Six to receive Anglican Award of Merit

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The recipients of the Anglican Award of Merit this triennium are (l-r, top row:) Debra Gill, Anne Patterson, Susan Winn; and (l-r, bottom row:) Melissa Green, Dorothy Russell-Patterson and Robert (Bob) Boeckner. Photos: Contributed

Six individuals are being honoured this triennium with an Anglican Award of Merit, which recognizes lay people for their contributions to the Anglican Church of Canada.

During its meeting this March, Council of General Synod (CoGS) voted to approve the list of nominees for the award submitted to the body by the Anglican Award of Merit Committee. On the list of six are: Robert (Bob) Boeckner, Debra Gill, Melissa Green, Anne Patterson, Dorothy Russell-Patterson and Susan Winn.

Boeckner, of the diocese of Toronto, was recognized for, among other things, his service, since 2008, as a trustee of the General Synod Pension Plan, and as a member of the church’s Responsible Investing Task Force. Boeckner told the Journal he was “surprised and thrilled” to have been honoured with the award.

“My work on behalf of the church, particularly regarding its pension and benefit plans, has always been supported by a great many people, and I am very grateful for their help,” he said.

Debra Gill, of the diocese of Central Newfoundland, was honoured for contributions to the church that include service as a diocesan representative for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund; membership on the board of directors of the Anglican Foundation of Canada; and her work for the diocese of the Arctic, where she has been executive officer for 22 years.

“I am very humbled by this recognition, and I am very thankful for the experience and the opportunity to serve our church,” Gill said.

Melissa Green, of the Territory of the People, has worked for the church in a number of roles, including serving as associate director (and interim executive director, during two vacancies) of the Sorrento Centre, an Anglican retreat centre in the interior of British Columbia. Green has been a member of the 2010, 2013 and 2016 General Synods, and of CoGS in each triennium since 2010. She also represented the Anglican Church of Canada at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, South Korea in 2013.

Green said she was indebted to the many people across the church who had “mentored, supported and encouraged” her.

“It is through a community of many that the opportunities to serve the church at the local, provincial and national levels opened before me,” she said. “I am so appreciative of how each experience has formed and shaped me into who I am today and who I am still becoming. I am sincerely touched to be nominated for this award and profoundly honoured to be receiving it.”

The diocese of Ontario’s Anne Patterson, who served as administrative assistant to two bishops of the diocese from 2002-2015, also worked with the secretariat of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008. Patterson did mission work for the Anglican Episcopal Church in Brazil from 1998-2000, after which she provided continuing English-language and communications support to the church in Brazil during its synod and the visits of two archbishops of Canterbury.

Patterson said she was “honoured and humbled” to have received the award. “I have many mentors along my journey with our Lord and our beloved Anglican Church with whom I share this award,” she said. “Any contributions and support I have given to God’s mission in the world have given me pure joy and immense pleasure.”

Dorothy Russell-Patterson, of the diocese of Huron, was recognized for, among other things, her contributions to the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, of which she has been a member since 2015; her service on the grants review committee of the Anglican Healing Fund; and her membership of the Lenni Lenape Algonkian Iroquoian Council, which represents the six First Nations parishes in the diocese. Russell-Patterson said she was surprised to learn her husband had nominated her—and was even more surprised to learn the committee had selected her.

“I am very grateful to receive the Award of Merit,” she said. “I value and appreciate both my Christian and traditional teachings…being of a good mind and doing the best you can.”

The diocese of Montreal’s Susan Winn was recognized for contributions that include membership of General Synod from 1998-2016, and of CoGS from 2004-2007 and 2010-2013. Winn also served as deputy prolocutor of General Synod from 2006-2007 and as lay secretary of the ecclesiastical province of Canada. While on CoGS, she chaired the ecojustice committee for several terms.

Winn said she was surprised and very touched to learn she had been chosen for the award.

“My nomination came from my bishop and a close friend and their efforts on my behalf meant so much to me,” she said. “The church has been like home and family to me, with so many rewarding opportunities over the years to learn and to serve God and others. I have been so blessed.”

The Anglican Award of Merit was established in 1986. Since 1994, the awards have been made at the last meeting of CoGS before each General Synod. General Synod will meet July 10-16 this year.

The awards will be presented to the recipients by the primate in each recipient’s home parish at a mutually agreeable time.

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Tali Folkins
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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