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With a little faith
When most eight-year-old Scottish boys were fixated on soccer, Logan McMenamie was pondering God.
So it’s not much of a stretch to learn that McMenamie, 63, became the 13th bishop of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. earlier this month.
But that’s just part of the story.
How does a boy who grew up in the presbyterian-based Congregational Church of Scotland end up the spiritual leader for thousands of Anglicans from Victoria to Kingcome Inlet?
“For me it was a surprise that I ended up in an Anglican church,” McMenamie says from his synod office at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.
“While I was in (theological) school I never thought I’d be bishop. I never committed to that idea.”
Those around him thought otherwise.
McMenamie says his father saw him as quite spiritual in nature from an early age. His only question now is why his son became an Anglican.
Rev. Canon Sue House, an associate priest at Christ Church Cathedral, says McMenamie always possessed the qualities of a good bishop.
“I think the world of Logan,” says House, who has known and worked with McMenamie for almost 30 years on Vancouver Island. “He’ll make an amazing bishop.
“He has a very incredible ability to listen and take what he’s heard and bring it to fruition. He's honest, hopeful and faithful. He's very creative.”
McMenamie grew up in Greenock, Scotland, outside of Glasgow.
His hometown was known for its shipbuilding industry and ports. At age 15, like most, he left school to work in the shipyards. From the shipyards he went into other industries and ended up in the engineering field.
He met his wife Marcia, a Victoria resident, in Scotland. The pair moved to Canada as a young couple, first to Vancouver, then Port Alberni.
“When I came to Canada, I was not going to church,” McMenamie says.
He returned to church after his wife started attending an Anglican parish in Port Alberni. Friends and colleagues he knew attended the same church. And that's where many things began to fall into place.
Once inside the church walls, it wasn't long before McMenamie was teaching Sunday school and becoming a youth leader. Soon afterwards he pondered the idea of entering the ministry.
“It wasn't a road to Damascus type of feeling,” McMenamie says. “It wasn't like I saw the light. I had a good (Christian) foundation from my early life."
McMenamie's religious foundation was built years earlier in Scotland. It was the encouragement of family, friends and clergy that compelled him to go to theological school in Vancouver.
He was ordained at age 37.
McMenamie served as pastor in Port Hardy, Ucluelet, Duncan and Nanaimo before becoming rector and dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria seven years ago.
As bishop, McMenamie will lead a diocese that has 43 churches, and serves more than 8,000 Anglican parishioners.
McMenamie says his role won't just be administrative.
“The role of the bishop is that of shepherd,” he says. “A bishop must always be a pastor to his people.”
He expects to travel to churches throughout the diocese, attending special events and forging ahead with new ideas to help the church grow.
In recent years, the diocese has been forced to close 11 parishes and to reallocate resources. It was an idea first mulled by the Anglican church in 1968 but it was the “courageous leadership” of McMenamie's predecessor, Bishop James Cowan, that made it happen and ultimately the church grew stronger.
“It was difficult and painful,” McMenamie recalls.
“Once you start closing down parishes then you are closing places where people have had their children baptized, got married, buried their loved ones. People have now come to terms with that.”
The church now is going through, as McMenamie sees it, a resurrection.
Special teams have been formed to look at reshaping the vision of diocese over the next three to five years.
And there's work to do externally, too.
McMenamie believes the church needs to be out in the community more, engaged in societal issues.
“We have something to say as Anglicans, as Christians, in relationship to why there is poverty, why there is homelessness, why there (are) people facing addictions and mental issues. I'm hoping we get involved in all those conversations within the city.”
And while growing the church is a priority, McMenamie says, it's not the only priority.
“We've tried a lot at drawing people into the church. We tried to do it with being clever with our worship. We've tried a lot of different ways. Most folk in our culture today don't respond to the institution. They think Jesus is pretty cool, but they don't want to belong to the church.”
McMenamie says if the church is out doing the work it's called to do by Jesus, then people will want to join the church.
“People want ritual in their life. People want a connection with God. They don't want an argument about God. They want to experience God. I've always tried, for those seeking a spiritual life … to give them that experience of God.”
McMenamie and his wife have seven adult children and seven grandchildren.