Citizens with the Saints

Back to Contents

Chapter 8

INTO THE FUTURE
THE RIGHT REVEREND
— G.C. LEMMON, B.A., B.D., D.D. —


Seventh Bishop of Fredericton (1989 - )

 

G.C. LemmonThe resignation of the Most Rev. H.L. Nutter took effect on January 31, 1989, but it was not until March 17 that an electoral synod could be arranged. During the interregnum, the diocese was administered by the Ven. F.H. Hazen as bishop's commissary. In some ways the 1989 election was reminiscent of 1906, for it also took two sessions, and seventeen ballots for the Rev. Canon George Colborne Lemmon, rector of the parish of Fredericton, and front runner throughout, to achieve the necessary two thirds majority in both the clerical and lay orders. The difficulty of the electoral process indicated something of the ferment caused by contentious issues facing the Church, as well as the inadequacy of a Canon on elections which permitted fifty-one names to remain on the ballot from start to finish.

George Lemmon, a native of Saint John, where he had grown up as an active member of St. Luke's Church, was educated in Saint John schools and, after several years working in his family's printing business, went on to study at the University of New Brunswick and Wycliffe College, Toronto. Ordained deacon in 1962 and priest the year following by Archbishop A.H. O'Neil, he began his ministry in the parish of Canterbury. Subsequent appointments were the parishes of Wicklow, Wilmot and Peel (Florenceville), Renforth, Sackville and Fredericton. An effective and much-loved parish priest, he was active in the affairs of the diocese, serving as a delegate to Provincial and General Synods on several occasions, and providing leadership in the areas of evangelism and stewardship. To him belongs much of the credit for the series of successful conferences "For Christ and the Family" which the diocese has sponsored at the University of New Brunswick.

In 1957 George Lemmon and Lois Foster of Saint John were married, and they have a family of three children: Paul, now living in Bermuda, Robert, presently studying in British Columbia, and Marilu Hynes, who serves as Christian Education Director at the Parish Church in Fredericton, and whose two children have made the Lemmons proud grandparents.

The bishop-elect chose his native city of Saint John as the site of his consecration, and that memorable service took place at Trinity Church on Ascension Day, May 9, 1989. The chief consecrator was the Rt. Rev. Reginald Hollis of Montreal, then acting metropolitan, assisted by the bishops of the Province of Canada, and the preacher was the Rt. Rev. Mark Genge, Bishop of Central Newfoundland. On the same evening, the new bishop was installed as diocesan at Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, when the preacher was the Rt. Rev. Arthur Peters, Bishop of Nova Scotia.

In his first charge to the Diocesan Synod, delivered only a month after his consecration, the new bishop pointed to the need for unity of purpose, urging synod "...to begin to establish objectives and goals to fulfil God's purpose." and issued "...a call to openness to grow in Christ and with one another", while holding fast, under the Lordship of Christ, the "...precious treasures [which] have been entrusted to us over the years and must be part of the heritage which we pass on." Finally, he laid down a challenge to the diocese—the achievement of high standards in five areas, identified by The Anglican Digest as characteristic of parishes with great spiritual vitality:

1. High Standards of worship, encouraged and maintained, emphasising congregational participation, in which the Holy Spirit is free to work—"...a statement that religion is not only personal but a corporate responsibility".

2. The Bible, taught faithfully and regularly, "...read, marked, learned and inwardly digested for...spiritual growth in Christ".

3. Strong lay leadership. "I consider Confirmation an ordination of the laity for ministry within the Church. They need to discover and make use of their spiritual gifts".

4. Numerical growth. "70% of those who come to the Church do so because of friends." Jesus "...called and trained twelve to reach the world. It is still the pattern for growth."

5. Commitment to Christian social service and missionary outreach. "We have to start within our parishes with a vision of ministry to others."

In the ensuing years, much of the effort of the diocese has been directed to the achievement of these goals. An ongoing planning process involving first the Executive and latterly the entire Diocesan Council has been implemented, and an emphasis on the renewal of the Church at every level prepares us for the future.

In the area of world Mission, the companion relationship, established first in 1988 with the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya, has led to our involvement in training clergy there through the provision of a tutor at St. Paul's Theological College at Kapsabet. Three of the diocesan clergy, the Rev. Richard McConnell, the Rev. David Smith and currently the Rev. Paul Jefferies, have served in that capacity. Visits to the diocese by the Rt. Rev. Alexander Muge, first bishop of Eldoret in 1988 and a group led by the present bishop, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Kewasis in 1992, have stimulated interest, and made it clear that we have much to learn from a young African diocese. A visit to Eldoret by a delegation from the Diocese of Fredericton in 1989, led by Bishop Lemmon, further cemented relationships between the two dioceses. A similar relationship with the Diocese of the Yukon has been renewed, and its development will provide greater involvement for this Diocese in the work of the Church in the Canadian north.

Within the Diocese, Bishop Lemmon has instituted a regular series of "Clergy Days" at which matters of concern may be discussed, and programmes of continuing education presented for the clergy. These are supplemented by biennial Clergy Conferences, held at R.C.S.-Netherwood School. Programmes of training in evangelism and stewardship for both clergy and laity have been held under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. R.B. Smith and the Rev. Edward Coleman, appointed by the bishop as coordinators in these areas. The Cursillo programme has also been given new emphasis. In these areas, the bishop himself continues to give important leadership, setting aside regular periods of time for leading parish missions.

Thus, as the Diocese of Fredericton prepares to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its founding, we look to the future and its challenges, giving thanks for a glorious heritage, ever mindful that we, as St. Paul tells us (Ephesians 2:19-22):

...are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

and that:

In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are built together into a dwelling place for God.

To this we may add these words of our first bishop, John Medley:

...we must remember that the past history of mankind is a treasure given us by God for our present improvement.