Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Farmers are saving Bangladesh’s endangered soil

Posted on: May 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

By Josiah Neufeld


Mariam Begum holds eggplants from her garden.
Photo: Paul Plett


Light trickles through thatched walls into Mariam Begum’s seed hut. Painted clay pots and salvaged medicine bottles crowd the bamboo shelves along the walls. Begum unstops a bottle and tips the contents into her palm, careful not to drop a single grain. Her seed vault may be low-tech, but it holds a resource that will be vital to the people of Bangladesh as they face the upheavals of climate change.

The people of Bangladesh expect to feel the effects of climate change sooner and more acutely than most places on the planet. The country is a low-lying sandy delta, split by three major rivers and criss-crossed by countless tributaries that drain into the Bay of Bengal. A one-metre rise in global sea levels would permanently inundate 15% of the country, wipe out thousands of acres of valuable agricultural land and displace 30 million people, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Those effects are already being felt. The country’s rich alluvial soil, which grows most of the food the country consumes, is in danger. Every year, about 8,000 hectares of arable land are lost to urbanization and degradation, according to research by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Another 8,700 hectares are swallowed by shifting rivers. As sea levels rise, saltwater pushes inland, flowing up rivers and canals and rendering fields near the coast too salty to grow crops. Every year, tens of thousands of farmers move to the city, looking for work.


House on stilts in Bangladesh. Photo: Josiah Neufeld


As her country struggles to continue to feed itself and adapt to changing weather patterns, Begum, a midwife, community activist and organic farmer in the township of Ishwardi, central Bangladesh, has taken on the role of safeguarding the soil her community depends upon.

Begum doesn’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. She makes her own organic compost and mulches her soil so it retains more water. She brews bio-pesticides with cow dung, ashes and banana leaves. To further protect plants from insects and preserve soil nutrients, she mixes crops—ginger with cumin, for instance.

And she harvests her own seeds and keeps them in her seed hut. Among her treasures are 90 varieties of rice indigenous to Bangladesh: some are resistant to drought; others can survive in salty soil.

Begum no longer has to spend money on seeds, pesticides or fertilizer. She can sell her produce for higher prices in the market because it’s organic. And she shares her organically grown seeds freely with anyone who promises to join UBINIG, the movement she belongs to.

UBINIG is a grassroots organization founded in the 1980s by a handful of Bangladeshi academics and professionals who wanted to empower poor farmers. “We wanted to know why we were poor, why major development organizations were telling us what to do,” says director Farida Akhter, a slight woman with grey-streaked hair.

At the time, the technologies of the Green Revolution—hybrid seeds and chemical inputs—were credited with increasing production and saving millions of lives in India and Bangladesh. But the women Akhter talked to were noticing something else: the chemicals in their food were making their children ill. Butterflies were disappearing from the fields and the small fish that thrived in the standing water in rice paddies were dying.

UBINIG’s approach to agriculture is based on a combination of new research and old technologies. They call it nyakrishi, which means “new agriculture,” even though many of their practices are ancient.

Begum was one of the first people in her village to adopt nyakrishi farming. Fifteen years ago, she was having trouble providing for her family. She heard about UBINIG and travelled to Dhaka, the capital, for a seven-day workshop. Since then, she has persuaded 257 farmers in her community to join the movement. Across Bangladesh, 300,000 farmer families now practise nyakrishi farming.


Aminul Islam Gain, a nyakrishi (new agriculture) farmer, used to grow tobacco, but after taking UBINIG training in nyakrishi farming techniques, he now grows mustard. Photo: Josiah Neufeld


UBINIG has partnered with The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF)—the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm—since the 1990s. PWRDF funds are used to organize nyakrishi training workshops and build seed huts like the one Begum manages. PWRDF has also funded the construction of community birthing centres, and provides training and equipment for local midwives.

Begum says since her village has stopped using chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers that butterflies, worms and several species of small fish have returned to the fields. As a midwife, she’s also observed an improvement in the health of newborn babies.

Josiah Neufeld is a journalist based in Winnipeg. Last December he travelled to Bangladesh to research the effects of climate change. His trip was funded by Canadian Foodgrains Bank, of which PWRDF is a member.

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Anglican Journal News, May 27, 2016

L. Roger Owens: Work too important to delegate — the leader as culture manager

Posted on: May 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

BigStock / DavidArts

Associate professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Managing the culture of an institution is a leader’s work, says a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He offers three suggestions to cultivate a healthy culture.

I was sitting in the most beautiful office I’d seen on the seminary’s campus. It was the last I would visit during my two-day interview for a teaching position.

As we sipped freshly brewed coffee, the president posed the only question in the entire process that surprised me. He wanted to know whether I would fit the culture of the place.

“Here,” he said, “we shoot for no secrets, no surprises, no subversion and lots of support.”

He taught preaching; of course he had to alliterate. “Are you willing to live that?”

The content of the question didn’t surprise me; by then I was familiar with the specifics of the culture he was describing.

What surprised me was that the president of the institution would even have this conversation with a potential hire. Wasn’t this a manager’s job, not a leader’s?

As a pastor hoping to teach leadership, I’d thought a lot about what a leader’s role is. Several years earlier, I’d been influenced by John Kotter’s classic article “What Leaders Really Do.”

The main point? Leaders and managers do different things. Leaders watch the future; managers attend to the day-to-day.

My wife and I had practiced Kotter’s theory in the church we co-pastored. By virtue of our particular gifts — and my particular allergy to administration, spreadsheets and numbers — my wife, Ginger, became the manager-in-chief. She supervised the staff, met with administrative committees and managed the budget.

I was the leader, and I tried my best to do what Kotter advocated: cast a vision, communicate the vision and inspire people to act on the vision.

Yet here I was on a job interview having coffee in the office of someone I hoped would become my leader, and it seemed to me he was dabbling in the work of management, messing around in the business of the day-to-day.

I now realize I was wrong. He was not at that moment managing the day-to-day — administering a budget or performing a staff review. Other people had those jobs. He was managing the culture.

I have come to appreciate that there is one management task the best leaders won’t ignore: shaping the culture an institution seeks to embody.

