In 2013, Trinity Anglican Church in Old Ottawa South welcomed their new priest, the Rev. Arran Thorpe. Eight years later, his faithful, kind and important work has touched many people and made a big impact in the community. Among highlights of his tenure, Trinity became home to a program to help seniors stay connected, has helped and supported 62 Syrian refugees, and its walls have become canvases for two murals created by Indigenous artist Micque Michelle and local youth.
In 2019, I came to Trinity looking for a volunteer opportunity during my summer off from journalism studies at Carleton. Later, when a communications position opened up, Arran, as he is affectionately known by everyone, encouraged me to apply and advocated for me. It’s been an experience that has changed my perception of what a church can mean to a community. As Arran moves to a new parish, many people are expressing their thanks and appreciation. I have been fortunate enough to help a few of them share these stories.
When I first met Arran in 2013, he was interviewing to be the Incumbent for Trinity Anglican Church. …
Two years later, I became Rector’s Warden and began to work more closely with him. He was the leader who empowered people, he never told you what to do.
Growing up as a young child and going to church with my father who was a Warden like myself, I always knew and thought of a priest as an old, traditional, and powerful man.
I realized over the years that when kids go to church, they don’t question their belief. It is not until you get older that you start to question your faith. It made me realize that I needed someone like Arran, a young priest who offered some skepticism of it all, yet held a belief that was almost unshakeable.
He helped me to break down the definition of priesthood and to look at it quite differently as a calling. He helped me renew my faith, in a very special way
— Heather Maclachlan
In 2016, I fled my home country of Burundi, leaving behind my pregnant wife, son and unborn child as I tried to start a life for us in Canada.
I was looking for somewhere to go to church, and someone referred me to Trinity Anglican Church. This is where I first met Arran. He took me in as if I was his child. I had been living at a shelter, and Arran mobilized the community and found me a place to stay. He gave me an office and connected me with people to help me pursue the studies I had left behind in my home country. He helped me set up my WhatsApp account, and let me use the church’s wifi so I could communicate with my family. He gave me winter boots. Looking back, I couldn’t have made it and lived in Canada if I hadn’t met Arran.
It was because of Arran I was able to bring my family into Canada in 2020 and was able to hold my son for the first time in four years. It was because of Arran that I met my second son, for the first time ever.
Arran and the church helped mobilize everything to make me happy. Even now, they help me pay for my house while I finish my studies.
Everything I have here in Canada, my family, my studies, my house, it’s because of him. If I try to describe Arran, I don’t think he is a pastor, or a priest. I think Arran is a messenger from God because through him, I can see God’s love.
— Guido Niyokwizigira
In 2018, when I was working in the daycare at Trinity, I was trying to help bring my nephew and his family who lived in Iraq to Canada and was expecting the process to take four or five years. My supervisor suggested I talk to Arran. That conversation changed everything….
I explained my situation. Immediately, he began to help me —whether it was reminding me to fill out certain paperwork in an email late at night or messaging me early in the morning telling me the address of an office I needed to go to with my documents. Arran was with me every step of the way.
We were approved a week after we applied. From then, it took only one year and three months until my family arrived in Canada.
There were so many things I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect Arran to be there for me at any time in the day… to help me with the entire process … to fill out my paperwork personally. I know it wasn’t just me, there’s a wall in the church with the names of all the families that the church has been able to help sponsor. Now that wall is almost covered.
Arran gave me a gift, and I know one day if I can, I will help someone else the way Arran helped me. It didn’t matter that we were of a different religion, or that we spoke a different language, or even the difference in our complexion. Arran taught me that no matter who is in front of you, if you can help, help.
— Alwand Majeed
Daycare Worker at Trinity Church
It was 2014, and the hashtag #boringmajor was trending on Ottawa Twitter. It had become so popular in the city, that eventually someone had even sent me a custom shirt, letters bold across the front.
I was scheduled to meet Arran outside of Trinity Anglican Church to unveil their first mural, and Arran had asked me to wear my #boringmayor shirt. When I got there, I could see that he was wearing a t-shirt that said #boringpriest. He had made the matching shirt, in what I suspect was an attempt to make me feel better about myself, which was really thoughtful of him.
I’ve never been a parishioner of his, but I could tell the love that people had for him.
— Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
I honestly don’t think I did that much. I just said yes to people.
I remember someone once said, ‘the church is one generation away from extinction’, and in order for us to continue, we need to grow. I think moving forward, there’s lots of ways the church can change to become more accepting. I think we have room to be more accepting of the LGBTQ2+ community, to the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of colour] community, to young people, and make space for them.
That’s really hard to do, and I think I could’ve done better. You can always do better, I guess that’s just how I feel.
I hope that as I leave, the church continues to be mindful of those who live on the margins… to be community-focused,… to practice love, and love of your neighbor. The neighbor, not necessarily meaning the one who is next door to the church but people who are far away as well.
Thinking back about my eight years here, I am so thankful, and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be the priest and pastor at Trinity. It’s a small church with a big heart.
— The Rev. Arran Thorpe