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Jan 31, 2018 | EDOT Staff

Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada to Preach at Council

Guest Preacher, Bishop Jane Alexander, Takes a Global View of Ministry and Vision

Bishop Jane Alexander, guest preacher at this year’s Diocesan Council, is one of five female Anglican bishops in Canada. Raised in a non religious household, Bishop Alexander’s unlikely calling survived an early ban on attending church by her non-believing parents. 

Originally, it was music that allowed Alexander, born and raised in England, a view into a life of faith. In an interview with an Edmonton magazine, Bishop Alexander remembered singing hymns in school assemblies. 

She was allowed to attend church with a friend as a teenager only because her father was sure she would hate it. “So I went, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Then he said, ‘Well, you can’t go back,’” Alexander said in the interview. 

At 19, she was startled to experience a moment of grace and certainty during a choral performance. Bishop Alexander was singing the last chorus of the St. Matthew Passion when she started sobbing, “because I realized that I meant the words,” she said.  

Bishop Alexander was baptized at 25 and began raising a family while she pursued a career in educational psychology, moving to Canada in 1990. She taught at the University of Alberta and at 37, the mother of four entered Newman Theological College. She was ordained in 1998, serving as a deacon for three years and a priest for seven, in parishes in and around Edmonton. In 2008, the Diocesan Synod elected her Bishop of Edmonton, to suceed Bishop Victoria Matthews: a historic first which brought the Anglican Church of Canada another step forward in its acceptance of women in leadership. 

Her vision of church is one that is engaged with the world. “It has to be a church that looks outwards, that sees the world and relationships, warts and all, and says we can do better,” Bishop Alexander believes. Bishop Alexander is the tenth Bishop of Edmonton, leading the church in her city into faithful service and mission, while also contributing to the development of the Anglican Communion’s commitments to discipleship, ecological stewardship and mutual listening.  She describes her focus for the diocese in the phrase “creating a missional culture,” forming members of the church as outward-looking disciples, while also seeking practical ways to live God’s good news in partnership with the secular city.  

Bishop Alexander’s leadership in Edmonton is closely identified with the city’s anti-poverty initiative, first as she co-chaired the mayor’s task force, and in her role as co-chair of End Poverty Edmonton. This project reflects Bishop Alexander’s vision of bringing many elements of the city together, including business, academia, social services, health care, spiritual and government leaders, and the poor themselves; all for the purpose of “ending poverty in Edmonton in a generation.” The Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson, describesthe Bishop’s work with End Poverty as “relentless, dogged and passionate.” 

Alongside this priority, she invites her diocese to reflect deeply on reconciliation with indigenous peoples. 

Bishop Alexander is greatly respected for her leadership in a number of areas of global Anglicanism with work highlighting the impact climate change is having on diverse communities around the world; as well as in the ground-breaking dialogue between Canadian and African bishops, seeking a new basis for mutual respect in the face of disagreements. 

She serves on the Communion Task Force on Discipleship and Evangelism, and on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, a vehicle for communication and coordination between the churches of the Communion.