History will be made – twice, at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. – on Sunday, Nov. 16 at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Ocean Park, when the congregation will welcome the Right Rev. Melissa Skelton to preach and celebrate Holy Communion.
“It is a big deal because of the gifts that she brings,” church volunteer Brian Walks said of Skelton.
“We’re making church history here.”
A year ago, Skelton, 63, became the first woman and the first American to be elected bishop of the 135-year-old Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.
Ordained last March in Vancouver, she was also the first to have had a career – she was a brand manager at Procter & Gamble – outside of the church prior to ordination.
Walks, who attended the Vancouver event, said Skelton is known for her talents in congregational development, something he said is “lacking throughout the Christian church.”
At her last ministry post in Seattle’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the congregation tripled in her nine-year tenure.
Her visit to St. Mark’s, where the congregation is in good shape, is “for us to get to know her and for her to get to know us,” Walks said.
She plans to visit a different diocese church each Sunday, “to get a handle on the pulse of congregations.”
Since becoming bishop, “she has brought a change of focus,” Walks said.
“She wants us to look forward rather than look back to issues we have been dealing with in the last 20 years.”
He cited the blessing of same-sex marriages as an example of things “not on her agenda.”
Planning for Skelton’s visit began in the spring, and has involved around 50 parishioners.
In addition to leading a traditional Anglican service, Skelton will present congregation member Ken Turnham with the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster. The distinction is given “to people who have given significantly of time and talent over the years.”
Walks said in Turnham’s case, the generosity has spanned about 25 years.
Anyone interested is welcome to attend one of the Nov. 16 services.
St. Mark’s is located at 12953 20 Ave.