Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

5 ways churches inflicted pain on themselves (COMMENTARY)

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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(RNS) Let’s be clear: The much-heralded “decline of Christianity in America” isn’t about God losing faith in humankind.

It isn’t about losing our moral compass thanks to whatever you happen to loathe. It isn’t about fickle millennials. It isn’t about zigging trendy or zagging traditional.

In fact, I would argue that Christianity isn’t in trouble at all. Churches are in trouble. Denominations are in trouble. Religious institutions like seminaries are in trouble. Professional church leaders are in trouble.

But churches can’t hold God hostage. God will do what God will do. Whether our churches stay open for business, God will keep on loving all that God has made. Loss of an institution won’t deter God.

So let’s relax about Christianity — the faith — going down the tubes. This isn’t an existential crisis for God or for faith in God. Even if every church in America went dark, God would try another way.

St. Thomas More church in New York City. Photo by Robert Deutsch, USA Today

The tragedy — in the classic sense of self-inflicted wounds and fatal flaws — is that we did this to ourselves, and we hurt many people along the way. Here is what we did:

1. We stopped trying.

For a time, religious institutions in America were bold risk-takers. Then we settled into maintenance mode, because it felt safe and comfortable. We fought over churchy things that didn’t matter because the things that did matter — racism, inequality, demagoguery, corporate thievery, obsession with money and sex — cut too close to home.

2. We stopped giving.

Over the past 50 years, our giving has dropped by more than half as a percentage of family income. We have starved our churches of resources. When tough budget choices had to be made, the facilities that we wanted usually defeated the mission that God wanted.

3. We turned inward.

Just as American houses went from porches in front to patios out back, we stopped connecting with our neighbors. We stopped looking outward, except for the occasional noblesse oblige charity. We opened our doors on Sunday and welcomed each other.

4. We fixated on Sunday morning.

Long after Sunday changed character in American life, we kept expecting Sunday worship to do our work. Rather than transform lives through mission work, circles of growth and personal spirituality, we had people sit in pews for a crammed hour of singing, praying, announcing, chatting, communing and learning. Then we sent people out to their cars and figured we had done our work for the week.

5. We trashed our reputation.

We became known as judgmental, angry, self-serving, smug, boring and old. As far as people outside can tell, we live to fight, we think too highly of ourselves, and we are moral scolds. Who needs that?

What, then, is the future? The future for God is as bright and glorious as ever. Our ever-changing, ever-dynamic, ever-loving and ever-transformational God will be just fine. We can say our prayers with confidence.

Churches, on the other hand, are in trouble. Many will run out of money. Many will lose heart. And yet some, perhaps many, will rise to the challenge. They will give up the old certainties and do what Jesus did.

Those challenge-meeters will look outward, proclaim good news, welcome strangers, serve “the least of these,” give their lives and resources away, work for justice and mercy, be faith communities seven days a week and put love ahead of right opinion and kindness ahead of victory.

And God will be in the midst of them.

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com.)

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, May 20, 2015

The next steps forward

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Anglican Journal staff

Northwest Territories sun dancers  perform at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Northern National Event held in Inuvik in June 2011. Photo: Marites N. Sison


As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) wraps up its work this month, the Anglican Journal asked four Anglicans to reflect on the following questions: Where do you see reconciliation happening between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians now? What needs to happen going forward?

The Rev. Chris Harper, diocese of Saskatchewan, and member, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP)


Reconciliation needs to be more enhanced and at the same time, more pronounced. It is not widely known in the wider church about what reconciliation is, and at the same time, what it could be.

Reconciliation means going all the way out, reaching out and actually touching those affected…But it has to happen with full acknowledgement and understanding of the history.

I’ve done a couple of church presentations which have been incredibly positive, wonderfully positive, where we’ve actually had people who were involved as teachers at residential schools, where they’ve actually come up and apologized, and where I’ve hugged them and said, “The apology starts here with us, and now we take it out into the wider community.” This is something that has to be done…It’s a healing process on both sides of the fence, and the fence right now is the awakening and the acknowledgement of the historical past and who we are.”

Freda Lepine, lay member, diocese of Brandon, and member, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP)


Reconciliation is when the families are all well. But it’s going to be a long, slow process. There’s so much to be done to try to get people back on track. There are so many families that are losing their children, even to this day, and it is because of second- and third-generation residential school effects.

