The Rev. Canon Gary van der Meer has been Pastor and Rector of St John the Evangelist since February 2021. Due to pandemic restrictions, Gary initially met the St John’s community online, through worship services on YouTube and Zoom, followed by outdoor visits, neighbourhood walks, and in-person “hike-eucharists” with the bread and wine placed on the earth as the altar. As pandemic gathering restrictions receded, Gary’s passion for bringing people together is seen in worship services where new people are readily invited into participation and involvement, and in many events for learning, friendship, and exploration of faith.
Originally from Brockville, Gary has mostly lived in the Toronto area, where he earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Toronto, followed by concurrent programs at York University (Master of Business Administration) and Trinity College (Master of Divinity). He was ordained in 1993 in the Diocese of Toronto. Gary served a ministry internship in the North Thompson Mission (Clearwater, Barriere, and Little Fort, BC) and was assistant curate at St James’ Church, Orillia, and St Luke’s Prices Corners. He served as Rector at Church of the Ascension, Port Perry, St John’s West Toronto, and St Anne’s, Gladstone (Toronto) prior to moving to Ottawa.
Gary was appointed Interfaith Officer for the Anglican Diocese of Toronto in 2018. In addition to encouraging interfaith initiatives across the Diocese, Gary brought together an intentional triad of friendship between St Anne’s, and the nearby mosque and synagogue. Their friendship grew through joint learning events, participation in each other’s worship services, shared refugee sponsorship, clergy theological reflection, and "Rings of Peace" as public demonstrations of support in response to acts of terrorism (Quebec City, Pittsburgh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka). Gary was joined by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein of City Shul and Imam Shabir Ally of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre to present their experience of intentional interfaith friendship between congregations at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (Toronto, 2018). This led to their invited participation in the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (Singapore, 2019). In 2022, Gary was appointed Canon for Interreligious Engagement in the Diocese of Ottawa, where he serves as Interfaith Officer.
“I have been here long enough to tell you what I love about Ottawa. We could talk about rock climbing, paths for hiking, mountain biking and rollerblading; my favourite "hole-in-the-wall restaurant discoveries; Star Trek vs. Star Wars; or share our favourite quotes from The Princess Bride. Let’s talk about how God’s love is for everyone!”
Monday - Friday
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