Sunday, April 28, 2013

Anglicans Participated in the TRC Event in Montreal

General Synod Communications and the Anglican Journal, the church's editorially independent newspaper, have entered into a partnership to distribute stories of national significance. This story is shared through this arrangement.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, led a delegation of Anglicans that participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Quebec National Event on April 24 to 27, in Montreal.

The event, was held at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, it was an occasion for former students to share their stories about their experiences in Indian residential schools, and for churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada, to listen and offer their apologies and gestures of reconciliation.

For more than 150 years, about 180,000 First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis children were removed from their homes and sent to federally funded schools managed by Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches. There were students who suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse in these schools.

As part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the TRC was created to document the history of residential schools and to make sure every Canadian is educated about it.

The Anglican Church of Canada operated over 30 residential schools across Canada. Seven of these schools are represented in the Quebec event: Shingwauk Indian Residential School, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and St. John's Indian Residential School, Chapleau, Ont. (Diocese of Algoma); Mohawk Institute Residential School, Brantford, Ont. (Diocese of Huron); Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, Sioux Lookout, Ont. (Diocese of Keewatin); Bishop Horden Memorial School, Moose Factory, Ont.; St. Philip's Indian Residential School, Fort George, Que. (Diocese of Moosonee); and La Tuque Indian Residential School, La Tuque, Que. (Diocese of Quebec). (Learn more about these schools on the General Synod website.)

As in previous TRC national events, the church's General Synod Archives will have a booth to share its collection of Indian residential schools records, including photographs, with former students and the general public.

The Quebec event kicked off with "Education Day," which offered elementary and high school students in Montreal a chance to learn about the history of the schools through various activities. Former governor general Michaelle Jean, a TRC honorary witness, interacted with students at this gathering.

Other activities include the Survivors' Walk and procession, a town hall meeting on reconciliation, sharing circles, survivor birthday celebrations, knowledge sessions, churches' listening area and private statement gathering, among others.

Click here to learn more about the Quebec National Event.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ordained Anglican Women Face "Stained Glass Ceiling"

By Ali Symons, General Synod Senior Editor

New research by the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois and the Rev. Dr. Alex Faseruk proves that throughout the Anglican Communion women have a hard time reaching top episcopal jobs—even when they're technically allowed to become bishops.

Dr. Rois and Dr. Faseruk's paper "Why is the Stained Glass Window a Stained Glass Ceiling? Organizational Perspectives on Female Bishops in the Anglican Communion," was presented February 2013 at North American Management Society conference in Chicago.

Their paper traces the history of women's ordination in the Anglican Communion and presents data about women in leadership across provinces. Researchers found gender bias active in many branches. Sometimes churches don't allow women to become bishops, and other times women are just overlooked.

For many in the Anglican Communion, the issue of women's ordination is solely a theological question, but Dr. Rois and Dr. Faseruk choose a secular, organizational approach.

The paper uses feminist metaphors of "glass ceilings" and "sticky floors" to explain how women struggle to advance their careers.

Feminists have adapted the "ceiling" discourse across sectors: In the military, women face a "brass ceiling." In the tech industry, it's the "silicon ceiling," and in the church, a "stained-glass ceiling."

The stories of such ceilings differ across the Anglican Communion. Researchers do not offer commentary on each country's data, though Dr. Rois, currently executive director of the Anglican Foundation, sees anthropological analysis as a next step that could explain cultural differences.

The Anglican Church of Canada first ordained women priests in 1976. The first female bishop, the Right. Rev. Victoria Matthews, was elected in 1993 and since then, six women bishops have been elected.

This is nowhere near parity, but other churches, including the Church of England, are slower to allow women to become bishops. In November 2012, a General Synod motion to allow women bishops was defeated.

"Our research was amazingly consistent with a lot of organizational norms," said Dr. Faseruk, a finance professor at Memorial University and an ordained Anglican priest.

"The glass ceiling effect is fairly well documented. The ‘stained glass window' effect is evidenced in a large part of the church."

Dr. Faseruk is interested in the human resources implications: How is the church preparing for future female clergy, especially when such bias exists? How will the church adapt to needs for maternity leave or second-career female professionals who enter seminary late?