There’s so much more we could be doing—for example, summer programming with kids…A lot of our children have lost their faith, because their parents have lost their faith.

They’ve been raised in the city…and they don’t know anything about their cultural background. We took some teenagers out a couple of summers ago, and they were in awe. We took them out to a trapline and to old cemetery sites, where our people used to travel the river route, and where they were buried. We said, “Look, this is one of your great-uncles, or this is one of your great-aunts,” that they never knew existed. It made them feel like this was their home, this was their great-grandpa’s area.

Archbishop John Privett, bishop of the diocese of Kootenay and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon


In B.C….folks in parishes prayerfully knit [shawls] and thought about residential school survivors and these were presented to people who told their stories at the TRC, and that was beautiful, I think, for the people who received them to feel wrapped in that. It was also significant for the people involved in making them, in terms of the awareness [raised].

After the TRC, we need to continue within the church to raise awareness of the legacy of residential schools…The next step for the church is to have the conversation that helps us challenge some of the deep-seated prejudices that are just inherent in Canadian society.

The 22 days [initiative] calls for [us]…to stand in solidarity with Indigenous people…Our House of Bishops here in the province a couple of years ago issued a statement regarding the Northern Gateway pipeline, and our statement was basically to say that it is really critical that we listen to First Nations voices.

 The Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, member, Primate’s Commission on Doctrine of Discovery, Healing and Reconciliation Photo: Heather Giffen


The truth-telling has gained momentum and it is no longer easy for us to ignore what happened, so I see that as a very positive thing.

This is the task for reconciliation in the church now, for people in their spheres of influence to work for change from the inside out. It can and will be done, and I’ve seen it start with Indigenous expressions of liturgy, worship and devotion, and working to decolonize the church.

[Realizing healing and reconciliation] is an individual and a collective process, and it requires [the] intentional participation of all of us. It’s going to happen through education. I’ve got young kids in school, and it’s already happening in a way that it never happened for me.

The bigger picture is that there is a whole racism element that has to be confessed and addressed. It is like a massive confession that the church has to do, is doing and has to continue to do—together.

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Anglican Journal News, May 21, 2015

Assisted suicide: How about a few second thoughts?

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide “is an invitation to include everyone, especially the disabled, in the net of potential death,” argues the author. Photo: Bartek Zyczynski


(Editor’s note: Adrian Rhodes submitted this opinion piece in response to the April 2015 issue of the Anglican Journal, which discussed the Supreme Court decision on assisted suicide. Opinion submissions on religious topics, maximum 500 words for print and 700 words for the web, will be considered for publication. Send queries to letters@anglicanjournal.com) 

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is correct in saying Anglicans should “…exhibit an unwavering resolve to include those most affected by our deliberations.”  In response, I am writing my impressions.

I have three chronic disabilities.  I have experienced substandard care; misdiagnoses, been accused of being a drug user and have been told I am not doing enough to look after myself.  Now there’s another option: instead of caring, a doctor can offer to help me end it all.

I noted with sadness that one commentator was “ecstatic” and another “overjoyed” at the Supreme Court of Canada’s February ruling.  I have a database with approximately 318 names of people killed by doctors, nurses, or family because they were ill, dying or disabledIs that something to be ecstatic about?

Unbearable suffering, not defined, was mentioned.  That suffering can be interpreted to the lowest common denominator.  What is the minimum suffering that someone has to have in order to demand death?

One article quotes the decision directly: “The historic ruling limits doctor assisted suicides to ‘a competent person who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, a disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.’”

Define limit; define competent; define clearly consents; define grievous; define irremediable; define enduring suffering.  These are very flexible statements.  This is an invitation to include everyone, especially the disabled, in the net of potential death.

In Canada we have instances of elder abuse.  We have silent “Do not resuscitate” orders.  We have the Rassouli case where doctors decided to arbitrarily end his life support.  We have “slow” code blues where it looks like people are trying to save a patient when they are going through the motions.  We also have increased cost-cutting and financial pressures on the medical system.

One person says: “The world we are in has changed in this decision, and in a public policy sense, it doesn’t matter much if we are for it or against it.”   This hopeless quote is wrong.  It matters to the disabled community, who have long been targets for death and victims of discrimination.  We refuse to give in to prejudiced despair.

