By MICHAEL VAN DUSEN
“Induction” is a word most used for electro-magnetic stove-top cooking. But induction is also a form of formal inauguration of a role. Synonyms would be “inauguration” or “investiture”.
On Sunday Nov. 19, at 4 p.m., The Reverend Doctor Rebecca (Becky) Bridges will be inducted as the Incumbent (pastor) of the Anglican Church of St. Aidan on Queen Street East at Silverbirch Avenue, filling the position which has been formally vacant since the end of May, 2022.
Becky came to St. Aidan’s from an Episcopal church in Birmingham Alabama, bringing a wealth of experience in different fields.
She received a MA in English at Clemson University and a PhD. in in communication from Texas A&M and been a tenured professor of communication studies at Stetson University in Florida. After teaching at Stetson for twelve years, she discerned a call to ministry. Meanwhile, and in addition to teaching, Becky had two girls, (now 20 and 15).
The family moved to Austin, Texas where Becky entered the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. Following ordination in 2019, she served as a curate at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in College Station, Texas and then, for the past three years, as associate rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama, specifically for Formation and Outreach.
After working in this large congregation where there were three full-time priests as well as a retired priest, and many staff but where the responsibilities were carved up into distinct roles, Becky began looking for a situation where she had responsibility for everything is parish life: liturgy, sacred music, education outreach, pastoral activities and administration,
She had met Rev. Molly Finlay, the priest at St. John’s Norway, in 2022 during a study program in England. After Becky saw the job posting for St. Aidan’s (which was advertised in the United States and Britain as well as Canada) she applied then asked Molly if she knew of the parish and what she thought. Molly, gave a good report and Becky followed it up with an application for the position… Not coincidentally, Molly will preach at Becky’s formal induction on Nov. 19.
In her email to the congregation before she arrived, Becky wrote, “Beyond my work life, I enjoy spending time with my daughters Olivia and Amelie and our dog, Athena, as well as with my significant other, Chuck Holmes. In my free time, I can often be found walking on trails in local natural areas or botanical gardens. In the past I have also enjoyed running and bicycling, and aspire to take up these activities again along the shore of Lake Ontario — and other trails I hope you may recommend. I also enjoy travel, museums, birdwatching, reading, writing, and sipping at least a few good cups of tea each day.”
Since her arrival in Canada in late August of 2023, Becky has become familiar with the metric system, Canadian Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day…. and Grey Cup. (She scheduled her induction so people would not miss the opening kick-off.)
As Sheila Dunn, one of the two church wardens, said, “Becky is smart, engaging, deeply spiritual, and has a wonderful sense of humour which even appreciates our Canadian obsession with winter.”
The other warden, Courtney Ebner, picked up Becky’s engagement, “Becky is already energizing our parish with a fresh perspective on ministry and serving the Beach neighbourhood.”….most recently by handing out Halloween candy in front of the church to more than 140 children and youth on Oct. 31.
She’s impressed members of the congregation in a similar number of ways.
Ginnie Wilson, head of the Altar Guild said, “I am grateful for Becky’s gentle and supportive leadership. In spite of having recently moved here from the States, she has entered into the life and ministry of St Aidan’s with enthusiasm and compassion. I hope she will be our guide for many years to come.”
John Brewin, head of the Eco-Spirituality Committee noted that, “Michael Van Dusen and I drove Becky to see parts of the Greenbelt – the Duffins-Rouge Agricultural Preserve and Rouge National Park – the first week she was here, since we were actively trying to protect it. She grasped what we were trying to protect right away.”
Most of the congregation at St. Aidan’s has gotten to know Becky through her homilies that have been steeped in scripture and draw on her own experiences to address contemporary issues. Her training in English and communications is evident.