Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year. May the year of 2010 be a blessed one for each and everyone of you.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas One and All

May the peace and joy of this blessed season be yours throughout the new year.

Love and Prayers
Ann Marie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adelaide Pearl Ash

(This is what I wrote for Owen to say at the Celebration of Mom's Life. The bit about when Dad was ordained to the dianconate is Dad's contribution.)

Adelaide Pearl Ash
January 27, 1927 - December 11, 2009

Mom was a storyteller. She could take just about any situation and make a story out of it, often with a light and humorous touch. She also did not like things to be long and drawn out. In honour of our mother we have decided to keep those two things in mind as we celebrate her life.

When we think of our mother, it is hard to think of her without thinking of the very deep love she shared with our father. It wasn’t always that way. When Dad first moved to Peace River when he and Mom were twelve she nearly had the hair pulled out of her head by a friend when Mom refused to agree that Dad was a pretty great guy. However, her opinion changed.

On their 60th wedding anniversary Dad stood up to speak. He spoke of his love for Mom. At that moment a picture was taken of the two of them. Every word that Dad was saying was more than visible on Mom’s face as she gazed up at him.

Dad always claimed that when he would look at Mom his heart would skip a beat. We thought it was just a metaphor. We were wrong. When Dad was in the hospital a few years back, in CCU, Mom walked into the room to see him. Katherine was right behind Mom and noticed that on the heart monitor Dad’s heart literally missed a beat as soon as he saw Mom.

Mom loved to read. When the children were small she would sit with them and read to them. One of the books she read to Norman was the Dog That Wouldn’t Be. There were times while reading it that she would be laughing so hard she couldn’t continue. She told little vignettes out of that book and would laugh just as hard each time. When Sean was little and Mom and Dad took care of him after school, she continued her practice of reading to children.

Mom read for herself as well. She constantly looked for ways to stimulate her mind. She read all genres of books. She took university courses. And each morning she did the crossword puzzle.

There were some interesting edges to Mom as well. She was very competitive. She was upfront and honest in most contests though except party games. Ann Marie remembers attending a bridal shower once put on by the Jessie’s. It was after Mom and Dad had moved to Nipawin. She was sitting by one of Mom’s best friends, Betty Mauchel. They were working on one of those typical party word games. Betty leaned over to Ann Marie and told her, “We sure miss your Mom. She cheated the best of us all.”

Mom would not back down from a fight. She was stubborn and certainly had her own opinions. The family was on a vacation in Vancouver one year. They were driving from their campground in Surrey to Simon Fraser University. Mom and Dad had one of their regular arguments about Dad’s driving. Dad abruptly pulled the car over to the side of the road, turned to Mom and said, “All right. You drive.” Mom wouldn’t give an inch. She got out of her side of the car and walked around and took her place in the driver’s seat. We made it to our destination with only one wrong turn. Later, when we visited Dad’s nephew and his wife, Carol was horrified to think that Dad would do such a thing. Mom just lapped up all the sympathy.

Often when Mom was involved in something like reading she lost touch a bit with the outside world. Many were the times the family had to resort to yelling, “Fire!” to get her attention. And sometimes even that didn’t work.

One of Mom’s gifts was hospitality. She served numerous meals both to friends and to people in need. She was always conscious of the possible needs of others. When Norman first brought Sheila home to meet Mom and Dad, it was for a supper. Mom was a aware that Sheila might be somewhat uncomfortable meeting them for the first time so she invited friends of Norman and Sheila for the meal as well.

Mom was marvellous at food presentation but there were a few times it didn’t quite work out. One Christmas she decided to bring in the Christmas pudding with it aflame. She doused the pudding with rum and set a match to it. She then carried it festively into the dining room. The problem was that the tray was stainless steel. The flame soon superheated the tray and Mom was hard-pressed to get the pudding to the table without dropping it.

