Members of St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Halifax NS, answer the question “Where is your church now, and where do you think the Anglican Church of Canada should be in 2019?”
Review responses from other Canadian Anglicans below (most recent responses are at the top). You can also view responses by diocese, and add your own story.
Message from St. Philip’s Anglican Church, Halifax NSSent to us on October 5th, 2009
Message from Sally T., Diocese of British ColumbiaSent to us on October 5th, 2009
Where is my church now? We are in a dangerous place at this time – and that is – being irrelevant. We must continue being church to the very best of our abilities, to honour our Lord and to let people know that they are loved. We must show that living with Christ in our lives MAKES A DIFFERENCE. We must be consistent with this message, in a time of inconsistencies.
Where do I want the Anglican Church of Canada to be by 2019? I would hope that in 2019 people will see that (as above) living with Christ in our lives MAKES A DIFFERENCE; that with a faith we can weather the storms which are a part of our 21st century lives.
As a first-time grandparent I find myself projecting ahead with a certain little person in mind. I would dearly hope that our church will be a place of welcome and of non-judgement for all, a place of happiness and of nurture for all. This world needs such a haven, heaven knows! We must shed some of the judgements we have held in the past, and see everyone as children of our God. Ten years is not a long time but we can begin to change our ways in this respect.
Message from Bishop Mark MacDonaldSent to us on October 5th, 2009
My dreams for the Anglican Church of Canada
1) A new relationship with the culture
There has been a major shift in the relationship of the Church to the surrounding culture. This shift is profounc, potentially a complete redefinition of the Church’s role in society. The meaning of this has not be explored with anything near the attention required. We must re-imagine what faithfulness to God means, regarding war, wealth, and worship. To be a living Church, we must attend imaginatively to our surrounding culture.
2) A Community of Disciples in a Spiritual Movement
Hand in hand with item 1) is a reframing of our faith in terms of discipleship in a spiritual movement. The focus on institutional and administrative requirements as the essence of church membership, however appropriate in ages past, now obscures the simple meaning and practice of our Gospel. To be a living Church, we must attend imaginatively to Jesus.
3) A Church of open and local communities
The catholicity of the Church means that the fullness of the whole is present in the local, and vice versa, through the presence of Christ in our midst. The joining together of a diverse family of local communities in a unity of faith and love is even today seen in embryo. The Church of the future will join together a greater diversity of peoples, lifestyles, and church styles. The parish, though always with us, will be joined by a wide variety of communities, representing in their organizational style and way of life some of the insights gained from the explorations mentioned in the 2 items above. The growing Spiritual Movement among Indigenous Peoples will challenge us all to reconciliation and renewal. The Land we live in, its ecology and life, will be understood to be a living part of our community of faith. To be a living Church, we must attend imaginatively to each other.
4) A Church of Spiritual Discernment
Whether we like it or not, change will come quickly, beyond our capacity to predict or plan. To live into the realities above, respond creatively to inevitable change, and, at the same time, live in faithfulness to our Gospel, we will need to develop a greater communal capacity for Spiritual Discernment at every level and in every area of our Church. The capacity to discern will allow us to live and grow in a way of courage, integrity, and compassion – the moral way of Jesus. All four of our Items, seen from this item 4), describe critical elements of a renewed and active circle. The items should never be thought of in isolation from each other. To be a living Church we must attend to the Living Word of God in is, among us, and around us.
Thanks and blessings,
Message from Thomas G., Diocese of MoosoneeSent to us on October 5th, 2009
Where is your church now, and where do you want the Anglican Church of Canada to be in 2019?”
I would like to see the relationship between priest and people at the parish level given some serious thought. It seems to me that this local focus, often ignored or taken for granted, is worth critical examination and open dialogue. Let me deliberately oversimplify, polarize, and offer comic-book contrasts in my answers to four questions:
How do people see their own role in the parish vis a vis that of the priest? Do they see themselves as active in parish decision-making, as having a vital, ongoing role fully respected by their parish priest? In matters of worship, for example, are their needs and sensibilities acknowledged as primary inputs into the decision-making process? Or, on the other hand, do lay people see themselves as the passive recipients of what worship has to offer? Do they see themselves as sheep being led by their shepherd, people whose essential role is to ‘trust and obey’ the rector, while not neglecting their traditional role as financial supporters of the church?
