Sunday, May 18, 2014

Healthy Parishes

Along with two colleagues from the diocese, I attended the National Consultation on Healthy and Vital Parishes last week in Niagara Falls. More than 70 clergy and lay leaders from both the Anglican and Evangelical Lutheran Churches participated in the conference at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, an ecumenical retreat and conference centre operated by the Roman Catholic Carmelite order.

Unlike many conferences, we were not subjected to long presentations from pre-selected experts. Instead the vast majority of the conference saw participants sharing their own experience and expertise. The consultation was extensively covered by the Anglican Journal in articles here, here and here.

Despite the hype in some quarters, I have never believed that congregational vitality was inherently linked to a particular theological perspective or liturgical style. That largely seemed to be the shared opinion of the folk I met. There was broad agreement that the key to the spiritual and (usually) numerical growth of a parish was a focus outside its own walls and a determination to engage with the community beyond their doors.

I still need time to process everything I heard, saw and experienced, but it was invigorating to engage with dozens of other Christian leaders who are ready to leave the metaphorical Egypt of Christendom behind while they step boldly into the future to which God calls us.

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