmonton, to witness and celebrate with the Rev. Dr. Maryann Amor, her ordination to the priesthood.
Taking advantage of the autumn sun, the ordination took place in the church courtyard, amidst still bright flowers and golden leaves. Even the sometimes gusty wind and occasional noise from nearby streets did not detract from the sacredness of the gathering. Bishop Jane Alexander described the service as intimate, despite the outdoor setting, and “wonderfully appropriate in the Season of Creation.”
“As Christians, we are called to be in the world with all its messiness and noise,” she said. “So to hold this service outside the church walls with the occasional siren in the distance and people walking by, was a symbol of that call to move outside our buildings to minister where people live and work.”
The outdoor setting and physical distancing among the small number of attendees mitigated the risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19. The fact that pandemic restrictions stopped family and friends in B.C. from attending was disappointing to Amor, but a supportive group participated from a distance through Zoom and cheered her on.
The 18-year journey to becoming a priest in the Church of God has been a long and winding one for Amor, and her time in Edmonton diocese packed with challenge. She arrived in Edmonton in August 2019 to become curate to the Ven. Richard King, then rector at St. Luke’s Anglican Church; then moved parishes in December to continue that curacy when King took the post of rector at St. John the Evangelist.
In his homily, Archdeacon King compared Amor’s curacy to a turbocharger! Ever one for engine-related metaphors (and happy to incorporate into his talk the timely sound of an engine roaring to life nearby) King said,
“The turbocharger works by using the exhaust gases from the engine, to spin a little propeller, which then causes a compressor, to spin, which forces, or turbocharges, the gas into the engine under higher pressure which means you get a better combustion.”
He was quick to explain the relevance to Amor’s experience.
“In the 394 days since she arrived, she has experienced saying ‘hello’ to a church family, then ‘goodbye’ to that church family, then ‘hello’ to another church family of considerable size, and was just starting to experience that new rhythm of ministry, only then to be hit by a pandemic. All that, in five and a half months, has ‘turbocharged’ her curacy.”
While the forced acceleration of all this experience has at times been overwhelming, King reminded Amor of the gifts with which God has blessed and prepared her. He reminded all present of the truth that “we can fully rely on Jesus, which requires us fully to hand ourselves over to him, that we might receive fully all he wants us to learn of his grace in all that comes our way, even when ‘turbocharged.’”
“And Maryann,” he continued, “we look forward to seeing what God will do in and through you next, confident that you are well and truly in His grace and grip, and knowing that whom God calls, he enables.”
Amor continues her two-year curacy at St. John the Evangelist, adding priestly duties to the many tasks she already performs, including teaching a course in basic biblical Hebrew, beginning this fall.