The following is part of a series exploring the impact of projects across the Anglican Church of Canada supported by grants from the Anglican Foundation, visionary sponsor for General Synod 2019.
In September 2015, retirees Charles and Valerie Maier moved to Mayo, Yukon, to serve as joint lay ministers at the Parish of St. Mary with St. Mark as part of the diocese’s ministry of presence program.
Prior to retirement, Charles had worked as the chief of protocol of Canada and as an assistant history professor at Royal Military College, while Valerie worked as a teacher in Ottawa until 2015. She is also currently president of the board of directors of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. Volunteering as ministers of presence, they moved to Mayo—a village with a predominantly Indigenous population—to, as Charles explained, “journey with the people of this community to try to make reconciliation a reality.”
Making the long drive up from Ottawa, the couple arrived in Mayo on a rainy afternoon. Having visited the town earlier that year to help out with structural restoration of the church foundations—a project funded by the Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC)—Charles expected to find the parish rectory in good condition.
“We’d driven across Canada and arrived in Mayo, and I was looking forward to showing [Valerie] the renovated house that we were going to be living in,” he recalls.
“We arrived to find water dripping through the ceiling, because the roof, which was one element that we thought we could leave for another year or two, was not capable of being left for another year or two. Our jaws sort of dropped.”
Contacting executive archdeacon Sarah Usher, the Maiers put in one more application to the Anglican Foundation. By November, the AFC had responded with a $9,281 grant for insulation of the rectory and repair of the rectory roof, which Charles called a “godsend.”
“We’ve been living here for the last four and a half years or so, and it’s been doing just fine,” he says.
“Accommodation is really an issue,” Valerie adds. “If you did want to have somebody in the church [here], you need to provide that for sure.”
Anglican Foundation grants have played a vital role in recent years supporting parish rectories in the diocese of Yukon.
In May 2015, the AFC provided $8,850 to St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Teslin for replacement of the heating system in the parish rectory. In November, along with the grant to the Parish of St. Mary with St. Mark, the foundation provided a $7,303 grant to replace the rectory heating system at St. John the Baptist in Watson Lake.
The following May, a $4,000 grant to St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Fort Nelson, B.C., allowed for furnace replacement and fireplace repair in the rectory.
Most recently, the foundation provided a $15,000 grant for restoration of the Old Log Rectory in Whitehorse, a building that provides accommodation for visiting clergy. These funds enabled the parish to put a new roof on the rectory, change oil tanks from underground to above-ground and completely change the furnace system.
Usher—who is originally from Teslin and whose ministry has included service at the Parish of St. Philip’s as well as the Yukon Church Heritage Society and Old Log Church Museum—describes maintenance of rectories as essential for ministry across the diocese.
“It’s crucial because if we do not have a place for ministers to live, we can’t have ministry in the community,” Usher says. “No one is going to come to a small northern community and buy a house. Rental is too high. So we do have to have a building that someone can come and live in, and it has to be in good working condition.”
The ministry of presence program, in which retired laypeople or clergy come to the diocese of Yukon for at least one year to serve as “the ministry of Christ within a community,” would not be possible without a rectory for volunteers to live in, she adds.
In the case of Mayo, the Maiers’ presence has enabled the church to work with community groups in a variety of ways. The main population centre for the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Mayo has many older residents who attended residential schools run by the Anglican Church of Canada.
As a result, Charles describes the job of parish rector as “an exercise in reconciliation.” Working as volunteers, he and Valerie are “doing this [ministry] in our retirement as a way of trying to do our little bit to address some of the historical injustices.”
Besides leading worship services, the two lay ministers help provide support to local residents suffering from past trauma, or grappling with addictions and domestic violence. They also lead a youth Alpha course to teach young people the basic tenets of Christianity.
“We’re a mission diocese,” Usher says. “We do not have an awful lot of funds, and all of our rectories are getting to that point where they’re aging, and stuff needs to be fixed. Without the granting from Anglican Foundation, we would not be able to do that [mission work]. It’s as simple as that.”