On New Year’s Day, 31 members of the newly formed Huronia Cluster Ministry boarded a Hammond highway coach to travel together the approximately 140 kms. to the cathedral church of St. James in Toronto in order to attend Choral Evensong and the presentations of the Order of the Diocese of Toronto (ODT). This honour of being appointed to the Order of the Diocese of Toronto has been created in order to recognize and celebrate people in especially long and fruitful lay ministries in the life of the church and the community. Why so many people travelling so far? It is because five of the 52 appointees to the order for 2015 are members of the churches that make up the Huronia Cluster Ministry. These churches are: St. John, Matchedash, St. George, Fairvalley, St. Paul, Washago, St. Luke, Price’s Corners and the Church of the Good Samaritan, Port Stanton. The clergy and people of these churches wanted to share in the celebration of the newly appointed ODT members.
The day together started at noon in clear cold weather as we departed St. Luke’s, Price’s Corners with 29 members on board. The church is on Highway 12W just outside Orillia. Joanne Reid of St. George’s, Fairvalley was our able guide for the event, starting us off in prayer and then advising us of the itinerary and activities going on that day at the cathedral. Joanne also told us that it was our driver Rick’s birthday and so we thanked him for spending his special day with us and sang Happy Birthday to him. Part way along the route we stopped to pick up 2 more members and off we went to the cathedral. Upon arrival we assembled on the cathedral steps for a group photo.
When we got there the Bishops’ Levee was still in progress so some of us were able to go through the receiving line. Then we took our seats for the Music for Trumpet and Organ at 3 p.m., followed by Choral Evensong and the Presentation of the ODT starting at 3:30. The cathedral choir and organist provided beautiful and inspiring music for the service. Archbishop Johnson’s homily reminded us of the ministry of Jesus, whose life as a Jew began with his naming and circumcision on the eighth day of his life, commemorated on January 1. And just as the ministry of Jesus involved serving and standing up for God’s people, so it is our ministry to follow his example. The appointees to the ODT exemplify many aspects of the ministry to which all of us are called by virtue of our baptism. The presentation included 4 members of our cluster of churches being appointed in person. These were: Janet Coombs, St. John, Matchedash; Ann Orser, St. Luke, Price’s Corners; Evelyn Reid and Don Walker, St. George, Fairvalley. The fifth appointee, Vern Taylor, St. Paul, Washago, was unable to attend due to his health. Vern will receive his ODT at a service at his home church on January 18. During the reading of the citations for all 52 appointees the congregation was told of the wide, varied, capable and dedicated service that these people have carried out, both within parish and diocesan life and also in the wider community. They set truly inspiring examples for all of us.
The return trip included a stop for supper and a bit more excitement before we all got home. Just north of Barrie it began to snow and by the time we arrived in Orillia the snow was falling heavily. Joanne Reid completed her many duties by leading us in a lovely prayer from the Compline (late evening) service. Our driver learned that one of our members lives close to the route we were on and so took a short detour to drop her at home. The lot at her residence was snow covered and the turn for the bus to exit the lot was extremely tight. Some of our members got off the bus to spot for Rick and after a multi-point turn we were once again on our way, with the group erupting in a spontaneous cheer. Evelyn Reid, ODT, suggested that this work merited a rousing chorus and so we sang out, “For He’s a Jolly Good Driver” to the delight of all. By the time we arrived back at St. Luke’s the snow was heavy and covered our vehicles. We stepped inside the church to take some photos of the ODT recipients, including a St. Luke’s recipient from 2014, Julie Poore, and by 9 p.m. we went our separate ways in near whiteout conditions on snowy roads. Fortunately, everyone got to their homes safely, with wonderful memories of a day spent together, in adventure, in friendship, in prayer and in great admiration for our local appointees to the ODT.