Announcing our new Rector!
The Parish Selection Committee (PSC) is delighted that, on the committee’s unanimous and enthusiastic recommendation, Bishop Andrew Asbil has appointed The Right Rev. Jenny Andison as the 11th Rector of St. Paul’s Bloor Street (SPBS), starting February 28, 2021!
Bishop Jenny is familiar to many of us. As Bishop Asbil mentions in his Letter of Appointment, Bp. Jenny served as Associate Priest for Church Development at SPBS from 2006-2013 where she co-led a ministry team that envisioned and re-designed The Bridge service into a vibrant and flourishing community, led welcome ministries and oversaw the formation of new believers through 1:1 mentoring and teaching including leading Christianity 101 and Following Jesus courses. Prior to her time at SPBS, Bp. Jenny had served as Associate Vicar at St. James Church in the Diocese of London UK—a resource strapped inner city Parish reboot—in Toronto at St. Timothy’s Church as Assistant Curate in this diverse multi-ethnic parish, as a Deacon at St. Alban’s Church in the Diocese of Tokyo Japan where she introduced and led the first Alpha course in Japan and as Deacon in Charge in the Parish of Landsdowne Rear in the Diocese of Ontario. After serving at SPBS, she became Incumbent of St. Clements Eglinton in 2013, growing the church and setting the stage for parish renewal through the intentional and strategic reshaping of church ministries and by developing a collaborative and cohesive leadership team. In 2017 she embraced her vocational episcopal calling as a Bishop of Toronto in the role of Suffragan Bishop of York Credit Valley. Her experience as a jurisdictional Bishop in the Diocese of Toronto has given her the opportunity to experience the depth and diversity of the local, national and global Anglican communion in new ways and to shepherd diverse parishes through times of change and growth. Bp. Jenny began this journey after completing an Honours Bachelor of Arts at Queen’s University in Political Studies and Comparative Religion, a Masters of Divinity at Wycliffe College, in the University of Toronto and recently a Doctorate of Divinity (honoris causa) from Wycliffe College. Some on our Parish Selection Committee did not know Bp. Jenny and so it was an engaging journey of discovery and discernment together.
The PSC was impressed at the outset at the depth of Bp. Jenny’s faithfulness to the Lord and His purposes for her, her radical obedience to Him, her critical self-reflection and growth, her demonstrated ability to build and lead a team with complementary strengths and by her richly nuanced theological dispositions— which she communicates with a clarity and eloquence that is both engaging and rare. Her passion for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, her focus on discipleship, strengthening the family and intergenerational ministries, raising up young leaders and her vision for our broader community in its rich diversity and needs, all spoke to the core ministries and calling of SPBS. Her understanding and respect for our church culture and traditions and her ability to engage in vital and fresh ways in this next stage of SPBS’s ministry was inspiring. We walked away from every interview with her both challenged and spiritually encouraged.
How did we arrive at this place? Members of our Parish may recall our search process was clearly established in close collaboration with and direction by the Bishop of Toronto, Bishop Andrew Asbil. We employed Vanderbloemen Search Group to seek out and vet a list of potential qualified candidates for consideration. Two representatives from Vanderbloemen visited SPBS after conducting an extensive analysis of wide-ranging internal documents on the history, governance structure and finances of SPBS and after processing multiple detailed questionnaires that we were required to complete. At their visit to SPBS, these representatives attended all 3 services, met with the Board of Trustees, the Parish Selection Committee, the Senior Leadership Team, the Bishop of Toronto and the Rev. Canon Dr. Barry Parker. Vanderbloemen also conducted a Parish-wide survey and set up an email address in which parishioners could send their comments on and suggestions for the next Rector. What emerged from their research was a remarkable consonance in the qualities needed for the next Rector, reflecting the breadth and depth of the SPBS community. Vanderbloemen prepared a position posting and Rev. Barry and the SPBS team produced a complementary video. Vanderbloemen conducted a truly global search, following up on contacts across the Anglican Communion. Inquiries were coming in from around the world as far as Germany, Africa, the UK as well as the US and Canada. Vanderbloemen vetted and assertively sought out promising candidates who had not applied, seeking to establish whether they may be good fits for SPBS.
