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June 11 was a perfect weather day for a gathering: sunny but not too hot, with a light breeze to keep everyone comfortable. The gathering was the Retired Clergy Tea, a much-anticipated but newer tradition in the diocese.

Before the pandemic, the tea was usually held at Bishop’s Court, even when no one was living there. After it was sold, the tea was held at Christ Church Cathedral. But since the pandemic, the tea has been held at the Fredericton home of Archbishop David Edwards and his wife, Debbie.

Retired clergy, their spouses and widows attended, with two main activities being enjoyed: refreshments and fellowship.

The bishop’s secretary, Cheryl Jacobs, was on hand to help out. 

Retired Bishop Bill Hockin and his wife, Isabelle, were in attendance, as they are each year.

“I started it,” said Bill. “I think it was 2000. We were in Bishop’s Court then, a grand old house.

“The idea was to honour retired clergy. I didn’t know them, and it was a way for me to meet them.”

Bill and Isabelle had come from Toronto to serve in the Diocese, with Bill as dean of Christ Church Cathedral, then later, as bishop.

“One memory I have is from the first one. I was watching everybody greet each other. They were so happy to see each other,” said Isabelle.

“I didn’t know any of them, but it was fun to watch.”

These days, they try never to miss the event.

“It’s the relationships, the connections within the church, as essential part of being human,” said Bill.

Unlike the Hockins, Elinor Joyce and her husband, the Rev. Keith, have attended only twice. 

“This was only our second time attending the Bishop’s tea for retired clergy since returning to New Brunswick in 2021,” said Elinor.

“Last year, we reconnected with friends from our previous years in New Brunswick, and this year we also had the pleasure of meeting people who are new to us.

“Bishop David and Debbie’s home is a lovely setting for the tea. Debbie provided an array of delicious sandwiches, appetizers and sweets to tempt every palate — a virtual “groaning board” of good eats! Our thanks to them both for hosting this annual opportunity to spend time together.”

Lynne Corey especially enjoys the fellowship evident at the tea.

“Each time we go to the Bishop's tea, it is a lovely time, with emphasis on the love in lovely. It is truly a wonderful expression of love by David and Debbie — and their predecessors,” she said.

“It is also the opportunity to engage with a good number of our peer group in ministry, in mutual love and caring for each other in a relaxed atmosphere that is not a crowded diocesan event or funeral.” 

The Rev. Wally Corey has some advice for those not in attendance.

“Do not miss this next year. Lynne and I want to see you there,” he said. “Each year we look forward to the Bishop’s tea. It is a great two hours to get together with friends and meet some new people who have moved to NB for retirement.”

Photo captions:
1. Debbie Edwards, Elinor Joyce and Isabel Cutler enjoy a chat on the front verandah of Debbie's home, where the Retired Clergy Tea was held June 11.
2.  Fellowship and snacks were the highlights of the afternoon at the Retired Clergy Tea.
3.  Visitors had plenty of catching up to do as they met at the Retired Clergy Tea on June 11.
4.  Canons Keith Osborne and Rod Black chat with retired Bishop Bill Hockin during the Retired Clergy Tea. 
McKnight photos

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