The concern for the needs of others also showed itself in her social justice work. Mom had a list. On this list were a number of companies and corporations she believed were not practicing good social justice. The biggest problem was that Mom never wrote this list down and there was a lot of fluidity to the list. When taking Mom on a trip one never knew which gas station to stop at just in case it was on the list. This also extended to food processing corporations and clothing companies. For a while the grandchildren had to be very careful which brand name clothing with logos they wore around their grandmother.

Mom’s care did not stop with human beings. She was forever sneaking treats to the various family pets. Katherine finally had to threaten Mom with the vet bills if she continued to give tidbits of human food to them. She would then give Mom a few doggie treats to give to them. The dogs all knew that Mom’s presence meant treats and cuddles.

One cannot think of Mom without thinking of the years she spent in ministry with Dad. From the very first she was every bit as much a minister as Dad and Dad will often say that she should have been the one that was ordained. It is in this role in her life that many people first knew her and then discovered a wonderful, talented, compassionate friend. It is telling that Mom and Dad still receive Christmas cards from people in all the parishes they ministered.

When Dad was growing up his mother prayed that he would become a minister in God's church and then left it to God to respond as God would. In retrospect it would seem that one of the ways that God worked to answer that prayer was through Mom who expressed a strong feeling that the two of them should go into some form of full time ministry, and encouraged Dad to give some serious thought to that possibility. As time went on the sense of being called grew and at the same time took a somewhat different shape. As a result Dad went off to college for four years and Mom was the sole support of a young family of three.

When all this came to fruition in the service in which Dad was ordained Deacon, Mom, at the age of 29, was shocked to learn something she had not counted on -- the wife of a deacon was supposed to be -- a godly matron!

One of the things Mom adamant about was that things should not drag on. There are so many stories that we would like to share to continue to show what a wonderful person, friend, wife, mother, and grandmother our mother was but in honour of her love of brevity we will leave you with the few already told.

Love and Prayers
Ann Marie

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"the Anglican experiment is over"

It's been an interesting time dealing with the questions resulting from the announcement that the Roman Catholic Church will accept dissident Anglicans into their fold. The first I heard of it was on coffee row one morning. I had just arrived and sat by my rector's warden. He leaned over to me and told me he had heard on the radio that morning that the pope had welcomed Anglicans and would accept me as a priest. But married priests could not become bishops (which is actually not scriptural by the way). I figured that was a little far-fetched. I could see Rome accepting male priests but not a female one.

So home I went to look into this. And of course I came to understand that it was dissident Anglicans who could not just accept people like me being ordained or consecrated as bishops. And the reality is that some present Anglicans may well swim the Tiber but most who accept this offer left the Anglican Communion a while ago.

So, you can imagine the rumours flying around, the most prominent being that the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church were going to join. My first statement when someone says that to me (and it is usually someone from the Roman Catholic Church) is that the Roman Catholic Church will be accepting our disaffected Anglicans and trouble makers (please accept that this is said tongue in cheek). My next is to explain the reality on the ground.

But official responses have been interesting. One especially caught my attention and caused a response. The Telegraph in England has a quote from the Right Reverend John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham in which he claims that "the Anglican experiment is over."

Does this speak loudly about the type of people leaving or what? This man considers that because a certain small portion of the Anglican Communion might possibly consider swimming the Tiber, including himself possibly, 500 hundred years of struggling to grow into ourselves and God's will for us is now over. To me that is the height of arrogance - which (and I know that I am not being PC in this) is a trait I associate with the more vocal opponents of women's ordination. (And I will stress the more vocal part of that statement as I do know some very wonderful and gracious people who don't support WO but are not arrogantly vocal about it.) It is typical that it is their way or the highway and that somehow they alone know exactly what it is that God wills. Or at least that is how a number of them come across.

I firmly believe that "the Anglican experiment" is far from over. What we are experiencing is our growing pains as we grow more fully into who we are meant to be and as we struggle with discerning what that is. I think we still have something of great value to offer those searching for a spiritual home. And I firmly believe that we will survive this and grow closer to God for having been refined by all the fires we are going through.

