Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shakeup hits Anglican diocese

Rupert's Land to add cathedral after merger with Kenora-area parishes

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Soon you can call Donald Phillips the bishop with two -- er -- seats.

On Aug. 1, when Anglican parishes of the southern region of the Diocese of Keewatin join the Diocese of Rupert's Land, the cathedral in Kenora, Ont., is part of the package.

"It deserves to keep some special recognition," Phillips says of the Cathedral Church of St. Alban the Martyr in Kenora.

"It's just been decided it will maintain the name 'cathedral.' "

A cathedral is a church with a seat or chair for the bishop, sometimes called the seat of the diocese.

Since Rupert's Land already has St. John's Cathedral, at 135 Anderson Ave. in Winnipeg, Phillips essentially has two seats.

More importantly, Phillips heads up 15 additional parishes with the extension of the eastern boundaries of Rupert's Land to include Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet and Fort Alexander at Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. The remaining 12 are located in northwestern Ontario, including Kenora, Rainy River and Sioux Lookout.

The parishes join Rupert's Land after the dissolution of the Diocese of Keewatin and the creation of a new diocese called the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, which includes 25 communities in northwestern Ontario and northern Manitoba.

Last month, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa was installed as bishop of Mishamikoweesh, which was proclaimed as a diocese on June 14.

Changing jurisdictions is one of those proverbial mixed blessings, since it involves saying goodbye to a long association with northern aboriginal communities in the former Diocese of Keewatin, says the dean of St. Alban.

"One of the things we will miss is the close relationship we have with the northern Ontario region," says Rev. James Duggan.

"We're looking forward to a diocese which is a bit smaller in size," he adds, referring to the old diocese's vast geographical area.

He expects the cathedral congregation will also see less of Bishop Donald Phillips, who lives in Winnipeg, than they did of Bishop David Ashdown of Keewatin, who lives in the parish. Ashdown retires from ministry on Dec. 31, 2015.

Duggan says the mainly English-speaking congregations in the southern region of Keewatin benefited from linguistic and cultural diversity of the diocese and learned to really listen to each other in meetings held in both English and Oji-Cree.

"That method causes you to listen more carefully to the message," says Duggan.

"That resulted in a deep respect for each other."

Phillips hopes the former Keewatin parishes can bring those qualities to their new diocese.

"I think it will be quite interesting for us," says Phillips, who is on leave from his diocesan duties until Oct. 1 to complete his doctoral dissertation.

"It will be a slightly different cultural emphasis that will enrich us, but it will be like family."

The addition of the Keewatin parishes will result in additional income for Rupert's Land through diocesan levies, but Phillips says no decisions have been made on additional diocesan staff.

The expansion of Rupert's Land means its boundaries to the east more closely align with those of the MNO Synod of the Evangelical Church in Canada. Anglicans and Lutherans have a full communion relationship, and the diocese and synod share office space at the Anglican Lutheran Centre in Fort Garry.

brenda@suderman.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2014 D15

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