This is something my co-pastor wife had tried to teach me once.

In order to have healthy conflict and function effectively as a team, our staff had decided to adopt a staff covenant, which I’ve written about before.

Ginger led our staff meetings. At the beginning of each meeting, we reviewed a portion of the covenant, seeking to hold ourselves accountable. One day I got impatient with the conversation and said something circumspect and subtle like, “Can’t we get on with things?”

After the meeting, Ginger pulled me aside (our covenant said we should have these conversations one-on-one) before I could scurry back to the “real work” of leadership. “You might consider yourself the leader,” she said, “but managing the culture isn’t just my job. You’ve got to do it, too.”

So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when the seminary president tried to do what I had failed to do in that meeting — take a leadership role in upholding the culture.

As an academic (I got the job), I don’t lead an institution anymore, but I work in one every day. I watch leaders, and I read about them. And I’ve come to believe that there are three things leaders can do to help manage a culture.

First, leaders can create the space for a community to articulate the culture it strives for, how it wants to be and work together. Peter Block calls this work “leadership as convening,” and it’s an undervalued leadership opportunity. Leaders can summon people, creating the space to make progress on defining the institution’s culture.

Second, leaders can hold people accountable to that culture, and allow themselves to be held accountable. My wife held me accountable, and at the next staff meeting, I was obliged to tell them — I hope I did — about our conversation, apologizing for not taking seriously the work of our covenant.

Third, leaders can point out when the values and practices of a culture are being embodied well. Even if leadership scholar Barbara Kellerman is right that leadership is facing a crisis, people do still listen to their leaders, read what they write and take cues from them. Leaders are in the best position to reinforce a culture by highlighting when it’s lived well.

There is work that leaders shouldn’t do. When leaders get mired in management, attention to the future gets sidelined. But managing the culture is not the work of department chairs, division heads, supervisors and human resource specialists. It’s the leader’s work, work too important to delegate.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership, May 17, 2016

‘This house is resting gently on the Earth’

Posted on: May 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Inspired by a desire to preserve the Earth, Manitoba Anglicans Will and Bev Eert designed and built an energy self-sufficient home. Photo: Contributed


Spurred by a desire to leave as light a footprint as possible on God’s creation, a Manitoba couple has designed and built a completely off-grid home. During the first week of April this spring, Will and Bev Eert moved into their new house some 40 km southwest of Portage la Prairie, Man.—and two km past the last hydro pole.

They haven’t looked back since.

“It’s delightful, absolutely delightful,” says Bev. “There are a few small things I would change, but overall, it’s a huge success. It’s performing beyond my expectations.”

The house, four years in the making, combines a raft of environmentally friendly concepts—solar panels, earth sheltering, heat-retaining construction materials, triple-paned windows and more—into a single energy self-sufficient dwelling. Will, a retired power engineer, and Bev, a retired architectural designer, poured their combined expertise and passion into the project, Bev says.

“We took everything we had learned in our careers and put it into this house,” she says. “There’s really nothing unusual about any of it—the unusual thing is it’s all in one design.”

The Eerts are Anglicans, and Bev says the house is an important expression of their beliefs.

“This is faith-based,” Bev says. “I believe that we need to take responsibility for caring for God’s creation. The Earth is not ours to plunder—it’s not ours at all…I can’t bear to destroy what God has made, and I feel that that’s what we’re doing. In our drive toward more and more convenience and comfort we are essentially destroying God’s creation.”

The origins of the house go back to several years ago, when the Eerts, recently retired and living near Nanaimo, B.C., realized they both wanted to build an energy self-sufficient home. They spent two years looking for a suitable location before choosing the site, a south-facing hillside that overlooks Manitoba’s Assiniboine Valley.

Once they had designed it, the Eerts built the home almost completely by themselves. They hired outside help only to finish the concrete floor and drywall—one reason why the process took them four years, Bev says.

They also tried to leave as light a carbon footprint as possible when they were building the house. They put up the solar panel first, she says, so that any power tools they used didn’t require outside electricity.

People think that the home is going to look weird…you’re going to be uncomfortable, and you’re going to have to make serious sacrifices,” Bev Eert says, “but my goal was that none of that was going to happen.” Photo: Contributed


The home defies stereotypes some people might have about low-carbon footprint homes, she says, in its livability.

“People think that the home is going to look weird—and sometimes it does—and you’re going to be uncomfortable, and you’re going to have to make serious sacrifices, but my goal was that none of that was going to happen,” she says. “We’re not suffering in any way.”

Solar panels power the house’s lights, electric range, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and other appliances. It also heats the house via a system of floor-warming pipes. A fireplace and a large stone chimney in the centre of the house, with their combined mass, radiate heat while also providing a “romantic” touch, Bev says—though the couple, she adds, prefer not to use it often and are planning to enlarge the solar array so that they won’t have to burn any more wood for heat.

The house works not only by tapping renewable energy, but by saving energy as well. Bev says the Eerts designed the lighting system of the house, for example, very carefully. An array of mostly south-facing windows, besides helping heat the house, eliminates the need for artificial light during the day; at night, the Eerts use “task lighting”—electric bulbs illuminate only the areas where light is actually needed; there are no overhead lights, for example.

The heavy materials used in the house’s construction—the floor is made of concrete slab overlaid with ceramic tile—retain heat in the winter and stay cool in the summer. This May, when outside temperatures reached a startlingly high 39 C, the interior temperature of the house never got higher than 26 degrees, she says.

The Eerts also hope to be self-sufficient in food, Bev says, with a garden, moveable greenhouse and newly planted orchard.

Bev is the diocese of Brandon’s representative for the Creation Matters Working Group, an ecological justice initiative of the Anglican Church of Canada. At a diocesan function soon after the election of Bishop William Cliff last fall, she ran into Cliff and asked him if he’d like to bless the house. Cliff says he enthusiastically agreed.

On Earth Day, April 22, a couple of weeks after the Eerts had moved in, Cliff, together with two local parish priests, the Rev. Robert-Charles Bengry and the Rev. Sean-Patrick Beahen, blessed the new home. Parishioners of St. Paul’s and friends of the Eerts joined in the celebration, then enjoyed a vegetarian meal made from produce the Eerts had grown themselves.

