Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Co-ordinators struggle to stay atop wave of refugee sponsorships

Posted on: June 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 


Members of inter-faith groups stage a solidarity rally to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada last November in Toronto. Photo: Arindambanerjee/Shutterstock


Since the worldwide refugee crisis was catapulted into public consciousness 10 months ago, Canadian Anglicans have helped to resettle around 1,750 refugees, says Suzanne Rumsey, refugee co-ordinator for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).

During this period, around 320 parish and community groups from 15 dioceses across Canada have raised over $20 million to resettle refugees from conflict zones in Syria, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Colombia, Congo and elsewhere.

Rumsey lauded this significant increase in sponsorships as a sign of Anglican hospitality, but she also sounded a cautionary note about the significant strain it has placed on diocesan refugee co-ordinators, many of whom manage large volumes of work with little support.

“The Syrian situation has highlighted the generosity of Canadians and Anglicans…But it is also highlighting the weaknesses in the system, in our own way of administering these sponsorship agreements,” she said.

Fourteen dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada—Saskatoon, Ottawa, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Calgary, Qu’Appelle, Rupert’s Land, Toronto, Huron, Kootenay/APCI, Edmonton, Niagara, British Columbia, New Westminster and Ontario—hold sponsorship agreements with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC). This gives them access to a specific quota of refugee cases made available through the federal government (the diocese of Montreal also has a sponsorship agreement, but with the province of Quebec).

Sponsorship agreements are held by diocesan bishops, but it is the co-ordinators who help interested parishes and community groups apply to sponsor refugee cases. With the sudden surge of interest in refugee resettlement seen over the past 10 months, many co-ordinators have been pushed to the limits of what they can manage on their own.

“[Some] co-ordinators have gone from working on refugee sponsorship from about 10 hours a month to 12 hours a day,” said Rumsey. “Some of these folks…are burning out.”

While a handful of dioceses have established organizations that manage sponsorship—Montreal’s Action Réfugiés, for example, or Toronto’s Anglican United Refugee Association (AURA)—most rely on the efforts of a single volunteer, some of whom have full-time jobs. The roughly 1750 refugees who have been brought in represent a staggering 678 cases, some of which represent families of as many as 15 people, and some, a single individual.

The fragility of this approach was brought into stark relief earlier this year with the sudden death of Debra Fieguth, the refugee co-ordinator for the diocese of Ontario.

At the time of her death, Fieguth had 13 cases—70 individuals—whose applications she was managing on her own. A refugee family was scheduled to arrive in the diocese, and with the relevant file on Fieguth’s password-protected computer, the sponsoring parish was left scrambling to find the necessary information. While the data was eventually recovered with help from IRC, it was a sobering reminder of how much relies on a small number of people.

“Some of the co-ordinators have been feeling kind of out there a bit, not supported,” said Rumsey. “They need more people support to do the job they are doing.”

At the annual meeting of the diocesan co-ordinators, held in Saskatoon, Sask., on May 29, the co-ordinators agreed that in addition to celebrating what ordinary parishes have accomplished in raising money and resettling families, a message also needs to be sent to the House of Bishops calling for more support.

“We need the House of Bishops, and bishops in particular whose dioceses hold these agreements, to be supporting us,” said Rumsey. “Be it financially, be it in terms of these questions around administration and care of documentation.”

The Anglican Church of Canada has been a key player in refugee sponsorship since the modern sponsorship system was developed in the wake of the arrival of thousands of Vietnamese “Boat People” following U.S. defeat in Vietnam in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Anglican dioceses were some of the first to apply to be sponsorship agreement holders, and Rumsey noted that the knowledge that has been built up over the past 35 years is one of the key reasons Anglicans have been able to respond in such large numbers to the current refugee crisis.

“I think these numbers attest to the fact that there was the infrastructure there to be able to move into high gear,” she said. “What I think the challenge is now is sustaining it with, particularly, finite human resources.”

 

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, June 27, 2016

First Community of St Anselm members finish their “year in God’s time”

Posted on: June 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Archbishop prays for first members of the monastic-inspired community for young Christians, “May you go from here to feed the world.”
Photo Credit: Lambeth Palace

[Lambeth Palace] In a special commissioning service at Lambeth Palace last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby prayed for the first members of the monastic-inspired Community of St Anselm as they came to the end of their “year in God’s time.”

During the service, which was attended by family and friends of the members, as well as Lambeth Palace staff and members of religious communities around the UK, Archbishop Justin presented each of the members with a Bible and prayed for them.

Several members gave testimonies about how their year in the community had transformed and deepened their relationship with God and with others.

Last year the Archbishop invited young Christians from around the world to spend a year living in a new monastic-inspired community based at his residence, Lambeth Palace in London.