On a lighter note here are what Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have to say about all this. Enjoy and please take these with a sense of humour. Anglicans will see the glaring errors in some of their understandings.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie +

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Vision 2019

This is my contribution to the Anglican Church of Canada's Vision 2019 project.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Friday, September 11, 2009

Avoiding Work

This isn't actually about avoiding work. It's just a result of my avoiding work. I was thinking further on the clerical collar thing. Actually, I was walking. I now drive a diesel truck and unless I am driving any distance it is a pain to warm up so I have started walking if I am going anywhere in town. It means scheduling things a little differently but I have found it also gives me time for thinking that I didn't have before.

Anyway, I was thinking about the clerical collar thing. And the thought struck me that we speak about the Incarnation. God became one of us and dwelt among us in all ways. God did not set God's self apart from even the lowest of the low in any distinguishing way. I can't even begin to count the times people have said to me - When you told me you were a priest, I sort of went oh-oh but then I looked at you and figured you would be okay. And often this opens a door to all sorts of interesting discussions about faith and the church.

To balance it out - I have also heard stories where wearing the collar has helped people open up as well. I certainly don't expect people to not wear the collar just because of my experiences. And each of us must do what we feel comfortable within ourselves doing. I will admit that part of the reason I don't wear a collar is that I grew up with a priest who did not always wear one and it is what I knew. But I also think that there is something to be said for truly being among the people as one of them as opposed to being visibly set apart. I think it depends on the person as well. There are many who would not be suited to my style of ministry. It also depends on the context of the ministry and who we are trying to reach and what their needs are. I will admit to some interesting conversations when I have been wearing my collar as well.

I just think that we have to think seriously about making something a hard and fast rule. If we stick to one way of doing things, we are only going to meet the needs of a limited number of people. If we allow for diversity, we will reach many more.

I can appreciate the calls for moving back to older rituals. I understand that there is a growing population that appreciates that. But, lets not go to extremes. Let us not become rigid in how we do things - expecting people to conform to one way of doing things. Rather, lets allow for different possibilities, different ways of being able to learn about and to express our faith.

Another concern would be why we do these things. Do they become idols in themselves? Do we do them because they set us apart? Or do we do them because they bring life? If they bring life to all - that is one thing. But if something else is needed we need to open to that as well. The rituals are not what is important - they are God's gift to us to help bring life. But, if participating in those rituals is not life giving - if the rituals themselves become the focus rather than God, then we need to rethink these things. The rituals themselves are not the goal but are a way of reaching the goal. If they actually block that we need to rethink our use of them. It doesn't mean abandoning them because for some they are a powerful way of connecting with God. But it does mean being open to the different needs of others.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie


I read this link today. I'm still not sure if I should take it seriously as it hits just about every hot button. And I'm not even going bite on the usual hot button issues as I probably wouldn't be saying anything I or someone else has not said before.

But - in all this is the effort to make ourselves more relevant to the RC church and our African brothers and sisters. What about making ourselves more relevant and strengthening our ties with our own people? Not that I'm saying that we go to the opposite extreme and ignore the RC and our African brothers and sisters, either. But if we are going to return to doing things in a traditional manner to strengthen those ties are we truly serving those around us?

I live in a tension around the wearing of my clericals. I do not wear my collar except for liturgical functions. Nor do I even own a cassock. These things are relevant in the contexts that they are needed. I have had discussions on my not wearing my collar. I truly do understand the logic behind wearing it and I do believe it. But, experience has also shaped my decision not to wear mine. I have experienced a real change in response from those in the larger community when they see me wearing it. People who are usually very comfortable with me and open to talking about spiritual things become hostile when they see me wearing it. Not that I can't handle the hostility but my main purpose is the building of relationships. If it is meant to set us a part and make us noticeable, believe me, I have developed tools that do the same without putting people's backs up. They may not be completely orthodox tools (okay, they are not orthodox in the least) but you wouldn't believe the openings for ministry they have provided.

