Anglican Church of Canada Has a New Primate

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Linda Nicholls Elected on the Fourth Ballot

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Vancouver from July 10th to 16th.  Its theme was “I Have Called You By Name”.   For more information on the General Synod meeting and its decisions go to this website.

On July 13th, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Linda Nicholls was elected to be the 14th Primate and was installed on July 16th in Christ Church Cathedral.  She will be replacing Primate Fred Hiltz who is retiring.  Since November 2016, she was the Bishop of the Diocese of Huron.  The following is a portion of what was in her nomination information.

Personal Statement

My formation in faith and life in ministry have rooted me in the breadth of the Anglican Church of Canada. A cradle Anglican, I was baptized in Calgary, confirmed in Vancouver; ordained deacon/priest/bishop in Toronto; installed as diocesan bishop in London Ontario. I have visited Diocesan or Provincial Synods in the Arctic, B.C., Canada, Newfoundland, Ontario and Montreal; General Synods in Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia; and led retreats in the Dioceses of Toronto, Ontario, Central Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Moosonee. I have been a guest at Sacred Circles in Pinawa and Prince George, deeply moved by the courage of our indigenous communities seeking a new relationship through our mutual healing.

My experience has been further enriched by opportunities to meet and know the Church globally through meetings with Anglicans in South Africa; Brazil; England; Jerusalem; Italy; Jamaica; Hong Kong; USA and India. I know and love the diversity of our Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion in all its frailties and its gifts. I currently serve on the Task Group of the Primates to seek ways to strengthen our unity as the Anglican Communion.

The geographic breadth of our beloved Church is a part of me as well as its theological breadth. My early formation was encouraged and nurtured by evangelical approaches to faith through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Wycliffe College. My experiences in Anglican Roman Catholic dialogue, the Exercises of St. Ignatius, the sacramental life and ministry of a bishop and my further studies have helped me see and appreciate our faith through other theological lenses as well. I value the richness of that diversity which we need to live the gospel in our time.

Music has always played an important role in my life. From instruments played to my first degree in music education to currently singing in a choir, music feeds my soul. My first vocation as a teacher is embedded in my ministry. I love to share the learning journey with individuals or groups, especially in exploring our faith. For five years I taught high school music and math at an International Christian boarding school in the Himalayas of India, a profound experience of cross-cultural living, diversity, interfaith dialogue and intentional Christian community. Deepening and sustaining community across differences has been critical in my ministry. I find solace in creation through walking or wilderness canoeing and am kept humble in my role as staff to a cat!

Prayer and scripture keep me rooted and grounded in Christ. Although our church is facing challenges I know that we face them with God in our midst and the creative possibilities that the Holy Spirit can and will make known to us. When discouraged, in personal life or in the Church, I return to Romans 8:38-39:

‘I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers
nor height nor depth nor anything in all creation 
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Vision for Primacy
Bridge Builder – Diplomat – Pastor – Servant-Leader

The ministry and work of the Primate can be understood through the roles of bridge builder, diplomat, pastor and servant-leader of the Church. Through intentional visitations in each diocese and pastoral support of each bishop the Primate learns the story of our Church at the local, regional and national levels. Sharing stories of one to another, through listening across our diversity of geography, culture and context, helps all of us to the see the life of the gospel across our nation. Weaving those stories together, the Primate sees God at work across the whole Church and articulates a vision based on all we are called to do and be by the Gospel. The Primate also tells the story of the Church to the world, writing and speaking prophetically to the issues and concerns of all Canadians in consultation with the bishops, Council of General Synod and staff.

Through a ministry of diplomacy the Primate shares the joys and struggles of our Church honestly with others, both within and beyond the Anglican Church of Canada, as we seek to respond to the gospel in our context. As a diplomat, the Primate listens carefully and faithfully relays concerns and affirmations from beyond the Church. It is a ministry of truth-telling in all directions. This diplomacy includes our critically important work of reconciliation with indigenous sisters and brothers as we walk together along the emerging path of indigenous self-determination. The organic growth of this ministry will call the whole Church to deeper understanding of our history; and to patient listening and mutual support. The Primate and the National Anglican Indigenous Bishop will work together as we continue our commitment to the recommendations of the TRC and to UNDRIP. It encompasses our ecumenical relationships as well, especially the deepening of our full communion partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Episcopal ministry is at the heart of the role of the primacy. The Primate, as a bishop, has a collegial ministry among all the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada as ‘first among equals’, with particular responsibility for pastoral care of the bishops and their ministries. It is a ministry of oversight of the faith, unity and order of the Church, shared with all bishops, through intentional dialogue in the House of Bishops facilitated by the Primate.

The Primate is the servant-leader of the Church. Executive leadership of General Synod and its Council, as it serves the will of General Synod in each triennium, is a core responsibility. We continue in a particularly challenging time of discernment as dioceses are facing increasing financial pressures due to decline in this generation. In partnership with the Council of General Synod, the Primate will give leadership, vision and guidance as we assess the most sustainable ways for the national structures to support the areas of ministry that are essential at a national level and work with our dedicated staff to manage any transitions. The strategic review currently underway will be a critical first step in that process as we ask how we will continue to live into the Five Marks of Mission.

The Primate as bridge builder, diplomat, pastor and servant-leader leads the whole Church, demonstrating trust in the gospel, telling our story within God’s story of salvation with humility and courage as we together seek the future into which we are being called.

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