I remember standing, at age seven, on the deck of the Pendennis Castle, as we set sail from Southampton, England. We left our home in Langley the previous day and were headed to Cape Town, South Africa, where my parents were to become missionaries. It was, for me, the start of a journey that would traverse through the awful realities of apartheid, refusing, as a religious objector, to participate in the government’s apartheid army, engaging in mission work as a young adult and serving as a lay minister at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. These experiences exposed me to diverse cultures and beliefs and helped form my understanding of the Gospel and what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus.
I first entered the doors of this Cathedral in 2001 shortly after I had arrived in Canada. For the last 9 months, I have been completing my internship at St Mary the Virgin, Sapperton, as a postulant preparing for ordination as a vocational deacon. St Mary’s is a vibrant congregation many of whom are from the Philippines and it has been a joy and great privilege to serve them and to be the recipient of their great hospitality. Their love and support when my beloved Patrick died tragically three weeks after starting my internship will never be forgotten.
I have experienced what it is like to be on the margins, both as a religious objector, when many churches (particularly evangelical) supported the South African government, and as a member of the LGBTQIA/2S community. Yet I also come from a culture which is privileged. These experiences make me sensitive to others who live their lives on the margins but also aware that I have blind spots which keep me from seeing or understanding their context fully.
But, similar to my belief that the Gospel had something to say about apartheid, I believe the Gospel has something to say about diversity. I have been thinking about this over the last few months and I look forward to exploring this further with the faith community at Christ Church Cathedral when I return in June.
I look forward to being with you again or meeting you for the first time, and to us all walking together on our journey of faith and participating in God’s mission in this beautiful part of God’s world.