During the ceremony, Cliff read the creation account from the book of Genesis, and, in a short homily, drew his listeners’ attention to the concept of dominion in the passage.

“We redefined the word, but God defined the word first and it’s important to remember that,” he said.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Cliff said he meant that we ought to understand God in Genesis as telling Adam and Eve not simply to dominate the Earth as a mere possession, “but to steward, and to care and to pass on, very much like we have received this land for this time, and we have to pass it on in as good or better shape than we found it.

“And that doesn’t necessarily mean the myth of progress, where we plow it under and pave it, but actually may mean tending it and giving nature assistance in healing when we’ve gotten in the way.”

He and others who were present at the blessing, Cliff said, were impressed both by the building and its builders.

“It’s as if this house is resting gently on the Earth—it’s not taking more than it gives,” he said.

“There’s a real spirit of innovation with these two, because they’re looking at ways they can improve on what they’ve already received, so that others can follow—and that’s really an example of what the gospel’s about, right?”

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, May 19, 2016

Congregational development: ‘Being the people God calls us to be’

Posted on: May 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features
The Rev Christopher Page, parish priest at St. Philip Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C., speaks to children during an Easter service. Submitted photo

The Rev Christopher Page, parish priest at St. Philip Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C., speaks to children during an Easter service. Submitted photo

Congregational development: ‘Being the people God calls us to be’

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The following is part of an ongoing monthly series on congregational development, which features reflections from Anglicans on how they are responding to the challenges facing churches today.

For Anglicans concerned about how to develop and grow their congregations, the Rev. Christopher Page has a simple suggestion on where to begin.

“I think the first thing they might do is stop worrying about developing and growing!” chuckles Page, currently parish priest at St. Philip Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C., and who previously worked in two Manitoba parishes.

The anxiety and stress engendered by a concern for numerical growth, he argues, can actually serve as a detriment to the well-being of the church.

For Page, congregational development starts with developing people’s spiritual lives, nurturing their awareness of Christ’s work in their lives, and encouraging them to co-operate with that work.

“I think we develop by concentrating on being the people God calls us to be,” he says. “And that is first of all a worshipping people, a praying people, a people of compassion and love and care.”

While never consciously seeking to be a “parish development person,” Page’s experience of more than 35 years of ordained ministry has given him plenty of food for thought on the subject.

In that time, he has witnessed tremendous changes in the context of ministry, such as the rise of the Internet and social media. One of the challenges for congregations and clergy today, he says, is the expectation to grow and sustain “what was” while also putting enormous energy into new approaches to ministry.

“All of the activities of what church used to be—home visiting, nursing home ministry, bazaars, rummage sales, tea parties … all that has to be maintained as it was in the ’50s,” he says. “And yet at the same time, clergy are being asked to go out there and launch bold new initiatives. It’s just not sustainable energy-wise.”

Whether the focus is on maintaining existing structures and activities or developing new approaches to mission, Page suggests that congregations must maintain a strong commitment to their chosen form of ministry, given the available resources.

Unlike other parts of the country, his own experience at St. Philip is not of a primarily aging congregation. He estimates the average age of Sunday morning worshippers as around 40 years old, with dozens of children and teenagers.

With younger families often very busy and other activities competing for their attention, Sunday worship remains the centrepiece of spiritual life for many. But attracting families with young children can mean embracing the concept of “messy” church, even on Sunday mornings.

At St. Philip, children at the Sunday service are able to play with Lego at a table set up near the back of the church. They can also play a special role in the service, coming up to the front as a group or listening to members of the congregation read a children’s story.

“I think we have to be really determined, if we want younger families, that we intend to welcome them, and that means welcoming them on their terms, and in the way that works for them, with children and with the commitments that they’re capable of,” Page says.

Where the focus of congregational development is more on mission than on maintenance, he notes, congregations and clergy must be clear on two major points.

“If in fact we believe mission is vital and more important than maintenance, then we have to acknowledge there’s a price to pay to giving up maintenance.”

However, if congregations wish to go out into the community and carry out mission “authentically,” they must be clear that they are not doing so merely to bring more people into Sunday worship.

Page offers the example of his congregation’s sponsorship of two Syrian refugee families in Victoria, where the first move was to put out a note to the community inviting them to join in sponsoring the families.

Following a large community meeting, a committee now exists of 20 people, which includes eight from the parish and 12 who do not belong to any church at all.

“They’re getting involved, they’re working, they’re communicating with people in the church, they’re getting to know me,” Page says of the latter. “But I honestly don’t believe any of those 12 people will come to church on the Sunday morning, and I have to be OK with that, if I’m genuine about saying I’m doing mission.”

“Mission is not ‘come to church on Sunday,’” he adds. “Mission is [that] we can find common ground in compassion and care and love, and we can find where God is at work, and we can join together in enhancing that and furthering that.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, May 17, 2016

In the midst of change, help people remember the reason for it

Posted on: May 11th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Some people will romanticize the past and grieve what they perceive as real losses when things change. Leaders should talk about the good coming from the change to maintain alignment, momentum and focus.

In February 2012, I traded a high-performance car for a hybrid sedan. Frankly, the hybrid has few features to commend it. It looks like a space pod. It accelerates like a tortoise on Ambien, and an accomplished teenager could outmaneuver it in an RV. So why did I buy it — and perhaps, more vexing still, why don’t I trade it?

As you could guess, it is the gas mileage. I went from getting 22 miles per gallon (of premium gas, no less) in the high-performance car to more than 50 in the hybrid. Since I drive more than 20,000 miles per year, that’s not an incidental feature.

Even so, it is as if the car manufacturer knows how tempted I am to drive to another car dealer to buy something sleeker, sportier and a whole lot more interesting because a curious feature is built into the dash. There, on the dash, is a display that, at the conclusion of every trip, tells me exactly how much money I saved by driving the hybrid as opposed to my previous car. When I refuel the car, I input what I paid per gallon, and it calculates my comparative savings on every trip. On a recent hour-long trip, the car told me that I had saved $4.54 by driving the space pod. For one more day, I didn’t trade it.

