The Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario was established in 1912 and covers the civil province of Ontario along with a small part of Quebec. It is one of four ecclesiastical provinces in Canada and is made up of seven dioceses: Algoma, Ontario, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara, Huron and Moosonee. Moosonee is a mission area of the province, with the Metropolitan serving as its diocesan bishop. This province is a subtle part of the Canadian Anglican church whose ministry covers thousands of miles. As the theme of our most recent synod stated, “In All Our Relations: Love One Another” and that is what the ecclesiastical province aims for in all it does.
While the ecclesiastical province’s work is often understated, it is important and tackles many topics that stem from the secular government of Ontario’s work. Provincial Anglican input on the regulation of cemeteries, historical building designation and the legalities around clergy counselling have all been part of our province’s work. We are blessed that our boundaries generally align with the secular province of Ontario, allowing us to participate in discussions around policy formation.
The ecclesiastical province also finds collegial ministry within its College of Bishops in these unprecedented times. While colleges of the past worked well, our current college has been challenged to balance health and safety with spiritual well-being in a changing world. The bishops have worked together under the leadership of Archbishop Anne Germond to face this pandemic in a united and supportive way. They maneuvered to deal with shutdowns, changing liturgies and parishioner care. The ecclesiastical province’s pandemic work has been critical to the ever-changing situation in parishes. The ability to access the required medical input along with spiritual insight and opinions allowed the dioceses to learn together and adapt. This collegiality has allowed for ministry to continue in new and changing ways.
Along with the College of Bishops, Provincial Council also offers both mission and ministry. The priorities it has set throughout decades of work include social justice issues such as creation care, child poverty, water rights, elder care and homelessness. There is a working group specifically targeting elder care and elder abuse that is creating provincial resources that will include the social and legal aspects of advocating and protecting our seniors within the provincial boundaries.
The Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario’s executive officers of the seven dioceses are also collaborating by aiming to streamline workload and reduce costs. They are working together on multiple fronts so all dioceses, no matter their financial and personnel strength, have access to resources that will support ministry and mission in even the most remote areas of the province.
The chancellors are another provincial team working together. They have begun the process of building and training a safe church resource team to aid the dioceses with unbiased investigations and care. They can be called to anywhere in the province as needed to offer quick and unbiased support.
The ecclesiastical province quietly works to enhance and support diocesan ministry while looking ahead to the changing times enveloping our dioceses. Its ministry and mission come from a desire to find new and supportive ways of not only sharing the gospel but allowing work to happen in a way that enriches the parishes in every corner of the province. Focus has shifted over time as the needs and outreach of the provincial church have changed. While the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario’s ministry isn’t flashy or high-profile, it is humbly tangible and adaptive and continues to work as a support for all the dioceses housed within it.