He said the paper was "phenomenally well received" at its conference debut, partially because of its "unique data base." He and Dr. Rois are now pursuing publication, targeting Journal of Business Diversity, which has already published Dr. Faseruk's research on management accounting among Anglican priests.

Dr. Rois has been gradually researching this topic since she first began her academic life in the 1980s. She and Dr. Faseruk have collaborated for more than 15 years after meeting at a vocational diaconate conference.

Ordained for almost 30 years, Dr. Rois has felt gender bias first hand. She began studying theology only five years after women were first permitted to join the Anglican priesthood in Canada. She said she grew up in a home where parents modeled gender equality.

"It was the church where I learned inequality," she said.

While serving as an Anglican priest Dr. Rois has been the target of sexist slurs, been excluded from male-dominated social situations, and has seen men get jobs instead of more qualified women.

Dr. Faseruk and Dr. Rois hope their research can lead to organizational change in the Anglican Communion, although both acknowledge that progress is slow.

"Education can be a part of change," said Dr. Rois. "If bishops of dioceses read this, then maybe some information would be part of a change in perspective."

For more information about this research, email Judy Rois ( or email Alex Faseruk (

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Related Articles
Church of England Rejects Women Bishops
The New Anglican Archbishop Says Church of England will have Women Bishops

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day and the Anglican Community

Celebrated every April 22nd, Earth Day is a global event that focuses attention on environmental issues. The event is celebrated by hundreds of millions of people in almost every country around the world. The Earth Day Network recognizes that faith leaders have been a driving force behind the most important and successful social movements. They encourage all people of faith across the globe to join them.

According to the Montreal Gazette, on Sunday April 21, a "good natured" crowd of 50,000 people walked through downtown Montreal to commemorate Earth Day and as I discovered, there were a number of people present representing faith based communities.

As reviewed by the Anglican Church of Canada in a featured series called The Community, Earth Day, "is a good time to think about our place in God’s creation and consider how we can live in ways that heal, rather than exploit our planet." The article goes on to explain that "In the very first chapter of Genesis, God gave us humans the job of caring for creation, charging us with the stewardship of the earth."

In 2012 St. Philip's Church engaged the topic of the environment last fall in a weekly forum titled "Ecology and Spirituality." Not only did this group provide some very timely discussions about the relationship between our faith and our responsibilities to the Earth, thanks to the efforts of some of those who participated in the group it also yielded some tangible actions.

The Community article specifically addresses the issue of "Greening Sunday Schools" and states that "As Christian Educators it is our responsibility to help the children make the connection between faith, stewardship, and environmental awareness." In this context, they suggest some way that we can act to reduce our environmental footprints:
  • Do you use white or chalk boards instead of writing on newsprint?
  • Do you use rubber stamps and inkpads instead of stickers?
  • When doing arts and crafts do you encourage (and model) using the least amount of a product to complete the task? Use recycled materials wherever possible?
  • Avoid using food products?
  • Do age groups share resources, so fewer supplies need to be bought and they can be used up before they become unusable?
  • Whenever possible do you choose activities that use recycled materials, or no materials at all?
  • Do you have recycle bins in your learning area?
  • Do you have a checklist to remind you to do things like turn off the lights, turn thermostats down etc. each week? 
  • Do you use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies to clean furniture and toys?
  • Do you use supplies made from recycled materials?
  • Do you use washable cups and plates instead of disposable?
  • Do you use energy saving light bulbs?
  • Do you use curriculum that can be downloaded, so that you only print what you need?
  • When printing session outlines, do you print on both sides of the paper?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayers following the Boston Marathon Bombing

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori calls for prayer following the explosions in Boston, MA, and offers the following prayer:

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.

Source: The Episcopal Church - Office of Public Affairs

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Tea at Saint Philips Church, to benefit the Tower Fund

By Lori Ann Larocque
April 18, 2013

Last Saturday [April 13], I attended my first Spring Tea event at Saint Philips Church with my family.  We were so happy to have been among the lucky ones to get tickets, as the event was sold out.  Despite Mother Nature’s stubbornness to grace us with beautiful springtime weather, the atmosphere inside Memorial Hall was jovial.

