Family, friends, parishioners, clergy colleagues (several falling into more than one category) all descended on St. Paul’s Anglican Church on the evening of Tuesday, September 24, for the induction service of the Rev. Myron Penner.
A service of induction rarely happens at the very beginning of a priest’s ministry in a new parish. Often minister and congregation have had a chance to get to know each other and set a trajectory for their work together before this ceremony takes place. Such is the case at St. Paul’s. Rev. Myron was first appointed as priest-in-charge at St. Paul’s on September 1, 2018, and then confirmed as rector on June 23, 2019. Of his first year in this parish, Rev. Myron says he has rarely known such freedom in ministry and such support from members of the church family.
Several St. Paul’s parishioners took part in the service. Deanna Kalles brought the first reading from Jeremiah 1:4-9 and Rev. Myron’s wife, Jodi, led the singing of Psalm 119:33-40. St. Paul’s music team, Adelle Bosse-Morgan, Janette Chambers and Jodi Penner led the congregational singing, and Nancy Whistance-Smith led the Prayers of the People.
The Rev. Sue Oliver, rector of Christ Church Edmonton and long-time friend of the Penner family, started her sermon with a story of two people she knew in university who met, fell in love, and eventually married. Listing all they had in common, Rev. Sue remembers thinking of them, “What a great couple they make. What a great match! What great things they can do together in the world!”
The correlation to St. Paul’s was clear: “In the days following Myron’s appointment to St. Paul’s,” Rev. Sue said, “I would shake my head and think, ‘what a great match! What a perfect complementing of gifts and skills: love of God and desire to learn. Imagine what they can do together not just for each other but for the world and for their community.’”
Sharing a story she first heard from Bishop Victoria Matthews, Rev. Sue encouraged St. Paul’s to use the same approach in their community as sheep farmers do in New Zealand, where farms are sometimes 3000 or 5000 acres! “There are two ways to keep the flock together on farms that size,” she explained. “You can build fences, but that’s expensive and if the sheep get scared enough, they’ll run right through those fences anyway. Or… you can build a well, because the sheep will never stray far from the source of life-giving water.”
The service of induction itself followed its usual, beautiful pattern. Bishop Victoria, Commissary to Bishop Jane during her sabbatical, led Rev. Myron and the congregation in the Covenant in Ministry. Priest, parishioners and visiting friends joined in their respective vows to support the ministry of Rev. Myron at St. Paul’s. Then members of the church family presented the symbols of ministry in turn:
Of course, no church service would be complete without snacks and a chance to chat afterward, and the comfortable hum of friends visiting carried on long after the formalities were ended.
Rev. Myron says of the service of induction, “I was very encouraged and found it to be an incredibly significant way to celebrate my new ministry at The Anglican Parish of St. Paul. Of course, I have been here for a year, but now I can settle into the future that God has for this parish. My dear friend and colleague, the Rev. Sue Oliver, delivered an outstanding sermon that included me personally, my family and focused on Jesus at our forefront as St. Paul's moves forward into the good things God has prepared for us to do. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Bishop Victoria, and her grace and warmth set the tone for the evening, which was rich and full with the presence of Christ. I am greatly honoured, and humbled, to have received this call as Rector of The Anglican Parish of St Paul, Edmonton, and the service of induction was an incredible platform from which to launch the work that God has for us in this community.”