Sunday, November 19 was a special day in the life of the Mission of St. Saviour, Wabamun and its rector.
Twenty years ago, on November 18, 1997, the Rev. Coleen Lynch was ordained a deacon at All Saints’ Cathedral by Bishop Victoria Matthews. She became a priest the next year, serving in several Edmonton parishes and founding the Women’s Reintegration Chaplaincy - a ministry to help women on parole fit back into society.
Coleen said, in an article for The Messenger, published in March, 2017, that on Sundays she would be asked to fill in at rural parishes and it was during this time that “my love and appreciation for rural ministry took root.”
“Since I left the world of corrections in 2008, I have served in Devon, Rexboro, Tofield and now my beloved Wabamun. What captured my heart? The goodness and graciousness of the people and the beauty and the glory of the land,” she said. Coleen is currently completing a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree at St. Stephen's College through the University of Alberta, and her dissertation will tell the story of St. Saviour. At the same time, she is studying rural sociology through the U of A Augustana in Camrose, and hopes this course will further her understanding of the challenges of rural communities, as well as opportunities for development and sustainability.
“In April 2014, Bishop Jane asked me to go out to Wabamun and start a year-round church. To my great surprise, thrill and delight I got to name the parish. The former parish in Wabamun closed in 1967 and I had known it was called St. Saviour,” said Coleen.
On Sunday, Bishop Jane was present to bless the original St. Saviour’s Bible from 1912. The Bible reappeared last year in Onoway at a Bible study group led by Coleen’s husband the Rev. Mike Lynch, now priest-in-charge of St. Columba, Beaumont.
“Thanks to St. John’s, Onoway we now have the Bible, over a 100 years old, from the original St. Saviour’s church,” said Coleen. “We proudly place it on the altar table each Sunday as a reminder that God’s Word directs our lives and that we exist in the line of the faithful ministry and presence of those who have gone before us.”
Preaching on Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), Bishop Jane said in her homily that “God chooses specific roles for specific people. You know, perfectly well, that God has chosen you for particular ministries in your families and in your community. He intended for you to take a few risks and put your gifts on the market, if you like.”
“Twenty years ago,” she continued, “I happen to know that Coleen placed her gifts at the service of the church in a most particular way and she was ordained to the diaconate. And I suspect that, as a little child, Coleen never saw that coming. But she followed God’s calls on her life with faith and trust and here she is. So be brave. Take a chance. Be like Coleen. Don’t bury your gifts and be distracted from using them. When somebody shares a gift, and does a good job, tell them ‘thank you.’ Coleen, thank you for sharing your gifts with this church and with the church of God,” said Bishop Jane presenting Coleen with a bouquet of flowers from the parish.
“To first believe that you have a call to a particular ministry can actually be quite scary, and you think, ‘Really? Me? Are you sure? And yet, you follow it through,” said Bishop Jane. “Coleen could, I suppose, have been the third servant in the parable, and buried that feeling deep inside, never spoken about it to anybody, and never followed it through, or tried to share the gifts that she has. But she didn’t do that.”
“It’s the same for each one of us. Some of the areas where we are found ministering or serving are very public and some things are very private. God needs people to do both the public prayer and the private prayer; the public action and the private action. There is space in the world for every single one of us and the world could use what each one of us has to share. There’s no one with a gift that isn’t useful, a gift that isn’t needed, a gift that doesn’t bring glory to God. So be brave. Take a chance and share and use the gifts that God has given you. Remember, our whole life together depends on generosity and on a faith community willing to share. When we do it right inside the church, then it may have an impact outside the church, too. John Wesley, the famous hymn writer, preacher and pastor lived in times not unlike ours. He wrote this: ‘Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.’”