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Enabling others to think theologically and become faithful active Christians.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


Holy Redeemer Parish Catholic Church, Whitney Pier, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada *


Introduction

The purpose of this essay is to examine the character of my ministry as it relates to the roles and responsibilities which I have assumed or will assume in the years to come. In this essay I will present a brief history of my ministerial experience followed by an assessment of my current situation in ministry. I will also explore my theological understanding of ministry.


I will reflect on the functions of my ministry, after which I will interpret the class list of “Roles”. I will also examine my role model, “The Rev. Dr. Moses Coady.” I will conclude the essay by reviewing my ministry in light of what I have learned.


My thesis is that I am, for the most part, a Coach and an Enabler in blessed service to others. How I coach and enable others may change over time, but my ultimate goal of enabling others to become faithful active members of the Body of Christ will remain the same.


Part I - A Brief History of my Ministry

Christian ministry, for me, began in September of 1992, when after a brief flirtation with Environmental Studies at the University College of Cape Breton, I switched over to the academic field of Religious Studies. I started by taking a couple of basic courses on the Old and New Testament. I took to it right away. My interest in the subject was very high and my marks reflected it.


At about the same time in the autumn of 1992, I began to teach Sunday school at my local Roman Catholic parish. I decided that teaching Sunday school would be compatible with my own pursuit of theological studies. I eventually became involved in four areas of Ministry at St. Mary’s Parish: preparing families for the Sacrament of Baptism, teaching and organizing Religious Education, supporting Adult Faith Development and participating in Liturgy.


In Baptismal preparation, I prepared parents and God parents for the Sacrament of Baptism and the responsibility of having their children welcomed into the Catholic community. This was an enjoyable undertaking for me because I was able to meet so many young families at the beginning of their Faith Journey. I was able to reinforce the parish's interest in the welfare of the family. Not only did I do the baptismal preparation, but I also assisted our Pastor, Father Francis J. Abbass, by setting everything in place and welcoming the families to St. Mary's Parish to celebrate in the Sacrament of Baptism.


In the summer of 1996, I had the good fortune of coordinating our parish’s first Summer Vacation Bible School. It was a terrific opportunity for me to organize an event from the ground up. From choosing the curriculum for pre-school to grade six, bringing the leaders together and registering over fifty children, I was able to gain knowledge and experience in Religious Education and Pastoral Leadership. For three straight summers St. Mary's Parish had a Summer Vacation Bible School.

I also taught grade six Sunday school. By being involved in Religious Education, I believe that I was given the opportunity to spread the Christian message to all families. I also assisted the Pastor with adult classes. In Adult Faith Development, we were enabling a growth of faith in our community.


Along with my liturgical involvement in Baptism, I served as a Eucharistic Minister. I was glad to take part in the Mass because I was able to share in the Faith Communities' celebration of Jesus Christ in a unique way. I have also distributed ashes and have been part of Holy Thursday services.

Between 1992 and 1997, I was took part in the adult religious education program with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish. This program was the precursor of the many seminar type classes I would attend in the years to come. I would have to say that, in a very real way, this was my early religious formation.


I completed two basic units of Clinical Pastoral Education through the Institute of Pastoral Training. They were taken in the summers of 1998 and 1999 at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. These courses gave me practical experience in Pastoral Care. My Roman Catholic Lay Ministry lasted from 1992 till 1998.


In 1998, I felt a calling to the Ordained Ministry. As a married Roman Catholic, this avenue of ministry was not available to me. This was a low point for me because at this point I began contemplating leaving the Church of my birth. In August, I attended an Anglican service for the first time in fifteen years. I began to the see the Anglican Church as a place to continue in ministry.

On December 7th, 1998, I called the Rector of St. Mark’s Parish Church, the Reverend James Purchase, and requested instruction for entry into the Anglican Communion for myself, Cathy and our children. On March 17th, 1999, the Right Rev. Fred Hiltz welcomed me into the Anglican Church, and my wife Cathy was confirmed.


Within a month, I was involved in the liturgy. By June, I met with Bishop Fred Hiltz (then Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, now Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada) to discuss ordained ministry. In September, I was a Lay Reader and I preached my first homily on December 12th 1999. This was all in a year.

