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Dec. 17, 2011 - The Daily Gleaner

Rev. Borthwick - seeing challenges as an invitation from God

By Wilfred Langmaid
For The Daily Gleaner

Rev. Kevin Borthwick has been a priest for a quarter century.

The Rector of the Anglican Parish of Prince William, Dumfries, Queensbury, and Southampton since June 15, 2010, is used to challenges and the opportunities and blessings that can result from them.

"As Anglicans in the Parish of Prince William, Dumfries, Queensbury, and Southampton light the candles on the Advent wreath in joyful expectation of the birth of Christ again this year, there is a renewed sense that God calls his people to journey with him in faith by making friends with the circumstances life brings in order to see the presence and plan of God revealed in them," Borthwick said. "Like many other rural churches, over the last year the four churches of the Parish of Prince William have been coming to grips with the reality of a declining population, aging congregations, budgetary deficits, and increasing costs. After a series of seven congregational meetings, the parish decided to take a risk for change in order to meet the challenges of changing times."

As result, St. John's, Nackawic voted unanimously to close permanently in order to reduce the number of buildings and decrease the overhead costs of operating the parish. The smallest of the churches, St. John's was previously located at Bear River until the construction of the Mactaquac Dam and subsequent flooding of the St. John River located the church upriver to Nackawic. Two other historic churches in the parish - All Saint's, Magaguadavic and St. Luke's, Temperance Vale - have decided to close for the winter months.

"This is as they had done in years past to save on heating costs and more effectively work together to establish a stable, consistent Sunday school program at St. Clement's in Dumfries, the geographic centre of the parish," Borthwick noted.

In addition to this, each church in the parish decided to pool their operating accounts to provide better financial administration. The remaining three churches will rotate services each week during the warmer months, from May until late fall. Borthwick is deeply aware of a history that started with the long incumbency of the late Rev. Elmer Smith and continued during the incumbencies which followed. Most recently, Rev. Canon Elaine Hamilton served as Rector of the parish from 1995 until 2009.

Borthwick explained, "While embracing change is always challenging, in many ways this parish is better equipped than many others to accept necessary sacrifice as it has been rotating services and sharing in a fellowship meal on a weekly basis since the early 1970s.

"This experience enabled the parish to become more financial stable, improve the quality of worship and church buildings, build a new rectory in 1979, and take on the task of replacing the old St. Clement's Church in 1998."

"For that reason, most people in the parish discerned that the challenges of the current situation were an invitation from God to take the next step in a continuum toward further unification to strengthen and enhance Christian life and ministry."

"With renewed hope in God's unfolding plan for the future, the final Advent candle will be lit in St. Clement's Church, Dumfries, on Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. with the Children's Visit to the Manger and Holy Eucharist and with a traditional Eucharist at 11 a.m. on Christmas Day," Borthwick said.

Every Sunday during the winter, St. Clement's will continue to host the Parish Eucharist at 11 a.m. with Sunday school and nursery, followed by a fellowship luncheon.