How do members of the parish laity view their priest? Do they see him/her as the professional, the expert, the source of wisdom in worship and other parish matters? Or do they see their priest as primus inter pares – one voice, hopefully an informed voice – within the process of decision-making in matters of parish life? Are they willing to clearly, politely, courageously voice their concerns with respect to the priest’s behaviour or decisions; are they willing to tell the emperor when he is wearing no clothes? This takes courage: it is much easier, and much more comfortable, to remain silent, to avoid confrontation.
How do parish priests see the role of the laity within their parishes? Do they see the laity as, fundamentally, the theologically uninformed, passive recipients of their more informed, professional and priestly wisdom? Or do clergy see their parishioners as revered brothers and sisters in Christ, as fellow Christians with real, valuable insights to offer in the affairs of the parish, not least of all in making worship decisions. When this is the case, the priest as leader will be deeply respectful of the visions and sensibilities of his/her laity. Such a leader, for example, when entering a parish as the new incumbent, will show respect for the established worship patterns of his/her new congregation, recognizing that their way of doing things on Sunday morning, their local traditions, should not lightly be set aside for the preferences of the new incumbent.
Finally, how do parish priests see themselves vis a vis the lay members of their parishes? Is their behaviour informed by a ‘L’eglise c’est moi!’ attitude, a perhaps unconsciously aristocratic, presumptive, entitled attitude? Or do they exercise shared responsibility with the laity in their parish, accepting mutual accountability, making themselves open to insight and constructive critiquing from their lay brothers and sisters?
My own concern is that the church move away from obsolete, authoritarian models of clergy-lay interaction within the parish toward models of mutual respect and involvement, in other words, toward models which are at once authentically Christian and recognizably 21st century. Of course, the attitudes dramatized above are grossly oversimplified. But I think that many parishes experience, truth to tell, the whole range of attitudes depicted.
So what steps can be taken to move us to a greater awareness of, and improvements in, clergy-lay relations at the parish level? First, I think that we could benefit from an in-depth study of how we clergy and laity are actually interacting with one another (not just how we think we are interacting). Maybe someone could do a neat PhD thesis on this. Second, we need to attend to the theological dimension of human relationships and authority within the parish. Is there such a thing as a theology of shared governance? Thirdly, we need to address this subject in our seminaries to make sure that postulants are at least made aware of the profound importance of how they will relate to their parish laity. And finally, we need to address the subject in our dioceses and parishes openly.
That is my vision for the Anglican church in 2019.
Message from Heather B, Winnipeg MBSent to us on October 5th, 2009
I attend St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Winnipeg. We are a vibrant group with people committed to worship and to the exercise of their gifts in God’s service. The building is well used during the week by community groups from Guides and Scouts to Seniors, and is used by AA and for wellness programs by a community clinic Although there are families with young children, young adults are not well represented in our worshipping community but seniors are. We pay our Diocesan Apportionment and have several members who are active in the Diocese e.g. Diocesan Council, Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, PWRDF. We have money in the bank and try to give responsibly to mission locally and nationally. We have recently completed a renovation of our own space with good leadership and a lot of help from our own congregation and the groups who use the building. We are concious of our neighbourhood and explore ways to reach out and interact where there is need and encourage those who use the buiding mid-week to seek pastoral care when the need arises. We are part of ongoing plans with ELCIC to support church expansion into a new neighbourhood. There is always an underlying concern about the future when the habit of worship does not seem to exist in the rising generation and when the old ways seem to have lost relevance. Happily our priest and our music leader are ‘Thirty somethings’ so keep us current. I have no doubt that ‘God is working his purpose out’ and that should our buildings no longer be needed ‘the Church’ in some form will go marching on. With love in Christ…Heather B
Message from Jeannethe L., Toronto ONSent to us on October 5th, 2009
As with many other churches the fear of disappearing makes the church to close it walls and became too much focused on maintaining its own faith. But the world requires churches to walk the fine line between keeping and nurturing its own faith and being honestly open and engaging with other beliefs. Ten years is not much but could be enough to plant the seeds for this church to be a model in the practice of ecumenism.
Message from A phone message from Regina SKSent to us on October 5th, 2009
Message from Laura B., Victoria BCSent to us on October 5th, 2009
I came to the Anglican Church from the Roman church in my early twenties, and felt that I had found a home. What I want is for the church to be a home for my daughter when she is in her early twenties and beyond.
When I started being active in the ACC, I was one of the youngest members around the table. Now, over twenty years later, I am still often one of the youngest which causes me some concern. I worship (and work) at a large downtown Cathedral that utilizes both the BCP and alternative services. I choose to attend the alternative services. Inclusive language is very important to me. Social justice is very important to me. The Spiritual education of children and youth is important to me. Respect and love are important to me.