If someone believes it is important in their context to wear their clericals - go for it. If they believe that they should wear their clericals for whatever reason - go for it. But please, don't put barriers in place in my ministry.

And notice, I kept away from ranting on the usual issues ;)

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Struggles understanding rural parish ministry today

Last night at vestry I posed the question of what ministry, and especially parish ministry, is in today's context. There were three things that prompted the question.

The last was a request to facilitate a congregation through a major transition, which involves spending time outside my parish but in the same diocese.

Another was the sudden death of a priest in the diocese south of me. This leaves a friend of mine as the only stipendiary priest in an area larger than England consisting of five parishes. How might that impact me as the closest priest to some of those parishes, albeit in a different diocese? And, if it does affect me, what is the impact on my congregation and the larger PALS Community?

And running through all this is my ministry of presence in the larger community, which does not result in material gains for my parish. It does, however, meet a spiritual need as evidenced by the ever increasing calls on my presence and services by more members of that larger community.

Don't get me wrong - I love what I am being called to do. It actually energizes me. It certainly challenges me as I look for ways of meeting needs that traditional (and strongly male-oriented) expressions of spirituality no longer meet. And I will admit that there are a number of times that I skirt the edge or cross over traditionally accepted ways of placing things into the context of the people approaching me - especially when being with women for whom traditional (male-developed) practices have little to no resonance.

But I digress (which is typical). I am paid a full stipend by a community that can really only afford a half time stipend. For that full stipend I do about a half time traditional parish ministry. The other half is spent in my ministry of presence. This latter uses the same gifts, skills, and services as the former - I do blessings, listening, baptisms, funerals, spiritual direction in a community with few connections or defining boundaries.

So the question last night was somewhat of an effort to see how much acceptance my vestry had for the funding of calls on my time outside of the usual understanding of a parish priest's job.

Traditionally, in many congregations' minds, the priest is paid to minister to the people on the parish list. Oh, there is a sort of understanding of the parish as a geographical area and that the priest is to serve all in that area. But the reality is that the expectation is that the priest mostly serves those who contribute to the material fabric of the parish.

In general, I have been very blessed with a congregation that supports my ministry of presence. This is helped by the positive feedback and image in the larger community. But as I met with my wardens yesterday afternoon before the vestry meeting I sensed a lessening of tolerance for my extra little tasks.

The need out there is so great. The models of church from the 20th century are no longer capable of meeting that need. Most of the people I meet in the ministry of presence have a strong spirituality but feel the Church is no longer able to help them in that regard. Often things are explained in a context that no longer has a connection with personal experience and it leaves people struggling to understand their relationship and experience of the Divine. Traditional models of doing church no longer fit in with life-styles (and those life-styles are ones of necessity such as shift work that involves working on Sundays, two parents working different shifts, realities of rural life in a world where the family farm is no longer a viable option without an outside income etc.) Yet those people still need re-assurance and guidance every bit as much as those who are formally in a church community.

I am trying to help my people understand that being a church community is not just about the care of those who contribute to our particular community but also about making care available for all. This may involve work outside the parish boundaries, or even diocesan boundaries. It may involve a fair amount of time spent with people who in no way contribute to our particular church community. It is hard to get outside the expectation that the stipendiary priest is paid to show concrete results within the parish list and that there is a way of accounting for the time spent that shows material gain for the church - ie contributions toward the upkeep of the building and the stipend of the priest.

I don't even know where I am going with this post other than I am trying to form a question and then hopefully find some sort of answer that guides me in how I do the ministry to which I believe I am called while also honouring the hopes and expectations of the community that supports me. And maybe the larger question for me underlying all of this is - am I being fair to the people in that supporting community as I strive to do the larger ministry that I love so much and that actually feeds me spiritually.