It matters that the disabled community are against assisted suicide: human lives are at stake.  The lives of those who cannot speak, like minors, those with dementia, or those in coma or persistent vegetative states, are at stake.  The Quebec Association of Social Workers rejected age limits to the proposed Bill 52 in 2013, stating that to deny a child or teen euthanasia was age discrimination and would be challenged under the Charter.  The safeguard of majority age was dismissed before the law was even enacted.

People with concerns are dismissed with a patronizing “That won’t happen, dear.” I was told once “you can’t comment because you, being disabled, are too close to the situation to be objective about it.”

If I am too close, what about patients who are manipulated into accepting “do not resuscitate” orders to save money; patients denied care on the basis of disability; patients whose statements are interpreted in a manner which creates a foregone conclusion toward death or patients who cannot request death?  I have real world examples in my files.

Coercion, discrimination or abuse are not noted in the April articles and that is a serious oversight.  My mother was apparently abused in 2006 when she was dying of cancer.  My family did not find out until after she died.  Had assisted suicide been available, I am certain she would have “suddenly died” and we would not know.

Granted, there is a certain commitment to a variety of voices in the “debate” after the fact of “decriminalization.”  Whether anyone listens to people who say no instead of killing them will never be known: it’s too easy to silence the marginalized.  I ought to know; I am disabled, marginalized and have been silenced in my concerns.  Until now.  Whether I am heard and listened to is another thing entirely.

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Anglican Journal News, May 20, 2015

Spring cleaning: Good for the soul

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Wayne Holst


I write from the land of galloping regime change. You guessed it—from Alberta—where, every generation or two, we elect a new government. My theme, however, does not have to do with politics, but with personal spiritual transformation, which has been occurring alongside our Canadian springtime.

The story involves housecleaning, big time. Our entire basement is currently undergoing an almost total emptying so that we might begin again, but wisely. The project my partner, Marlene, and I are presently undertaking has been strenuous physically and psychologically, as many decades of accumulation are being mercilessly discarded.

Ours is a blended relationship, happily occurring in the second half of life. The downside was the material accumulation of two families, not one. Such culling has prompted in us no small amount of reflection at this senior stage of life, and I’d like to share some of our discoveries with you.

Essential/non-essential—the first lesson we learned. Our criteria for separating needed from not needed was this: “What have we lived without for the past decades and not even realized we still had?”

Things accumulate that can drag you down or push you out. Marlene’s weakness tended to be holding on to forgotten family items from eras past. Mine were books, papers and notes from countless classes and learning events. We realized that major symbolic and sentimental items were still important. Much, however, had to be disposed of.

Integration—both personal and relational. We are at a time of life when meaning trumps accumulation. Interestingly, neither of us would consider ourselves materialists. Still, there it all was. What to make of it? For many years, both of us were focused on family and/or careers. Generally speaking, we are satisfied with how we have lived our lives. Both good and bad experiences have contributed much to what we now cherish. We still ask, along with many other Canadians, “Will our economic resources last, so that we are not a burden to our loved ones in later years?” And we keep doing our responsible best. What we have learned from our lives to date, however, is more important than any material accrual.

Maturity and wisdom—we claim some of that, even though there are people who seem not to learn from experience. We no doubt tire family and friends with things we feel obligated to pass on. We are grateful when some tell us they really do appreciate what we share. Ultimately, our legacy is what others claim to have received from us; not what we think is important.

To distinguish the essential from the non-essential, to integrate life meaning as we continue to evolve, and to mature with wisdom are the challenges with which we are currently dealing. Even the mundane and boring act of spring cleaning has become, for us, a renewal of the soul. We hope that the time remaining for us will be even better because of the spring cleaning experience we have been through.

 

Wayne A. Holst continues to teach religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinate adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church in Calgary.

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Anglican Journal News, May 14, 2015

What brought you here today?

Posted on: May 12th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Andrew Stephens-Rennie


A growing number of people say they are drawn to churches that offer them sanctuary.
Photo: nelosa


It’s one of the first questions on our minds when someone dares to walk through the front doors of our church for the first time. It’s one of the questions I’ve had the opportunity to ask newcomers after they’ve returned a time or two to St. Brigids, the new Sunday evening Eucharist at Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral where I serve.

