#GS2010 Day 4: Celebrating 300 years

We had a fantastic and wonderful celebration of our 300 years of continuing Anglican worship in Nova Scotia. I was so pleased to greet the bus with my parishioners from the Parish of Three Harbours and to have Elizabeth Abler from my parish as my server. I was one of 22 concelebrants with Bishop Sue. I greatly enjoyed feeling surrounded by the national church in our celebration, although in the physical space we surrounded them!

The service began with five historical vignettes of our history as a diocese. They were well written, funny, poignant and honest. I struggled with the first vignette, as did my husband who is an Acadien. The first service at Port Royal was to celebrate the conquering of the french by the English. That was how this celebration was introduced to me 5 years ago. When I pointed out the insensitivity of this, the phrase was subsequently dropped from the presentation.

So, the first thing we (and our aboriginal guests, I may add) saw was two soldiers joking about finding wood in this new land by stealing the ax from the local carpenter and then destroying his house. It was written in a spirit of comedy which I did not find particularly funny. The vignette ended with a story by one soldier about his father’s musket. It is not the musket that is important, but what you accomplish with it. Again, this was written in the spirit of looking forward to great accomplishments, and all I could think was, yeah, look at what was accomplished at the point of a musket.

Having said that, the most moving part of the service for me was the liturgical dance. About 21 people dressed in costumes representing wind, water, doves and fire. It was beautifully executed, and I am very proud of my friend Katherine Bourbonniere and her choreography.

As part of my saying goodbye, I was invited to be a concelebrant for this service. It was an honour to stand with some wonderful and supportive colleagues at the celebration. We have a good college of clergy. As we were lined up, we couldn’t all hear the hymn sing. Those closest to the doors started to sing and led the rest of us in singing in the hallway.


And the announcement is…

…I have accepted a new appointment! Beginning July 12, I will be the Associate Priest/Youth and Children’s Ministry Co-ordinator at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora, ON.

(Please, check out the homepage. I’m on there)

There are so many big changes in this appointment; rector to associate, parish ministry to youth ministry, rural/small town to suburbia/big city. They are big changes, but not so scary. A lot of this move is very familiar. We are moving to an area where we have family and friends, and I get to return to full time to youth ministry.

I know many people are imagining different reasons why I am moving on. The real story is that I did not go looking for a new appointment. I have been very happy in Three Harbours. As our annual meetings came to an end I had a strong sense that a new beginning was around the corner, that the parish was ready to begin working towards a new vision. We had begun a visioning process at our annual meeting. I was ready to start imagining the next 5 years with everyone.

Then the Spirit started to move. Trinity’s posting came across my desk from a few places, including two who sent it to me specifically. I kept saying, “No. The time isn’t right.” “I am not ready to move on.” “I don’t want to move so far away from Mom.”

One night, after I had returned from a conference in London, ON, Marc turned to me and asked, “Did you apply for that job in Toronto?”

“Nah,” I replied, “I figured we were good here.”

“I think you should apply,” he declared. “You would be good at it.”

As I do when opportunities arise, I prayed through it one thing at a time. I felt the only faithful response to the Spirit was to apply, knowing there is much to learn and gain from an application process, even if it doesn’t end in a new relationship. In other words, I applied as a way to seek, not to gain.

And then it went…really fast. I was interviewing via Skype, then a trip for Marc and I to Aurora the weekend of Palm Sunday. We were blessed with wonderful hospitality and we fell in love with the place. I heard I was successful on Holy Tuesday, rejoiced, and then fell in love with Nova Scotia all over again. I cried at all my Holy Week and Easter services.

So, my sense that a time was coming for a new beginning was right, but it was my new beginning.


I notified the parish on Sunday, April 18. My last Sunday worship will be on Sunday, June 27.

We will be moving our things out of the rectory to Aurora in mid to late June. Then we have two weeks to spend time in Moncton and PEI, say farewell to family, and move ourselves to Toronto.

In the meantime, we will be busy packing and we desperately want to see our friends. It would be easier for folks to come and see us, but we will also be making a few trips to Halifax to see friends there.

Your prayers are appreciated.

The burden of a secret

I wrote this 4 days before I made an announcement to my parish and posted it the day before announcement day.

I have never been good with secrets. Confidences…yes. Secrets…no. What’s the difference? A confidence is kept to protect something or someone vulnerable, like a child or someone who is ill or in distress to give them space to grow and to heal. I carry the confidences of many of my parishioners, because what they share with me is not for general conversation. If not for my keeping that confidence, they would have nowhere to turn. I can carry these confidences and do, despite the attempts of many to use me as their news source.

A secret is generally kept to protect someone from the truth they really should face, usually the person sharing the secret, like keeping a friend’s infidelity a secret from her/his partner. The partner needs to know. The philanderer needs to be honest. To me, secrets are rooted in dishonesty.

But this isn’t a thesis. Back to my point which is, I hate keeping secrets, and I am holding one now and it is getting heavier by the day. I have taken to cocooning in my office so I can stop answering questions about plans being made that will be altered greatly once my secret is revealed. I panic every time the phone rings because it could very well mean I will have to lie. I hate being lied to, and I am a terrible liar.

