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The Rev. Clarke Raymond remembered as bridge-builder

By Tali Folkins on May, 20 2016
The Rev. Clarke Raymond, who died Wednesday, May 18, served as executive director of program for the Anglican Church of Canada from 1971 to 1991. Photo: General Synod Archives

 The Rev. Clarke Raymond, a former high-level staffer at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office, is being remembered for his decades of contributions to the national church.

Raymond, who served as executive director of program from 1971 until his retirement in 1991, died Wednesday morning, May 18, after a struggle with prostate cancer. He was 89.

Archbishop Michael Peers, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, said he would remember Raymond first and foremost as an “enabler,” especially skilled at finding suitable people to pair with tasks, and with other people.

“Dioceses don’t have automatic connections with other dioceses around the Canadian church, but he had those connections, and he knew them very well, so connecting people…searching for the same thing was a great talent,” Peers said.

Raymond was a firm believer in strong connections between the national office and the dioceses, he said.

“He felt that it was easy for the national church to imagine that it was the ‘real’ church, and that there were other people elsewhere who did their work and all that sort of stuff—but he didn’t,” Peers said. “He worked at making the national church not just its own thing, but visibly a service to the wider church.”

One of Raymond’s convictions, he said, was that every national office staff person should have a connection with a diocese.

He was also a careful listener, Peers said.

“He had a very sharp ear for listening to the wider church, and to the staff and others who would be charged with carrying out national programs,” he said.

Raised in Fergus, Ont., Raymond earned a BA in political science and economics at the University of Toronto, then completed a theology degree at Huron College, London, Ont., in 1952. He served as parish priest in two parishes in Hamilton and St. Catharines, both in the diocese of Niagara, until 1963.

Raymond then came to Toronto to work at the national office, where he dealt with vocations and universities and colleges. He also worked with dioceses to set up continuing education programs for clergy and lay people.

In 1971, Raymond took on his post as executive director of program, responsible for developing policy and working with national staff to implement it. The post would occupy him for the next two decades.

In a 1991 Anglican Journal article covering his retirement, Raymond said he had worked through “stormy and exciting theological times.”

Among the key issues of his time with the national office were the Anglican Church of Canada’s 1975 withdrawal from union negotiations with the United Church of Canada; the ordination of women; and relationships with Indigenous people. As executive director of program, Raymond concerned himself with a wide range of other issues, including ecumenism, the Council of the North and gender equality.

Raymond was also involved with the Canadian Council of Churches, serving as its acting general secretary from 1993–1994.

He was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree from his alma mater, Huron College, in 1994.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, and five sons, John, Mark, Paul, Stephen and Geoffrey, and five grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at Royal York Road United Church on Saturday, June 4 at 3:30 p.m., with visitation on Friday, June 3, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Butler Chapel, 4933 Dundas St. W., Toronto.

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By Tali Folkins| May, 20 2016
Categories:  News|National News|People

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer

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