I have often thought of resigning as parish priest. I could find a job that gave me some flex and allowed for a ministry of presence. I have always held back. This is mainly because I know that being the parish priest also helps people approach me. My being a parish priest thus becomes a tool in reaching out - a tool that would not be there is I were to find some other type of job and still do the ministry I feel called to do. Again, don't get me wrong - I also love being a parish priest and being with the community that looks after my physical support. It's just that I feel called to two slightly different styles of ministry and often feel guilty that the one is supporting the other without the other offering support back to the first. Is that being fair to my congregation? Is this a legitimate form or style of doing ministry?

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let the Earth Bear Witness

I came across this YouTube video at Mad Priest's.

I'll let it speak for itself.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Updated: Sunday, June 21
(Scroll to the bottom)

I have been following the events in Iran today. I followed a few links from various blogs. The first link was from Episcopal Cafe. This a translation of from the blog of a young woman planning to attend the protests today.

"I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”

This brought home just how human and vulnerable the protesters are. I had to go for a walk to pray and meditate after reading this.

I then followed a link to the Huffington Post from Grandmere Mimi at Wounded Bird. I have been keeping up with the live blogging all day. One of the commenters posted a link to You Tube for Peter Gabriel's song I Grieve from City of Angels. At one point in this song there is a bit of jarring as it speaks to continuing in life. At first I wasn't going to post it but then decided that the bit that jarred me spoke well to my situation today. I spent it grieving for those in Iran but I also spent it living my life in Biggar, in a space full of peace and life.

Then there was an update from the young woman from yesterday. She had heard of her "sister's" death - the death of the young woman on the video. She had this to write.

" I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands
I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams...
I'm here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person... and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind... and like me read "Forough" [Forough Farrokhzad]... and longed to live free and equal... and she longed to hold her head up and announce, "I'm Iranian"... and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair... and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib...

my sister died from not having life... my sister died as injustice has no end... my sister died since she loved life too much... and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people...

my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come... the very end of your last glance burns my soul....

sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet."

It has been a long day. I continue to pray for the young blogger, for "Neda," the young woman who died on the video, and her family; for the young man I saw who had died during the protest and his family. I pray for all the protesters. And most strongly, I pray for the leaders of Iran to listen to their people and to honestly and peacefully find a way forward out of this violence so that justice may be done and peace brought about.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie


Malcolm at Simple Massing Priest has this post.
He does stress that it is uncomfirmed as yet but he has read on a blog by Andrew Sullivan that the Canadian Embassy has been turning away injured protesters. I know that yesterday, on The Huffington Post, I read a list of embassies who were taking in injured protesters and the Canadian embassy was not on the list. I also read the injured protesters going to hospitals and medical centres were being arrested. If what Mr. Sullivan posted is true, this does not speak well of our sense of justice and compassion. I have done as Malcolm suggested and e-mailed the various people listed, but it is Sunday so I don't expect to hear from anyone until tomorrow. I asked that they either confirm or deny the allegation and, if it is true, that they reconsider such an action.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Words, words, words = confusion

I am a little confused lately in the whole debate over human sexuality. We seem to be playing with words, words, and more words. It's almost like we can do anything we want provided we don't actually call something a marriage or bless it as a marriage.

We have the pastoral statement by the Canadian House of Bishops. And today we have the ruling on Prop 8 from California. Dan, on Facebook, gave this link to DailyKos. You can also see his comments on it at Culture Choc.

I hate the water. I had a few scares with it when I was a little child and I get so tense when I'm in a anything larger than a bathtub that I get very dizzy from clenching my jaw so hard. But the few times when I go in I do it one of two ways. I may dip my toe in and then walk along with my water up to my ankles, gradually moving deeper and deeper. Or, I may just decide to dash in until all of me is submersed in the water. Usually there is less agony over the dash as it is over and done with. With the toe dipping, there's all that time of getting use to the cold or whatever.