Following Bishop Andrew’s approval, the PSC was presented with a diverse and highly competitive list of candidates. Candidates were required to provide a statement of faith, ministry philosophy, a resume, preaching samples, complete a personality assessment profile and answer a series of questions provided by Vanderbloemen. The PSC conducted extensive and rigorous rounds of interviews with candidates—some of the final sets of interviews lasting over three hours—addressing wide ranging questions that explored gifts, skills, theological dispositions, growth and a deep and discerning prayer and spiritual life with the Lord.
Despite this list of highly qualified candidates, Bp. Jenny emerged as the clear and exceptional choice. She was an exceedingly strong interviewee, revealing a grace and humility while thinking deeply and persuasively about SPBS and the next steps in our community life together. She demonstrated a strong theological, cultural and leadership fit, able to navigate the nuances and diversity of our community with dexterity, clarity and faithfulness. She has a persuasive vision that is consonant with our historical identity and builds upon the extraordinary work that the Lord has done through Rev. Barry these past 22 years. We see the capacity in her leadership for both continuity with our identity and past, and yet the ability to grow and develop as a community in response to the challenges before us. She inspired us with her vision for evangelism and discipleship, building the family in an inclusive way that is multi-generational, with her strategies for leadership and team building, her commitment to relate across generations from, youth, young adults to seniors, her commitment to grow and train new leaders through the Ministry Apprenticeship Program, to honour our shared and diverse worship life and on her thoughts around post-COVID recovery. She is dynamic, powerful and gifted, able to inspire and lead SPBS to the next stage in our ministry in the city of Toronto, Canada and globally.
Our deliberations were characterized by prayerful discernment and by respectful, diverse perspectives and candor. We opened and closed each meeting in prayer—often asking the candidates to pray with and for us and leaving time for open prayer amongst all the committee members. We had a strong sense of unity and of the guidance and indeed control of the Holy Spirit. He had already determined who was to be the next Rector of SPBS. We simply needed to listen to Him. Thank you to every member of this congregation who have been praying for us throughout this process of discernment. We could sense your prayers strongly throughout.
We are grateful for Vanderbloemen Search Group who conducted a thorough, professional global search for this position giving us the ability to compare, in a nuanced way, across candidates. We are grateful to Bp. Andrew, who was always gracious and available for wise counsel while guiding this process with sensitivity to who we are as a community. We are also so grateful to our current Rector, Barry, whose faithful and courageous leadership was foremost in our hearts and minds as we deliberated. His faithful years leading with great wisdom, discernment and strength enabled us to see the role that Bp. Jenny—with her exceptional gifts and calling—will bring to our community.
We are so grateful to Bp. Jenny and her supportive family of husband Tim, and daughters Emma, Kate and Charlotte. We are so thankful for Jenny’s willingness to step out in faith, obey the Lord’s calling and to embark with us on this exciting journey.
We want to take this moment to thank the other members of the PSC: Femi Faulkner, Bob Hamilton, Marci Prescott-Brown, Jillian Ruch, Beng Wee and our ex officio advisory members Bp. Stephen Andrews, Ingrid Suld and Prem Watsa. Their faithfulness, wisdom and prayerful discernment has ensured we arrived at this wonderful place of celebration today. We are so grateful for the countless hours and insightful stewardship they brought to our deliberations and final decision. An additional thank you to our People’s Warden, Sarah Brandon, whose support and professional expertise at critical points in this process has been both timely and essential to the successful completion of this search.
Above all, we are so grateful to the Lord. We can see that he has been determining everything here. He led Bp. Jenny to us, working in her heart as she discerned and embraced this strategically important call. We are looking forward to exciting days ahead at SPBS. While we do indeed face challenges in a post-COVID world and post-Christendom culture, it is clear the Lord is so graciously holding us in His all-powerful hands. This process has revealed in a powerful way that God has a beautiful purpose and a calling for SPBS as part of his grand and beautiful plans for this, His city, His country and His world.
Please continue to pray for our dear friend, pastor and leader of so many years, Rev. Barry and his wife Cathy, as they make this transition to the next stage in the Lord’s plans for them and for Bp. Jenny and her family as they prayerfully embark upon this new path. We look forward with eager anticipation all that the Lord has planned for us; confident the Lord will do great things in and through Bp. Jenny’s leadership.
Hebrews 10:23 –“Let us hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
On behalf of the Parish Selection Committee,
Joy Fitzgibbon, PhD (Chair, PSC and Trustee) and Sam Ah Kim (Rector’s Warden and PSC Member)
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227 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1C8
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