‘Peter, we are grateful beyond words for you.’

Bishop Peter Fenty commissions the leadership team of Black Anglicans of Canada at St. Paul, Bloor Street during the 25th anniversary of the diocese’s Black heritage celebration in 2020.
 on January 1, 2021
Michael Hudson

Friends, colleagues express thanks

On Nov. 20, about 200 people gathered online to thank Bishop Peter Fenty and his spouse Annie as he headed into retirement after 45 years of ordained ministry, most recently as the area bishop of York-Simcoe. The event included music, video clips, photo slideshows and remarks by friends and colleagues, some of which are printed below.

You have called us to be righteous

As a deacon, priest and bishop in the Church, you have preached the Good News with depth and passion. You have served parish and community, diocese and national church, with commitment. You have been a pastor to all with whom you have served. Peter, imagine the number of times you have stood at table to break bread and pour out wine. Or walked the way to the grave with a family. Or tied the knot, or baptised, or confirmed, or ordained. Imagine the number of meetings you have attended, organized, chaired, suffered through, endured and enjoyed. With the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the tenacity of Thomas, the might of Deborah and the vision of John, you have been a voice of reason, of deep belief and faith. You have swooped in so often to say the right word at the right time to help us turn in the right direction. You have called us to be righteous – to be in right relationship with God and neighbour and Creation, doing so always with a winsome smile, playful humour, a gentle spirit and a firm resolve. For 45 years you have led, walked with and followed the people of God, encouraging us always to make our way home and to be a people of promise and love. Peter, we are grateful beyond words for you. Annie, we are so grateful for your ministry, your witness and your support for all of these years. We pray that you both enjoy every moment in your retirement.

Bishop Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto

Sharing ministry with Peter has been a privilege

Peter and I worked together when I served with him in the College of Bishops in the Diocese of Toronto from 2008 until I left in 2016. Peter brought to all he did as executive archdeacon and as bishop a deep and profound commitment to the gospel, a strength of character and conviction and an ability to see the humourous in the midst of challenges. Sharing ministry with Peter has been a privilege. Peter is a man of integrity with a fierce sense of justice for everyone – for colleagues, for parishes, for clergy and especially for God. He has a particular passion for racial justice and has been a persistent and often frustrated advocate for an end to systemic racism in Canada and in the Church. His perseverance and witness are an inspiration to many. I particularly remember with joy his consecration as bishop in 2013. As the first Black Anglican bishop in Canada, the overwhelming joy of other Black Anglicans, and especially those from Barbados, was evident in the long lines of people at the doors of the cathedral hours before the service began. The delight of so many in his consecration, in the music and the dancers sharing in the liturgy, are remembered with smiles of great delight.

Archbishop Linda Nicholls
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

He dared to stand up for what is honourable

I have been a witness to Peter’s outstanding service to God and God’s people throughout his ministry. Peter has been a caring pastor, a faithful priest, a passionate preacher, a fearless prophet and a reliable partner in ministry. Many clergy in our episcopal area have spoken of his forthright style balanced with sincerity, compassion and care. This is what I want to say to my friend and my bishop. When he became bishop, some people said to me, your friend is now your bishop; you should have no problems. Those who held that view, even now, do not know Peter DeCourcy Fenty. He was never one to be drawn into any unholy alliance. He was not one to be taken in by devious schemes and deals. He was not one to be drowned out by the loud shouts of evil and deceit. He dared to stand up for what is honourable. He dared to speak to power. He dared to be the drum major for justice and righteousness. He is a man of integrity, and it is a joy knowing him as my friend, my family, my bishop. Well done, good and faithful servant, enter the joy of retirement. Annie has served long and hard with you; she too deserves a rest. God bless you both, now and always.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen Fields
Incumbent, Holy Trinity, Thornhill

Much loved throughout the national church

Bishop Peter is a great friend and colleague of mine and is well respected and much loved in the Ontario House of Bishops and throughout the national church. Bishop Peter and Annie, I give thanks for all that you have given to our Church over many years, for the gifts that you bring, for your loyalty, and for your faithfulness and devotion to the people you have served over many years. Bishop Peter, you embody my motto for 2021, which comes from Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good and what is required of you but to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” When I asked your colleagues in the Ontario House of Bishops to describe you in a word or words, this is some of what they said: that you are loyal, faithful, passionate, compassionate, open-minded, a straight talker, authentic, you don’t have a fake bone in your body, you’re a powerful preacher, inclusive, deeply respectful, a courageous leader, you lead with integrity, and you are a loving family man. For these qualities, the Church gives thanks tonight and says thank you to you for all you have done, all you are and all you’ve given.

Archbishop Anne Germond
Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario

On behalf of the area council, thank you

Those of us who have had the privilege of serving with you consider ourselves to have been particularly blessed. We’ve been among those who have had the opportunity to witness first-hand the example of faithful pastoral leadership you’ve provided to the Church, not only in our area but across the entire diocese. I consider myself to have been uniquely blessed because I’ve had the privilege of working directly with you, first as a parish administrator, then as a member of the working group that was examining the issues around the renumeration of clergy. In the course of that work, I gained a particular appreciation for your love of the Church – for her mission, her clergy, her people – and the incredible generosity with which you shared your many gifts – your wisdom, your passion, your experience and your good humour. On behalf of the area council, thank you. Thank you for your service to our diocese and York-Simcoe. Above all, thank you for never failing to remind us that at the very heart of all that is and has been and ever shall be is a loving, liberating and life-giving God.

