The Reverend Canon Martha Tatarnic

The Reverend Canon Martha Tatarnic

Ordination dates:
Deacon - May 20th, 2004, Diocese of Niagara
Priest - January 5th, 2005, Diocese of Niagara

Age: 39

Academic Background and Professional Qualifications

Master of Divinity with Honours, Trinity College, University of Toronto, 2004
Thesis: The Mass Media and the Church

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Music), University of Western Ontario, 2001

Parish Placements and Ministry History

  • Rector, St. George’s Anglican Church, St. Catharines (2014 – present)
  • Rector, St. David’s Anglican~Lutheran Church in Orillia (2009 – 2014)
  • Priest-in-charge and Parish Administrator of St. Hilda’s Oakville – Bishop’s Appointee (September – December 2008)
  • Pastoral Care Coordinator, St. Jude’s Oakville (2008)
  • Assistant Curate, St. Jude’s Oakville (2004-2007)

Other Areas of Interest

Music plays a significant part in my life – as a hobby, as a form of prayer, as a priority and joy in our family. I play the French Horn and sing, but more than that, I appreciate staying tuned in to the culture of music: the new sounds being created, the response of musicians to the world around us, the evolution of musicians across their careers. I am a runner, and recently I have become more invested in developing as a cyclist too. I love to read, particularly when my children and I can read books together. As a family, we love to travel. We like to go to places with no agenda in mind other than to explore a new city on foot, stopping regularly to sample the local culture (food, music etc.).


Blog—Only One Thing—for the National Anglican Church’s online community.
The Community is now being moved over to and Ministry Matters. The new link for my blog will be found here:

“Whoever Comes to Me: Open Table, Missional Church and the Body of Christ,” The Anglican Theological Review, 2014

“The Mass Media and Faith: The Potentialities and Problems for the Church in our Television Culture,” The Anglican Theological Review, (Volume 87:3) 2005.

Introduction to McCausland’s Order of Divine Service, 2009.

“Water into Wine” column –North Simcoe News, 2009 to 2014

Blog for The Niagara Anglican 2005 (link is no longer available)

Question #1 - What core principle(s) (max 3) guide your ministry and leadership style?

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions (Ephesian 6:18)
I emphasize prayer and Gospel-based discipleship in leading meetings. Taking time to listen for God’s guidance helps to create space for opposing opinions to be respected and regularly leads to a greater sense of cooperation and consensus in making difficult and important decisions.

There are different gifts, but the same Spirit (I Corinthians 12:4)
My ministry has been fruitful and happy because, both in smaller and larger parishes, I have served with a team and in communities that nurture relationships and recognize gifts across a variety of ages and socio-economic circumstances. Jesus announces the “Kingdom of God has come near” and immediately begins to form a community. We need to see and support the diverse gifts in one another in order to know and serve God.

Whose power working in us can do more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20)
I am devoted to modelling and enabling our communication of the experience of God at work in our individual and communal lives. This communication happens both within worship –and the use of various styles of music and reanimating traditional forms of worship to help people encounter God in fresh ways – and out into the world through writing, social media, and outreach ministries.

Question #2 - What do you think are the three most significant challenges facing the Diocese of Niagara over the next 5 years, and what is your vision for how we might respond?

Accounting for the faith that is in us
Anglicans have traditionally found it hard to talk about how God is at work in our lives. A new study shows that when we don’t give people an opportunity to express their spiritual experiences then spiritual growth stagnates. Numerical growth, as much as we might desire it, is irrelevant without spiritual growth. I see the church healthy and enlivened as we talk about our walk with God, discern God’s will through prayer, and share our faith with others.

Spiritual Hunger
“What do people want? Everything! The hunger within us is so deep and powerful that only God is sufficient food (John Welch). Our church must always be outward looking, ministering to the deep spiritual need around us. We collectively enjoy unprecedented material wealth, yet depression and addiction levels keep rising, and many feel alone and disempowered. We must be confident that God is raising up gifts in us to respond to the world’s need, and we must orient our structures and resources accordingly.

Morale and Mental Health
I hear constant worry about burnout in church leadership. We treasure and equip our leaders by:

  • Fostering opportunities for them to grow in their spiritual lives and their ministry skills.
  • Restructuring our human resources into teams where we support and complement one another.

Question #3 - Identify 2 significant leadership roles you have played in your diocese. In each case, what was your role, what did you learn, and what was the outcome?

Futures Committee, St. Catharines
From 2015 to the present, I have offered leadership in the restructuring of the Anglican Church in Greater St. Catharines. This conversation was initially prompted by decline across many of our churches, but the Futures Committee, and now the Animation Team, have sought to drive our discernment and decisions by hope. We understood that, if we were simply to downsize our Anglican presence, then church decline would continue to happen. One of the most significant outcomes of this work has been to create a position of Faith Formation Director for the Anglican Church in this city. Across the Communion, people are taking notice: in response to decline and the need for restructuring, the Niagara Diocese has taken the bold move of reorienting resources toward discipleship and spiritual growth in our communities!

Outreach Conference & Water Project (Diocese of Toronto)
During my time as a member of the Social Justice Committee in the Diocese of Toronto, one of our annual projects was an Outreach Conference. In 2011, our Conference Speaker was our National Indigenous Bishop, Mark Macdonald. A group of us wanted to know if we could look at a water project in First Nations’ communities as a way of forming partnership and putting reconciliation into action. That one conversation six year ago has led to a partnership with PWRDF, a national movement of Anglicans working with our Indigenous brothers and sisters for clean water, and has raised over $600,000 toward this project, with even more promising numbers projected for this year.

Question #4 - Identify a role you have played or a significant way you have been involved in the national Church and/or the worldwide Anglican Communion. What did you learn from this experience?

The Community Blog
I was invited to write for the Anglican Church of Canada’s on-line forum, The Community, in 2014. The response that I get from non-Christians, or de-churched Christians, supports the challenge that I raised in Question #2: there is a profound spiritual hunger in our world, and one of the gifts of our faith can be in equipping people with stories, language, and permission to talk. Through social media, I receive immediate feedback on how my writing is connecting, and with whom. This allows me to continually refine my communication skills to more effectively reach a variety of audiences. At the same time, living in our Facebook era reminds me that Jesus holds us to a different standard than merely what will get us “liked.” We might be tempted to speak to be noticed and affirmed, and yet discipleship asks that our words and actions proclaim God’s truth, not our own.

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