A WINNIPEG priest and film buff has been elected as the next bishop of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle in southern Saskatchewan. The Venerable Helen Kennedy won on the second ballot.
Kennedy will be consecrated on Jan. 22 at St Paul’s cathedral in Regina. She succeeds Bp Rob Hardwick who retired on July 31 after almost nine years of episcopal ministry.
In her candidate’s video Kennedy told synod members that the pandemic taught us that “Isolation is not a good thing, that we are much better together than apart, which we as prairie people already know.” But the pandemic also taught us “new ways to connect and be Church in our communities.”
She is excited about the URCLA (Ukrainian Roman Catholic Lutheran Anglican) covenant unleashing community services in the diocese. “Enlarging our tents to share in the richness of others can only benefit the whole Church writ large.”
Kennedy strongly supports the self-determining Indigenous expression of the Anglican Church believing it will “only make the church a richer and more exciting place to be.”
She is a film buff who likes to ask: “Where is God in this? How is humanity portrayed? What are the parables being told in this movie?”
As bishop she would hope to “foster a high level of trust, share in decision-making, be transparent and respect another’s theological standpoint, embracing enough grace to agree to disagree.”
At General Synod 2019, Kennedy voted to change the Marriage Canon, although the motion failed.
Kennedy was born and raised in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, and came to Canada with her young family when she was thirty. She graduated with her BA in Theology from the University of Winnipeg and her MA in Theological Studies from Canadian Mennonite University. Kennedy was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land in 2007. She then served half-time as the diocesan Youth Minister and half-time in the parish of St George’s (Transcona) in Winnipeg. She became its rector in 2010.
She and her husband Stephen have between them five adult children.
Bp Hardwick chose a rather gruelling way to say farewell to his diocese – he embarked on a cycling pilgrimage to visit more than fifty of his churches. With four cycling partners working in one-hour relays he covered over 2,800 km total or about 200 km a day in summer heat.
“[I]nstead of having a big meal and inviting people to Regina,” he explained, ‘I just wanted to go to every community where we have a church and say thank you to all the people for their faith, the way they live their lives and the Christian way they operate in every community.”
The Diocese of Qu’Appelle covers the southern third of Saskatchewan, and contains about half of the Saskatchewan population. It consists of 64 congregations worshipping in 33 parishes.
The diocesan website proclaims: “Our mission, as a diocese, is the same as for any Christian community: To proclaim the faith of Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ risen and Christ among us.”
The Diocese was established in 1884 as the Diocese of Assiniboia. The diocesan archivist, Trevor Powell, writes:
“An Anglican presence had been present for some time with native catechists and priests ministering to their people at Touchwood Hills and Qu’Appelle Lakes. With the advent of the railway, itinerant clergy held services in settlements along the CPR main line.”
At the turn of the 20th century a large influx of European immigrants poured into southern Saskatchewan. Anglican clergy and laity ministered to these newcomers by establishing the English Church Railway Mission, the Shropshire Mission to North-West Canada, the Caron-Herbert Mission and the Canadian Sunday School Caravan Mission.
Archivist Powell noted how drought, immigration, war, the Great Depression and rural depopulation had significantly impacted the diocese but concluded: “While there have been church closures, declining attendance and fewer professional clergy, the use of a locally-ordained ministry, consolidation of parishes, shared ministry with other denominations and service to the needy and vulnerable in our larger cities, is creating a more committed and vibrant membership.” TAP