On the first day of March, 2020, the Feast of St. David, members of the parish of All Saints’ Cathedral and the Diocese of Edmonton rejoiced over the new ministry of the Very Rev. Alexandra Meek.
Meek was installed during Choral Evensong by the Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander, Bishop of Edmonton. The service featured music by the Cathedral Choir and All Saints’ Music Director Jeremy Spurgeon. Two members of the Cathedral Choir, Caroline Howarth and Stuart Beatch, read the lessons.
In her homily, Bishop Jane referenced the Salt and Light reading from the Gospel of Matthew (5:13-16), describing the new dean as a “salty Christian who knows with every fibre of her being that we, every single one of us, are called by Jesus to be the salt and the light: to transform a world that is hurting, to bring faith to those who doubt and hope to those who are at risk of giving up. She longs for healing and restoration in this broken world,” she said. “She loves to put new life and hope into things. It is expressed in her preaching and in her pastoral care.”
When interviewed in January about her new role, Meek told The Messenger she “was drawn to the sense of possibility of a future with All Saint’s parish as it continues to push past its front doors to be Christ’s hands and feet in Edmonton, while focussing on living out the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, outreach and social justice.”
All Saints’ ministry is far-reaching; touching people at both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum: people living in million-dollar condominiums to people sleeping in cardboard shelters in the river valley.
“The cathedral is home to people who are hurting and forgotten,” said Bishop Jane. “And it is a place where reconciliation happens and new relationships are forged.”
In preparation for inducting Alex Meek as rector of All Saints’ Cathedral, Bishop Jane asked Eliza Hilliar and Russel Burns, a cousin to the Ven. Travis Enright, Archdeacon for Indigenous Ministry, to offer a smudge. Hilliar said a prayer and Burns invited Meek and members of the congregation to smudge with the sacred smoke for spiritual cleansing.
Presenting symbols of ministry were members of the cathedral including: Douglas Cowan and Brenda Voyce, Mary-Lou Cleveland, Liz Hickey and Rob Reynolds, and Barbara and Brian Burrows, who brought forth bread and wine, a Bible and water.
Meek was then joined by members of the All Saints’ Ministry Team: the Rev. Quinn Strikwerda, Jeremy Spurgeon, Sara Kate Edwards-Smith, the Rev. John Gee and Canon Gwen Bright, who promised to take care with Meek to “preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and together build up the common life.”
In addition to being home to three distinct Sunday morning and Evensong congregations, the Dinka parish of St. Mark’s-Jieng, and Friday morning breakfast, Thursday lunchtime and Manna Market communities, the cathedral is also the Mother Church or home base of the diocese.
As the senior cleric of the diocese, Alex will encourage her colleagues to stretch themselves in building up the Kingdom of God, Bishop Jane said.
“I know that she will do it with grace and unfailing good humour. If you let her, she will make you even saltier in your ministry. Her job is also to help you shine, to be light the kind of light that reflects the light of Christ. We heard in the collect for St. David tonight that we should show forth God’s abiding love in a dark and anxious world. This sharing brings light, makes the world not so dark, not so anxious. We are to share good news, to be good news, and to help others become, and share good news, themselves - this is our purpose.”
At the conclusion of the installation and induction service, All Saints’ welcomed the congregation to a reception for Alex Meek and her family. While refreshments were served, Archdeacon Travis Enright spoke about an exhibit of photographs, video, poetry and stories, curated by Bleeding Heart Art Space, a ministry of St. Faith’s Anglican Church. The travelling exhibit depicts the healing journey of the Burns Family: 11 brothers and sisters (and their parents, Rodman and Ruth Burns), who attended Gordon’s Residential School in Saskatchewan.
Alex Meek, Enright and members of St. Faith’s Anglican Church, joined the Burns family at Wapihoo (White Owl) Healing Camp on the shores of Pigeon Lake for a multi-generational gathering in September, 2019. They led a Standing Stones service and Meek, then rector of St. George’s, Edmonton, read the “Apology for Spiritual Harm” offered by the Anglican Church of Canada to Indigenous Peoples. In the words of one family member: “The Apology from the Anglican Church was extremely emotional to hear firsthand. It is deeply needed.”
The exhibit can be viewed at the cathedral until April 12, weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm, and Sundays during services. Learn more at bleedingheartart.space/blog/2020/2/the-burns-family-healing-camp .
Post updated March 5, 2020