His vision for the Community of St Anselm was for young people to follow an intensive pattern of prayer, study and serving local communities that the ancient monastics would have recognised, before taking this experience back into their lives.

The community is made up of residential members who live at Lambeth Palace, and non-residential members who commit to the same Rule of Life while continuing in their work or studies in London.

The members, who come from many different countries and church denominations, have divided their time between prayer and worship, study, and working alongside vulnerable people with local charities.

During the service, the Archbishop said: “God is in the business making sufficiency out of inadequacy. We are the disciples who are to trust not only that we will be fed, and that we will be able to feed those we meet. But we are also the bread and the fish.

“We are also that which is surrendered into the hands of Jesus and is broken, and turns out to be adequate – in fact more than enough – for all the needs that are placed before us.

“That’s my prayer for you, that sense that [although] you will face a breaking, and it’s painful, and disappointment, and it’s difficult, that you will have fed the world. What more could we want as God’s people, but to feed the world? To be those who physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, in every possible way, have been used by God to feed the world.”

He continued: “Your testimonies demonstrated why Religious life is so important, because they were lessons for every person everywhere. The life in community, the need to give, to communicate, obviously – all that. But above all the need to become those who live off the oxygen of God. May that be where you go from here to feed the world.”

“That’s really what the Community of St Anselm is about. It’s not just about taking resident and non-resident members and somehow putting them through a sausage machine comprised of St Francis and St Benedict and St Ignatius . . . it’s not about that. It’s about enabling you to trust the God who will use you to feed the world, and enabling others to see it – to see you trusting – and therefore by the grace of God to believe that he can do that with us as well.”

Applications for September 2016 non-resident membership of the Community of St Anselm are open until 30 June.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the Anglican Communion News Service on Monday 27 June 2016

Canada’s Catholics: Vitality and Hope in a New Era

Posted on: June 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


CANADA’S CATHOLICS
Vitality and Hope in a New Era
by Reginald Bibby and Angus Reid

Novalis, Toronto, June, 2016
192 pages. $19.95 CAD
ISBN #978-2896-88261-8.

Publisher’s Promo:

An essential guide to the Canadian Catholic 
Church from award-winning sociologist
Reginald Bibby and well-known pollster
Angus Reid.

The Catholic Church in Canada experienced
seismic shifts in the 20th century.

Once a stronghold of national and provincial
culture and life, the Church underwent a 
dramatic transformation, with decreased
participation and a loss of social prominence
However, according to Bibby and Reid, there’s
evidence that we ought not despair Rather, the
Church is in a period of major transformation,
and there is hope.

Drawing from a new cross-country survey
of 3,000 Canadians, Bibby and Reid offer an
insightful look into what lay Catholics believe
and what draws women and men to the life
of the Church.


Reg. Bibby Wiki Bio: http://tinyurl.com/j8svkru

Angus Reid Institute: http://angusreid.org/


Note:

Bibby is Protestant by background, and
Reid is Roman Catholic. Their research synergy
greatly enhances the quality of this book.

Authors’ Words:

(Partway through our collaboration since 2014,
Reg came up with an idea that would help us 
make this book possible – to extend the overall
sample of a Canadian survey on attitudes to
religion in this country – to include 1,000 Catholics.)

This allowed us to generate largely unprecedented
data on beliefs, attitudes, and practices of Catholics
across the country, including, of course – Quebec.
Comprehensive national survey data on Catholics
has been sparse, which is somewhat surprising,
given the historical place of the (Catholic) Church
in Canada, especially during the country’s
formative years…

Media reports in recent decades, for example,
have offered at best a confusing picture of the
status of Catholicism in Canada… (some of the 
perspectives tend to portray a Church in decline,
while others suggest a Church that is healthy,
vigorous and confident.)

Faced with this cacophony of mixed signals, and
contradictory reports (Reg and Angus) decided to
go straight to Catholics to get a more direct
reading that would help provide insight into
current trends and future directions.

Contrary to dominant views among social
scientists that religion has been experiencing
a declining role in contemporary societies, we
have found precisely the opposite to be the
case in Canada when it comes to Catholics.
Indeed, globalization and immigration have
been bringing to our shores millions of people
whose identities are firmly fixed by religious
beliefs and practices.

Surprisingly, the Catholic Church in Canada has
been benefiting enormously from developments
in the postmodern world that experts had
predicted would be its nemesis.

Independent of the immigration factor, we also
see a Catholic community that remains deeply 
rooted in an identity that is Catholic… Catholic
culture, along with beliefs, practices and the
vital role of faith in life’s key events – birth,
marriage and death – serve to unite the 13
million Canadians who define themselves as
Catholic. Our research points to considerable
vitality and fertile ground for creating vibrant
Christian communities in the new millennium…

The spirit of the research project and this book
has been a full-fledged partnership… an uplifting
and enjoyable relationship.

