Hiltz Chosen as New Primate: Close Election Almost Decided by Bishops

By Sison, Marites N. | Anglican Journal, June-July 2007 | Go to article overview

Hiltz Chosen as New Primate: Close Election Almost Decided by Bishops


Sison, Marites N., Anglican Journal


Winnipeg

In an inner-city church reflecting the diversity of the Anglican Communion, Frederick James Hiltz was installed on June 25 as the 13th primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and national archbishop.

"Overwhelmed and humbled by the selection, I enter into this ministry saying, 'I will, with God's help,'" said Archbishop Hiltz.

St. Matthew's church was filled with about 400 General Synod delegates, bishops, and representatives of Christian denominations and other faiths. Festive bunches of multi-coloured balloons were added to the church's decorations of an aboriginal blanket and banners that read The People of God: Faces, Not Races and May the Streets of our Community be Holy Ground Beneath Our Feet. (St. Matthew's is a thriving congregation with aboriginal, Caribbean, Anglo-Saxon and Sudanese members.)

To the soaring sounds of pipe organ, trumpet and choir, bishops, dignitaries and guests entered the church preceded by young people waving silk banners of purple, red, gold and silver.

And then, in a poignant moment, Archbishop Hiltz, wearing a simple alb and stole, was ushered in by Synod members from his diocese, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and stood by the foot of the altar, where the outgoing primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, asked him if he was accepting his new role as head of the church.

"I, Fred, chosen to be Primate of the Anglican church of Canada, commit myself to this new trust and responsibility, and promise, with God's help, to be a faithful shepherd and pastor among you," he replied.

The church's four metropolitans (senior archbishops) then proceeded to robe him with the primatial cope, stole and mitre. (The so-called "Canada vestments," depict the breadth of the nation, with the Northern Lights, maple leaves, a Mohawk eagle, prairies, mountains, the flowers of the provinces and territories--all richly embroidered.)

Archbishop Hiltz, 53, was elected on June 22 on the fifth ballot, garnering 60 out of 116 votes from clergy, and 81 out of 137 votes from laity. Bishop Victoria Matthews of the diocese of Edmonton came in a close second, With 56 votes from clergy, and 56 from the laity.

Amid the sweltering summer heat, delegates cast their ballots at Holy Trinity church, an inner city parish in downtown Winnipeg.

Delegates were nearly faced with the prospect of having the house of bishops make the final decision on the new primate when both houses of laity and-clergy were split on their choice for primate. (Two other candidates, Bishop Bruce Howe of Huron and Bishop George Bruce of Ontario, were dropped from the slate on the third ballot.)

On the third ballot, Bishop Matthews received a majority of the votes from clergy while Archbishop Hiltz received a majority of the votes from laity.

On the fourth ballot, the dead-lock between clergy and laity remained. The members were informed that if the stalemate remained on the fifth ballot, the decision would fall on the bishops, who were sequestered in a nearby hotel.

Delegates cheered and hugged each other when at 1:56 p.m., Dean Peter Elliott, General Synod prolocutor, announced that a new primate had been elected. Members sang the Doxology, a song of thanksgiving, and the church bells were rung. Minutes later, Archbishop Hiltz was escorted to the main door of the church by his predecessor, Archbishop Hutchison, and was met with a rousing welcome by delegates. …

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