Where Everybody Knows Your Name

By on May 31, 2024

Holy Week 2002, I invited Ian Dingwall, retired Executive Archdeacon of Niagara to speak to my parish for Holy Week and Easter. Each night he spoke meaningfully to the nature of passion, community, and resurrection. We had 50+ persons present each evening. Both before and after the liturgy, Ian spent time chatting with folks, listening and engaging in the stories and concerns that they shared. When we got to Maundy Thursday I was expecting a homily focused primarily on an understanding of service and discipleship.

That evening, to my surprise, Ian began by singing the theme song to Cheers “Where everybody knows your name.” He went on from there to explore the nature of relationships with regard to suffering, love, and community. While continuing in his homily, he began to identify members of the community by name, as he had taken the time in a short five days, to not only listen to folk, but also to hear deeply their stories, and to know them well enough to identify them in community, and to evoke care, nurture, and deep love.

I thought of this memory this past week when I worshipped with the community of St. Mark Kaslo in the parish of Kokanee, on the occasion of their 129th anniversary patronal festival. St. Mark’s community is a community of love and nurture, a community that takes time to be present with each other, and all newcomers, engaging in fellowship and service much like that of a large extended family. Everyone’s name is known, everyone is valued and honoured.

This doesn’t disregard the reality that I recognize that I am new, and six months in, I may not know of all the different dynamics and challenges that become present over time. Of course, I recognize that not everything at St. Mark’s is completely perfect – there will be disagreements and challenges from time to time. In all this however, I note that the worshipping community of St. Mark is willing to journey together, is open to challenge, struggle and concern. They are willing to adjust how to be depending on what factors present themselves. They are a community that is present to the Holy One, present to the ups and downs of life, and willing to uncover the presence of the Holy One in their midst, no matter the challenge.

This past Sunday as we gave thanks for benefactors, sang hymns, and shared in the sacrament together, I acknowledged that the community is in the process of discovering, growing, learning, and responding in the world. We are still a small community, 23 persons (and Bert the beloved dog), trying to sort out our mission and ministry in this place, within the wider community.

It begins with a name. Over these past six months, I have now remembered pretty much all of the names and contexts of those that worship at St. Mark’s. I believe that as we recall names, we show that we value and honour persons, and continue a deeper, more intimate relationship as the community of faith. In my time in ministry I have been in communities both large and small, and the persons with which I have held deep friendships and partnerships in ministry have all stemmed from deep engagement – working, listening, being together.

I have learned over time that we are called to get to know everyone by name, to honour them, showing both dignity and respect, and in this way, we enable a process of growth, of being, of discovering together.

In your context, get to know names. Be present, listening, engaging, learning. Here we will find deeper community, deeper relationship between ourselves and others, and ourselves and the Holy One.


  • David Burrows

    The Rev David Burrows is the Incumbent of Kokanee Parish

Skip to content