Our hope is that Catholics and others will find
the material to be of value. 

– Angus and Reg in the Introduction

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

Taken together, Bibby and Reid have been polling 
Canadians for three quarters of a century. That
means they have developed a rather refined sense
of the communities out of which we live our lives,
and what occupies our thoughts. What a formidable
combination on an increasingly complex topic! 

It is surprising that the subject they address in
this book – Canada’s Catholics – has received so
little attention over the years. Here, they set
about to rectify that deficiency.

Since Roman Catholics make up a third of the
Canadian population – by far the largest single
religious grouping in the country – this subject
is of considerable importance as far as faith
studies go. Their work benefits not only 
Catholics, but the rest of us as well.

The strong presence of Catholics in Canada,
(in terms of the total population, including the
large French-speaking Catholic population of
Quebec) is a very big factor distinguishing
this country from the United States.

Protestants were the principle founders of America.
while Catholics were the formative constituency of
Canada. Subsequent immigration has changed the
population mix of both nations, but that important
distinction remains.  When Canadians and Americans 
assess each other, this key reality may be forgotten.

I would suggest that the book under consideration
should not only serve Canadians, but those wishing
to gain a better understanding of Canada from an
international perspective. Indeed, the book is written
with a globalized point of view. We are a nation of
immigrants – no doubt our First Nations people as
well – and we are now, more than ever, a global
community and not simply a people with European
ancestry. This is reflected in our church life today.

In a true sense, the Catholic Church is positioned,
like few others, to benefit significantly from our
global society, multi-cultural in-migration, and
the resulting Canadian population.

Stated simply, many Catholics from around the
globe are helping to build the new Canada and
the new church of which we are all part.

As this occurs, I am so grateful that Canada
today is a far different place,  faith-wise,
than it used to be. In a world where narrow
nativism constantly raises its ugly head, we
Canadian shave been celebrating globalized
religious and cultural diversity  for almost
fifty years.

What benefits some of us benefits us all.

When Canada’s heart goes out to Muslim
refugees and when “Canada’s Catholics”
celebrate the revitalization of a Christian
tradition other than my own – I take great
pride in my country. I am part of it – even
as I must also be mindful that this blessed
tolerant state could easily be lost without
our vigilance.

I rejoice that all non-Catholic Canadians –
Protestants and non-Christian people of
faith – are part of a great development.

Speaking more to this volume – I have read,
reviewed or introduced most of Reg Bibby’s
books over the past 30 years (see a selected
list of them by clicking his Wiki bio, above).
I am not as familiar with Angus Reid’s work,
even though he has been a household name.

To have a Catholic and a Protestant join
forces to create this important study is
indeed fortuitous. My sense is that one
tends to complement the other. Where
one has lacked background, the other is
there to fill the gap.

In an ever-increasing and effective way,
Canadians are able to articulate their
evolving identity as a people. This book
is one more building block making that
possible.

For these and many other good reasons,
I encourage you to secure and read this
book and to make it part of the way you
understand Canada and religion in this
country.



Bibby Web Page:
http://tinyurl.com/jnszknw

Contact Reg:
[email protected]

Buy the book:
Amazon.ca
http://tinyurl.com/gt53vvg

Chapters.ca
http://tinyurl.com/zes4q9w

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 44,  June 26, 2016

Ottawa parish dedicates first scattering garden

Posted on: June 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 
“I’ve always been interested in the environmental impact of cemeteries and burial, and thinking about how we need to look at different ways to take space for burial in sacred spaces,” says the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of St. James Anglican Church, in west Ottawa.
Photo: Art Babych


St. James Anglican Church in the diocese of Ottawa has opened the first scattering garden for cremated ashes in Eastern Ontario.

The garden was dedicated June 12 during the church’s annual cemetery service in the Carp village community in west Ottawa. Located at the back of the church’s tree-shaded heritage cemetery behind St. James, the garden is open to people of all denominations.

Common in Europe, scattering gardens for cremated remains have only recently been offered in Ontario. They are more affordable than traditional burials and are environmentally friendly. “Ashes will enable the plants that are here to grow,” said the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of St. James, in an Anglican Journal interview. “Its certainly not detrimental. It’s beneficial to the growth and transformation of the plants that are here.”

Stone came up with the idea of opening a scattering garden on the church’s consecrated land three years ago after doing some research. “I’ve always been interested in the environmental impact of cemeteries and burial, and thinking about how we need to look at different ways to take space for burial in sacred spaces,” she said. Before becoming a priest, Stone worked as a public engagement and organizational change specialist in the areas of environmental and social sustainability at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

But the congregation of St. James, one of the churches of the Parish of Huntley, soon realized the project was bigger than imagined. “Thankfully, we had a family that was willing to dedicate some memorial funds to do it properly,” said Stone. The beneficiaries, Kenneth and Roma Lett, offered the garden “to the glory of God,” as engraved on the base of the memorial stone wall erected at the site. Those who choose the option may have the names of their loved ones in the garden also engraved on the memorial wall.

