Worship With Pride

In January, 2022, WayvesMagazine did an interview with Nichola Cumine:

A new spiritual community for Halifax

Canada has a new spirituality and worship community called Worship with Pride, affectionately referred to as WWP by its members.

When asking the founder Nichola Cumine what exactly WWP is, she told me, “We are an ecumenical and inclusive faith community created in association with Proud Anglicans of NS. We are currently located at St. Mark's Anglican Church on Gottingen Street, known as the "church at the Hydrostone."

We seek to be a safe place for people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, marital statuses, family configurations, abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, faiths, and socio-economic circumstances, and encourage everyone to participate fully in all aspects of our loving ministry, thereby enriching us all. Everybody is welcome.

Could you please introduce yourself? My name is the Reverend Nichola Cumine, and I have been the rector of St. Mark’s Anglican church at the Hydrostone for almost three years now. This is my first parish.

How did the WWP community start? This has been something that I have been thinking about since I was 11 years old. I was a student in the Ontario Catholic Separate school board system. I loved God, but I couldn’t understand why my church and God wouldn’t love me because I was different. You see I was gender fluid, a “tom boy”, and I now identify as a queer, biracial female. Since my childhood, I have been fighting the Church to accept and love everyone for who we are, NO EXCEPTIONS.

What changed for me, and why this community was started, is mostly because of the last General Synod held by the Anglican Church of Canada, where two bishops went against the houses of the laypeople and the clergy of the Church, and voted against the institution of same-sex marriage. I was heartbroken. The reason I had joined the Anglican Church was that they were open-minded. But now, there was another rejection of God’s will to love everyone.

My diocesan bishop, Archbishop Ron Cutler, allowed parishes to choose whether or not they would be affirming, and my parish stood behind me and became one - a safe and loving place for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, I have the ability to perform same-sex marriages in NS.

Anyway, I was tired of waiting and decided to make the changes on my own in order to reach out to people. I reached out to likeminded people such as my friend Br. Robert Dylan Stewart, and together we approached Rebecca Flawless (organist), Kent Gregory (liturgy and Licensed Lay Minister), and Daniel Mackay (publicity). Likewise, our very supportive new diocesan bishop the Right Reverend Bishop Sandra has led two services for us. We now have a community of parishioners from NS to BC, lay and clergy, LGBTQ+ and allies.

I heard that you have some news for 2022. Yes, we are taking WWP on the road! There are many Anglican churches who are affirming and want to show their parishioners that they too are loved and supported. So this spring, we will be worshiping in Spryfield, Fall River and Hackett’s Cove NS, as well as in Chatham ON.

Is it correct to say that Halifax has a chapter of Proud Anglicans, part of a national or international organization? Not quite. It began with an organization called Proud Anglicans, Brother Dylan being the NS Chapter Administrator. But it has become way more. We are welcoming to anyone, and starting to develop into more of a ecumenical community.

Both of you are freshly minted clerics. Do you think it is this freshness, or the fact that you’re relatively young and unburdened by tradition (compared to most Christian clergy) that makes you enthusiastic about this project? I would say that I was born to do this. I was born to change the Church from the inside. I don’t know how to do anything differently. However, as you pointed out, I am a new priest and I am blessed to be unburdened by tradition and supported by both our Parish Vitality Coordinator, the Reverend Canon Lisa Vaughn, and our NS and PEI Synod leaders.

What if someone cynically suggested that the church has a lot of cold pews and that this is a last ditch effort to warm them? My motivation is not to fill the pews, but to fill hearts. Like the two bishops who opposed the vote, people need to see what loving everyone looks like. Church is not a club or a building, it is a community of God’s people with Christ at the centre. This is what our new logo designed by two-spirited artist Jessica depicts and means.

And why a separate organization (if it is separate)? Why not try to effect change (assuming that is what they are striving to do) from within? Does having a separate group contribute to our ghettoization? It is supported by the Anglican Church, but it must have the freedom to be unencumbered by Anglican tradition in order to be able to actually do something relevant and be reflective of the community, having had its voice and views oppressed overtly and systematically.

Will the local Proud Anglicans be doing specific, what a layperson might call, outreach or charity work (what inside the Church might call ministries or service work) The world is our oyster. We need to become something more. We are still in the discernment and developing stages of this project. But we are all open to what God calls for us to do.

So - some practicalities. Do you meet for worship? We have a community of 41 members on Facebook and we invite members to lead and participate if they like. They consist of people for the LGBTQ+ community, family, and allies. We meet once a month for a safe and inclusive language worship service the 3rd Sunday of each month. We offer either a Service of the Word or a Eucharist service. Everyone is welcome to come for Eucharist, a blessing, or both.

Everything adheres to COVID-19 restrictions, so no potlucks of fellowship after service, unless it is on ZOOM for now.

If somebody would like to attend our service please look up our group on Facebook , reach out to one of us, or email stmarkshfx@gmail.com

Any last remarks? I pray that somehow, someway, the Church will one day be truly accepting of all God’s children.