What my car does is to double down on the reason for my trade-in. That display — that single per-trip calculation — keeps before me why I made the change (gas mileage) and highlights the benefits that are accruing with every mile I drive ($4.54 on one trip alone).

That display in the dash has become a lesson for me in change leadership.

In the midst of change, it is not uncommon for people to romanticize the past and grieve what they perceive as real losses in the change. It is easy for people to obsess about the sacrifices they are making. In their grief, they can forget the reason for the change in the first place. Likewise, it can dull their awareness of the benefits of the change that they are already experiencing. The leader’s job is to keep attention on those things – “Remember why we did this, and look at what is happening because we did!”

Within institutional leadership, it can be a real challenge to do this. Reasons for change can be complicated or confidential. They can be difficult to explain to staff and stakeholders. They may be based more on a leader’s intuition than verifiable data. But what can be shared should be shared again and again.

Likewise, once change is underway, the benefits of change are sometimes slow to appear. The benefits that are visible, however small, should be noted, shared and celebrated. They should be raised at staff meetings and highlighted to stakeholders. In fact, the smaller the benefit, the more important it is that it is trumpeted loudly so that people see that good things are happening.

By keeping attention on why we changed and the good that is coming from it, we maintain alignment, momentum and focus. That doesn’t mean people won’t still be nostalgic and grieve the past, but it does mean that they will keep moving into the future.

Where the church has no name

Posted on: May 10th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


The Rev. Randy Murray at the downtown Toronto park where he practised “guerilla ministry” for three and a half months. Among those he met were a homeless prostitute and a teen haunted by his past.


On August 1 last year, the Rev. Randy Murray stuck a handwritten sign in the park-like front lawn of Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto. The sign read: Talk To A Priest! / confidential / non-judgemental / free.

Then he sat on a nearby park bench and waited.

Thus began Murray’s three-and-a-half month experiment in what he likes to call “guerilla ministry.”

Months later, interviewed at the same spot, Murray shares his experience with the Anglican Journal.

Clearly, it’s not one he’ll easily forget.

“It was the most amazing, surprising, jaw-dropping, eye-opening experience I think that I’ve ever had,” he says.

Murray did not set out to be a park bench priest. Until last spring, he served at the Anglican Church of the Advent, in a residential neighbourhood of Toronto. The parish was not in great shape financially, however, and its prospects of growth were not promising. When it decided to amalgamate with three other parishes, Murray found himself downsized.

Murray looked for positions in other parishes, but as his unemployment stretched into late summer, he decided to take matters into his own hands. As he describes on a Facebook page he created to chronicle his park bench ministry:

“I had long thought that something a bit bolder than what I was used to might be the thing…I figured, why not put on my clergy shirt, sit in a public place and see what happens? So I made up a sign and ventured out on my own in the city.”

Murray first tried a corner dominated by university, government and hospital buildings. His efforts got him “a few strange looks, but a lot more people…just walked by,”  he says.

Eventually he settled on the bench in front of Metropolitan United—a roost in a diverse downtown neighbourhood. He pitched his sign and someone stopped to talk within 15 minutes. That first day, as would become his custom, Murray spent about two hours on the bench. In addition to a number of casual interlocutors, three or four people stopped for a “significant conversation,” he says. One particularly busy day people waited to talk to him.  Months later, he still remembers the people he met on his park bench: a man about to be evicted from his apartment, who seemed more concerned about what would happen to his cat than himself; a very distraught woman in the midst of a legal proceeding with the neighbours in her apartment building; a young homeless prostitute; a woman wondering how she could help a relative escape from a dangerous country; a young man who had been asked to donate an organ and was struggling with the decision.

While a few wanted to talk about God, most, Murray says, seemed to just want someone to talk to about their struggles. Once, he was approached by a teenager haunted by the conviction that a choice he had made in the past had caused someone he knew to commit suicide.

“He asked to make a sacramental confession,” Murray says. “ He told me what he wanted to say and then I pronounced an absolution at the end, and then I never saw him again. I hope he’s OK.”

Overtly theological conversations were relatively rare.  Rather than trying to convert people, Murray says he focused on listening and occasionally offering what he calls “low-key observations” about what people told him. To actively start a conversation about the role of God in their lives, he says, would have eroded the trust between them.

“If they volunteered that kind of information, great—then I responded to that. But my evangelization, I think, was simply, ‘I’m a priest…I’m sitting on a park bench, and you are welcome to stop here and unload whatever you wish upon me, and I’m not going to make any kind of attempt to make you think the way that I do, to convert you to something, to make you come to my church, to put money in my brass plate, anything like that,’ ” he says.

Murray’s park-bench ministry wrapped up in mid-November, after he received an offer for a position as priest at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Port Hope, Ont. He hopes to pursue it in some form on the streets of his new parish once he gets more settled, however.

The experience, Murray says, helped him realize how many people today still trust the clergy and seem to want a representative of the church in their lives somehow—but feel reluctant, for one reason or another, to actually enter a church. He believes the church needs to pursue some kind of public ministry more actively to reach these people.


The Rev. Matthew Arguin says street ministry “puts you right in the midst…of the messiness of life, and so it’s very incarnational in that sense.” Photo: Wayne Newton

Though Murray’s “freelance” approach seems unique, he’s not the only Anglican priest in Canada to have recently practised street ministry. From 2011 until the end of 2015, the Rev. Matthew Arguin, associate priest at the now-closed Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ont., reached out to people in public places as a pilot project set up by the church. His role, he says, was “basically to hang around public spaces” in London, especially those likely to attract the needy—the vicinity of his own church and community organizations offering free meal programs; the public library; the Canadian Mental Health Association—and to make connections with people in these places. He met many people on the street and provided spiritual counselling in coffee shops and other public spaces, he says.

The Rev. Rae Fletcher, former rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial, says this was a role to which Arguin was “ideally suited”—partly because of his condition. Arguin has cerebral palsy, and uses an electric wheelchair to get around. Even before the street ministry project began, Fletcher says, church staff noticed Arguin had a facility for establishing a rapport with the “wounded souls” coming into the church for its Alcoholics Anonymous programs.

