St. Andrew’s Anglican Church has completed its change of leadership.
Rev. Francis Delaplain, who is currently a deacon and hopes to soon be ordained a priest, arrived in Hay River several days before Christmas.
Delaplain had a unique journey to his new role leading the Anglican flock in Hay River.
For one thing, he was not born into the Anglican Church but grew up primarily in independent community churches.
That changed when he joined the Anglican church, and was ordained a deacon on May 24.
“So I’ve been an Anglican since May,” he said with a laugh.
Prior to that, he served for five years as a pastor of the independent Church of Christ in Yellowknife.
As for how the move to the Anglican Church came about, Delaplain explained he was at a point of transition in his life.
“I had recently been married, and anytime something rocks the boat you start re-evaluating and looking at life,” he recalled.
As a result, he met with Bishop David Parsons of the Diocese of the Arctic and Suffragan Bishop Darren McCartney, and started talking about coming to the Anglican church.
“And it didn’t take long once I was talking about it to decide that I wanted to do that,” Delaplain said.
One reason for the change was that he appreciated the Anglican tradition.
“I have found that just the language of it and the structure of it, for me, has caused my own personal spiritual growth,” he said.
As for the structure of the Anglican church, he was attracted by the support of bishops and others in a diocese.
“I think that’s really important in the North,” he explained. “Probably in a southern community, where there’s people everywhere, it’s easy to get in touch. But the Anglican church in the North is uniquely supported with bishops and regional deans and all these different people. So I appreciate that, for sure.”
The 33-year-old Delaplain hopes to be ordained a priest sometime this year.
“I don’t want to presume on the bishop, so that’s up to him,” he said. “I don’t think it would be too much longer. I would think a matter of months.”
Since May, he did a curacy – a kind of understudy – at the Anglican church in Yellowknife.
As a deacon, he can be referred to as a reverend but there are a couple of things in a service that a deacon can’t do that a priest can do.
As for why he was originally attracted to the ministry – as an assistant pastor at just 22 years of age – Delaplain said it is just something in which he has always found himself involved.
“I’ve always found myself fullest when I’m working in the capacity of leading a church with people,” he said.
Born in Fort St. John, B.C., Delaplain grew up primarily in the Yukon and he said he is no stranger to the snow and cold of the North.
“When we joined the Anglican church, we knew we’d be posted somewhere,” he said. “And we visited Hay River in the summer knowing that this would be an option.”
Delaplain recalled it was a beautiful summer day, and he and his wife, Kassandra Spencer, went to the beach and to the Fisherman’s Wharf outdoor market.
“And we went, ‘This is great. We love it,'” he said. “I think we knew right away.”
Delaplain had met Rev. Vivian Smith at his ordination as a deacon, and she even took part in the ceremony by being one of the two ministers presenting him to the bishop.
The 79-year-old Smith, who officially retired on Dec. 31, is pleased Delaplain has taken her place.
“I think he’s going to be what St. Andrew’s needs right now,” she said. “Because we’ve had this little old lady there, and my prayer was that God would give us someone young, someone that may make a difference to bringing the young people back to our churches. He’s got a lot to offer.”
Smith said she is very proud of what she has accomplished at St. Andrew’s, where she has served for 13 years – nine years as priest and four years before that as she trained and studied for the role.
“So I’m stepping down holding my head high for the work that I have done,” she said.
Smith is planning to leave Hay River on Jan. 31 and retire in her native Newfoundland.
She was given a special retirement celebration and farewell with best wishes, fond recollections, music and fun on Jan. 23.