On December 23rd, 2003, after four years of being in the Anglican Church, I chose to join the Traditional Anglican Communion. My main reasons were because it represented the best opportunity for me to explore both my Catholic Faith and still take a leading role within an Anglo-Catholic community. The Anglican Church also did not meet my spiritual needs and for me was heading in a different religious direction, away from the Catholic Faith.

With the Anglican Catholic Church, I discovered that something which had been missing for a long time had now returned to me, that being a strong sense of what it means to relate to Christ in worship; to be part of a church that knows what it believes in and is unafraid to express it. I certainly felt I had returned to a spiritual home.


For the next two and a half years I took part in the process leading to Ordained Ministry. There was some study and a lot of personal reflection. Academically, during this period, I completed my Master of Theological Studies degree from St. Stephen’s College, University of Alberta in Edmonton Alberta. Also, I took a course on the Book of Common Prayer taken through St. Bede’s Anglican Catholic Theological College. I was ordained to the Diaconate, in Ottawa, Ontario on April 8th, 2006, and to the Priesthood, in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 8th, 2007.

Part II - My Ministry up to this point

Since 2003, I have been in the process of establishing a Traditional Anglican Parish in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I am the Rector of Parish of the Holy Cross, and it is associated with the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, which follows the Anglican Tradition and Rite as part of Christ's one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Parish of the Holy Cross is also part of the Traditional Anglican Communion. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a Catholic Church in the Anglican Tradition.


The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada believe that in the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Creeds, the Lord's Sacraments, and the Apostolic Succession, the essential nature of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is faithfully preserved, and through them the Catholic religion is faithfully practiced.


Our parish’s mission is to worship God, to live in Christ's love, and to offer that love to a fallen world. I have been able to gather faithful people to worship on Sunday mornings.

My pastorate, thus far, has been a positive experience. I have organized the parish from the ground up. I have taken care of all the legal matters such as formally establishing the parish as a charitable organization with the federal government. We are also registered under the Societies Act of the Province of Nova Scotia.


I take care of all the financing and banking. I created a parish website, and it has been running since 2004. I have also formed a Vestry or parish council as I continue to nurture lay leadership. I had been fortunate enough to have a Lay Reader/Warden who is a professor of History and Religious Studies and has a sound theological background. His wife provided us with leadership in the area of music. Recently, this family have left the parish. So, we are in the process of filling that void.


At this stage in my pastorate, I am building the foundation of a church which hopefully will last years to come. There are no guarantees, so I have to remain active in my mission. My main task is to evaluate and re-evaluate the most effective roles and the needs of the people of God. However, I believe that the church is strong because, for me, it represents the core Christian values held by many Anglicans. We present a faith which has taken a beating in our present age of secularization. I developed a parish website as a means of outreach for those who possess the internet. We have also placed many advertisements in the Cape Breton Post, as well as other media outlets. I’ve written articles and have been live for radio interviews.


Currently, our strength lies in the energy that we possess and our sense of determination to succeed as a faith community. If we lose that zeal, it will be difficult to build on what we have already established. Our weakness lays in the fact that we are still not yet large enough to be effective in the larger community. Most people, naturally, do not want to take a chance on something new, even if it is appears traditional and familiar to them. So we are at a disadvantage. Something we must overcome if we want to build up our church.


I believe that our potential is excellent because we offer an alternative for Anglicans who have seen their traditional forms of worship eroded and in some cases eliminated. By offering the Book of Common Prayer and consistent theological positions, our church will be a point of reference for people seeking a spiritual home.


Also, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, three former parishes have assimilated into a single parish with two pastors. The potential here is that some people will not want to take part in a consolidated Anglican parish with a simplified liturgy and will look to us for direction.

I believe that the surrounding community will look to us for guidance along with those previously mentioned in Sydney. So I do believe that there is potential for our Parish and the growth factor is very real.


Our goal as an Anglican Catholic Community is to share our faith with others; inviting them to be part of a loving community, part of the Body of Christ, where the traditional liturgy is reverently celebrated and the teaching is biblical and orthodox. If we are able to do this, then that is the measure of success for our church and a measure of success for my ministry.


With regard to other activities in Ministry, I am a founding member of the Society of St. Michael. The SSM is a world-wide society of Clergy dedicated to the Anglican expression of the Catholic Faith. I serve as “Vicar” of the Society of St. Michael; which means that I act much like the vice-president.