“Most people, I think, will have the name of the deceased and the date of birth and the date of death engraved on a communal memorial stone and when that stone is full we’ll add another stone to the garden,” said Stone.

Those wishing to have an outdoor service at the site can be accommodated. “We can bring chairs out here, we can have a standing service, and that’s why

we have a little altar that we can use for an outdoor service.”
Common in Europe, scattering gardens for cremated remains have only recently been offered in Ontario. Photo: Art Babych


The cost for use of the scattering garden is not as much as having a regular grave, said Stone. “The cemetery burial costs are incredible,” she added.  Stone also said there has been no opposition from funeral homes because most of the work they perform is completed by the time the remains are turned over to the cemetery for burial. The funeral home used by the church has been “very supportive,” she said.

Stone also said people have already shown interest in the scattering garden, including two people, both Anglicans, who were not able to return to Europe to bury the ashes of their loved ones. “They’ve never been part of our church at all and they came and said, ‘Wow could we be part of this community and bury the ashes of our loved ones here?’” said Stone.

Among those present at the dedication service were relatives of Kenneth and Roma Lett including nephews Mark and Murray Bowes and their spouses, Sandy (Mark) and Sheila (Murray).

For further information visit huntleyparish.com or email [email protected]

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Anglican Journal News, June 24, 2016

Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue finds unity in diversity

Posted on: June 23rd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bishops from North America, Africa, and England meet at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue in Accra, Ghana. Submitted photo

Bishops from North America, Africa, and England meet at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue in Accra, Ghana. Submitted photo

Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue finds unity in diversity

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Introduced by the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante as an ecumenical contribution from the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Akan concept of sankofa served as a guiding framework for the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. The gathering brought together bishops from Canada, Ghana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Zambia, England, and the United States.

Sankofa—literally, ‘It is not a taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’—refers broadly to the unity of past and present, where the narrative of the past is a dynamic reality that cannot be separated from consideration of the present and future.

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue emerged after the 2008 Lambeth Conference as a way for bishops from different backgrounds to continue an ongoing, respectful dialogue in the midst of significant disagreements, primarily over the issues of human sexuality and same-sex marriage.

The document that emerged from the latest meeting, A Testimony of Unity in Diversity, highlights the growing sense of understanding among the bishops of each other’s experiences. Referring to the self-examination and presence of the past inherent to sankofa, the testimony notes: “It is this sense of history and tradition that informs and guides us … In our Anglican tradition this means unity but not uniformity. Unity in diversity is a distinctive feature of Anglicanism throughout the Christian world. Such unity always brings about dialogue and self-examination.”

Among the members of the Anglican Church of Canada in attendance for the seventh consultation were Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz; the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, African Relations Coordinator for Global Relations, who has coordinated and staffed each of the consultations since 2010; Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara; Bishop Jane Alexander of the diocese of Edmonton; and Bishop Michael Ingham (ret’d), formerly of the diocese of New Westminster.

Bishop Ingham, who has attended all six of the previous consultations, described the Accra gathering as “very much a continuation of what we have experienced before,” which allowed the bishops to build on trust and friendships they had established and model a way of active listening and respectful exchange of views.

Throughout all seven gatherings, he noted, there has been one constant: “The fact that we are united by mission more than we are divided by controversy.”

Promoting understanding

With more bishops attending the consultation than ever before, this year’s gathering was the first at which the Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, was present. Both Bishop Curry and Archbishop Hiltz, who was present for approximately one and a half days, spoke about recent developments in the U.S. and Canadian churches on the question of same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, speaks at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. Submitted photo
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, speaks at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue.

“The value in having the two of us there, I think, was that the issue that originally brought people together—that is, our challenges and our differences over matters of human sexuality—was actually put right on the table,” Archbishop Hiltz said.

Bishop Ingham noted that despite the bishops present holding many different theologies on marriage, sexuality and biblical interpretation, “we’re not divided by these differences. Rather, we’re spurred to be curious with each other and to hear how these matters play out in our different parts of the world.”

“We’re all very aware that mission is contextual,” he added. “And I think most of the African bishops who attend understand that social and legislative challenges have taken place around homosexuality in Western countries.

“That doesn’t mean that they agree with it, but they understand that we are placed in that situation and must respond to it. And I think by the same token, the Western bishops … have a deep sense of respect for the way African churches are trying to deal with this, because all of the Africans know that they have to deal with it. It’s not an issue just for the West.”

Global and historical contexts for mission

The major focus of the meeting was on bishops sharing their stories and experiences with each other, reflecting the wide variety of contexts for mission around the world.