The answers are always different. I know that people cross the threshold into our parishes for a variety of reasons. Some are reconnecting with the faith of their childhood. Others are working through life’s big questions, and hope that a faith community might provide some of the answers. Others still find themselves inexplicably drawn to Jesus, though they’ve grown up never knowing him by name.

And yet, lately, I’ve noticed the re-emergence of a sentiment Robert Webber wrote about in his 1989 book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. Recent years have seen prominent evangelicals like Brian McLaren and Rachel Held Evans take the journey from their native evangelicalism toward a home in the Anglican Communion. I find myself wondering if their movement isn’t symbolic of some of the subtle shifts happening all around us.

When asked what brings them to St. Brigids, many of the evangelicals I meet respond similarly. Beauty, mystery and deeply rooted tradition are at the top of the list. A place to wrestle and struggle with deep questions is next. Whether they’re asking questions about the relationship between science and religion, the role of LGBTQ folks within the church or how the atonement actually works, they appreciate a tradition that is willing to engage with big questions.

Held Evans, who is a popular evangelical blogger and author, recently released her third book, Searching for Sunday. Organized around the seven sacraments, the book details her journey as an evangelical into The Episcopal Church. In one striking passage, she writes: “It’s funny how, after all those years attending youth events with light shows and bands…all I wanted from the church when I was ready to give it up was a quiet sanctuary and some candles.”

Isn’t it funny that when we find ourselves jealous of churches with flashy youth programming, there are growing numbers who find themselves deeply drawn to the beauty, mystery and rootedness of our own traditions? We don’t need to sell church as something flashy or cool. We don’t need to sell it at all! As we encounter evangelicals on the Canterbury road, my experience tells me it may be enough to offer them sanctuary. As Held Evans puts it, what she needed was “a safe place to be.” We know a thing or two about hospitality. As we extend Christ’s welcome, we should feel free to invite them deeply into this Anglican way of being Christian they’re already seeking.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie is assistant to the rector for evangelism and Christian formation at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. 

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Anglican Journal News, May 12, 2015

Returning to a Christian way of life

Posted on: May 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The churches that have been a part of the European and North American cultural framework have played a unique and important role in the colonization of our planet over the past five centuries. At times, it should be recognized, they calmed down some of the excesses of colonization. Unfortunately, as we have begun to see more clearly in recent years, church silence and, too often, complicity with colonization has tainted the reputation of these churches. Providing a pretext and the proof texts for colonization, they bent the dominion passage of Genesis 1:28 enough to obscure the many texts that command an ethical framework for human development, political and economic.

We may be surprised to find that the most important aspect of this story may be in what is to come: can the churches develop the ability to discuss the moral and theological issues related to an advancing second phase of colonization? In the first phase of colonization, a time of spreading and often crude political and economic control, the churches were intimate with the advance forces of colonization. In this second phase of vast economic, cultural and environmental control, the churches are not so prominent, yet their silence has contributed to the widespread notion that there is very little that the Christian faith has to say about the environmental crisis, very little about climate injustice.

Unlike scripture, modern society generally views economic development and its impact on human and environmental life as morally neutral. In this way, it has gradually become a moral absolute, meaning that we allow the narrow category of economic development to become the judge of what is best for humanity and the planet.

This way of living has led us to a global culture that is both unsatisfying and threatening. It arrogantly treats the design of God as optional or a subject for improvement, almost always on a narrowly economic basis. We now see human culture organized toward a new Tower of Babel, a denial not only of God’s design, but in its moral presumption—that economic life rules all other life—a denial of the sovereignty of God.

Let us find the heart to proclaim a faith that speaks to all aspects of our life on this planet. We begin by searching both the scriptures and our hearts. This is a way toward awakening from the hypnotism of our ever-expanding economic culture. Beyond that, the churches can become a place to discuss these matters. At first, we need not pursue any particular political, social or cultural agenda. These are urgent things, but simply to talk will begin our road to health. Soon, there will be decisions to be made. Jesus, who lived, died and rose again to bring all things into unity, has saved us to do the good works that we were created to do (Ephesians 2:8–10). We cannot tolerate a faith that calls itself Christian and separates our salvation, our morality and our world, a faith that is silent in the face of such injustice.

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Anglican Journal News, May 08, 2015

When coffee hour gets complicated

Posted on: May 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Michelle Hauser


I was setting up chairs for Sunday School when I overheard the coffee hour team in the kitchen debating about the urn and how many scoops they should use and why on earth wasn’t the recipe written down somewhere.

