In conversation with … a husband and wife team: The Reverends Sue-Ann and Jeff Ward – Part 2

For seven years, Sue-Ann and Jeff Ward served as Co-Rectors of Grace Waterdown and St. Luke’s Palermo. Today they are each Rector of their own parish — Jeff at St. Cuthbert’s Oakville and Sue-Ann at Grace Waterdown.

In the first of this two-part series, they described their ministry journey to becoming Co-Rectors, explained how they organize themselves and spoke of their accomplishments and challenges.

The CONVERSATION continues …

Niagara Anglican (NA): Picking up from last month’s CONVERSATION, what were other challenges you faced ministering as a husband and wife priest team working as Co-Rectors?

Sue-Ann and Jeff: Another challenge we experienced was the feeling each parish might perceive more time and attention was being given to the other.

For five of the seven years, the only rector’s study available to us was at Grace Waterdown, so we both spent a lot of time physically at that church. When the St. Luke’s building was under construction and then the new ministry in the new building geared up, the demands of that ministry took us away from Grace more of the time.

It was also difficult trying to keep up with the happenings in the lives of the people of both parishes. Sometimes we didn’t immediately notice if a parishioner hadn’t been around for a while because we were only at each church for worship every other Sunday.

Although we have been friends for 41 years and get along very well, we are different people with different ways of approaching certain things.

It took a bit of time to get used to working with or around what we perceived as the other person’s foibles. For example, Jeff stacks documents and files on his desk for a while and then does one big filing session every few months. Sue files as she goes along. Sometimes she wouldn’t be able to find a document she was looking for because is was on one of Jeff’s two desks rather than in a file cabinet.

Jeff saves most emails while Sue is inclined to only save what seems important. At times, emails that Jeff wanted to refer to would no longer exist.

And there was always a great deal of emails to address. Reading and responding to all the emails for both clerics and both parishes was a lot to wade through on a daily basis. Although knowing who should respond to which piece of mail got easier over time, the question, “Did you reply to Bob’s email or should I?” got asked a lot.

NA: Looking back over your ministry at Grace and St. Luke’s, what are the highlights for you?

Sue-Ann and Jeff: Following Jesus together with such amazing parishioners and staff was a privilege every day.

During our time at Grace, four parishioners discerned callings to ordained leadership. Two have been ordained and two are still involved in the preparation and discernment process. Watching the Holy Spirit beckon and faithful people respond filled us with awe. Being a part of the raising up of new ordained leaders in the church was an honour.

The moving of the historic (1845) St. Luke’s Anglican Church building from one side of the property to the other on October 30, 2015 was a memorable day in our team ministry. We both prayed our hearts out that nothing awful would happen as the move unfolded.

Thankfully, all went well with the relocation and the nerve-wracking day concluded with the joyful birth of our second grandchild. We had much to celebrate!

The grand opening celebration for the new St. Luke’s building and the first worship service back in the worship space after worshipping in a school for two years were highlights of our time serving at St. Luke’s.

NA: What else would you like to say about your experience as a husband and wife clergy team working together in the same parishes or different parishes?

Sue-Ann and Jeff: We believe that team ministry, in whatever form, is incredibly rewarding and good for the Church. We are very grateful to God and to Bishop Michael for granting us the opportunity to serve together.

NA: May God bless you in your new ministries.