New Anglican bishop familiar with diocesan challenges

By Frank Flegel

REGINA — Anglican Bishop Elect Robert Hardwick comes to the office intimately familiar with the Qu’Appelle diocese.

Hardwick was born and raised in England, near Nottingham. He had a varied career as machinist and police officer before becoming an Anglican priest. He held various positions as priest but felt a strong calling to come to Canada. Harwick and his wife arrived in Swift Current in 2001, spending seven years there before moving to Regina where he became archdeacon and assistant to then Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson, who has since moved to the Calgary diocese.

Harwick was elected Dec. 8 and will be consecrated as bishop March 2, 2013, in a yet-to-be determined location because of new construction at St. Paul's Cathedral. He will be installed as Bishop of Qu'Appelle March 3 in the cathedral.

Hardwick was very much involved in the planning and production of the diocese's MAP (Mission Action Plan) and is therefore familiar with diocesan challenges. His priorities as outlined in the MAP are: develop children and youth ministries, urban and reserve First Nations ministries; improve communication strategies; equip the faithful for ministry and develop a sustainable financial plan.

It wasn't that many years ago when the diocese was on the verge of bankruptcy, a situation he was warned about before leaving England. The diocese has moved forward financially, he said, and is in much better shape.

“Quite a few challenges,” Hardwick acknowledges. “If you look at statistics, youth especially is very important in terms of numbers.”

The next phase of MAP will be presented to the diocese’s April Synod. “We will be directing finances and resources toward children and youth ministries, First Nations self-determination and hoping that we might be able to do something that's ecumenical for urban First Nations here in Regina in healing and reconciliation.”

He also wants to build up lay leadership for churches that don't have a priest.

Hardwick has long been involved in ecumenical activities, dating back to his time in England, and that continued with his work in Swift Current. He is familiar with and supportive of the covenant between the Regina archdiocese and the Qu'Appelle diocese.

“After all, Pope John Paul II was instrumental in my faith journey” (see related story). “I am keen that we do things together; to do the things that we can do together.” He said that unity comes with doing things together.

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