I have watched this debate over human sexuality over the last few years. First of all, within the Church, those of us who supported it were told that we had to present it in terms of scripture, theology and doctrine. We have done this over a period of time, although I will admit it may not be as formal as some of our bishops would like. Still, the work is out there. All of a sudden, we're told that we need to observe process. I have heard some, who have not supported full inclusion in the past, say that they are not against same-sex marriage provided the proper process is gone through. Now that ticks me off more than having to present it based on scripture, doctrine, and theology because it appears to concede that there is really nothing standing in the way but a few human prescribed rules and guidelines. That in every real way that counts for our faith and our criteria, full inclusion is okay but lets just wait while we play with real peoples' lives.

Now we have the ruling from California that is so confusing - it appears to be saying that the concept of same-sex marriage is okay provided it isn't called marriage. Excuse me! Are we just playing word games with the lives of real people? And if this is just all about words rather than concepts or principles, how are we doing what is just and right in the sight of God.

It brings to mind the phrase - it's all over except for the kicking and screaming. Only in this case, we are dealing with people and their right and need for loving relationships to be fully acknowledged and accepted by all.

I am so confused. Why do we continue playing games with peoples' lives?

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Spiritual Oasis

About 4 years ago I became a member of Integrity Saskatoon. It has been such a spiritually nurturing place and I give thanks to God for their presence in my life.

I thought I would share some pictures of this group. These pictures can also be seen on their blog site.

The first is a picture of one of our summer BBQs. During Fall, Winter, and Spring we meet at St. James Anglican Church, Saskatoon, to share in the Eucharist and to have fellowship with coffee and goodies afterward. This latter is also where we celebrate events in each other's lives such as birthdays, anniversary, retirements, transitions etc. We break for June, July, and August but gather at various members houses to eat and share fellowship. These times usually take the form of a potluck BBQ.

We experimented with where to meet. We met in the sanctuary but felt that some people were not comfortable with that space. We meet in the basement now. We celebrate in the round. It is not a very formal service although we do use the Book of Alternative Services. We read one lesson, generally the gospel. Whoever is presiding will make a few comments and then the floor is open to others to offer their reflections. Each person if offered a non-threatening opportunity to pray. We pass an item around - usually my folded stole. The group is told that they may hold on to the stole and pray aloud, or pray silently, while the rest of us hold that individual and their prayer in our hearts, or they can simply pass the stole to the next person. The stole acts as a "talking stick" so that whoever holds it is the only one to speak at that moment. During the eucharist we administer the bread and wine to each other.

As chaplain I try to arrange for various different people to preside at the eucharist. This helps us network with the various churches in the diocese. In the fall we are hoping to extend this networking ecumenically and I will be inviting representatives from other denominations to preside.

Integrity Saskatoon is an amazing group of caring and committed people. I have learned so much from them and have been given such life through my connection with them. I give thanks to God for their presence in my life.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Same Sex Marriage and Traditional Marriage

I have been reading Elizabeth A. Johnson's "Truly Our Sister." I am just into it and have been reading the chapter on dualistic thinking and the idea of complementarity. Elizabeth points us to Genesis 1:26-27 and reminds us that there is no assignment of masculine or feminine qualities. We each experience fullness of being in God's image in our distinctive sexuality.

I know that I have written about the dangers of dualistic thinking in a post somewhere below. Dualistic thinking does contribute negatively in the move toward full acceptance of human sexuality in general. In every couple there must be a distinct male and a distinct female. Because of traditional negative reactions to the "feminine" homosexuality causes fear in "men" and threatens "women" in traditional relationships.

Because we are conditioned to thinking in terms of masculine or feminine rather than personhood being complete in each, the supposed ambiguity of roles in a same sex marriage/relationship throws our traditional understanding of "self" into question.

How many times do we look at a gay couple and try to determine who it is that plays the female role and who plays the male role. Same sex marriage/relationships place traditional/patriarchal understandings of marriage into question. Ultimately the man must be the head of the traditional/patriarchal household and to have a male in a perceived female role or a woman in a perceived male role provides a disconnect and challenge.

