Bishop Henry Hill devoted years of study and dialogue to Orthodoxy

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Henry Hill, who served as bishop of the diocese of Ontario from 1975 to 1981, and who was known for his contribution to the dialogue between Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches, died Oct. 21. He was 84.

Prior to his election as bishop, he taught history at the University of Windsor.

In 1980, Bishop Hill was appointed by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie to succeed him as co-chair of the international Anglican-Orthodox joint doctrinal discussions. He was the first Canadian and the first bishop outside the Church of England to be named to the post.

Upon receiving news of Bishop Hill’s death, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called Bishop Hill “a very great man of God.” He likened Bishop Hill’s “little study in Toronto,” which contained photographs and mementos of his encounters with “the great and the good of the Christian world over half a century,” to “the cell of a Russian starets – the home of an ‘elder’ released from administrative burdens, licensed to be himself before God, and simply living out something of God’s hospitality. To spend even a little time in that atmosphere of radiant and relaxed goodness was to be renewed in your sense of what mattered for and in the church.”

After accepting the Canterbury appointment, Bishop Hill resigned as diocesan bishop and moved to the Roman Catholic Benedictine Priory, where Christians of Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant traditions shared a life of prayer through silent meditation. While at the priory, Bishop Hill also served the diocese of Montreal as assistant bishop.

In 1983, Bishop Hill moved into an apartment at the convent of the Sisters of St. John the Divine (SSJD) in Toronto. While at the SSJD, he served as the sisters’ warden. In 2002, Bishop Hill moved to the Anglin House, a residence for retired priests at the Basilian Centre in Toronto.

Bishop Hill compiled and edited Light from the East: A Symposium on the Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches, a book of essays written by various authors following a forum in 1985 between the Anglican Communion and representatives from the Oriental Orthodox churches.

A native of Kingston, Ont., he also served as parish priest in rural eastern Ontario and as a chaplain at St. John’s College, Cambridge University, England. He was ordained as a deacon in Kingston, Ont. in 1948, and priested by the Bishop of Ely, England, for the Archbishop of Ontario, in 1950.

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