Many guests were bedecked in their English Tea Party finery, as whimsical hats, fascinators, pastel colours and happy smiles dotted the room.  The afternoon appeared to be the perfect antidote to the dreary skies that we awoke to on Saturday morning.

The hall was sweetly decorated for the occasion.  Tables were trimmed in greens and pinks, and every plate was graced with a pink rose.  After a beautiful prayer led by Father Jim, the party began swiftly.  To start: a wonderful selection of Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Jasmine teas.  Delicious savory finger sandwiches were brought to the tables by an efficient and courteous group of Girl Guides.  The timing was right on – not too long after finishing the first service our plates were removed and the 2nd service began.  Up next were delectable scones, butter and jam.  We could feel our waistlines expanding by the minute!  More tea was delivered by our fantastic group of waiters.  The third service was over the top – an eye popping array of sweets.  There was something for everyone.  The abundance of good food, camaraderie and ambiance was heart warming.

While we enjoyed this feast, we were serenaded by Steven Berntsen on guitar.  It was the perfect accompaniment!  Towards the end of the party, Shan and company handed out some pretty impressive door prizes, and a prize for the prettiest hat was presented by Una.  The stage was attractively set and the gifts were prominently displayed.

Enough cannot be said about the terrific effort that was behind this event.  It ran so smoothly, and the volunteers were very accommodating.  It was a real pleasure to be amongst such a great group.  The Spring Tea was a superb venue to catch up with friends and to make new ones too, all for a great cause.  The men and children had a wonderful time too.  We look forward to attending more tea parties at Saint Philips Church, whatever the reason or season!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Towards a Strangely Compelling Church

There is a question that, in one form or another, tends to be the starting point for many congregations today when they aspire to revitalization and growth: “How can we make ourselves more attractive?”

Sometimes the question is posed in just those words. Sometimes the inquiry is honed with a little more precision, like: “How can we attract more young people?” “How can we get more people to come out to church?”

Such questioning is understandable. It can arise out of the survival instinct: unless we attract more people and money, this congregation won’t be able to stay open much longer. At other times, people are simply tired; they’re looking for bodies to take up the slack so the ecclesial machinery can keep chugging along. Truth be told, sometimes the inquiry is made because congregations, like individuals, like to be liked. To be fair, there are churches that ask such questions seeking to act on an evangelistic and/or missional impulse, endeavoring to discern how they might better connect with the surrounding culture.

In one sense, I applaud the questioning, especially when it arises out of the latter motivation. Congregations are looking to take action, to undertake some sort of positive change that might make a difference, reverse decline or result in greater vitality. The problem, however, is that the question they pose is the wrong starting point.

If our congregations are to become more attractive in any meaningful way, it will require more than some sort of ecclesial cosmetic makeover. Rather, what is called for is a renewed way of being church, one that above all seeks to respond to God’s gracious action in our world, contours lives in the path of discipleship, and brings people into a deeper relationship with God, one another and the world around them.

I suspect the first centuries of Christianity offer some insight into how this can be done. I don’t mean to idealize the early church, but I note how that community grew and spread not by the persuasion of a massive evangelization program, not by slick marketing campaigns, not by worship designed to entertain or appeal to “outsiders.” Rather, it flourished because of the questions generated by the manner in which Christians lived and served together.

The primitive church presented a new social order, one that blurred distinctions of station in society, one that exhibited particular compassion for the vulnerable. In short, it exhibited an order marked by profoundly changed lives. As a result, those outside the church would observe those belonging to it and wonder, “Why are these people so different? Why do those from across social classes eat at table together? Why do they risk themselves not only for one another, but also for strangers in need?”

This curiosity resulted regularly in scorn and sometimes persecution of the first Christians; frequently, the church was perceived as a threat to societal norms and the social order. Yet, because the Christian community expressed itself in ways that were at once radical and yet plausible to the culture, a significant number of people found its behaviour strangely compelling and were drawn in. Our ancestors in faith exhibited strangely compelling behaviour because of a strangely compelling Lord.

