New bishop for diocese of British Columbia

By

Brenda Still

Dean Logan McMenamie, bishop-elect of the diocese of British Columbia with Bishop James Cowan, who retired this past summer. Photo: Ed Lewis
Dean Logan McMenamie, bishop-elect of the diocese of British Columbia with Bishop James Cowan, who retired this past summer. Photo: Ed Lewis

Logan McMenamie, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, was elected as the new bishop of the diocese of British Columbia at a synod on Dec. 7. McMenamie was elected on the third ballot. He will succeed Bishop James Cowan, who retired at the end of August.

Speaking to the Anglican Journal after Sunday services in the cathedral, McMenamie said the announcement that he would be the new bishop felt a bit surreal at first, but answering initial questions from the media and others has helped him quickly begin moving into the role, to which he is looking forward. “I feel really good,” he said. He will be installed as the diocesan bishop on March 2.

The bishop-elect, who moved to Canada from Scotland in 1974 as an engineer, had been working in Port Alberni and serving as a volunteer youth minister when a call to the ministry that he had heard as a child came back to him. Encouraged by his wife and others in the parish, he earned his master of divinity degree at the Vancouver School of Theology and was ordained in 1986. He has since served his entire ministry in the diocese of British Columbia.

He said he thought his work in the last seven years as dean of the cathedral, as well as his work as archdeacon and dean in the diocese, would all be good preparation for his episcopacy. McMenamie added that having served in parishes north of the Malahat in the diocese was also important preparation. North of the Malahat, he explained, where communities were dependent on resource industries such as forestry and mining that are now gone, is a different world from the Greater Victoria Area.

Looking to the challenges ahead, McMenamie said that a lot of good work had been done in the diocese over the last nine years under Bishop Cowan’s leadership.

“We’ve made some very difficult decisions, but I think the diocese has come to terms with disestablishing parishes and the beginning of hub parishes,” he said, referring to a turbulent time of restructuring in recent years.

Now, he said, there are three things that need to be done right away. First, the diocese needs to discern a new vision for itself, since the last one was created in 2001. Then a structure to enable that vision to come to life needs to be put in place. “Then, we probably need to look at a major capital campaign,” he said, “and look at where money is going to come from for a whole variety of things within the life of the diocese.”

“There are financial challenges, but we’ll miss the boat if we just deal with the finances,” he said. “We have to deal with who we are and what we have to say to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands…How do we tell the gospel story in this day…I think that we have something very important to say as Anglicans, to the Christian community, to the faith communities, and politically as well,” he said.

McMenamie has focused on issues of social justice throughout his ministry, and he said it is important for Christians to not only address issues such as homelessness, poverty, addictions and mental health issues, but to look at sources and root causes of such problems in our society. He added that the church also needs to continue to work toward healing and reconciliation with First Nations people.

He noted that many people in British Columbia identify themselves as spiritual but not religious. “I think they have a lot to say to the church and the church has a lot to say to them,” he said. “Everyone wants a just and fair society. They want to deal with those social issues, so how can we draw upon that and listen to those people in the church? And how can we begin a conversation where we can work together to do that?”

McMenamie said that when he addressed the synod, he quoted a piece of a speech John F. Kennedy had given about entering the new frontier of the 1960s. “He said to America at the time: ‘As we move into the 60s, I’m not a politician who is going to give you any promises. I’m a politician who is going to bring you a lot of challenges.’ And I think that’s what we face as a diocese.” However, McMenamie, told the synod, “I’ll bring you one promise and that is whatever we have to face, we’ll have fun doing it.”

Bishop-elect McMenamie said his wife, Marcia, is currently travelling, but he shared the news of his election with her long-distance. “She’s very excited and pleased as well,” he said. They have seven adult children, six daughters and one son.

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Leigh Anne Williams

Leigh Anne Williams

Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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