Additionally, I am a member of Spiritual Directors International. This came about after I took the DMin course taught by Dr. John Sumarah. I was inspired to look deeper into my spiritual self and discover a desire to join others in their spiritual journey. I am also a member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. As I take the opportunity of providing Spiritual care, I feel that must be part of a larger body of Chaplains.


Part III - My theological understanding of “Ministry”


Before I go deeper into understanding of my own ministry, I would like to reflect on the meaning of ministry. For me, ministry is a holy form of service. It is a way of sharing one’s time, treasure and talents with and for others. Ministry is a giving of oneself and it is unconditional. Unlike other forms of service where one is paid for the work done for others, ministry is carried out as an act of love and done for the betterment of everyone concerned.


As Christians, we are all members of the Body of Christ. We, as the People of God, can play a part in the life of the whole Church. That 'part' or 'role' occurs through their ministry and is used to help foster community. People are not limited to being mere observers, but members actively living their faith.


Ministry expands our celebration of Faith by making it experiential. We celebrate ourselves as community. Ministry connects us to one another. We use our gifts to help the people around us and if we heed the call of Jesus, we take that ministry of service and love out into the larger world.


Ordained ministry is a consecrated ministry that involves specific roles that are deemed as necessary for the fulfilment of Sacramental Rites in the Church. These roles, set down by Saint Paul and the early Church, are meant to establish leadership. When I say leadership, I don’t mean the power of one person over another, but a leadership that guides people in both the teachings of the faith and ways to live out the Christian life.


Ordained ministry becomes more than simply fulfilling Sacramental requirements; it is a vocation. It becomes one’s life. Ordained ministry is a calling that one lives and discerns throughout their lifetime. Ordained ministry is also about living within the Faith Community in and through all situations. It is about baptisms and funerals and everything else in between. It’s about encouraging and empowering others to follow their path to eternal glory.


My understanding of ministry is that we all act out of love unconditionally in service to others. With ministry, one is able to journey with the faithful through their lives. With ordained ministry, the Priest is Consecrated into a Sacred service which reaches out to the Faithful through participation in the Seven Sacraments, the Teaching of Church Doctrines and Pastoral Care. It embodies the Ministry of Christ, who is our Teacher, Preacher and Healer.

Part IV - The Functions of my Ministry


During my Doctor of Ministry application process, both the parish and I were asked to comment briefly on the functions of my ministry. We were given ten categories or leadership types to assess my style of ministry. It was very similar to what we presented with in our DMin course. In no particular order, I would like to comment on the four strongest characteristics that were discovered during the DMin application process. The parish and I were very much in accord with regard to the four strongest ministry characteristics that I possessed.


Organizer and Administrator


The role of Organizer and Administrator means the ability to bring to life something which hadn’t previously existed. For example, I organized the parish so that it would immediately have legal status in the secular world. As mentioned previously, our parish became a charitable organization registered under the Societies Act of the Province of Nova Scotia and is registered federally with Revenue Canada.


Most people would take this for granted or simply not think about it at all. But administration is the life blood of keeping an organization alive. Without it, ministry would be greatly limited. I am a builder at heart and I attempt to be as creative as possible. I like to focus on the big picture, while working on details. I am also able to administer to the needs of the Church because of my management skills and past experience in administration.


That said; I also understand that there is a need for evangelism and outreach for our parish, and as pastor and preacher I am responsible for leading the way in spreading the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.


Pastor


The role of Pastor means to care for the souls of those who are under his responsibility. It is an ultimate leadership role. People look to you to provide direction for the faith community. I would like to think that I offer the demeanor of confidence, assuring the parish that it is heading in the right direction as a Christian community.


Preacher


The role of Preacher means that I’m able to get up and reveal the wisdom of Holy Scripture. It is a tool that can be used to bring about transformation in peoples’ lives. Preaching, especially good preaching, can lead an individual to righteousness. I’ve worked hard to present the Gospel message in a relevant way, hopefully offering up an opportunity to affect parishioners both on an individual level, as well as collectively.


Teacher

I would like to emphasize that behind these roles in ministry, I aspire to be a teacher of sound doctrine as understood by the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada and the Traditional Anglican Communion. As a teacher, I hope to use my spiritual gifts to empower others to become faithful active Christians by imparting God’s revelation to humanity.