The church, Fletcher says, “came to realize that Matt had a unique gift, in  that…he was not threatening to those coming off the street. His own vulnerability because of his physical situation seemed almost to make him one of their own. They spoke with him about things that they would not share with others on the staff.”

Still, says Arguin, the work involved unique challenges. When he began, he was not yet an ordained priest and had grown up in a much more comfortable environment than most of the people he met.

“It was a little bit surreal for me, because I didn’t really have any exposure to issues surrounding poverty and mental health and addiction,” he says.

He now sees the project as a rewarding experience, as well as a valuable form of ministry.

“It puts you right in the midst…of the messiness of life, and so it’s very incarnational in that sense,” he says. “It’s also a form of evangelism that’s very much rooted in getting to know people, entering into relationships and having the evangelism grow out of that, rather than just spouting out theological ideas or Bible verses.”

Arguin’s service as street minister ended when Bishop Cronyn Memorial disestablished at the end of 2015. He hopes that the church will make street ministry more of a priority.

“If we’re serious about being the church, and we’re serious about Jesus being good news, and we’re serious about all people being made in the image and likeness of God…if the church wants to connect with who they are, and what they are, and what they are called to do, getting into a relationship with folks who are often considered ‘the other’ is a very important thing.”

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, May 06, 2016

Mixed responses to assisted-dying bill

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


The recently-tabled legislation governing assisted dying has met with very mixed reactions among Anglicans and the broader Canadian public. Photo: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock


While the government has now tabled legislation to clarify the laws around assisted dying, responses from some members of the Anglican Church of Canada’s task force on assisted dying show that the church—and Canadian society—remain divided about how widely available assisted dying should be.

Canon Eric Beresford, the ethicist who chairs the task force, said he felt the government “tried very hard to balance a number of things,” and commended the decision to exclude children from the purview of the act. Another member of the task force, however, suggested its restrictiveness is a problem.

Juliet Guichon, a lawyer and assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s school of medicine, argued that in its current form the bill is simply not constitutional.

“What the government has done is it has made the class [of people eligible for assisted dying] more narrow than the court [did]—in other words, the government is restricting the rights of Canadians,” she said. By limiting assisted dying to those whose deaths are “reasonably foreseeable,” the government is not abiding by the Supreme Court ruling, which did not require that a person be close to approaching death to be eligible, said Guichon.

Bill C-14 was crafted in response to Carter v. Canada, the landmark Supreme Court decision in February 2015, which struck down as unconstitutional the laws prohibiting physician-assisted dying.

The court gave the Canadian government 12 months (later extended to 16 months) to craft legislation governing the circumstances in which medically assisted death could happen. This period will end June 6, which leaves just seven weeks for the bill to pass through the House of Commons and the Senate.

But in the days since the bill was tabled, proponents of assisted dying have argued that it doesn’t go far enough.

In a statement posted to its website April 14, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), one of the plaintiffs in Carter v. Canada, argued that the bill “leaves out entire categories of suffering Canadians who should have a right to choose a safe and dignified assisted death.”

The proposed legislation limits assisted dying to adults who are suffering intolerably from a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability,” are in an “advanced state of irreversible decline in capability” and whose natural death has become “reasonably foreseeable.” Critics argued that it fails to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that assisted dying should be available to anyone suffering from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

In an irony that Guichon was quick to point out, under the current legislation, Kathleen “Kay” Carter—the plaintiff under whose name the Carter decision was brought—may not have been eligible to receive medical assistance in dying.

“Carter did not have a condition that both caused her suffering and would cause her death,” she explained. “The condition [spinal stenosis] caused her intolerable suffering, but it was not a condition that was going to lead to her death in the near future.”

The vagueness of the term “reasonable foreseeability” has also raised the ire of the BCCLA and assisted-dying rights group Dying with Dignity.

While it has its roots in tort and contract law, Guichon admitted to being puzzled by how the legal idea of “reasonable foreseeability” was being applied in this case.

“How do you define foreseeability?” she asked. “When you are holding your newborn infant in your arms, you don’t want to think about it, but it is reasonably foreseeable that they will die.”

However, while the question of who can, and who should, have access to assisted dying remains a hotly debated issue, the government’s promise to spend $3 billion over the next five years for home care and expanded palliative care was received positively by various quarters.

Beresford—who has, in the past, been quite critical of Canada’s provision of palliative care—said the announcement was “wonderful news,” and suggested that with assisted dying now an option, strong palliative care is more important than ever.

“One of the things that the task group said throughout was that without some real commitment to palliative care, providing the option of physician-assisted dying wasn’t providing a choice,” he said. “If we really wanted to be serious about providing choice, then we needed to put our money where our mouth was, and make sure that palliative care…was an option.”

While it is not yet clear how exactly the money will be spent, Health Minister Jane Philpott said this will be decided in consultation with the provinces, under whose jurisdiction health care lies.

In the meantime, Beresford said the assisted dying task force should help keep Anglicans focused on the underlying issues.

“Our role as Anglicans within that world is to continue to ask the question of how does this broadening constitute care or not?” he said. “Is it really an expression of care for the suffering individual, [or] does it actually have the impact of making the individual vulnerable?”

It is expected that the report of the task force will be released as soon as an accompanying study guide is completed.

Meanwhile, some Anglicans posted their comments about the bill on Facebook.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

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Anglican Journal News, April 19, 2016

Exploring the mystery of angels

Posted on: April 28th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


A commonly-held view that angels are souls of virtuous or much-beloved dead people is “definitely not classical Christian teaching,” says Anglican priest the Rev. Christopher Snow. Photo: Zwiebackesser



Wayne Hankey, a specialist in ancient and medieval philosophy, laments people’s abandonment of intuitive forms of thought. Image: Claire Wahlen

 

Conclusion of a two-part series

The future of our planet depends on our re-embracing belief in entities such as angels, a Halifax professor says.

Wayne Hankey, a specialist in ancient and medieval philosophy at Dalhousie University and one-time Anglican priest (now a Roman Catholic), says that many in the Western world, including Anglicans, have largely come to disbelieve in angels because of their “infatuation” with ratiocination—the type of reasoning used by science, as most of us understand it, technology and other forms of manipulation and control. It has led to abandoning older, intuitive forms of thought and to a technological society that has spawned climate change and other threats to human life, he asserts.