And then I heard: “Let’s ask Michelle—she’ll know.”

As little as a year ago, these are not words I ever thought I’d hear in my parish. For the better part of a decade, I’d felt as though I were on the outside of church life looking in, and then, all of a sudden, I became an answerer of questions and a knower of where things belong.

What’s the saying? There’s a place for everything and everything in its place. It makes no difference whether the countertops are chipped laminate or polished granite, this is the central organizing principle of an efficient kitchen. At our church, the cupboards are meticulously labelled: teaspoons; soup spoons; dessert forks; banquet dishes; cups and saucers, etc. But even though the signage is excellent, there is a fair bit of way-finding for newcomers to do, and the kitchen has always been a very intimidating place.

A couple of years ago, one of our churchwardens came back from a conference all fired up about the ministry of hospitality and the impact it might have on us. As in, “Hey folks, we might actually get to know one another!” At some point the decision was made to demystify the kitchen and encourage a rotation of coffee hour volunteers.

This wasn’t a novel idea in Churchland, but it was new for us, and I jumped at the opportunity. As a woman with a fairly intense personality, I thought maybe this was something I could do without offending anyone. Having grown weary of church fundraising committees—and how easy it is to upset people in the ministry of money—the thought of a non-threatening ministry was very appealing.

I don’t remember all of what I served for my first coffee hour, or if it was right then when I hooked up with my partner, Norma, but most memorable of all was that I could actually hear the sound of ice breaking. A decade on the fringe of parish life, and all it took to finally fit in were some egg salad sandwiches and a poker face in the presence of a coffee urn. (You just stare into its beady little red eye and say, “You don’t scare me, Mr. Urn!”)

Soon, coffee hour became a regular ministry for me and my new buddy, Norma, and I’m not ashamed to say that our Sundays were very popular in the parish. We weren’t showing off, but we both love to cook and we were having fun bringing our best. I was also in love with the feeling of having finally found my place within the church.

But it was too much fun for an Anglican to have—I should have known it was too good to last. Soon enough, the foothold of popularity I’d gained with cherry crumble tarts gave way and I came crashing down: coffee hour got really, really complicated.

I won’t belabour all the nitty-gritty details, but, suffice it to say there were about 3,000 emails in January and February that had to do with coffee hour—the nutshell version being that hospitality had ballooned to epic proportions and gotten out of hand. Simplicity was the key to making it work—that “some people” would have to tone it down so that “other people” wouldn’t be so hesitant to take a turn. That’s when The Napkin Decree was sent out from on high: if it didn’t fit on a napkin, it was out of the question. And, most heretical of all in my view, the crustless sandwiches were banned. There was even an announcement in church: No sandwiches!

I hosted my last coffee hour this past March, which is now called “coffee time.” I suppose the rebrand was to signal the dawning of a new day and that Sunday treats would be simpler, more standardized and much, much, humbler.

On the morning of my final engagement, the fateful day I would turn out the lights in the parish kitchen one last time, my husband saw me trimming the crusts from a stack of white bread sandwiches.

“I thought they said no sandwiches?” he asked.

“They did,” I replied, wiping egg salad from my blade.

Was it petty and rebellious? Yes. Was it un-Christian? Quite possibly.

I wish I were a spoon, because if I were, I’d know exactly where to go. But I’m not a spoon…which leaves me back at the beginning: way-finding, navigating, trying to find a place where I fit in.

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Anglican Journal News, May 08, 2015

Council votes to demolish church

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The old St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s has stood empty since 2003, when the congregation moved to a new building. Photo: Church by the Sea, Inc.


The acrimonious debate over what is to be done with the deconsecrated 120-year-old Anglican church in the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, Nfld., was decided last night by a contentious town council vote of 4–3 in favour of demolition.

“To say that this has been a bruising journey would be an understatement,” Geoff Peddle, bishop of the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, wrote in response to the decision. “It has been an incredibly difficult journey for many involved that has led to deep divisions among some that we can only hope will heal with time.”

When the Anglican Journal spoke with Peter Jackson, an architect and president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust (one of the bodies committed to preserving the building), he said he was “very disappointed that the town chose to ignore their own municipal heritage status on the building and vote for demolition,” and disappointed that the diocese didn’t “heed the groundswell of support for the church and withdraw their application for demolition.”

