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"Vision 2019 is an opportunity to say 'here's what I think our church needs to be about.'"
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Message from A member of Church of the Redeemer, Toronto

My vision of the church is based on Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

I am happy to say my experience in the Anglican Church, and in particular at Church of the Redeemer, is very close to what I am looking for. I am cared for by the clergy and by the community – on a personal, everyday level and on a spiritual level. The music is gorgeous with mostly classical and traditional hymns, but it ventures into gospel and other types of music (including a few services based on contemporary music such as U2). We are incredibly blessed to haveCanon Andrew Asbil as our incumbent. He is a truly gifted minister - who offers sermons week after week that intelligently blend the experiences of every day life with profound Christian messages. I am always inspired. He is also a skilled listener and spiritual counsellor who is generous with his time. His door has always been open to me in times of sorrow and joy.

My wish for the church in the future is that every Anglican could have such a wonderful experience in their parish. Everyone should have a place like this to come and learn how to love God with all their heart and mind and soul. A place that they can bring their questions and struggles. Most importantly, it should be a place to learn about the limitless love of God for themselves and the world. It should be a place that expresses the love of God in all that it does. (And yes, for me, that means it is an inclusive place that does not distinguish between people based on race, gender, ability or sexual orientation. We should continue to reach out to people who are concerned about the authority of scripture and disagree with same-sex blessings on that basis. We have to express the love of God to them too, but my own belief is that this is a matter of love and justice, and the church has to stop discriminating against gays and lesbians.)

Which brings me to the second commandment and my view of the way the church will survive and grow in the future. Love your neighbour as yourself. For me, that means we need to love the person next to us in the pew, the people we encounter in our daily lives, but especially the poor, the hurting and the oppressed in our own land and abroad. Redeemer does this well with a lunch program for the poor and marginalized in the neighbourhood, but I want to see us do more. I know that PWRDF does this globally, but I want to see us do more.

This kind of outreach is also what I believe the church needs to do to survive in the future. People in both the developed world and in developing countries are disillusioned by the injustice of current economic and political systems. We are all crying out that we want to change the world, but I think many people feel powerless and don’t know where to turn to channel their desires and efforts to make the world better. In Canada, I think it is particularly important for the church to work for justice for First Nations people and to protect the environment. I think the church needs to work with ecumenical and interfaith partners to show people that religion is a creative force for good, not division. We should gather momentum with other partners, including social justice and environmental organizations, to work for change. I know churches already do this. I want to do more, but I think we also need to get better at telling the world that this is what we are about. Maybe then they will see that the love and light they long to see in the world can be found in the church.

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Vision 2019 welcomes a range of contributions to the "Tell us your story" project--from affirming to critical. Comments are monitored, however, to ensure that a respectful conversation can take place. We ask that you be relatively brief and that your language be respectful to others. You must also provide your name, place of residence (city or town is adequate) and parish.