Asked what he would say to those who are skeptical about angels, Hankey doesn’t mince words. “Infatuation with ratiocination…and its false freedom is what’s destroying the conditions of human life on the planet in every sense,” he says, “so you’d better get over it and discover that there are higher forms above you and that the cosmos is governed by things that you really do not have control over and that you’d better get in tune with.”

In fact, surveys suggest a fairly consistent tendency toward belief in angels among Canadians. Over the past few decades, the proportion of Canadians claiming to believe in angels has stayed at just over six in 10, according to an Angus Reid poll.

It’s unclear, however, how closely modern conceptions of angels fit in with traditional notions. People claiming to have seen or to believe in angels today describe them in a wide range of ways—from “ethereal spirits with human-like qualities but lacking a material body,” to unseen influences that have shielded them from harm, to other human beings seen as doing God’s work, says Joseph Baker, a professor of sociology at East Tennessee State University and co-author of a recent study on angelic belief in the U.S.


The Rev. Christopher Snow, rector of Grace Anglican Church in Milton, Ont. Photo: Contributed

Another common view of angels—that they are the souls of virtuous or much-beloved dead people—is “definitely not classical Christian teaching,” says the Rev. Christopher Snow, who served 11 years as rector at St. Michael and All Angels in St. John’s, Nfld., before his current role as rector of Grace Anglican Church in Milton, Ont. The same goes for much that appears about angels in the popular media, he says.

Traditional representations of angels as winged human-like beings, he says, are only attempts to represent what is really an immaterial reality. “These are wonderful works of art, but they don’t actually convey the actual idea.”

According to Hankey, the truth about angels can be found in the writings of the great Christian angelologists, starting with St. Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. and running to the 13th-century thinker St. Thomas Aquinas and beyond—and their Jewish and Muslim counterparts of the Middle Ages. The work most influential on both Eastern and Western Christian thought about angels, Hankey says, was a book called The Celestial Hierarchy, written in the 5th century by Pseudo-Dionysius, a Syrian Christian.

An important element in this tradition, Hankey says, was an attempt to synthesize what’s written about angels in sacred texts—the Jewish and Christian Bibles and the Qu’ran—with ideas drawn from ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

What emerged was a conception of angels as purely intellectual entities. Though for many thinkers in this tradition—including Augustine and Aquinas—angels are able to temporarily take on bodily form, in themselves they are purely immaterial.

One might think of them, Hankey says, as ideas—living, acting ideas that govern the cosmos. Contents, one might say, of the mind of God.

“For someone like the great Jewish theologian Moses Maimonides, the angels are essentially forms that come from the divine mind—the forms that are, in fact, the laws of reality,” he says.

The word “angel” comes from the Greek word angelos, meaning “messenger.” Angels, Hankey says, “are intermediary forms of intellect between the divine and the human because the human cannot approach the divine directly”—they’re relayers, one might say, of divine truths to human beings. Mysteriously, the angels love us, but for them, love is “an ecstasy” that is free of the passion of human emotion, he says.

Hannah Roberts Brockow, an Anglican angel devotee who lives in Montreal, says the traditional names of angels—Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and so on—all name aspects of God. Raphael, for example, means “God heals” in Hebrew.

“It’s as if each one is a ray of God’s light—they have a quality of God that we can connect to more easily. And I think that’s a really important piece of it because God can seem so vast,” she says. “We use parental roles frequently in worship to get closer to him, but there are many other roles.”

Not all Christians, of course, are so interested in angels. According to Lawrence Osborn, a former Cambridge researcher in theology and author of a 1994 paper on angels, few Protestant theologians of modern times have devoted much time to angels. Most, he says, have been happy to “consign angels to the outer darkness of popular Christian piety: a harmless belief perhaps but not one which need concern the scientific theologian.” For others, concern about angels is a distraction from the “weightier matters” of Christianity.

This is not what Osborn believes. Borrowing from 20th-century Protestant theologian Karl Barth—in Osborn’s view, virtually the sole Protestant thinker of our time to take angels seriously—Osborn defines angels as “heralds of the mystery of God.” For Barth, Osborn says, “A theology without angels is a theology without mystery.”

Drawing also from U.S. theologian Walter Wink and Carl Jung, one of the founders of modern psychiatry, Osborn develops a concept of angels as quasi-psychological entities that reveal to us the “inwardness” or “depth” of creation in a way that is outside the scope of modern science.

“As we explore the mystery of creation we may experience some of its ‘contours’ as presences or entities which are best described in personal or quasi-personal terms,” he writes. “If these encounters direct us beyond themselves to the triune God, we may rightly interpret them as messengers (angels) of God.”

The importance of angels as God-sent inspirers of wonder is taken up by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his 2007 book, Tokens of Trust. Angels, Williams writes, “can be at least a powerful symbol for all those dimensions of the universe about which we have no real idea.” Whether we believe in angels or not, he writes, “It’s worth thinking of them as at the very least a sort of shorthand description of everything that’s ‘round the corner’ of our perception and understanding in the universe—including the universal song of praise that surrounds us always.”

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, April 08, 2016

Bishop, cathedral back Victoria tent city

Posted on: April 28th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


Victoria’s tent city residents greet Bishop Logan McMenamie with drumming during his visit March 26. Photo: Super InTent City Facebook page


The diocese of British Columbia is working to find land where micro-housing for the tent city that has sprung up across the street from downtown Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral, can be built, says Bishop Logan McMenamie.

“We’ve been looking as a diocese at property we have,” he told the Anglican Journal in a phone interview, explaining that the synod office set up an asset management department after it started disestablishing parishes, and that he has asked the asset manager “to make it a priority” to look at where micro-housing could be built.

The tent city—dubbed Super InTent City by its residents—blossomed in October 2015, after a group of homeless Victorians set up camp on the courthouse lawn at the northwest corner of Quadra Street and Burdett Avenue. Because the courthouse lawn is on provincial rather than municipal land, the city’s camping bylaws—which only allow citizens to sleep in public parks as long as they clear out by 7 a.m.—did not apply.