I remember an internet conversation with a Canadian Promise Keeper a number of years back (he really did stress that he was a Canadian Promise Keeper as opposed to an American one). We were "talking" about marriage and relationships. He kept stressing that neither he or his wife were head of the household - Christ was following Paul's writing. When pressed on the actual working out of that, he finally admitted that between him and his wife he was the head.

I spoke of my marriage as a partnership of equals. He wanted to know how that worked. I explained that we discussed decisions, which of course he and his wife did as well. Where he struggled was when we couldn't come to an agreement on something - who made the decision then - the man in his marriage. I explained that there were a number of factors that could come into play - that sometimes it was who felt the most strongly about the issue, sometimes it was who had the most knowledge and sometimes one gave way knowing that in another instance the other would do the same thing. He could not grasp that. In his mind - one person had to be designated to ultimately make the decisions and that person should be the husband.

I have done a few marriage preparation classes. Although I will willingly admit that I have a bias for a partnership of equals I do respect and accept how the couple has worked out how their relationship will play out. I have held my tongue when the relationship is based along more traditional lines as long as it is a healthy and mutual understanding. But I can see where, for those who have chosen to pattern their marriage along more traditional/patriarchal lines, same sex marriage without those defined gender roles is a challenge.

I have come to believe that it is partly the ambiguity of roles that causes such hostility to same sex marriage/relationships (once people manage to get past the sexual intercourse and anal sex visuals). Same sex marriages/relationships do challenge traditional marriage and it is a challenge that needs to happen as so many of us discover what it means to be fully human without the overshadowing, oppressive and totally false understandings through the millennium of what defines us as male or as female and the results lived out in a husband and wife relationship. Because same sex marriage/relationships challenge such entrenched ideas, reactions are often extreme and passionate. It's not just about marriage - it challenges a whole way of understanding.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

(PS: Malcolm - I finally posted something.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sometimes things are little bizzare

I spent 3 hours this morning on coffee row checking in with people after yesterday's meeting. I came home and went on line to check out the newspaper article people were referring to. I found that I had actually read it last night after I got home.

But in the process of finding the article I linked to a previous article. In the column on the side, which listed related articles was this link: "This may be your year to paint your bedroom purple." Go figure.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Monday, February 23, 2009

Prayers Update

Thank you for your prayers and concerns. An arrest has been made - a local man. Our meeting today has started the healing process for the community.

One of the positive things I found at the meeting was that the community is concerned about the family of the man who is charged with the murder. It could just as easily gone the other way. We tried to be very careful in how we dealt with the talk around the arrest but in general there was more concern than condemnation of the family. I give thanks to God for that blessing.

This community will heal. This became clear as we talked in our small groups. The process has been started and part of that is giving the people the information they needed (at least as much as the police were able to give) and provide a healthy venue for them to start being able talk to each other in constructive ways. I had been concerned because some of the conversations on coffee row and in restaurants was being done in whispers. Today, people spoke out loud and were able to voice the fears and feelings. It is a good first step. Another positive point is that out of this we may become a community that is much more conscious about how it cares for its members, especially its aging population.

Once again, thank you for your concern and prayers.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Prayers Please

I would ask all that there to pray for our little community. Last Tuesday we experienced our first murder ever - an eighty-two year old woman living on her own. (Years ago there was a murder/suicide but that affects a community in a different way.) We may have had a colourful past in some respects, and sometimes that past may have involved things that bordered on violence, but never has it left our aging population feeling so vulnerable. In some ways innocence has been lost, never to be recovered. Now a murder has happened. Before murder was something that happened in the city or somewhere else but not here. Now it is here and people are struggling with how to deal with it.

