Bishop Larry Robertson (Contributed)
Bishop Robertson has served as suffragan bishop in the western region of the diocese of the Arctic for 11 years. “It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. He and his wife, Sheila, will move from Yellowknife to Whitehorse. “It’s going to be a vast learning time for me…,” he added.
Having spent almost all of his 34 years of ministry in the diocese of the Arctic, he is able to conduct services in several dialects of Inuktitut. Now he would like to learn to speak some of the six or seven First Nations languages and dialects spoken in the Yukon. “At 55 or 56 [years of age], I’m not going to become fluent in any of them, but to be able say some of the basic things…is important for me,” he said.
Bishop Robertson says that although he has never worked in the Yukon, “we have a lot of similarities. We’re both northern communities. We’re both Council of the North. For 10 years when I was in Inuvik we did a lot of work with the Gwich’in people who go right over to the northern Yukon. At the request of the bishop, I taught at their bishop’s school, which is a school for lay ministry. So we have a lot of connections. I have a lot of friends there.”
He is particularly enthusiastic about the “circle ministries” initiative which allows parishes to share resources and clergy and lay ministers to work together. “They begin to share those gifts so…more people are getting not only the sacraments but the teaching and youth ministry, instead of the gifts being in one parish,” he said. “I think that’s a way to go that’s new and vibrant.”
Bishop Robertson said he has always worked to develop local leadership. “When I was hired by Bishop Sperry in 1976, he said to me ‘Your job is to work yourself out of a job. In other words, you are to look at making disciples and building leadership.’ And that’s been my motto for the last 34 years, ministering and promoting and developing local leadership,” he said, noting that he was pleased to see that he was the only non-Inuit or non-First Nations person on the diocese of the Arctic’s most recent executive committee.
“One of the greatest joys I’ve had as a minister is to see people develop. To see layer readers “take on the leadership when God calls them” and.grow to become deacons and then priests “has got to be one of the most gratifying things a minister can have,” Bishop Robertson told the Anglican Journal.