Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Church for Everyone

Fr. Tony Clavier is the interim priest of a parish in West Virgina.

I commend one of his recent posts, Grumpy Thoughts Before the New Year, for his interesting take on how both "sides" in the current "crisis" are failing to represent an authentic Anglicanism.

Where I am, there used to be eleven Anglican parishes in town - five of them "north of the tracks." Today, there are seven, and only the parish where I serve as interim priest remains "north of the tracks." In the rural parts of our diocese, congregations close and rural parishes become geographically larger.

These trends aren't new. When my bishop introduced me to Dr. Runcie during his visit to Canada in the early '80s, it was noted that my parish was geographically larger than either province of the Church of England.

How do we be the Church for everyone?

4 comments:

Fr. Tony Clavier said...

Thank you Malcolm. I wish your parish God speed in reaching over those frozen tracks.

Happy New Year

Fr. Tony

felix hominum said...

I think that particularly for the western Canadian church, the urban/rural ministry question comes to mind. In my diocese of Edmonton, we have a wealthy and vibrant urban center, and then we have struggling rural parishes. We have poured a lot of energy and resources into renewing inner-city ministries, but I don't see a whole lot happening for the spiritual needs of those beyond the urban borders.

One of the problems might be related to lack of lay leadership/ training/ empowering for areas where full time employment for clergy is simply not a reality. The C of E seems to have done a good job with its lay ministry over the past few years. I think it is something we need to be doing more of, lest we become a diocese of the city, and lose our "pastoral" connection.

Malcolm+ said...

In the particular circumstance in our diocese, I think it also has, indirectly, to do with how the residential schools issue played out.

Qu'Appelle would almost certainly been the next diocese to go bankrupt had the federal government not reached a settlement. Our previous bishop's entire episcopal ministry was mostly taken up on this one point and extensive diocesan endorsements were expended - including significant draw downs on assorted endowments.

But it wasn't even mostly about money. The diocese was simply tired by the end of it. Actually, not by the end of it, but well before the end of it.

As a non-stipendiary (actually, as one who was not active in ministry throughout the period, only taking it up again within the last 30 months), I might be less affected than some. But a lot of leaders - clerical and lay - were simply burned out.

I think the parochial sustainability issue would have arisen anyway, but perhaps we'd have been in a better position to respond were we not worn down by the threat of litigation and bankruptcy.

Anyway, there seems to be some life in my little north of the tracks parish now. If I can help them build and sustain on that, my interim ministry will have been a success.

Malcolm+ said...

Apparently I can't go back and edit my own comments.

In the previous comment, "endorsements" was supposed to be "resources."