Peddle, in a pastoral letter sent to members of the parish in October 2014, maintained that the diocese undertook nine months of study and consideration that involved consultations with the congregation and groups both in favour and against the demolition. He said that he received over 100 “submissions…on the matter of the old church” and the “ratio in favour of taking down the old church with dignity and care was over eight to one” among people who contacted him and actually live in the community of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, “who pay taxes there, who vote there, and who in most cases identified themselves as Anglicans members of the parish.”

The roots of the conflict, which pitted the parish of St. Philip’s against local and provincial heritage groups in often bitter dispute, goes back to 2004, when the parish of St. Philip’s moved into a new building and parish hall that had been built to meet the changing needs of the congregation. The diocese had directed the parish to “dispose” of the old building, which dates to 1894, as a condition for building a new one.

The old church was deconsecrated in 2006; in 2009, the vestry of St. Philip’s applied for a permit to take it down. Many members of the parish, not wanting the burden of having to maintain two properties, were in favour of demolition, but other members of the community were surprised and shocked by the decision to destroy a building that they said had played a central role in the town for over a century.

A committee, Church by the Sea Inc., was formed in 2010 to attempt to preserve the building as a museum and cultural space, and in that same year, the building was designated as a municipal heritage structure.

However, on the very same day it was declared a heritage structure, the church’s steeple was vandalized so badly that it toppled to the ground, where it has lain for the past five years.

At the heart of the dispute is the fact that the church sits in the midst of the parish cemetery, and so it is not as simple as handing the building over to the care of the community. “The cemetery is still in use; it belongs to the parish of St. Philip’s; it’s our responsibility,” said the Rev. Ed Keeping, rector of St. Philip’s parish. “We don’t want things going on in the cemetery that would disrespect those that have gone before us.”

The problem of what to do with the building, like so many relating to historic church properties, ultimately comes down to hard financial realities. In his pastoral letter, Peddle noted that it would cost roughly $250,000 to move the church from its current location, and roughly $455,000 to refurbish it—costs “that neither the parish nor the diocese can afford or are prepared to pay.”

While Church by the Sea has raised some funds toward restoration, boasts a large number of willing volunteers and has released a proposal for development in January 2015, the problem of the church’s location proved intractable.

An attempt was made earlier in 2015 to bring the parish and Church by the Sea to mediation, but it failed, and the decision was handed over to town council on April 20.

When asked what will happen next with the building, Keeping said a timeline for demolition would be established through conversation with the bishop and the chancellor of the diocese. After the church is taken down, St. Philip’s plans on building a meditation space and garden for those visiting the cemetery that will include a memorial to the church.

His own perspective about the building that has caused so much rancour in his community, however, is pragmatic.

“I value what the church has done in the past,” he said, “but we’re not into saving buildings. We’re into saving souls and preaching the gospel, and the building is just a building.”

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Anglican Journal News, April 22, 2015

The continuing story

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

And that changes everything—backwards and forwards.

Our story—the world’s story—is rewritten in this moment. Everything that came before means something a little different now—everything needs to be re-remembered in light of this new fact.

Consider the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, walking sadly and fearfully away from Jerusalem, away from their hopes and their dreams, away from their friends, away from their dead and disgraced, and now disappeared, teacher. They had thought they’d known the story—a story of God’s triumph manifest in the annointed one, gloriously, powerfully liberating God’s people and revealing the might of the God of Abraham and Jacob. But instead, it turned out to be a story of false hope, of the frailty of human life, the weakness of human friendship, of the immensity and invulnerability of empire.

How dreadful that road must have been.

Until a man appears—a man who helps them hear the familiar stories of their faith in a new way and returns some hope, some faith in their crucified master. Suddenly, everything they thought they knew seems a little bit different and their memories of the last few days all have to be rethought. Suddenly, the possibilities for the future seem a little bit bigger. Their hearts that had, just moments ago, been heavy and aching are now burning within them—filled with a passion they don’t understand.

Until the man takes bread, blesses and breaks it, and gives it to them.

Then, all of a sudden, they see him for who he is—their own beloved Jesus, risen from the dead, and they understand their burning hearts—hearts that knew their teacher, even if their eyes did not.

And everything changes.

