As Canon Christyn Perkons steps into a new chapter in retirement, I want to take the opportunity to share with you, readers of the Niagara Anglican, what I shared with those gathered for an Evensong Service of Thanksgiving for Christyn in early February. Christyn has ministered as a member of the diocesan staff team for 20 years, expanding her responsibilities over the years from her initial position as a program consultant for youth ministry to a coordinator position, and culminating in her present senior leadership role as a director.
Her work in creating the diocesan Mission Action Plan will be a legacy gift for this diocese for many years to come; she has truly left her mark on us and we will miss not only her skills but her wisdom. Throughout her ministry, Christyn has helped guide the unfolding of God’s kingdom in parishes across the diocese and beyond, and through the lives of countless people who have been transformed by her faithful witness. She has led a long and effective ministry in our diocese, and she could have chosen any manner of celebration but she chose Evensong. Perhaps there was nobody more surprised than me when she told us that’s what she wanted.
This talented writer of contextual liturgy has chosen the most Anglican of forms of worship. Perhaps the only explanation for it is, “once an Anglican …” But liturgical forms aside, it makes so much sense. Here we were, giving thanks on the feast that celebrates the light of Christ, and we did it in community with angels and archangels and all the communion of saints through space and time. There was a timelessness and rootedness in the celebration.
That points me to two very important things about Christyn Perkons—things that I give thanks to God for. First, Christyn loves you. Every parish, every parishioner, every inch of this beautiful and beloved diocese. She really, really does. We all drive her nuts, of course—that’s a given. But we have quietly had her utmost devotion and care for over 20 years and it has been whole-hearted and needless to say her service to us all has been exemplary. Even on the hard days, and there have been a few, even when she must have thought from time to time “there has to be an easier way to earn a living”—even then, we were hers and she was ours. Christyn thank you for all your gifts so freely given.
And here’s the second thing—so much more important than all the rest—If we were Christyn’s and she was ours, we all belong to Jesus Christ. And Christyn has been crystal clear about that fact—I suspect it has always lain within her heart but in recent years it was written on her sleeve in a big way.
Our Loving God has a way of weaving in and out of our lives in different ways at different times just as we have need of her—and Jesus—“God with skin on” as a child once said—has been so very present to Christyn in the outworking of her faith these past years—showing her, and us through her what God’s love looks like and how it can transform us, this world, this church, and this diocese through us.
As I said, that’s not always easy, and no one knows that better than Christyn who consistently advocates for the Gospel thing to do, even if it’s not the easy thing to do. She tries hard to live that good news. There aren’t enough thanks in the world that I can make to Christyn for sharing that path with us.