Despite several attempts on the part of the government to evict the campers, the community that formed around the tent city has fiercely resisted attempts to force its relocation, turning to advocacy groups like Victoria’s Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) to defend its right to exist.

It also found an ally in what at first appeared, for many of the campers, to be an unlikely place: the gothic bulk of the cathedral on the east side of Quadra Street.

The connection between the cathedral and the tent city began simply enough. After a staff meeting on a Monday at the end of October, the Rev. Nancy Ford, Christ Church Cathedral’s deacon to the city, decided to stop by the camp and see what was going on. She met a woman named Catherine, who was raking leaves. Catherine asked if the cathedral might have any bags for the leaves—she wanted to make sure everything around the camp stayed clean.

“She was very actively asking people, corralling people to come in to rake leaves and keep everything tidy,” Ford recalled. “So we had a conversation and I talked with some of the others…I made a habit of going over every few days.”

As the number of tents grew, the cathedral began taking on a more active role in the life of the camp, providing coffee and food in the mornings, a place to warm up in inclement weather and occasionally hosting dinners. In turn, the community gave Ford and other cathedral clergy a place in the daily talking circles, where members discuss issues facing them.

“[The Cathedral] has been a family for us,” homelessness advocate and former camp resident Joseph John “C.J.” Reville told the Anglican Journal in an interview over the phone. “They’ve been our neighbour.”

Like many in the encampment, Reville, 44, has had a life full of ups and downs. Born in Toronto’s East York neighbourhood, he left home at 16 after a “falling-out” with his parents. He landed in Victoria in 1994, and took up an itinerant lifestyle, travelling around the island and lower mainland B.C., and sometimes picking fruit in the Okanagan valley during the summer.

While he has gotten off the street “a whole bunch of times,” including during a stint in ministry training in Winnipeg through the Vineyard church (a neo-charismatic evangelical denomination), Reville said most of his adult life has been spent marginally housed or not housed at all. Before the tent city formed, Reville slept in doorways and public parks, awakened by the police and asked to leave if he slept past 7 a.m. Living in the tent city, he says, allowed him a measure of stability.

While there are issues of substance abuse and aggression in the camp (one resident died of a drug overdose in late 2015), he was quick to point out that these problems are not limited to the street community.

“Seeing it happen outside the front door of my tent is no different from hearing it down the hall of my low-budget apartment rental…It’s the same scene—it’s just you’ve got people out here on the street; they can’t really hide behind anything” he said.

What the tent city offers is a chance for the community to take care of its own, he says.

“We’ve been providing first aid; we’ve been defusing the situations. We’ve had ambulances more than once drop people off who were all messed up coming off of drugs or whatever, and they didn’t want to bring them to the hospital, and they’d bring them here.”

Reville thinks the real issue is a sense of paternalism on the part of the government, and an unwillingness to actually view the tent city as a partner, instead of a problem to be managed.

“[The government] keep[s] tossing scraps from the table, but they are not actually talking to anybody here,” Reville says, a point that Patrick Sibley, a member of Christ Church preparing for the diaconate who has been involved in the tent city for months, agrees with.

“As a society…we think they need to be put somewhere and looked after, and they’re saying to us ‘we can take care of ourselves,’ ” he noted. “If there’s one thing they’ve [proved], it’s that they’ve built a big, safe community that loves one another. You only need to spend five minutes there to realize that these people look after each other daily.”

While Reville was quick to note that not every level of government has been hostile—he praised Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps for her willingness to listen to the campers’ demands. But he feels the province has been slow to “get on board” with creative solutions to housing problems.

“I think tent cities are necessary at this point,” he says. “We don’t have housing—even if we had rent money for everybody in this camp right now, with subsidies and everything else, Victoria offers a 0.6% availability rate on rentals…Obviously, rent is way, way up there for something substandard.”

The province has, however, shown some willingness to confront the problem. A former youth detention facility in View Royal, a community in the Greater Victoria Area, was repurposed to provide spaces for camping and housing, and the Mt. Edwards Court housing facility, not far from the camp, has been opened to provide housing for a few dozen people as well.

Rich Coleman, the housing minister for B.C., has said that the province has housing for everyone living in the tent city—the problem is that the campers don’t want to move into it.

“I think there’s some people down there that have really been asking for a confrontation from me for about two or three months,” he told The Canadian Press at the beginning of March, after the province filed an injunction to have the camp removed. “Once we take care of the vulnerable people, we’ll have to deal with the people who are there for the wrong reasons.”

Coleman was unavailable for a comment when reached by the Anglican Journal.

While Reville has taken up the government’s offer of space at the View Royal facility, there are still around 100 campers outside the courthouse, and he thinks what the community really wants is land reasonably close to the city, serviced with electricity and plumbing, where citizens can erect their own dwellings.

It is a demand that Bishop McMenamie supports wholeheartedly.

“Shelters don’t work—they’re not safe places, and once you say ‘shelter,’ most of the people who are living in the street community will turn away,” says McMenamie. “[The tent city community] have homes—their homes are tents and structures. What they’re asking for is a piece of land somewhere where they can realize their dream.”

McMenamie has spoken on behalf of the camp with Shayne Ramsay, CEO of BC Housing, who he felt “to some degree understood what we were trying to do,” and also with Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver of the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding in Victoria and NDP MLA Carole James of the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding (in which the camp is located). He has also sought meetings with Coleman and Premier Christy Clarke—so far, unsuccessfully.

Although the diocese has also looked into whether or not it has land of its own to offer the encampment, McMenamie says it doesn’t have any property in Greater Victoria that would be “appropriate.” There are properties in other parts of the diocese where building micro-housing could be an option, he says, but this would require campers to move out of the city.

The process of finding diocesan properties suitable for micro-housing will take some time, since it involves working co-operatively with parishes and Anglicans on the ground—and it still isn’t clear how many in the encampment would be willing to relocate to a less urban area, he adds. But it is an issue he will bring to the diocesan synod when it meets this month, along with the more general question of affordable housing.

While the future of the camp remains uncertain, one thing is clear: it will not be disbanded anytime soon.