“There is a growing awareness of the different missional demands of the participants’ contexts and greater recognition of one another’s faithfulness in addressing the particular demands of their mission fields,” Canon Mukasa said. “There is no agreement on issues of human sexuality. But there is a greater willingness to listen and learn from one another’s testimonies.”

In the case of the diocese of Kondoa in Tanzania, as well as the church in Zanzibar, bishops learned about the difficulties of Christian mission and evangelism in a context where the vast majority of the population is Muslim.

Illustrating the continued impact of the past on the present, speakers from the diocese of Oklahoma in the Episcopal Church described the effects of the forced relocation and disenfranchisement of Indigenous people during the formation of the United States. The diocese of Liverpool—a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century, from which the city derived much of its wealth—described its efforts to promote social justice through the establishment of food banks and by providing advice for getting out of debt and poverty.

The legacy of the slave trade—also visible at last year’s consultation in Richmond, Virginia—has impacted much of West Africa, including Ghana. During the consultation, the bishops journeyed to the diocese of Cape Coast to visit one of forty “slave castles,” large commercial forts built by European slave traders.

“It was a particularly solemn moment to walk through the ‘gate of no return’ that was the portal through which the slaves were led out to the ships that carried them to North America and to other parts of the world,” Bishop Bird said.

“I believe that this experience reinforced in all of us the importance of the work that we have been engaged in that has focused on reconciliation, and the gift we have been given in our common life together.”

Read A Testimony of Unity in Diversity.

Read a historical background to the Bishops in Dialogue Consultations.

Read a paper on the concept of sankofa presented by Prof. Emmanuel Asante.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, June 23, 2016

Jacques Ellul: Essential Spiritual Writings Selected

Posted on: June 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

JACQUES ELLUL
Essential Spiritual Writings

Selected, with an Introduction
by Jacob E. Van Vleet

Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY
2016. 183 pp. $32.00 CAD
$22.00 US, Kindle $12.21 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-62698-183-6.

Editor’s Words:

Many leading thinkers have been influenced 
by Jacques Ellul. From Christians to atheists, 
anarchists to politicians, artists to activists,
the array includes such figures as: 

William Stringfellow, John Howard Yoder, 
Ivan Illich, Ursula Franklin and others…

While some of these names may at first seem
surprising, together they signal Ellul’s truly
dialectical and interdisciplinary world view
which is embodied in his own canon…

Of the over fifty books he wrote in his
lifetime, most were either sociological or
theological. Ellul referred to these as “two
rails of a train track,” both moving in the
same direction but separate and distinct.
For nearly every  sociological book he
wrote, Ellul would write a theological or
spiritual counterpart…

While acknowledgment of this contrast
is vital to understanding Ellul, this book
is a compilation of writings from his
spiritual side. Rich with uncommon and
remarkable wisdom, this portion of
Ellul’s volumes is undeniably timeless;
yet is especially apt in today’s landscape.
Of course, this collection is by no means
exhaustive, but its selections reflect
Ellul’s essential and imperative message:
one of profound spiritual observation
and ultimately of hope…

Ellul was involved in the French Reformed
Church to a greater or lesser degree
throughout his life. Early on, Ellul was
active in local Reformed organizations
and societies. In the late 1960’s, however,
he became increasingly skeptical of
anything institutional, including any
denominational churches and other 
establishments. This attitude primarily 
grew from Ellul’s distaste of modern
politics, which he believed to be mirrored
in many religious institutions.

One of the last straws came in 1973 when
Ellul campaigned for the French Reformed
Church to encourage and support those
who were conscientious objectors and
promote a complete rejection of military
power and control. Ellul’s proposition was
refused, confirming his conviction that the
church was no longer motivated by the
authentic gospel, but rather by its own
political interests.

Though Ellul was skeptical and critical
of institutional Christianity, he was a
strong advocate of personal and group 
Bible studies and home churches… 

Ellul believed that a more genuine and 
personal type of Christianity could be 
embraced and propagated in this way: 
an organic and grassroots community 
of faith, rather than hierarchical, 
top-down religion…

(Ellul was strongly influenced by the
Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard and
the Swiss-German theologian K. Barth.
Though he remained within the French
Reformed tradition, Ellul was not confined
to it. He was influenced quite strongly by
Christian existentialism and a theology
committed to the “wholly otherness” of
God which the organized church could
not contain or control. He also believed
in living out one’s faith as the “presence 
of God’s kingdom here on earth.”)…

(I have collected many of Ellul’s key 
theological tenets for presentation in
this book, and not his sociological or
political writings.)

– from the Introduction

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

To engage the thought of Jacques Ellul
today is to take me back fifty years when
I first studied him during my 1960’s 
seminary days and graduate studies.