The sad story they shared with the stranger on the road changes. The story of God’s presence in the world changes. The story of their future changes…and they turn back, back to Jerusalem, back to their community, back to the promises of God.

Jesus is risen. Everything is possible. Fear and hate and violence have been revealed for what they are—shallow and empty and, ultimately, powerless in the face of the glory of God. Peace and love and hope and faith are revealed to be stronger than we could ever have imagined.

But that’s not all—the story is not simply ended with an alleluia and a happily ever after. Because Jesus isn’t just risen. Jesus is here—on the road, in the Scripture, at the table, in bread and wine and friendship. The promise has not simply been fulfilled—it is still being fulfilled.

Jesus is here. Don’t worry about whether or not you can see him—you can feel him, burning in your heart. The promise is still unfolding, revealing itself in our own lives as we learn how to tell our stories and the stories of the whole world in the light of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus is here—and now, everything is possible—more, in fact, than we could possibly ask or imagine.

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is associate priest of Christ Church Cathedral, diocese of Montreal. 

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Anglican Journal News, April 20, 2015

Life is ‘larger than one’s ownership of it’

Posted on: April 15th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

 

 

Diocese of Algoma bishop Stephen Andrews’ parents, Irving, Jr., and Emmy Lou. Irving, Jr. died in October after a massive stroke. Photo: Contributed


Excerpts from an interview with the Anglican Journal and from his column in the Algoma Anglican (April 2014):

My dad died in October. He had a massive stroke, and my brother and I were able to fly down to be with him and he lingered for a little less than a week.

We talked to the doctors about not taking any heroic efforts; he had signed a life directive saying that he didn’t want any heroic measures. And so it was a real question for us, about the degree to which his suffering was something we should seek to shorten by shorten…And just as we were discussing this, I saw him with his own family—two sisters—and people from the community rallying around him… There was a sense in which, in his need and suffering, he was contributing to the depth of human community around him. He gave us the opportunity to care for him. I saw my aunts minister to my dad in a way that has completely changed my relationship with them, and so there’s a sense in which it is not just about the individual. And just because a person may not have, let’s say, a cognitive function, or may be on some kind of life support system, it doesn’t mean that they are not making a contribution to the integrity of our humanity and the integrity of our community.

I think that when we diminish the value of life in this fashion, then we are devaluing all of our humanity and the value of human community.

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When it comes to the conditions of our dying, how much control ought we to have?

The arguments can be complex and deeply personal, involving technology, medical codes of ethics and an appropriate understanding of human dignity. But two Anglican bishops in Quebec, Dennis Drainville (Quebec) and Barry Clarke (Montreal), have weighed in on the discussion. In October (2013), they expressed concern that the bill presents “risks for the vulnerable, including the elderly, people suffering from clinical depression and those with disabilities.

“Christian thought through the ages has been guided by the principle that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and our life is to be seen as a gift entrusted to us by God,” they wrote. “Life is thus seen as something larger than any individual person’s ownership of it, and is not simply ours to discard.”

A bias in favour of life is something that the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians has strongly endorsed. “Euthanasia and/or assisted suicide have never been part of the practice of palliative care,” they write, while pointing out that the World Health Organization’s definition of palliative care is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families.”

But the bishops here voice another core, and yet neglected, Christian conviction: that in putting us in community, God has made us mutually dependent. There are profound philosophical and theological questions about the existence of suffering, to be sure, questions that we may never resolve this side of heaven. But this is certain: part of what it means to be human is to be bound to others in suffering—both in sharing our suffering with them and in bearing their suffering ourselves.

St. Paul wrote, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves” (Rom. 14:7). The great New Testament scholar Joseph Fitzmyer called this verse “the basis of life in Christian society.” Our General Synod acknowledged this interdependence in a resolution on assisted suicide passed in 1998: “The Christian vocation is to keep faith with and show respect for another by keeping company with them through the terminal stages of a disease or the life-span of a disability…The Christian response is always one of hope. This hope exists in the context of the physical, emotional, and spiritual support offered by the community.”

Both in preparing for death and in dying, it is important that we respect and treasure the sacred nature of life and the nexus of human relationships in which God has placed us. Where these things are honoured and preserved, advance care planning can be an act of compassion and a source of comfort both for ourselves and our survivors.

Stephen Andrews is the bishop of the Anglican diocese of Algoma.

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Anglican Journal,  April 13, 2015