Steps are being taken to help the community. We have a community wide information and concerns meeting scheduled for Monday. I ask prayers for the woman who was killed, for her family and friends, for the one who discovered her body and one who was the last to see her alive, and for the community as well as for whoever it was that did the killing and those surrounding him/her. That's a lot of prayers, I know, but thank you in advance for your concern.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Moving Forward

Last year I was involved in the strategic planning process for our diocese. We went out and spoke to the people from end to end of the diocese in a series of three day long meetings. We also used information gathered at some events before our particular team took on the task. We were given an awesome resource person from the national church. All this resulted in a pretty good plan (with built in flex) that was passed enthusiastically at our diocesan synod last April. And then - not much was heard.

I had backed off due to some concerns in my parish about my time spent out of the parish so I was not really in the information loop anyway. However, things were not coming forward at the council level either. I know some of the reasons for this but, as I had backed off myself, I am certainly not going to point any fingers. Just recently a fire has been lit under our collective bottom ends and National Church has offered us some people resources. We just had a two day meeting in the city and I am pumped. Things are moving.

I'm not sure how much of what happened is for publication yet but suffice it to say that things are going to happen and they are "good". I have volunteered to work on piloting a project. We are looking at inner-diocesan companion parishes on an urban-rural line. Unfortunately, at this time National Church has no resources on this nor does the resource person who is working with us know of any.

If anyone happens to, for some obscure reason, be reading this post and have knowledge of companion parish systems set up within a diocese could you please let me know. I want to have a lot of the preliminary work by the end of February/middle of March.

We are a small rural diocese on the Canadian prairies. Our secular politics are split very strongly along urban-rural lines with the rural areas often feeling isolated and abandoned. This perception has spilled over into our church life. There have been recent moves to counter this by the diocese and these have been received quite well but they usually involve the synod office or committees coming out into the deaneries to meet. There has not much, if any, urban-rural interaction between parishes. We hope that the companion parishes will develop links to build better understandings and relationships.

One of my hopes is that, as my congregation ages even more and some consider moves to the city for health, family, or assisted living issues, the connections with a city parish will help in that person finding a church home. We also hope to be able to share resources - our gifts and passions, as well as giving support through prayer and encouragement.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie +

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Acceptance for all

I just sent an e-mail to a friend. As I was writing it I realized that one of the reasons I haven't posted on my blog recently is that I have been e-mailing this friend with my thoughts once or twice a week. Once those thoughts are written in the e-mail, I don't feel the need to express myself on this blog. However, this time, I will post my thoughts.

Not only was a black president sworn in but the ceremonies included Gene Robinson. Although he did not play a role in the actual inauguration, he was definitely present at the functions.

This also offers some hope. (By the way, I got the link from Mad Priest's blog.)

But as much as things are happening on official levels - in Canada, same-sex marriage is legal - there is still a lot of work at the grass roots level. I've noticed this in regard to the equality of women. Once things become government official there tends to be an attitude of - you've got what you want, what's your problem. And this ignores the fact that what is happening at an official level does not always happen at the more grass roots level. My orders of ordination are not accepted world wide in the Anglican church. Men who are ordained by a woman bishop cannot apply for positions in the Church of England (although I can unless it specifies male priest). There are parts of the communion that will not accept +Rodney because he ordained me (and two other women).

There's still a lot of work and speaking out to be done and in some ways it is harder when things are okay on an official level. Everyone figures that we have nothing for which to work toward because the government has made everything okay.

Don't I wish.

Even if I do have my equality in Canada there are still parishes that can refuse me just because I'm a woman - not that I would want to be their priest anyway. Our rights are there but not the full acceptance. And in my mind it is not enough just to have rights - there needs to be acceptance. Non-acceptance is still brutal. That is as true for equality for women as it is for equality for GLBTs. And people wonder why I speak out for full acceptance. What choice do I have? If I see the difference in regard to woman's issues, how can I not for GLBT issues? We can't just stop at acceptance for one and not work for acceptance for all.

Enough of a rant for today. I have to do research for Bible Study this afternoon.

Love and Prayers,
Ann Marie