Overall


My strength is that I am fully committed to the church’s ministry and mission in the world. My weakness is that I can, at times, become impatient when looking for improvement and success (whatever that means!). When it doesn’t come quickly enough, I lose focus on my goals. However, my long term goal in ministry is to empower others to plant Anglican Catholic Communities. How I do that may change over time, but the goal remains the same.


Part V - The Class List of “Roles”

In reviewing the "roles in ministry" that we discussed in class, I’ve tried to see where I fit in. The list was quite extensive and we covered many types of ministry. I admired many, if not all, of the theologians who covered the topic.

I had to ask the questions, am I amongst the Apostles and Saints or am I with the early Church Fathers emphasizing the importance of a priestly ministry? I learned through this process how Saint Gregory of Nazianzus instructed us with what a priest should be as it relates to the morning devotional. I also discovered how the early church discerned the nature of ministry and the importance of having the priesthood connect itself to the Sacraments. I enjoyed teaching the seminar on Saints Basil and Benedict and how they introduced us to the disciplines of Monastic life. What an enduring gift! I especially liked learning more about Saint Ignatius of Loyola and “the Spiritual Exercises.”


I was even glad to learn about the “Master” John Calvin and how Pietisms awoke our spirit from my Baptist friends. I definitely would love to preach like the Reformers and hold command from the pulpit as they did. In a small way, I can relate to the Rev. Martin Luther OSA because I believe that he attempted to reform the Church from within, certainly at the initial stages.


As a Priest, I am taught that I am a preacher, teacher and healer as our Lord as Saviour was. But additionally, I also believe that I am a builder and a planter. The last five years of ministry tells me that. The question for me is what kind of builder and planter? I am very interested in being part of the process which helps define our Church. Both my Master of Theological Studies degree thesis and my Doctor of Ministry thesis directly relate to this matter. So I have an ever-growing interest in playing a Scholarly role, helping the builders and planters understand what the Church stands for.


The great gift of this Theological Foundations of Ministry course is that it opened me up to the thought process of defining my ministry more clearly. Certainly as a class, we were a cohort with very different backgrounds and different stories to tell. Add to the mix, a thoughtful and well prepared teacher and our result was a very successful Doctor of Ministry seminar.


Part VI - A Role Model - The Rev. Dr. Moses M. Coady

Moses M. Coady was born at Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia on January 3rd, 1882. Many of his early years were spent on his father's farm. Unlike many youths of that period Moses Coady continued his education. In 1900, he enrolled in the Provincial Normal College in Truro. Upon his graduation in 1901, he became principal of Margaree Forks School. In 1903, Moses entered St. Francis Xavier University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in two years.

Coady was also beginning to have a desire to be a priest. He, therefore, applied to the Collegio Urbano (Urban College) in Rome. He was very proficient in Latin and Philosophy. Consequently, after only two years, he was able to graduate with a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He continued his studies to be a priest and as a result, in 1910, he was ordained in Rome.

Shortly after his ordination Father Coady was appointed as teacher of the high school that was affiliated with the university. A few years later, in 1914, the university was considering establishing a Department of Education. It therefore sent Doctor Coady to Washington, D.C., to the Catholic University of America, to study for a Master's Degree in Education. He received this degree in 1915. He returned home to St. F.X. soon after to continue his duties as teacher. He was also appointed principal of the school.

He later became a professor of philosophy at the university. In 1924, St .F.X. decided to create a Department of Education. Doctor Coady was the logical choice to be chosen to head this new department.

In 1928, the government created a Royal Commission to investigate the fisheries following the Revolution in Canso. Dr. Coady addressed the commission on behalf of the fishermen. It later made its recommendations to the federal government. It urged the organization of fishery co-operatives. The government hired Dr. Coady to undertake this task. For twelve months Dr. Coady travelled extensively throughout the province meeting with groups of fishermen. The movement toward fishermen organizations culminated in the creation of the United Maritime Fishermen. Additionally, in 1928, the Extension Department of St. F.X. was created to promote adult education and co-operation in eastern Nova Scotia. Doctor Coady was chosen to fill the role of Director. It became his job to rally the people, to get them to realize that they had power and that with that power they could make a much better life for themselves.