Fortunately, I spent some very productive 
time at the Graduate School of Ecumenical
Studies (located near Geneva, in Bossey, 
Switzerland) sponsored by the World
Council of Churches.

(By the way, Bossey is about to celebrate
its seventieth anniversary in 2017 and it 
has distinguished itself in the training of
ecumenical leaders for the world church).

An emerging reality during my time at
Bossey was “secularization.” We were
on the cutting edge of trying to come 
to terms with a significant, long-term
development in the history of religion
that continues to strongly influence the
churches and faith traditions into our
own times.

Jacques Ellul was a natural guest of
the WCC and its assembly planners
in those days, but illness prevented him
from attending a speaking engagement
with our student body while I was there.
We did, however, hear lectures about
him and read his books. Ellul continued
to teach and write into the 1980’s and
I followed his thought well into my
early career.

Van Vleet collects his material around 
half a dozen central themes of Ellul’s
thought – God and Jesus; the Role of
the Christian; Myths, Idols and the
Demonic; Christian Ethics; the Dialectic
of Christian Realism; and the New City
and Universal Salvation.

These themes became the life-long
scholarship of many modern theologians
who continue influencing contemporary 
theology and spirituality.

Reading these selections will serve as
a worthy reminder for those who first
knew Ellul as a contemporary, or for
those who now read him in historical
perspective. For all of us, it is helpful
to learn that visionaries like Ellul were
seminal advocates for both the classic
biblical/theological tradition of the
church and some directions that Christian
thought needed to take into the future.

I am grateful that Orbis Books, Jacob E.
Van Vleet and colleague Robert Ellsberg,
the Orbis editorial director, have made
this book available to a wide readership.

 

Buy the book from:

Orbis Books:
http://tinyurl.com/j7q2kcd

Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/hfhdmfx

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 40,  May 29, 2016

Mutual learning thrives at Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation

Posted on: June 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Participants converse in table groups at the third Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation, which took place from June 6-8 at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Submitted photo

Participants converse in table groups at the third Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation, which took place from June 6-8 at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Submitted photo

Mutual learning thrives at Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation

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The third annual Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation saw a record turnout, as 79 Anglican and Lutheran church leaders gathered at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg from June 6-8 for discussion on how to build strong missional congregations.

The Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry and a key organizer, described the consultations as embodying the idea of the church as a community of mutual learning.

“The most important thing that [Vital and Healthy Parishes] has done is bring together people who would not normally be in conversation with each other,” she said, noting that the 2016 consultation saw more diverse participants with an increased presence of young and Indigenous church leaders.

‘There is a deep value in sharing our stories’

The heart of Vital and Healthy Parishes lies in its open space “marketplace” format, in which participants create discussions based on their respective interests.

“I thought the breadth of topics was amazing, ranging from the very practical ‘how to’ sessions to the erudite theology dialogue,” said Canon Christyn Perkons, director of congregational support and development at the Anglican diocese of Niagara.

Canon Perkons previously attended the 2014 consultation. This year, she attended marketplace discussions on the School for Parish Development in the diocese of New Westminster, which she plans to participate in this July, and how social media can be used to support various ministries.

Returning to her diocese, she brings back a renewed sense of solidarity, an appreciation for similarities and differences between Anglican and Lutheran faith communities, and the feeling that her diocese is “not alone in its struggles, nor in its successes”.

“There is a deep value in sharing our stories,” Perkons said. “Shared stories deepen our sense of identity, strengthen our call to be part of the body of Christ, reinvigorate our ability to imagine outside our own boxes, and allow us to ‘see’ a way forward in others’ experience without having to reinvent the wheel.”

The Rev. Dr. Neil Mancor—parish priest at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Que., located in the diocese of Montreal—attended the first two Vital and Healthy Parishes consultations. At this year’s meeting, he was able to share new insights about organizing a Messy Church program in his parish, which was still in its early stages at the time of last year’s consultation.

An alternative for families unable to attend traditional Sunday worship, Messy Church typically runs one weeknight per month and explores a theme from the Bible through arts, crafts, games, and a celebration through song or prayer.

“We’ve [now] had a year of Messy Church, and so I was able to come with stories, but also questions, because having a successful Messy Church brings a lot of questions with it,” Mancor said.

“It was great to talk to people from across the country and hear a bit about what other people were doing.”

Mancor also gained insight into ministry among First Nations communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and participated in a discussion exploring the Godly Play approach to Sunday school.

Newcomers reflect on experiences

The consultation left a positive impression on many participants who were attending Vital and Healthy Parishes for the first time.

The Rev. Norm Wesley, incumbent at St. Thomas Church in Moose Factory, Man. and Church of the Apostles in Moosonee, said the event exceeded his expectations due to the sheer variety of topics—highlighting a session on the use of music in parishes in particular.

