Anglicans install two Canon Capitulars
Last Sunday the Anglican Church of Bermuda licensed and installed two new honorary Canons in a special service of evensong. The service took place at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, where The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Bishop of Bermuda, appointed Reverends John Stow and Anthony Pettit as Canon Capitulars for the church.
The word Canon, in literal terms, means “a criterion or standard of judgment”.
In this religious context the title is given as an honour, at the discretion of the Bishop, to members of the clergy who have shown an exemplary level of commitment, service and devotion to the church and its ministry.
These two newest Canons of the Anglican Church of Bermuda are most deserving of this title.
Canon John Stow is a Bermudian-born priest currently serving both Holy Trinity Church in Hamilton Parish and St Mark’s Church in Smith’s Parish.
Aside from his parochial duties, Canon Stow has served as the youth director for the Diocese, spearheaded the creation of a church-wide safeguarding policy and provided mentorship in the curacy training of two recently ordained Bermudian priests, Reverends Paul Dean and Jamaine Tucker.
Canon Stow recalled the year he spent working in Israel at age 18 as being particularly influential on his call to the priesthood.
“It was a very formative time for me. I stayed in monasteries and joined in their common worship, which introduced me to the life of prayer.
“Whatever their age, culture or language, the brothers and sisters knew Jesus to be so close to them, and this rubbed off on me.”
Since his ordination as priest, Canon Stow has ministered throughout the West Country of England. He became somewhat of a “rural specialist”, leading congregations in small villages, running projects with young people and reviving ministries in otherwise isolated areas.
Canon Stow was born in Bermuda and spent the early part of his childhood here.
Thus, his return to the island in 2013 with his wife, Jane, came with a significant nostalgia.
His father, The Venerable Reverend John Stow, served as rector of St George’s Parish from 1947 to 1961 and also as Archdeacon of Bermuda from 1951 to 1961.
As he continues in this legacy of ministry, Canon Stow hopes to “raise up young leaders who will bring together people of every generation and heritage, to be instruments of His peace, both here and where His providence leads them”.
Canon Anthony Pettit has been serving St Paul’s in Paget for the last nine years.
He, along with his wife Ruth and their two sons, moved to Bermuda in 2010 and have invested themselves into the life of the church and their parish.
Ordained as a priest in 2002 in the Diocese of Worcester, Canon Pettit has been in ministry for most of his adult life.
He believes that ministry is a way of life for a believer: “All Christian people are called to engage in seeing God’s kingdom come and in proclaiming Good News.”
However, it was a spirit of service which really cemented Canon Pettit’s ministry. Having spent time as a child in rural Nigeria, he learnt that “serving one another is at the heart of good human life”.
“My family went to church, but I wouldn’t have considered us to be particularly religious,” Canon Pettit said. “When I went to college, I had a hard time holding onto any faith, but God kind of kept sticking good Christian people in my way.
“I started in church ministry because I wanted to support others who found faith hard to hold onto — especially young persons.”
Canon Pettit previously served as the director of communications for the Anglican Church of Bermuda before being appointed as the first director of training and discipleship in 2017.
In this newly developed role, he is responsible for the development and management of a local training programme, St Mellitus Affiliate: Bermuda, which trains lay persons for church ministry.
In June, the first cohort of 13 students graduated from the programme and are all currently serving in various ministries throughout the church.
Canon Pettit hopes to be a part of continued transformation of the Anglican Church of Bermuda, particularly in assisting to train Bermudians for ministry.
On the topic of the St Mellitus Affiliate: Bermuda programme, he shared: “I have a great hope that this well lead to a truly Bermudian-shaped church with ministry, prayers, songs and mission really having those incredible Bermudian flavours.”
Bishop Dill was delighted to appoint the two as honorary Canons: “It is good to have the opportunity to honour two leaders in our church who have added materially to the growth and development of our congregations and our outreach to the community.”
Said Canon Stow: “I’m really amazed to receive this honour. I already feel so very fulfilled, being a parish priest in Smith’s and Hamilton Parish and serving the wider Anglican Church of Bermuda, so this is like the ‘icing on the cake’.”
Canon Pettit said he was “floored” when Bishop Dill offered him the honorary role.
“I had, and have, a feeling of deep unworthiness with huge excitement that the ministries with which I am involved are things that our Bishop feels are heading in a Godly direction.”
Their new titles won’t change much for their everyday ministry. Both new Canons will continue to serve in their respective parishes and fulfil their leadership roles within the church.
But their appointments represent a growth and change in the leadership of the Anglican Church of Bermuda and were met with much joy by the recipients, their parishioners and the wider membership.
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