So … I hope that the Church (organization, buildings and people) in 2019 reflects LOVE for God’s people and creation; that it respects individuals by honoring a heritage that values contributions from the past without letting them impede the progress of the Gospel in the present and the future; and that the care and nurture of children and youth in our communities become a genuine focus, not a sidebar or addendum.
When she was five, my daughter drew a picture of a “church” in her school workbook. It was the usual square-bottomed, triangle-roofed building, but with backwards L’s on the floor, a huge smiley face, and two arms that each had double-hearts as hands. It hangs above my desk. I offer it as her contribution.
Message from Barbara H., Campbell River BCSent to us on October 5th, 2009
Thank you for the opportunity to be part of Vision 2019 and to be part of this church in this beautiful country of Canada!
I have dreams, hopes and prayers, and questions for the Anglican Church of Canada for Vision 2019.
My prayer is one of spiritual renewal, as a “fresh wind” for all involved in the church and that this will bring a new spiritual direction to those inside and outside our church, one with life, energy for service, and evangelism with a love of Christ.
I also pray that there will be peace within the Anglican Church, locally, nationally and globally, with a focus on scripture, the stories of the Bible, and the teachings of the Gospels. Since many people across Canada have not had the opportunity to hear God’s word, this is the first mission field.
My question is: where have all the young families with babies, children, and youth gone? What do we need to consider in order to attract them?
It is time we put aside divisive discussions as that has contributed to the spiralling loss of numbers within our church, that there will be healing within our church, and that we will work together cooperatively. Let us seek new ways to provide programs of life expanding ministry to all, especially young family ministry, in a multigenerational setting, that welcomes all into the one body. We are family and need each other “from generation to generation!”
My hope is that music and worship will be more appealing to young families – more joyful, more praiseful, more engaging and that those who remain in the church will be discerning and encourage change that is youthfully appealing. Use Memorable Music, that touches the heart and keeps you singing throughout the rest of the day, be it traditional, Taize, ancient, gospel, praise, contemporary, or whatever genre. Encourage young people to be involved and lead in music ministry, if they are available and have gifts in this area.
On a regional and regular basis share best practices with others, music that will enhance our liturgy, share different music settings, and offer workshops in music and worship.
Let us explore and consider the rapidly evolving forms of all media and technology that are embracing the world, and that we will take the opportunity to be involved in this area. This is a new mission field and teaching/learning community. This is an area where the young excel and we can make connections with them again on a spiritual-technological basis. The secular world has certainly grabbed their attention in this area, so why not us?
Let us consider who could and should be with us… again the young people, those who have a spiritual thirst, but don’t know where to turn, and those who are lost or have lost hope in life. The lonely… The homeless…Those of poverty… etc. Let us go to them, welcoming and serving them, one by one, while making our church and worship understandable, appealing, and meaningful to them. Let us assist those who seek justice for the downtrodden and those who are stewards of the world and creation. As part of God’s family let us tell the “Good News.” Advertise that we are a welcoming, and caring place to be!
God bless us as we deal with the knowledge we have obtained from this visioning process, and as we discern new and engaging directions for the Anglican Church of Canada!
Campbell River, BC
Message from Graham C., Diocese of TorontoSent to us on October 5th, 2009
If this is your land, where are your stories?
If we are God’s People, where are God’s stories?
We tell the stories of the kingdom through Scripture and Worship, reading & meditation.
We already tell our stories through music and singing; we can increase the use of the arts, visual and spoken, dramatic and dancing; actually promote these things through opening to the professionals, and encouraging all their work.
We must also listen to each other’s stories; we must hear about heir lives and their business the things they treasure and their worries and concerns.
We must be prepared both to speak up and to listen, and respect the integrity of those who tell their stories. We need to support the professions and occupations that people live by; encourage them by ourselves believing that all work can be seen as response to the creation God has made and sees as good.
Because there are many different stories, there are many different ways of receiving Christ and proclaiming Christ. I would see groups of parishes – deaneries or dioceses- in which there is a deliberate acceptance of different objectives in parish life: inclusive parishes always, but some practicing traditional music, some untraditional, some with traditional liturgy, some with newer and innovative liturgy. Many “places to stand” when proclaiming our love of God and Gods creation.
For myself, I would hope, even in my late eighties, to help provide drama in liturgy, dance in liturgy, innovation in church space. Graham C.