That’s certainly the perspective of sociologist Rodney Stark, anyway. Stark’s research indicates that Christianity evolved from a tiny Jewish sect into a vital force in the ancient Greco-Roman world because it avoided tendencies common to most marginalized or persecuted religious groups: that of either becoming a closed network, on one hand, or else simply trying to blend in and accommodate the dominant culture on the other. The Christian community increased, contends Stark, because its members engaged in risky service not only to one another, but also to anyone in need. One example of this is how Christians cared for those afflicted by plague and other disease (see Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 1997, 86-89). According to Stark, this behavior led the church to increase by an average of 40% per decade so that by 312 CE, prior to the Edict of Constantine, they comprised one sixth of the Roman Empire’s populace, or more than five million people (Stark, 7).

The primitive church found that, if it was to reach people in its various contexts, it needed to do so in ways that were persuasive and compelling even in the face of suspicion, hostility or indifference. The church did just that, despite numerous disincentives; it blossomed and made a significant impact on the surrounding civilization.

So, I wonder, might we learn from their wisdom and practice? I’m not suggesting we try to mimic exactly what the first Christians did or how they did it. Rather, I’m wondering if the “starting point” they adopted as they questioned how to reach the world around them might be worth our consideration today. Might the principles and patterns evident in its life prove insightful as the church seeks to be vibrant and faithful in this generation? As Alan Roxburgh claims:

“How do the churches create a communitas that responds to the deep malaise and contemporary experience of people in North America? What is required is a communitas that calls forth an alternative vision for the social and political issues facing the people…a distinct but visible society offering an alternative form of life. This is the way Christianity entered history. It was a new social reality [that] took the form of a group existing on the edges of the social worlds of its time. It was a distinct and peculiar people with a strong sense of belonging to one another. The social status of hierarchy and power, embedded in the structures of the larger culture, were radically questioned…The churches were shaped by a different reality and so, in the end, transformed their culture.” (The Missionary Congregation, Leadership, & Liminality. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997, 53-54)

The “compelling attraction” of the first Christians was not something that “just happened.” Rather, it was deliberately fostered by the members of the church and their leaders. Their primary aim was to nurture communities whose values and manner of living were profoundly identified with Jesus Christ and the emerging Kingdom or Reign of God. As a result, they stood in contrast against the backdrop of conventional society.

The “compelling attraction” of today’s congregations will not be something that “just happens” either. The gospel is not something we take hold of as one of our many resources, tools or possessions. Rather, the gospel must take hold of us, drawing us into a new order of belonging and behaving, transforming our identity and relationships, shaping our shared life into something of a witness and reflection of what life is like in the Reign of God. Creative programs and best marketing practices have their place, to be sure. However, unless people’s lives are changed, no true renewal or lasting growth can happen in a congregation. In the end, it will be strangely compelling lives shaped after a strangely compelling Lord that will best make our congregations “attractive.”

So, instead of asking “How can we attract more people,” perhaps there are other questions that might serve as a better starting point for us. I have a number of ideas about that, ideas which play a large role in my current ministry. I will share some of them in a few of my posts in the coming days and weeks. For now, though, what are your suggestions, thoughts, comments? Also, what examples can you offer of what you believe to be truly attractive congregations?

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

About Jay Koyle

The Rev. Dr. Jay Koyle has a long and fruitful history of fostering congregational vitality and growth in the life of the church. After many years’ experience as both a parish pastor and a professor on a Faculty of Theology, Jay now serves as Congregational Development Officer for the Diocese of Algoma. His doctoral thesis addressed the relationship between preaching and the missional revitalization of congregations in the 21st Century. Jay also serves as President of The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, and Director of Table Song: Eighth Day Perspectives. In both Canada and the United States, he has been acclaimed as an inspirational speaker who brings a terrific sense of humour and an uplifting Christian message. He has been a contributor to a number of journals and a recent book published by Augsburg Fortress. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

New grants Help Churches Go Green

Ali Symons, General Synod Senior Editor, Anglican Church of Canada - April 10, 2013 - Larry Scherban

An example of where a green building audit might take you: church leaders bless new solar panels at St. Alban, Richmond, B.C.