Canon Brian Armstrong
York-Simcoe Area Council

You have been a companion on the road

You have been not just a bishop, but someone who walks beside – a companion on the road. You’ve lived out what it means to be a priest in the Church of God. You’ve done so with personal integrity, patience and kindness, collegiality – you treat us all as peers – and an openness to share and talk. You have been a pastor, supportive in every possible quiet way, and also in word and deed. Your personal warmth and care has not gone unnoticed and unfelt. You have been a man of God to all of us. On behalf of your regional deans, I am honoured to say thank you and God bless you.

The Rev. Canon David Warren
Regional dean

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Retirement is but a pause and an opportunity to be renewed, to enjoy things you haven’t been able to enjoy for a long time. I look forward, after a time of relaxation, to give back to the Church what the Church has given to me. And that is your blessings – the blessings of clergy and people across this diocese, your prayerful support, and the privilege and honour it has been to serve as a bishop. I am particularly grateful for the wonderful opportunity of having served with the College of Bishops under wonderful leaders over the years. To all I have served with in the past and currently, I thank you – for your friendship and for all that you have done with me in this work.

I particularly want to thank Annie and our children – Andre and Peta-Anne and your families – for your loving support. It made the difference in my life, in being able to carry out this work in the way that God enabled me to.

There have been meetings that I will not miss, but there are friendships that I will treasure. I will carry with me fond memories of my Sunday visits to every parish across York-Simcoe. Those occasions have been the most wonderful of times for me in this ministry – being with clergy and the people of God, worshipping and giving thanks, celebrating the Eucharist and knowing that we are all loved by God and called to serve God as best that we are able.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this evening. It will be remembered by Annie and I for a very long time.

I must say a very special word of thanks to Jennipher Kean, who has been a wonderful administrator for York-Simcoe, whose faithful support has made a difference in my life in being able to effectively carry out the work that I was called to do. Jennipher, thank you so much for all that you do and all that you will continue to do.

Bishop Peter Fenty

Bishop sings a song

Bishop George Elliott, a retired bishop of the diocese, sang this song at Bishop Fenty’s retirement party.

Our bishop Peter retires next week,
to join the lofty rank
of those who wake when ere they want
and spend the day free from life’s call
relaxing on the couch, relaxing on the couch.

The phone is silent, but for calls
to clean out your air ducts,
your pile of books to read stands tall,
awaiting time to crack them all
relaxing on the couch, relaxing on the couch.

Dear Annie, your beloved wife,
has much for you to do,
the list is long, the time is there,
and yet another page you turn
relaxing on the couch, relaxing on the couch.

The time you’ll treasure most of all,
is with your grandkids spent,
with love to share and hugs to give,
they bring a smile to everyday
that lifts your heart to God, that lifts your heart to God.

The diocese will no doubt call,
to see if you can help,
take time at first, to sort your life,
priorities to guide your path
that lifts your heart to God, that lifts your heart to God.

With thankful hearts for all you’ve done,
in service to our Church
you’ve served us here in York-Simcoe,
our Bishop and our friend in God,
with faithfulness and love, with faithfulness and love.

Peter and Annie, may you know
our love and prayers will be
surrounding you and all you love
as life’s next chapter opens up
that blessings may abound, that blessings may abound.

Book contains comments, photos

As a farewell gift, Bishop Fenty was given a book containing 88 comments and more than 220 photos from friends and colleagues across the diocese and beyond. Below are some of the comments.

God provided

First impressions are usually important, and my first impression was of your generous, hospitable nature, your warmth and openness, and especially your sense of faithfulness to the gospel and to Jesus Christ. I remember thinking, “I wonder how we might get this wonderful priest, Peter Fenty, into our diocese?” Well, several years later, to my delight, God provided and you came.

Bishop Michael H.H. Bedford-Jones

Blessed moment

You have been a teacher, a mentor, a calmer, a friend, a voice of wisdom, unity, and reconciliation. One of my most privileged and blessed moments was serving as deacon at the table for your historic consecration as the first Black Anglican bishop in Canada. That was such an amazing, proud, and glorious event.

Canon Judy Allan, deacon
Holy Family, Heart Lake, Brampton

You never gave up on us

On behalf of the South Sudanese community church of Toronto, I want to thank you so much for the support that you gave to our people since 2006 when we were looking for a place for worship and it was hard to find a place. You never gave up on us and we found St. Olave’s Anglican Church, our home for now.

The Rev. Peter John
South Sudanese Community Church

It was an honour

I was one of the liturgical dancers who, along with my daughter Aliya and the other dancers, had the privilege of taking part in your ordination on that memorable day of June 22, 2013. It was an honour to present you with the vestments, mitre and crosier in the way of a dance, and being part of such a historic moment, which I will never forget. We would like to thank you very much for your service throughout the years. As you go into retirement, we ask God’s continued blessings and mercy on you and your family.

Angela Whyte
Liturgical dancer


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