Montreal·Profile

Bruce Myers: 6 things to know about Quebec's next Anglican bishop

Get to know the man who will soon be the Anglican Diocese of Quebec's 13th bishop.

Former journalist will be Anglican Diocese of Quebec's 13th bishop.

Bruce Myers, seen here in 2007 blessing the boats before lobster fishing season in the Magdalen Islands, was ordained as a priest of the diocese of Quebec in 2004. (Tyler Burke)
Bruce Myers spent a quiet Sunday afternoon "a little exhausted, but happily so."
Former journalist Bruce Myers will be Quebec's next Anglican bishop. (Jesse Dymond)

Myers, 43, was enjoying his first moments alone after several days of ceremonies that saw him ordained into the Order of Bishops.

Last November, he was elected coadjutor bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. That means he will automatically succeed Quebec's current Anglican bishop, Dennis Drainville, when he retires sometime in late 2016 or early 2017.

The frenzy of that recent week was perhaps a glimpse into the challenges ahead. Myers will soon inherit a diocese faced with a diminishing Anglican population in a jurisdiction the size of France, spanning most of eastern and central Quebec, and from the Eastern Townships to the Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands.

Here are six things to know about the man slated to become the Anglican Diocese of Quebec's 13th bishop.

1. He converted to Anglicanism in his late teens

Though his parents grew up Anglican in Verdun and LaSalle, Myers says his family's move to a small Ontario town just across the Quebec border meant he attended Sunday services where the neighbours did — the local United Church.

"I grew up in what I would call a Christian, but not particularly religious, home," Myers said, adding "in my late teens, I fell away a bit but never entirely."

Bruce Myers was ordained into the Order of Bishops on May 5, 2016. (Philippe Vaillancourt/Présence-information religieuse)

It wasn't until he was a young undergraduate student at the University of Toronto that Myers reconnected with his parents' faith and "quickly became very attracted and eventually captivated by the style of worship" of the Anglican Church.

"That eventually led to the journey, which, in a certain sense culminated with … my ordination as a bishop."

2. He was journalist before becoming a priest

Before being ordained as a priest of the diocese of Quebec in 2004, Myers spent nearly a decade as a journalist covering mostly politics on Parliament Hill and at Quebec's National Assembly.

Myers' stint as a journalist was a successful one — he was CJAD's bureau chief in Ottawa and Quebec City.

Press passes from Myers' journalism days. (Bruce Myers)

"I sensed from an early age a call, a vocation, a draw to both of those things," Myers said.

"For whatever reason it was the journalism doors that opened first and more easily and more quickly. That lead me down a path of working in newspapers, mostly radio and tiny bit of television." he said.

Myers says his love for journalism and the Anglican faith "weren't' mutually exclusive things."

"Some of the same gifts and skill sets that helps somebody be an effective and good journalist also, I think, help make somebody an effective and good serving priest," he said, giving the ability to break down complicated concepts for the masses as an example.

3. He says the Anglican church puts its money where its mouth is on environmental and Indigenous issues

Myers says the Anglican Church's practice has been consistent with its teachings when it comes to complicated issues like the environment.

Myers says the Anglican Church is still trying to make amends for its deep implication in the Indian residential school system. (Library and Archives Canada/PA-042133)

The Anglican Diocese of Quebec, for example, divested from fossil fuels in 2015.

"If we're going to, in this case, literally put our money where our mouth is, we really had no choice but to say, even if it proves costly financially ... The thing to do that's consistent with the gospel is to withdraw our investments," Myers said.

Myers added the Anglican Church was also trying to make amends for its deep implication in the Indian residential school system.

"We've attempted to make concrete gestures of reconciliation and reparation to residential school survivors and acknowledge that it was in many ways an insidious system. We've repented of that, and are still in the process of trying to make amends for that," he said.

4. He doesn't necessarily want to increase attendance in the Anglican Church

The Anglican Church's presence in Quebec is a fragile one. A  2014 report from the Quebec diocese painted a grim picture — almost half of its churches have fewer than 10 regular services a year and close to 80 per cent of its churches have a regular attendance of fewer than 25 people.

The Anglican Diocese of Quebec doesn't fare much better financially — 45 per cent of its churches ran a deficit in 2012 and a staggering 64 per cent of congregations said in 2014 that within five years they would be closed or be amalgamated with other churches.

Reverend Yves Samson says that, without radical change, the Anglican Diocese of Quebec could soon be extinct. (Graham Hughes/CP)

To add to the bleakness, the historically anglophone church has been fighting to attract francophone worshipers in a French-speaking, secular province.

"For me, it's not a numbers game," Myers said, though adding that a higher attendance would be "icing on the cake."

Though he contends that this may not be a popular opinion within the church, Myers says he would be content with a small parish of people who are trying to be the best Christians they can be.

"I think a more important objective is to work with the people we already have [and] welcome others who might want to join us, however few," he said.

5. He believes there's a 'thirst' for religion among young Quebecers

Though Myers isn't banking on more parishioners, he does believe the Anglican Church may be able to fill a "spiritual hunger and thirst" among young Quebecers.

"There's an emerging openness especially among young Quebecois to see what a church might have to offer," Myers said.

The church, he says, has been dealing with everyday questions of life and death — questions that young Quebecers want the answers to.

Myers added the hostility towards organized religion of the post-Quiet Revolution era may be far enough behind in the province's history to allow for a more open dialogue.

"That's one of the things that has me most excited about the years ahead," he said.

6. He hopes to build relationships with Quebec politicians

Myers will be based in Quebec City when he takes up his duties as bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec.

The former National Assembly reporter says he hopes to take advantage of his location to build relationships with the province's politicians, "not necessarily to orient policy publicly in one way or another, but simply to offer another perspective."

Myers says he hopes to open up dialogue with Quebec politicians on issues like physician-assisted death and welcoming refugees. (Clement Allard/Canadian Press)

Myers says the Anglican Church has a lot to say on issues that matter in the province like physician-assisted death, welcoming refugees and contentious legislation like the Quebec Charter of Values.

"I think that we could actually be a really helpful dialogue partner in the public discourse on all sorts of issues facing our province because it's not like we're not citizens and fellow travellers. We're members of the Quebec society, too."