“I would go again if I was asked … You get that chance to have this free-flowing discussion with your peers, with others within the church, with your brothers and sisters in Christ, at a very, very level playing field,” Wesley said.

“That I found to be very, very engaging and very interesting and a very good use of my time when I was there. I really enjoyed it.”

Leslie Giddings, child, youth, and adult learning facilitator for the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, praised the idea of a learning model in which “all the wisdom is in the room” and conveyed through discussion.

“The meaning comes out of the relationships that you develop in hearing the stories,” Giddings said. “I’m not sure it would have felt as meaningful if we’d just been hearing presentations.”

Douglas Doak, executive officer for the Anglican diocese of the Arctic, attended a discussion convened by sociologist Joel Thiessen and theologian Bill McAlpine on their project to gain insight into features shared by flourishing congregations. He left impressed by their high level of research.

“I just took away the value of a sustained examination of any topic—fieldwork, reflective thought on the fieldwork, and the conclusions that they drew from it,” Doak said. “We’ll be staying in touch with that project and hoping to benefit from it.”

Future plans

Thus far, Vital and Healthy Parishes has been supported with a grant from the Ministry Investment Fund, which has now run its course. Yet such has been the degree of positive feedback that Faith, Worship, and Ministry now plans to integrate the program into its core ministries.

“It’s become that important,” Scully said, noting, “The feedback that we have gotten consistently is that it needs to continue.”

As an example of the potential of the Vital and Healthy Parishes learning model, she pointed to the creation of new liturgical texts in recent years, and the attendant need to form good liturgical leaders.

“There are all kinds of things that I see this model being able to be adapted for, and it’s exciting.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

The Anglican Communion’s spymaster general

Posted on: June 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

The Anglican Communion’s spymaster general? Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, reads a lesson during a special service of choral evensong at Westminster Abbey, marking the centre’s 50th anniversary.
Photo Credit: The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders were joined by senior figures from other Christian denominations last night at a special choral evensong in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders were present at the service, which was sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir. In his sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the work of the Centre, and its director, Archbishop David Moxon, joking that the centre was seen by some as the Anglican Communion’s spy station in Rome.

“Those are the first time I heard those words this evening,” Archbishop David told ACNS afterwards, “but I think in terms of intelligent reporting, in terms of a careful look at each other, in terms of good communication and awareness of each other, it is a humorous and anecdotal description which I enjoy.”

The service, he said, summed up “50 years of faith, hope and love”, and he added: “The Anglican Centre is a bit like a fiddler on the roof: it needs funding every year, it can’t guarantee its existence, but it tries to play a tune of faith, hope, love; to try to suggest that what unites us is greater than what divides us. That’s the point.

“And we stand on that roof, playing that tune, saying to people ‘look up! The Holy Spirit is trying to build bridges all the time.’ We are part of that process, part of that energy,” he said, adding that God gives the courage and hope needed to build bridges between the denominations.

Wabbey _acr 50_Ch Ldrs

Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders at a service of choral evensong at Westminster Abbey marking the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. .
Photo: The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey

“Sometimes people get a little cynical about ecumenism. Sometimes they wonder what the point is,” he said. “But living and working in Rome you can see the point. And now, especially, with this Pontificate – with Pope Francis and with Archbishop Justin – there is all kinds of evidence that it is worth it.

“The Pope and Archbishop Justin are saying Let’s behave as if we are one where we can, even though we haven’t agreed on everything. And in some cases the differences seem quite significant, but let’s behave as if we are one for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for justice and peace.”

He said that collaborative work on issues of justice, people trafficking, refugees and city missions were “all ways in which the world needs our solidarity, our co-operation [and] our partnership.”

This was, he said, a new kind of ecumenism which was driven by mission. “Rather than just trying to close the dogmatic gaps – which are important to close – these two [Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin] are saying let’s generate a sense of communion now, where we can, on the ground.

“The more you walk together the better you talk together. A lot of people think you can only walk together once you have talked together enough. I think it is often the other way around.”

Last night’s service was one of a number being held this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the centre. In October, a €500-per-head (approximately £395 GBP) two-day gala meeting will be held at the centre. The proceeds will be used to create an endowment fund to secure the continued presence of the Anglican Communion’s permanent representation to the Holy See.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Wednesday 15 June 2016

A Way to God

Posted on: June 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

A WAY TO GOD
Thomas Merton’s

Creation Spirituality Journey
by Matthew Fox

New World Library
Release date Canada – May 20, 2016
Paper. 308 pp. $27.00CAD  $18.95US
ISBN #978-1-60868-420-5.

 

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

Matthew Fox emerged during the 1970s/80s as
a creative thinking advocate of what would come
to be known as “creation-centered spirituality.”

