On July 31, Bishop Rob Hardwick of the diocese of Qu’Appelle dipped the wheel of his bicycle in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s, Nfld., bringing an end to a cross-Canada journey that began months earlier. On May 19, he had performed the same ritual in the Pacific, at his starting point in Victoria, B.C.
Hardwick planned the 7,200 km ride across Canada after he dreamed of raising $1 million for mission and ministry in the diocese of Qu’Appelle. He had also hoped to raise as much as $800,000 for the Anglican Healing Fund and Indigenous Ministries. Hardwick conceived of the journey as an opportunity to pray for unity and reconciliation, across the church and with Indigenous peoples.
As of mid-August, donations from the diocese of Qu’Appelle equalled $156,400, though the total has continued to grow. “We keep having envelopes coming in and pledges being made,” says Hardwick.
The funds will go to the diocese’s Living the Mission campaign for mission and ministry projects in the diocese. A portion of the money raised will also to go towards building a medical centre in Burundi (the diocese of Qu’Appelle has a companion relationship with the diocese of Muyinga), which Hardwick says can be completed thanks to additional gifts, totalling $20,000, from two families in the diocese.
Hardwick’s journey also raised $11,375 from donors outside the diocese of Qu’Appelle through the Resources for Mission department of the national church. This money will be distributed equally between the Anglican Healing Fund, which provides grants for programs to help educate and heal the damage caused by residential schools, and the national church’s Indigenous ministries department. According to Hardwick, the diocese of Qu’Appelle also hopes to contribute an additional $150,000 over the next three years to Indigenous ministries, if the $2.2 million goal of the Living the Mission campaign is met.
Hardwick says that though he is thankful for the donations, “the fundraising, as I said from early on, was an afterthought more than anything.”
He recalls, during one of his stops along the ride, speaking with a group of retired chiefs in Thunder Bay. They were “cautiously hopeful,” about the bike ride, he says.
“When your hopes have been dashed so many times—is this just another quirky thing, or is it something that’s truly going to make a difference?” Hardwick reflected.
“One of the chiefs said, ‘What gives us the most hope is not how much money is going to be raised or the fact that you’re raising awareness for the need for unity, healing and reconciliation. What gives us the greatest hope is that you’ve been laying a foundation of prayer all the way across Canada. And we know the Creator answers prayer.’
“That warmed our hearts, because that was our intention right from the beginning, that it be a prayer pilgrimage,” says Hardwick.
In a Facebook post July 31, Hardwick called the end of the ride “an amazing day.”
“Now I need ice cream,” he wrote.
In a more detailed post the next day, Hardwick recounted what led him to the cross-Canada trek. “After my heart bypass…I never thought I would be able to do something like this, but God did,” he wrote. Hardwick had bypass surgery nine years ago. He turned 62 during the ride.
Though his cycling journey is now complete, he added, “it is imperative to note that the journey to unity, healing and reconciliation is just beginning, it has to be ongoing, we cannot give up.”
Hardwick says he will continue to raise money in Qu’Appelle as well as across the other dioceses, and that he hopes to add to this total at the House of Bishops meeting in October, when dioceses have the opportunity to address yearly budgets and pledge more substantial amounts. “I’m hoping, certainly over the next year and the year after, we could get a million dollars,” he says.
Hardwick compiled photos of his journey in a video (below) accompanied by the song ‘Wings of an Eagle,’ by musician Steve Bell, from the album Pilgrimage. Further updates and photos can be found on the Living the Mission – Bishop’s Ride Facebook page.
Editor’s note: Corrections have been made to an earlier version of this story: the total distance of the ride was 7,200 km, not 7,800; and the diocese of Qu’Appelle hopes to raise $150,000 for the national church’s Indigenous ministries, not the Anglican Healing Fund.