Ever wondered how to start making your creaky, leaky, drafty church building more environmentally friendly?

Until May 31, Canadian Anglican congregations can apply for grants of up to $1,000 to subsidize a green building audit—a process that will help churches identify which areas of their buildings need to become more energy efficient.

St. Luke's, Ottawa, is one of several churches that has already done an audit. In 2012, a group of parishioners spent a day examining their building with a professional green building auditor.

They found flaws to fix: an old, inefficient furnace; a room with hot appliances and cooling systems close together; and a front door so drafty that they call it the "loonie dispenser."

Now St. Luke's is investing in cost-saving improvements, leaving them with more money for mission.

"Greening" a building has many benefits, says Randal Goodfellow, chair of both General Synod's Creation Matters national working group and the Diocese of Ottawa's Creation Matters committee.

Many churches consider these audits as a step toward living out the fifth Mark of Mission, "to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth." (The Marks of Mission are used as a ministry framework throughout the Anglican Communion and are a priority for the Anglican Church of Canada.)

Some advocates even talk about these improvements as maximizing "mission per square foot," said Mr. Goodfellow. The philosophy is to steward the space in the best possible way, considering heating, water use, cleaning products, and even whether pews are the best way to use sanctuary space. Another benefit is building community.

"[The audit is] done with people from the congregation," said Mr. Goodfellow. "They become internal champions and this starts or strengthens a green team in a parish."

Though the application process and audit itself are not time-consuming, parishes must be committed to making change, said Mr. Goodfellow, who produced two videos with partners in the Diocese of Ottawa to promote the program.

"If it's worth doing in the first place, it's worth reporting to the congregation and worth undertaking the recommendations," he said. "That's when the work starts coming in."

In exchange for the grant, parishes will host a public information seminar with Greening Sacred Spaces on energy efficiency. They must also provide energy consumption information to the Green Up Database of the Canada Green Building Council. This database will establish a baseline against which parishes can measure their performance, year over year.

The Green Building Audit grants are a result of resolution A180 on climate change, passed at General Synod 2010. A resolution coming to Joint Assembly 2013 will encourage dioceses to establish similar programs.
Grants are provided by General Synod's Ministry Investment Fund and the audits are done in cooperation with Greening Sacred Spaces, a project of the interfaith coalition Faith and the Common Good.

Grants will cover two-thirds of the audit cost. The number awarded will depend on the number of applications received and the size of churches.

Across Canada there are already excellent examples and plans in place for Anglican churches to go green.
In Richmond, B.C., St. Alban Anglican Church has installed solar panels to offset their energy costs.
The West End Commons, a planned multi-use space built out of St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Winnipeg, will use recycled building materials, upgraded eaves, and energy efficient appliances in its redesign.

Source: The Anglican Church of Canada

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Rev. J.B. Pratt's Reflections on Easter and St. Philip's

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Easter is the Christian Passover, and a central part of our Holy Week and Easter liturgies is the Exodus story. At the Easter Vigil, we here the story of the Israelites’ deliverance at the Red Sea, how God parted the waters so that they could pass through the sea, on to new life and hope en route to the Promised Land. In baptism, we also pass through the waters to new life in Christ.

In the past year, we have come through our own trials and difficulties, and have emerged with God’s help. We are seeing signs of new life and growth: new members, more children and young families, energy for some new initiatives.

We are not in the Promised Land yet. Like the Israelites when they reached the other side of the Red Sea, we still have a stretch of desert between us and our destination, which is still unknown to us. We know that destination will involve a redefining of our mission in the community, and major changes to our buildings and campus.

If we spend our time and energy looking backwards, as the Israelites longed for the flesh-pots of Egypt, we face a long period of wandering in the desert. Instead, we need to look continually forward, trusting in one another, and in God to guide us, so that our vision of the future may become clearer, and we may march ever forward toward it, continually rejoicing in the new life and hope that God offers to us.

Yours in Christ,
James B. Pratt, Rector