Bishop's Pastoral Letters to Vestry
Letter from Bishop Andrew Asbil
To our Clergy, Churchwardens and Parishioners
Beloved in Christ, peace and grace be with you.
This will be the first time, in almost 30 years, that I am not chairing a vestry meeting. I am one of those people who actually enjoys vestry; poring over audited financial statements, ministry reports, marking important milestones in the parish, celebrating the incredible contributions of our lay leaders (without whom very little would happen). Deeper than that, a good meeting names the anxiety we have in trying to balance the needs of the parish while trusting deeply in the hope that God will guide, provide and inspire us to deepen our faith, try new ideas and be creative in our endeavour to serve the mission of God. The vestry meeting is one moment in the year when a parish has the opportunity to look back and then to look forward. I am joined by the Area Bishops in assuring you of our prayers as you gather for your annual meeting. We also extend our deepest gratitude for all who have served so faithfully as wardens, committee members, teachers, greeters and leaders who make known the love of Christ through their offering of time, talent and treasure. If you are taking on a new role this year, a particular word of encouragement to you.
Over the last several years it has been our practice to invite each parish to consider a vestry motion that addresses issues of poverty and social action. In view of the drastically rising economic inequity in our province, this year’s vestry motion asks your parish to consider Standing in Solidarity, by making a commitment to protect all who are living in poverty, through direct local and parish outreach and through meaningful advocacy.
On January 13th, 2019 I was formally seated as the 12th Bishop of Toronto. The journey to that moment has been heart-warming, moving and humbling. I am heartened by your words of encouragement, humbled by your support, and moved by your desire to row and to pedal! I will be forever indebted to Archbishop Colin for his encouragement and support. I am invigorated by the passion and faithfulness of our Area Bishops Peter, Riscylla, Kevin and Jenny as we step in together to write a new chapter as the College of Bishops. I am impressed beyond words by the dedication of our staff in the Diocesan office, and by the creative ways that ministry is happening every day in our parishes and centers of ministry around the Diocese.
I am thrilled to be on the road Sunday by Sunday visiting parishes, celebrating worship and getting to know you. I am finding my bearings with each of the committees, councils and task forces of the Diocese. I will be spending time with the clergy in each Deanery to glean the wisdom of those who lead in each community. In the first week of May I would like to meet with the laity of the Diocese through 5 scheduled Town Hall meetings (details will be posted on the Diocesan website). Each gathering gives us time to listen to each other, articulate our hopes for ministry, and catch a glimpse of what might be. I hope that you will join me.
May God bless you as you meet for Vestry.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew J. Asbil
Bishop of Toronto
Letter from Bishop Jenny Andison
A Pastoral Letter to Vestry 2020
First Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
My sisters and brothers,
Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you? he asked. Jacob answered,
“They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” Genesis 33:5.
You are soon gathering for your Annual Vestry Meeting, where you will thank God for all God’s blessings
in 2019 and seek God’s will for your parish in 2020. You will be prayerfully discerning the priorities God
is calling your parish to and ensuring your finances reflect that. It is my sincere hope that within those top
priorities are plans to form living faith in children and young people.
Studies have shown that the majority of people who live as disciples of Jesus as adults had a positive
encounter with the gospel before they turned eighteen. This highlights how critical it is for us to be
creating opportunities for children and teenagers to experience the gospel. Regardless of whether your
parish currently has no children or has vibrant ministries for children and youth, this call to share the good
news with the next generation (as it was shared with us) is a privilege for each parish in York-Credit Valley.
One of the two strategic priorities that our 2017 Town Halls discerned was fostering the growth of
children and youth ministry. We have made progress! There is a palpable sense of renewal and new life in
youth ministry, with youth worship nights popping up across the Area and more parishes wanting to train
youth leaders through YMAP (the Diocesan Youth Ministry Apprentice Program). In 2020, our
Children/Youth Ministry Taskforce will be developing some “best practices” around confirmation. That
same taskforce has just produced a guide, which will soon be made available, for healthy practices to
begin, grow, and sustain children and youth ministry in your parish. And on April 18 of this year, we are
hosting a workshop on how to start and sustain a Messy Church ministry (plan to bring a team).
Every parish in YCV needs to make the formation of faith in children and young people a priority. Even
if your parish has no way to serve neighbourhood children, you can financially contribute to children and
youth ministry at a neighbouring Anglican church, help volunteer with their Messy Church, or join in prayer
for children around the world – you get the point! And because God has entrusted children to our care, I
commend for your consideration our Social Justice Vestry Motion inviting parishes to take concrete
steps, in the name of Jesus, to address climate damage, through government advocacy and reducing our
own carbon footprint.
I continue to be amazed at, and deeply grateful for, the sacrificial and servant hearts of so many of you in
leadership―Wardens, treasurers, children and youth ministry leaders, those working through the ACW, or
on property upkeep, and those involved with social justice. We continue to have significant turnover in
our clergy corps with nine new clergy joining our parishes in the past year. Please join me in sincerely
thanking them for faithfully ministering the good news of Jesus through Word and Sacrament.
Together, in these challenging times, our Heavenly Father is still calling us forward in mission and so
pray for me, as I pray for you, that we would be found faithful on the last day.
The Right Reverend Jennifer Andison
Area Bishop of York-Credit Valley
Bishop Suffragan of Toronto