On July 28th, 1959, the Rev. Dr. Moses Coady died at the age of seventy-seven. His life and ministry was devoted to the care of marginalized and disenfranchised. What began as a way to help Maritime fishermen became a worldwide phenomenon. Through St. FX and Dr. Coady’s institute there developed an international program that empowered the poor to speak for themselves.

I believe that Moses Coady was influential because he played the role of both scholar and activist. Dr. Coady never lost his touch with the common man or of their basic concerns. He saw a need and attempted to work on it. He saw a problem and attempted to fix it. Equally, he was a scholar and an academic who saw the larger picture. He was able to empower an uneducated group of workers and create an institution which would outlive him. He established an institute which would reach out to the disenfranchised of the developing world and empower them to improve their lot in life. Dr. Moses Coady was a builder and planter of the Antigonish Movement, as well he was both a Coach and an Enabler to a sizable portion of the population, the working poor.

I see my ministry hopefully going in somewhat the same direction. I certainly aspire to being an academic who keeps his feet on the ground, working for a practical application of God’s plan for each and everyone of us.


Conclusion

I began this essay by reflecting upon my early ministry. I looked back to when I started to teach Sunday school at my local Roman Catholic parish. I eventually became involved in four areas of Ministry at St. Mary’s Parish: Baptism, Religious Education, Adult Faith Development and Liturgy. I also organized the Summer Vacation Bible School. My Roman Catholic Lay Ministry lasted from 1992 till 1998. Because of this I felt called to ordained ministry. Between 1998 and 2003, I was an active Anglican. But on December 23rd, 2003, after four years of lay ministry in the Anglican Church, I joined the Traditional Anglican Communion, and it is through this church that I became an ordained minister.


In my current Ministry, I have established a parish called “Holy Cross” and it is associated with the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, which follows the Anglican Tradition and Rite as part of Christ's One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Parish of the Holy Cross is also part of the Traditional Anglican Communion. The Traditional Anglican Communion is a Catholic Church in the Anglican Tradition. I am the chief organizer and administrator of the parish providing leadership in areas ranging from purchasing items to managing the parish website. To become better informed and to enhance my ministry, I became a member of both Spiritual Directors International and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. I am also the Vicar of the Society of St. Michael; an international organization of Anglican Clergy.


For me, Ministry is a blessed form of service. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Minister enables others to become faithful active members of the Body of Christ. Ministry connects us all, as we journey throughout our lives, together as faithful Christians.


Ordained Ministry is a Sacramental Ministry, whereby the Church, through the Priest, reaches out to the Faithful through the Seven Sacraments, the Teaching of Church Doctrines and Pastoral Care. Ordained ministry embodies the Ministry of Jesus Christ, who is our Teacher, Preacher and Healer, and it connects us directly to the Blessed Trinity.

I believe that I do have something to offer as a Pastor and Preacher. I also think that the role of organizer and administrator or builder and planter remains important. Without these skills, I believe my Ministry would be greatly limited. The question for me however, is what kind of builder and planter can I be in the future?


Certainly, the Rev. Dr. Moses Coady is an excellent Role Model as a coach and enabler whom I can follow. Dr. Coady saw that it was necessary to help those who could not help themselves. He spoke on behalf of Fishermen and Workers, the disenfranchised and the marginalized. He also enabled them by educating them and giving them the power to ultimately speak for themselves. Even though this was not a process to build churches, it was a process that built communities around the Church and it was supported by the Church. My goal is to do the same.


My academic studies have helped me build up a theological foundation for myself and I continue to be very interested in being part of the process which helps define our Church. I hope to utilize my Spiritual Gifts of Teaching and Writing in order to enable others to think theologically and become faithful active Christians. In this way, much like the Rev. Dr. Moses Coady, I can be both an effective Coach and Enabler by empowering the devoted Christian to better understand their faith journey. How I do that may change over time, but the goal remains the same.

END

* The photo above: At Holy Redeemer Parish Catholic Church, I was Baptized, received my first Holy Communion, Confirmed and Married. In the spring of 2012 I also held Anglican Morning Prayer services.


Originally entitled, The Character of my Ministry was submitted to Dr. William H. Brackney as a course requirement for D.Min. 8526 The Theological Foundations of Ministry

Published on June 23rd, 2008

{Revised August 25th, 2023}

© Dr. Charles Warner 2023


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