Incumbent Priest, St. Faith's Anglican Church, Diocese of New Westminster (Ph.D., M.A., M.Div., B.A.)
Curriculum Vitae: Richard Leggett.pdf
Over the past few years I have explored with my lay and ordained colleagues in ministry the notion that the so-called ‘mainline’ churches are being called to become ‘missional’ churches. By this most writers and consultants mean the need for the church to return to its apostolic roots as a movement of the Spirit rather than a social, cultural and, at times, political institution. While I agree with the primary premise of these commentators, I believe that our Diocese, like many others, is presently in a period of transition from its institutional past into a more missional future.
Transitional leadership, in my opinion, is about being ‘a scribe trained for the kingdom of God’: “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’” (Matthew 13.52) A transitional leader needs to be just such a scribe. Although we are burdened by some aspects of our past, there are also important insights and resources in that past that can help us move into the future with integrity.
On the other hand, our present cultural and social context offers us new ways of sharing the good news of God in Christ as well as faithful challenges to the way we have been church. It is, I believe, the role of a bishop to lead the people and clergy of a diocese in the discernment of what old treasures will sustain us in our participation in God’s mission and what new treasures provide new tools and new insights so that we can communicate that mission to our neighbours and encourage them to join us in God’s urgent work.
I have been surprised by the intensity of my sense of being called to this ministry at this time in my life, but I am convinced that we need a ‘transitional’ bishop who will serve for six to eight years to facilitate our transition from an institutional to a more missional church. So I have agreed to stand as a candidate for the ninth Bishop of New Westminster because I believe my experience, knowledge and skills equip me for just such a transitional leadership role.
Over the past three decades, for example, I have lived through our church’s debates over the remarriage of divorced Christians, liturgical revision, the ordination of women and the full inclusion of gay and lesbian disciples of Christ. In various ways these four movements forced me to confront my own prejudices and ignorance in order to grow into what I hope is a more mature understanding of the Scriptures, the role of contemporary experience and the real treasures of our Christian tradition rather than their counterfeits. Rather than a mere participant, I found myself, to my surprise, called to offer leadership in several of these movements.
Throughout my years of ordained service the church has called on me in many and various ways to use my knowledge and skills to train ordained and lay leaders, both in academic and non-academic settings. I have worked with my colleagues at Vancouver School of Theology to overcome the social, cultural and structural barriers that have prevented aboriginal Christians from engaging in theological education that is relevant to their communities and respectful of the insights and traditions of aboriginal communities. I am also proud to have played a role in the restoration of diaconal ministry as a full and equal order in this Diocese and to have participated in developing a policy that provides the groundwork for non-stipendiary priestly ministry in this Diocese.
I have exercised a leadership role in the development of our church’s full communion relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as well as more than a decade of work in Jewish-Christian dialogue. With my colleagues in the Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Unit I have been working on an initiative in Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue that is designed to foster greater friendships between the members of our two communities.
I know this Diocese and I am known by its clergy and people. I know how our tradition and ethos work as well as how they do not work. I have grown in my awareness that the status quo is unsustainable and, even more importantly, undesirable.
I am a good communicator and teacher. I have learned what Michael Ramsey called an essential skill: taking complex issues and explaining them as clearly and as simply as possible. I regularly communicate via my blog, Twitter and Facebook, new media that reaches a wider audience than I could imagine when I was first ordained.
Our present age is an exciting time to be a Christian, especially one who follows the Anglican way of discipleship. Our historic commitment to taking care of our neighbourhoods, our love of ‘generous orthodoxy’ and a life of worship that invites us into community and mystery have shaped me and, I think, prepared me to lead our Diocese during this transitional time.
Faithfully yours in Christ.