There are several people involved in this secret, let’s just say more than ten. And I am counting on all of them to keep it quiet. Some are better than others. We all have a trusted friend or relative to whom we tell everything. The thing is, then those friends also have a friend they tell everything to, too, and all of a sudden too many people know my secret, most of whom are not the people who deserve to know by now but circumstances prevent me from telling. My secret is growing a life of its own.

Tomorrow I start sharing this secret with some who are closer to the circle that need to know. So, really, today is the last day when things remain the same for them. It all changes for them, starting from tomorrow. And then I have to ask them to conspire with me, to keep a secret for three more days.

A good friend reminded me that my last day of “normal” was actually months ago, when all this began, but things still feel relatively normal today, except for the hiding away and the complete inertia to engage anything new, feeling at the mercy of others who only have to invest about 15 minutes before changing my life forever. Have I been overrating “normal”?

So, why am I keeping this secret? Why am I forcing myself to live this lie? Well, that will come clearer when the announcement is made, but mostly its about controlling the message and making sure I and others have had the space to do what we need to do. As one mentor said, “It is living a lie, but it is the only way it works. There really is no other way.” Since he has lived the ordained life longer than me, I trust his wisdom.

I have been called to live openly in community. I took a vow to model my life after Christ, and to serve as a model to those whom I serve. Dishonesty is not something I wish to model. If I am lying to them, then it gives license for them to lie to me and to one another, doesn’t it?

Except none of us really has license to do wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right, as they say. I don’t know if this is wrong. Others who know better than me tell me it is right, but it feels wrong to me. But don’t ask me what I would do instead. My answer would probably be to hide until announcement day. Which is kind of what I am doing right now. So I guess I am being true to myself, today anyways. But I can’t hide for four more days. I can barely hide for one more day.

If what I wrote above is true, that I am keeping this secret in order to give myself and others time and space to do what we need to do, then I guess it is a confidence. What feels different is that this confidence affects so many people, and it is about me; me being selfish and sneaking around and lying, so it feels dishonest.

Tonight I will actually spend some time with friends, some who know my news to varying degrees. When I thought about “who to tell”, I realized early on that I needed a group of people who did know, so I could call on them when the pressure got too great. I was reading today about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the burden he carried, and how much he needed his friends. The gospels tell the story differently, but even Jesus chose a few trusted friends to share his burden with. Clearly, they could not go to the cross with him, they couldn’t even stay awake. He knew they wouldn’t, but in that garden, on that night, they were there for him. Even though they slept, even though they did not fully understand, they were there for him and, maybe, like me, he couldn’t have done what he had to do without them.

Let the visuals begin-Convocation

I think we will go chronologically. Thanks Mom, Aunt Roma and Fred for being my photographers. This is my favourite from convocation. Dr. Susan Slater is hooding me while I receive my degree from the school’s president, the Rev. Canon Dr. Eric Beresford.

I am happy to announce

Beginning July 1, I will be the Incumbent of the Parish of Antigonish and Bayfield with Country Harbour.

It is a three point charge and includes a part-time chaplaincy position at St. Francis Xavier University. I have a HUGE rectory, so I am happy to “store” any furniture you have no space for! I am absolutely ecstatic! Mom is happy that I am only an hour off the ferry, and I am happy that I am a reasonable driving distance from Moncton.

Yesterday I took Fred up to see the rectory and Bayfield church. It is a beautiful area and I am looking forward to spending the summer there.


Drum roll please….I am off to….

I have a parish!

I am taking a summer placement for the time being, about which I am very pleased. Going to India, as life changing and incredible as that was, did not offer me very much parish experience. This gives me several weeks to spend with a supervisor to work on a few learning goals to better prepare me for parish life.

So, starting yesterday (I found out yesterday), I am now working in the Parish of Fall River with the Rev. Marian Conrad. I am very pleased and VERY excited!! This afternoon I go out to get oriented, and tonight is my first parish council meeting. I have never been so excited to attend a parish council meeting!

While I am in Fall River, arrangements are underway to find a permanent appointment for me. There are a few options, all of which I am very happy with. Stay tuned.

I am kind of homeless at the moment. My friend Sandra has very generously offered me her brand new house until she is able to move in. I actually get to live in it before she does. I hope to have more permanent arrangements soon. I do not have daily access to the internet, so the best way to contact me is through my cell phone. I will try to check email every couple of days.

B. Dawn Dickieson, M.Div

Yes, it actually happened, I have received my Masters of Divinity from Atlantic School of Theology! We were treated to the wisdom of Muriel Duckworth, an incredible Canadian Quaker who has been active in the peace movement for most of her 97 years! She shared a great deal of wisdom from her contemporaries, and also invigorated us with her energy and her passion for peace and justice.

My favourite was her opinion on the recent news that the HMCS Chicoutimi will not be back in operation until 2012. “If we don’t need it for six years, we probably don’t need it at all. Let’s take that money and feed some people.”

Many blessings and congratulations to my fellow classmates who received Masters of Divinity, Masters of Theological Studies and various certificates. I consider myself in very honourable company indeed, and I look forward to entering ministry with these wonderfully gracious, intelligent, and blessed colleagues.