In an April 5 ruling, the B.C. Supreme Court denied the province’s request for an injunction to evict tent city residents, with Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson arguing that the province would not suffer “irreparable harm” from letting the encampment continue.

This hasn’t stopped pushback from Victorians unhappy with the camp—a citizens’ group called Mad as Hell continues to agitate for eviction, citing a rise in petty theft and arson in the tent city neighbourhood, and the province has already filed for a second, permanent injunction against camping on the courthouse property, which will be heard September 7.

But McMenamie argues that eviction into temporary housing would only serve as a stop-gap measure to a problem caused by stagnant wages and soaring property costs, which have exacerbated the issue of homelessness in B.C.

“I think that people will be here until they find housing somewhere else,” he says.  “But…there’s a whole societal issue around how the government really needs to look at the benefits that are given out to folks. There are people who…have a job, but the money they bring in, because of minimum wage, does not allow them to get an apartment or a house.”

Ford agrees. “There are huge structural issues…You might want to move people off the land, but what’s going to happen next?”

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Anglican Journal News, April 08, 2016

Congregational development: ‘It’s being a missionary’

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi gives a lecture in Quebec on congregational development. Submitted photo

The Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi gives a lecture in Quebec on congregational development. Submitted photo

Congregational development: ‘It’s being a missionary’

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The following is part of a new monthly series on congregational development, which features reflections from Anglicans on how they are responding to the challenges and opportunities facing the church today.

Looking out across the landscape of Canadian Anglican churches today, the Rev. Dr. Gary Nicolosi, rector of St. James Westminster Church in London, Ont., sees a “twofold crisis” unfolding—one linked to what he calls a “profound shift taking place in Canadian culture.”

Nicolosi describes the new emerging culture as “multicultural, multi-religious, pluralistic and secular.” Its development has had a profound impact on the Anglican Church of Canada both demographically—as expressed in a gap between the age of the average Canadian (30-something) and the average Anglican (60-something)—and financially, since the Anglicans who give the most money to the church are more than 60 years old with no corresponding group to replace them.

In the context of a strongly secular country that is not so much hostile to church as “indifferent” to it, Nicolosi calls for a church that is more entrepreneurial, market-driven, need-meeting and culturally savvy. In a word, it must engage in evangelism. But as Nicolosi notes, the task of congregational development extends even further.

“It’s being a missionary,” he says. “And what is a missionary? A missionary is someone who takes the gospel from one culture and tries to communicate it in another culture … I think the church has to be missional in the sense that we take the gospel and try to connect that gospel message with a culture that doesn’t understand [the] language.”

Congregational development is a longstanding interest for Nicolosi, who gained his doctorate of ministry in congregational development while studying at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He previously received a master of divinity degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto, before serving in his first parish at Malbay, Gaspe Coast in the diocese of Quebec.

Coming from Toronto, Nicoloi saw the disparity between congregations in Canada’s largest city and those in the rest of the country.

“Toronto is wealthy, it’s populated, it has every appearance of being a healthy diocese,” he says.

“You go beyond Toronto and things change rapidly and markedly, and in the Gaspé in Québec and in Montréal, the numbers were shocking for me. They were very small, [with] dwindling membership, aging congregations, struggling with money, and what I found on the Gaspé is what I found in much of Canada.”

Having lived in the United States for 22 years, Nicolosi identifies one of the biggest differences between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada as the stewardship campaigns that take place in almost every U.S.-based church, but which are relatively rare in Canada.

While a greater emphasis on stewardship may alleviate part of the funding crisis affecting many Canadian churches, changing demographics remains a long-term challenge. To serve as missionaries to the wider culture, Nicoloi suggests a three-pronged strategy for church growth and revitalization—spiritually, to be a community that experiences God; incarnationally, to be a church that connects with culture; and missionally, to have an outreach orientation.

In terms of culture, he offers the example of the annual Christmas jazz mass at St. James, which features some of London’s best jazz musicians and attracts huge crowds exceeding the 500-seat capacity of the church.

Eucharist at the annual Christmas jazz mass at St. James Westminster Church in London, Ont.

Eucharist at the annual Christmas jazz mass at St. James Westminster Church in London, Ont. Submitted photo by Phil Schmidt

“It’s really successful … It’s got this real notoriety around town,” St. James music director Stephen Holowitz says of the Christmas jazz service. Reflecting on his own experience, he adds, “I think it made the tone of the service very distinctive, and I think it appealed to people who liked the musical style.”

Throughout the year at regular services, Holowitz consciously tries to maintain an eclectic selection of music, mixing both traditional and contemporary styles.

“Any time we do music that can resonate with people, people seem to come,” Nicolosi says.

“You’ve got to go beyond 19th century English choral music,” he adds. “It’s not that it’s not good. It’s not that it’s not beautiful, and many people still appreciate it. It’s just that it doesn’t speak to the majority of people … We’ve got to begin to speak to the culture where it is.”

Speaking to his own congregation, Nicolosi describes congregational development in terms of what he calls a “4M church” based on four key concepts:

  • Maintenance of church buildings in a renewed way that speaks to people today. Offering a comparison to banks, which used to be “built like fortresses” but which are now more bright and spacious, Nicolosi stresses the need for churches to be welcoming and inviting.
  • Mission, in terms of maintaining an outward focus and ministering to people beyond the congregation itself.
  • Ministry, through focusing the mission on the unique needs of one’s immediate area, such as social outreach ministry in an inner city church or a focus on young families in a suburban church.
  • Membership in the congregation, which might be made more fluid, allowing seekers and inquirers to become part of the community without any pressure or expectations. In Nicolosi’s words, “The church should be a birdbath rather than a bird cage.”

Offering a wide-ranging yet “controversial” suggestion, Nicolosi calls for a less hierarchical decision-making structure for the church nationally, encouraging innovative approaches to ministry from parishes, clergy and lay people.

“If we can allow that freedom without being threatened by it, I think that would be the biggest plus for the Anglican Church … to hold on to what is at the core of our faith, but to allow people who are mavericks to try new things and experiment, because they may be on to something that we need to listen to and consider.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, April 07, 2016