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by Ian Powell

On Saturday October 20, 2018 Christ Church Cathedral will host the service to celebrate the founding of our new diocesan Order “The Order of the Diocese of British Columbia” and the investing of the first group of outstanding faithful volunteers into the Order.

I suspect that for some this opening paragraph may elicit a response of “The Order of what?” or “What’s that when it’s at home?” That is understandable as the whole enterprise is very new and as with many things getting the word out is a task unto itself that takes time and many times at that! Therefore, allow me to explain how this all came about and give you some basics about the new Order.

Early in 2017, the bishop asked me to take on the task of bringing to fruition an idea he had to take a leaf out of the Diocese of New Westminster’s “book” and create an Order for the diocese. He said that during his visits to parishes he was constantly struck by the high level of faithful service he came across from so many; and how, despite such a high benchmark, there were still those who rose higher still and for many many years. In addition, he was extremely grateful to those who stepped out of their parish ministry to provide invaluable assistance to various diocesan ministries. This gave him a bit of a problem; how could he acknowledge and celebrate both these with the little he had in the way of “tools in his tool box”? So, the notion of a diocesan Order was born.

It was important to me that any honour system we created for the diocese was done correctly and in accordance with the accepted principles for founding an Order. For guidance, I looked within the church to the Diocese of New Westminster and the Diocese of Toronto, both of which have already established an Order. I also looked at civic Orders such as the Order of Canada. I then set about crafting something specific to our needs.

After various meetings and a lot of preparatory work during 2017, in early 2018 I presented the foundational documents to the bishop for his final approval. Then in February of this year the bishop sent out a missive to all the parishes advising that the Order was now established, that details were on the website and that nominations were now being accepted. At this point, let me share with you some of the main elements of the Order.


The Order is known as, The Order of the Diocese of British Columbia (ODBC). Like other Orders the title clearly states from whom the honour comes. Whilst other names had been considered at the earlier stages they did not pass this acid test.


Ranks are the levels within an Order. For example the Order of Canada has three: Companion, officer and member. Our diocesan Order has two: Officer and member. The rank of member is conferred on a lay person in recognition of their outstanding voluntary serve in the parish for a significant period of time. The rank of officer is conferred for diocesan or national church volunteer service over a significant period.

Honorary positions

Both the member and officer ranks have an honourary equivalent. As we strive to strengthen both our ecumenical and multi-faith ties, these allow the diocese to recognize the individuals of different denominations and faiths who have upheld and served to promote the same ideals we espouse.


The nomination period for this year’s investiture closed April 30, though given it was new we were accepting up to the end of May. Those being honoured were advised earlier this month.

It is expected that there will be an investiture once every two years and nominations for the next investiture, in the autumn of 2020, will open in January of 2020.

Each parish has the opportunity to nominate one of their own to the rank of member each time. (Though not every parish took advantage of the opportunity in this inaugural year, we hope all will wish to next time). In contrast, there can only be a maximum of five officers invested each time and because this is in recognition of diocesan work their nomination must be endorsed by at least five people from five different parishes.

In addition to the above, the bishop has within his gift, the ability to appoint five members and two officers to the Order each time. There is also a limit three honourary members and one honourary officer that may be appointed at any one time.


At an investiture the recipient receives the following:

Neck medal—This medal is a replica of the insignia of the Order, which itself is the new diocesan badge that was granted by the chief herald of Canada in 2017.

Designed especially for the purpose, it contains two main elements. At its centre is the “Bishop Hill” cross from the diocesan coat of arms, granted in 1859, this represents the rich history of our diocese. The second element is four dragonflies, one between each of the arms of the cross. This is to depict the continuing journey we are on, not least with our First Nations brothers & sisters. The dragonfly was designed for the chief herald by Doug LaFortune of the Tsawout First Nation on the Saanich peninsula.

The medal’s main colours are the same as the insignia, red and blue. The member medal is on a “silver” base whilst the officer medal is on a “gold” base. The ribbon is specific medal ribbon, which was obtained from the same supplier in the UK as supplies the Order of Canada (and everyone else it’s a very specialized  thing it seems). We designed it to complement the medal, with again a slight difference between member and officer.

Lapel pin As the neck medal should only be worn on specific occasions each recipient also receives a lapel pin intended for everyday use.

Certificate Each recipient also receives their official letter attesting to their appointment to the Order, it is signed by the registrar and secretary of the Order and affixed with the seal of the Order.


“Faithfulness” This single word has been used to honour the faithful service over a considerable time by the members of the Order to their parish family, the Diocese of British Columbia and the wider church and community. It also acknowledges that our service is rooted in faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the Service in October and afterwards we will publish the list of those invested into the Order.


The Rev’d Ian Powell is the secretary of the Order and part of the clerical team at Christ Church Cathedral. He is also managing director of Paul’s Restaurants Ltd and general manager of Inn at Laurel Point.