Scholar-Priest (Paul Friesen) Looks to Combine Traditions: Bible College Teacher Ordained in Anglo-Catholic Parish

Article excerpt

Evangelical and Catholic traditions, seemingly at opposite ends of the broad Anglican spectrum, can coexist.

This was demonstrated recently as Rev. Paul Friesen, an evangelical Bible college teacher was ordained at St. Mary Magdalene's here, the Anglo-Catholic parish he will serve in as an assistant priest.

Dr. Friesen is the only Anglican cleric teaching at the evangelical Ontario Bible College and Ontario Theological Seminary.

On Jan. 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, his presenters included Brian Stiller, president of OBC/OTS and executive director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Rev. Orim Meike, a Pentecostal minister.

But the ordination had a distinctively Catholic flavour. During the consecration litany, Dr. Friesen, instead of kneeling, made a full prostration.

Dr. Friesen sees it as an ancient tradition symbolizing humility, prayerfulness and obedience to the church. After being vested with a chasuble, Dr. Friesen had his palms anointed by the bishop with chrism (holy oil). Prostration and anointing with oil are typical of Roman Catholic ordinations but less common in Anglican services.

Dr. Friesen respects both High and Low Church traditions within Anglicanism, one stressing a nurturing, incremental approach to spirituality, the other a conversion faith.

His evangelical roots lie with his Mennonite father, who raised him Plymouth Brethren, which has no ordained clergy and stresses the centrality of weekly communion with a common cup.

Since then, Dr. Friesen has at different times found a spiritual home in an Associated Gospel Church and a Baptist church where he served as an assistant pastor.

His first taste of Anglicanism was in the Episcopal Church while he attended Harvard University.

Returning to Canada, Dr. Friesen was appointed assistant dean of students at Wycliffe. He earned his PhD at the Toronto School of Theology and has been teaching at Ontario Bible College since 1990. In 1995 he became assistant curate at St. …