Here at St. John the Evangelist church, Topsail, we have witnessed and experienced a multiple of hellos and goodbyes amongst our leaders in the last ten years. Being the resilient and steadfast flock that we are, the journey has been quite an adventure in diversity, and an education in flexibility. This was attained by having in our midst the advantages of each rector’s individual gifts.
In 2011, our then priest necessitated a sudden departure. So for the immediate several months, our spiritual needs were adequately met by the expertise and presence of the Rev’d Sandra Tilley. Rev’d Sandra served in the parish up until October, 2013, at which time, we welcomed the Rev’d Wayne Parsons.
Our months together with Rev’d Sandra had hurdles to overcome, but everything was done in the name of reconciliation and healing. Then on September 1, 2014, Rev’d Wayne assumed the role of our leader. The first Sunday that he shared worship with us, I learned something very significant about him: we wouldn’t have to worry about the reliability of the sound system. His distinct and strongly audible voice clearly put forth his valuable messages as it resonated throughout the congregation.
With the resignation of Rev’d Wayne, we welcomed the dual partnership of Dean Bellamy and the Rev’d Keith Sheppard. We owe much gratitude to Dean Bellamy, who guided us in worship for twelve months with Rev’d Keith’s assistance. Both Mrs. Bellamy and Mrs. Sheppard played a very active role in the social aspect of our church with the ACW and Altar Guild.
On September 15, 2016, the men of our parish prepared and served a delicious dinner in recognition and thanksgiving to Dean Bellamy and Rev’d Sheppard, and to welcome the incoming priest-in-charge, the Rev’d Jolene Peters. She came just in time to adorn the altar for Thanksgiving with displays of fresh local vegetables and fruit. Rev’d Jolene was the presiding priest when marriage equality in the Anglican Church was initiated. Parishioners were given the opportunity to vote by private ballot to seek permission from our Bishop to perform marriages for all people, if asked. The outcome favoured marriage equality, making us a parish of inclusiveness by the end of 2019.
Rev’d Jolene was our rock and crutch as we dealt with the onset of COVID-19 in March of 2020. When our Bishop closed the churches for six months, she administered services virtually. When the ban was lifted, in person services resumed cautiously.
In January of the present year, we had the distinct privilege of having in our midst Archdeacon Greg Mercer. Together with our own Deacon Lisa, they provided us with uninterrupted Sunday services, as well as special events leading up to Holy week.
We owe a great debt to Archdeacon Greg, as he guided us through the most foreign and unprecedented crisis in the history of the church: the pandemic.
Today, our guest priests have been relieved, as we welcome into the fold the permanency of the Rev’d Jotie Noel.
We like and appreciate what we see and hear. His capacity to inject that element of humour in his very serious spiritual sermons is nothing short of magical.
I must again quote from the wisdom of the late Canon George Earle:
“For Church life to be lived at its richest, humour must not be confined to the secular, but must permeate the Spiritual.”