His new focus on the classic spiritual themes
of the “Four Vias” became well-known, and
particularly because he started his reflections
with “Via Creativa” and not “Via Negativa” –
implying a humanity focused on its “goodness”
and not its “evil” and “guilt.”

I remember when the value of that insight
first struck me, and it has continued to guide
my spiritual quest ever since.

Many spiritual seekers today tend to ignore
completely the “negativa” part, and Fox
may well be to blame for some of that. But
it must be maintained that “evil” and “guilt”
were always part of Fox’s formula.

Fox helped many people in our world to rejoice
in the fact that God created humans as good.
They were not “born in sin” as the liturgies of
the churches had so often emphasised.

Fox was outspoken in his views, and he didn’t
hesitate to criticize his own Roman Catholicism,
including his Dominican Order, more than 25
years ago. It would not be hard to demonstrate
that, in an era of more conservative popes,
he brought rejection from his church upon
himself. While other creative Catholic thinkers
would have toned down their rhetoric to remain
within their faith community, Fox did not.

He has continued to write and press the envelope
of creation-based spirituality during the last
decades as an Episcopalian priest, based in
California, a heartland of spiritual questing
and diversity.

The book under consideration is a helpful
presentation – not only about Matthew Fox, but
also about its subject – Thomas Merton. In this
volume, Fox claims that Merton was a key mentor
in his spiritual formation and development over
the years. He gives many examples from Merton’s
life and writings to demonstrate his debt to the
even more famous Merton.

There may be more objective presentations
of Thomas Merton, but probably not a better
one on the subject of Merton’s influence on
Fox, and a whole generation of modern spiritual
seekers who may or may not be committed to
organized religion. 

The very fact that New World Library publishes
this attractive book, rather than a church-based
publisher, is indication that Fox seeks and appeals
to a broader base of spiritual seekers.

For Merton and Fox fans, this is a helpful study.

 

Buy the book from New World Library:
http://tinyurl.com/hht53ws

(or)

Amazon.ca: http://tinyurl.com/hdt5c3k

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 38,  May 15, 2016

Book Reviews: Off to a Good Start and Time

Posted on: June 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

OFF TO A GOOD START
Openers & Prayers

for Church Meetings,
by David Sparks

United Church Publishing House,
Toronto, ON. April, 2016. Paper.
138 pages. $19.95 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-55134-239-9.

 

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

 

My Thoughts:

I find that many “opening” and “closing”
rituals at church meetings, studies and
other activities have a tendency to be
perfunctory and “last minute” in nature.

It’s almost as though we should call a
one year hiatus on all such rituals  –
until some serious thinking  is done
about why we go through these activities
in the first place.

Is it because we are meeting in church
and should therefore “do” something
religious?

Is it to give a member of the clergy in
our midst an opportunity to perform a
duty befitting their vocation?

If we find the traditional Bible-reading
and reflection-devotional of the past to
be boring, what are we doing to take its
place – if anything?

Like prayers before meals at home,
family devotions, or at other public
gatherings – meaningful reflections at
church (not just a quick “spiritualized”
ritual harvested at the last minute from
the internet) – seem to be going the way
of the dodo bird.

As one raised in an era of devotional
reverence at home, at church, and in
the public square, I find this development
very sad. But what am I doing about it?

I think David Sparks is on to something
with a book like “Off to a Good Start.”
We are people of ritual. If we continue
to do rituals, why not fill such experiences
with meaning?

Buy this book to liven up your life while
doing the work and ministry of the church!

We need more people like Sparks and
more books reflecting a philosophy like
this one to help us move past the routine
to a sense of doing something worthwhile,
and worthy of special investment.

(buy the book, below: and now a second title)

 

 

TIME
From Famine to Feast
by Donna Schaper

Wood Lake Publishing
Kelowna, BC. 2016. Paper.
87 pages. $14.95CAD.
ISBN #978-1-77064-811-1

 

 

Review by Dr. Wayne Holst

 

My Thoughts:

Schaper correctly recognizes that
the intense nature of our lives, many
of our inter-personal conflicts and
our nagging sense of fatigue and
overwork are all spiritual problems
at base.

The author sets out to deal with
a spiritual problem with a spiritual
solution. That is also, essentially,
what I believe this book is about.

This book is written as a 6-week
Lenten devotional kind of small-
group study guide. But it’s 52
practices can be followed most
any time of year.

Shaper is a seasoned writer and
spiritual guide. I like her work.

So, I need to stop my busy routine
for a while, and with a group of
spiritually “dis-abled” colleagues,
spend quality time with her book.

 

Buy the books from:

United Church Publishing –
“Off to a Good Start”
  http://tinyurl.com/zb34zmh

 

Wood Lake Publishing –
“Time – From Famine to Feast”
  http://tinyurl.com/zf29ypn

 

Amazon.ca:
http://tinyurl.com/z2eqtu6

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 37,  May 8, 2016