Robed in a flowing, full-length purple cassock, the Rev. Canon Melissa Skelton stood with her back to the crowd of over a thousand people in Vancouver’s Convention Centre last Saturday and faced her inquisitors: fifteen bishops of the Anglican Church. She answered each of their questions in a clear, confident voice.
The slim, grey-haired grandmother was about to be ordained as Vancouver’s first female Anglican bishop. Formerly a brand manager for Procter & Gamble, Skelton is also the first businessperson — and first American — to be made Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, headquartered at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver.
As a Roman Catholic, I attended Melissa Skelton’s investiture partly out of curiosity and partly in solidarity. It was the first time I’d participated in an Anglican service and I was struck by the similarities with my own tradition; the prayers and responses were practically identical.