Paul Friesen became the 16th rector of St. Paul’s Church, Halifax, in the summer of 2005, following the faithful and fruitful ministries of his most immediate predecessors, Peter Mason (1980–1985) and John Newton (1986–2004). Paul arrived at St. Paul’s from the University of King’s College, Halifax, where he had been serving as University Chaplain and Priest-in-charge of the Chapel. He is not certain why St. Paul’s chose him (!) but he is sure why he chose St. Paul’s: for its commitment to the Gospel of divine grace in ‘Word, sacrament, and deed’–that is for its love of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Scriptures; and in its worship, in its parish life, and in its mission. Paul loves leading worship at St. Paul’s, and teaching and preaching, and the pastoral care of the congregation. He also loves working alongside staff, parish officers, and members of the parish in spiritual growth groups, work groups, committees, planning groups, and in local outreach efforts. He (and his family!) also love the way in which the long history of St. Paul’s and its love of the life of the mind and music and art and the poor come together in the rhythms of parish life—a parish life that celebrates God’s creation, Christ’s redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s presence. And he loves welcoming and supervising pastoral interns and divinity students.
As a young adult Paul earned his way on construction sites and landscaping projects. He worked for a while as a probation and parole officer, an assistant dean of students (Wycliffe College, Toronto), and then as an undergraduate history lecturer at several Universities and colleges. He graduated from the University of Toronto, and then completed graduate degrees in theology at Harvard Divinity School (Th. M.) and the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto (Ph.D.). He began offering courses at the Atlantic School of Theology in 2001, and became Adjunct Lecturer in Anglican Theology in 2007. In 2014–2015, at the invitation of the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, he also served as a theologian on the Matrimonial Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada. Paul has written reviews and essays and given lectures and talks in various places in the midst of his pastoral and academic work for the past two decades, and continues to do so. He also served as Reviews Editor for The Diocesan Times (2003–2013) and is a co-author of several published works; By Grace Co-Workers (1989), The Parish and Cathedral of St. James, Toronto (1998), The True and Living Word (1998), Seeds Scattered and Sown (2008), Guide for the Christian Perplexed (2012), This Holy Estate (2015), and Reformation Worlds (2016). He is currently working on a project entitled Sacramental Religion.