The Rev. Dr. Lynne McNaughton has been elected the tenth Bishop of Kootenay as of Jan. 19, with her consecration in Kelowna set for May 16. McNaughton was nominated by Cranbrook’s Rev. Yme Woensdregt. McNaughton is also the first female bishop in the diocese’s history.
Woensdregt knew of McNaughton’s work both at her own parish of St. Clement’s in North Vancouver, where she’s been for the past ten years, and her involvement in numerous capacities with the national church. He said her name kept popping up while the diocese went through the process of discerning who would fit the role best, and after he called and they had numerous conversations, she finally allowed him to nominate her.
“Part of the reason that I decided to nominate her was that she and I sort of share some of the same passions for getting involved in the community, in social justice work and a passion for the liturgy of the church,” Woensdregt said.
McNaughton was first ordained as a priest in 1987. Before moving into her role as priest at St. Clement’s, she served at two parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster, and then joined the faculty of the Vancouver School of Theology in 1995 where she taught Anglican Formation for Ordination and Christian Spirituality.
She has a personal passion for Celtic Spirituality and Christian mysticism and has led numerous pilgrimages to Europe. Another thing that Woensdregt felt made her a good fit for bishop was her forward-thinking mentality.
“One of the things with Anglican liturgy is we look back to the past really well,” said Woensdregt, “but it’s difficult for us to find new ways of expressing our faith for a contemporary world so she shares that passion with me for doing that.”
“Worship has to have fresh language,” McNaughton said. “I think that’s an Anglican principle right from the beginning of Anglicanism, that worship needed to be in the language of the people, which of course changes, so that needs to be communicating with our lives as they are now.
And Anglicanism, I think, has to strike a healthy balance between carrying forward traditions that are meaningful and helpful and people enjoy a sense of being rooted in that, but rooted doesn’t mean stuck.”
She said that she feels that any church, in order to be healthy, needs to be outward looking and needs to work in their community, be neighbourly and care for the world around them.
“That’s a passion that I’ve had through my ministry and would hope that I can encourage the diocese in that. They already are that way; part of what attracted me to Kootenay is that outward-looking sense.”
She has also been involved in the work of moving the church’s conversation forward on same-sex marriage.
“I’ve been working with the council of general synod, the national council for preparing for that, and I think although my own position and place in that is clear, that I think we as a church should be marrying people who are of the same gender, what I hear across the church is a willingness to say there’s a huge diversity of opinion on this, it’s not either for or against; there’s all sorts of complexity.”
Leaving her parish of St. Clement’s, where she’s been for a decade, entails a lot of grief for her — a priest becomes deeply connected to the people they work with, but she said the parish is very vital and in a good place for transition. Plus they are very excited for and supportive of her.
She said she was stunned by the news of her election, but is excited to move into the new role of Bishop and the new work she will be doing. As Bishop of Kootenay — a huge geographical area stretching from Osoysoos to Fernie and from Sorrento to Golden and encompassing some 40 parishes — she will be responsible for working with and supporting the priests and parishes, recruiting new priests, travelling a lot and working with the Bishops from across Canada.
“I got the diocesan administrator to send me a map of all the parishes, I think I’m going to have to memorize this map. Lots of travel, so I’m excited to visit people to hear what their vision is, to hear what their struggles are.”
She said she will also be selling her little commuter car in order to purchase a four-wheel-drive SUV, to better equip herself for her regular travel between Kootenay mountain towns.
She will be moving to Kelowna, where the synod office, or home base is located. In March she will travel to the House of Bishops — the national gathering of Anglican bishops — to meet with them. Because she’s worked nationally, she has met many of them before.
“I’ve been a representative of this diocese on national things,” she said. “So when I go, there’s 30-some bishops in the national church and I already know lots of them which I think is great and I look forward to creating community there as well.”