Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Glory of the Lord

“The glory of the Lord shone round about them”
Luke 2:9

In Bethlehem there is a beautiful chapel known as The Church of The Shepherds Fields. Built in the round it is lovingly tended by Franciscan monks. In the midst is an altar given in 1954 by devote Canadian pilgrims with a heart for Bethlehem. Carved in the stone is a simple maple leaf. The chapel is surrounded by several magnificent murals. One portrays the angel of the Lord announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, another their adoration of the Christ Child, and a third, their telling others of everything that had been told them concerning the Child.

Five years ago I sat in that chapel pondering the announcement of the birth of the Messiah to such lowly people as the shepherds were. Often looked upon by those in high places as poor and dirty, these were the ones to whom an angel’s message came and a heavenly chorus sang. They were the first to know the glory of the Lord’s birth shining round about them.

In all the ages since that holy night many have known that same glory and been drawn into its holiness and love – that love that flows from the heart of God, that love that goes to such a length as to take upon our flesh and lie in a manger. The incarnation is the supreme manifestation of the pure intent of God to love the world into redemption, to love the nations into reconciliation and lasting peace, and to love us all into lives that are good and holy.

In today’s world many of us are able to celebrate this love of God in Christ openly because we have the freedom to worship and to bear a public witness to our faith.

Many others celebrate this faith in the face of oppression and at the risk of persecution. This year the world has witnessed horrific persecution of Christians in many places – churches torched, school girls kidnapped, people beheaded. Many including children have swelled the ranks of the martyr throng because they confessed the name of Jesus and would not recant. In our prayers this Christmas let us remember them as numbered among “the choirs of angels” and the “citizens of heaven above” who bid us with the shepherds to bend our joyful footsteps in making our way to the manger, there to kneel and adore the Christ Child.

My prayer this Christmas is simply this – that the glory of the Lord that shone round about them, might shine round about us. May it enlighten our hearts and brighten our homes. May it shine in the streets of our communities – be they large city centers or tiny rural places scattered across this land. May it illumine our neighbourhoods and shine among the nations. May this glory of God’s love in Christ renew our hope in the song of the angels.

“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth good will among all.”
(Luke: 2:14) 

Source: The Anglican Church of Canada

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sermon - Rev. JB Pratt December 21, 2014

Christmas Goodbye Letter from a St. Philip's Family

To our dear friends at St Philip's Church ...

Greetings from Ontario!

We never imagined that we'd be saying our goodbyes to you in a letter. Our plan was to attend mass in mid-September and to spend our last Sunday in Quebec at Saint Philip's. Somehow life got in the way, and weeks later, here we are.

Last week while Sophie-Claire and I were at the library we both noticed that the librarian bore a striking resemblance to Carol Edward. In talking about it, Sophie-Claire furrowed her brow and said, ''Do you think Carol remembers me? And do you think THEY ALL remember us?'' ''I think so'', I replied. But my words kind of caught in my throat as I felt my heart pinch a bit. It's never easy to say goodbye, and we never had the chance to do it properly. Although our move went extremely well and we transitioned quite smoothly, there's the other part of the move that we're facing now. The hoopla has quieted down and we're dealing with the sadness of having had to leave behind special friends.

We send you our humble thank yous for having welcomed us into the church with open arms, for having supported us during some very difficult times, for the smiles and the warm greetings, the delicious meals and for always saving the same spot for us in the same pew every week (that one was important for Sophie-Claire!). We were so proud to be a part of the St Philip's family and will miss you all.

We will also miss Father Jim's sermons, the beautiful sounds of the choir and singing together, the prayers, the church windows and the building itself. It always felt like home.

Sophie-Claire misses Carol, Rebecca, Bea and Katou and especially Leslie, who would always lend a sympathetic ear when the subject of horses came up! Sophie-Claire is proud to let you know that she has graduated from ponies to horses and has a new friend named Ace (he's a very tall thoroughbred who loves to jump!).

It seems a bit odd to read about the events going on at the church and not be able to offer our support, but we are there in spirit! As soon as the opportunity allows we will be in Montreal and will attend mass again with all of you, that's for sure.

We wish you all a beautiful holiday season, and an easy winter too.

With our best wishes always,

Lori Ann, Jean-Guy and Sophie-Claire

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wardens' Christmas Letter

Advent’s message is that God in Christ is coming to the world. It is a time of anticipation where we are called to prepare with repentance, prayer, and patience as we await the birth of our savior.

The wreaths we use in Advent have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Green is the color of hope, a sign of our belief that the Savior has come for us. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolize ongoing life and the endless nature of God’s love. The candlelight symbolizes Jesus, the Light that guides us and gives us comfort during the darkest time of the year, as we look forward to the longer days of spring.

As we enter this dark time, we at St. Philip's are preparing for and looking forward to our future. For years we have struggled with the difficult choices that we must make. We can see many promising signs indicating that we are coming together to meet these challenges as a parish family.

We have repaired our tower and our heating system and we are in the process of renovating our basement. We have come together at Parish Forums with a shared purpose to do what needs to be done to continue our mission.

Our journey is far from over and as we prepare for the birth of our Lord, let us do so together in the spirit of love which our savior intended.

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!

Your Wardens,
Richard and Shan

Father Jim's Christmas Letter

"Oh Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light, Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger; Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right, To Man of all beasts be thou not a stranger; Furnish and deck my soul, that thou mayst have A better lodging, than a rack, a grave."
George Herbert (1 593 -L 633), "Christmas" 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This is a season of "decking the halls", preparing our homes to receive guests and family, baking Christmas cookies and cakes, readying holiday feasts, and making sure that we have presents for everyone. It is very easy to get caught up in the busy-ness, and to put all our efforts into making sure that everyone is well fed, pleased with their gifts, and fulI of happy memories.

But the trappings of the celebration can overwhelm us, and divert us from the real purpose of Christmas. We decorate our homes and tables, but leave our hearts and souls cold and dark.

We remember a king who was born, not in a grand palace, but in a dark cave, to take on our nature and live among us. As we celebrate this Christmas season, may we remember to prepare our hearts as well, cultivating generosity, respect, and kindness. Then Christ may enter in to be born in us, to dwell with us always, transforming our lives and bringing peace and joy, not only to ourselves, but to all those around us.

May you have a blessed Christmastide.

Yours in Christ,
The Rev. James B. Pratt

Monday, December 22, 2014

Video - Peace on Earth: A Christmas Greeting from the Leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)

The annual Christmas greeting by leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) has become a holiday tradition symbolizing the full communion partnership the two churches have enjoyed since 2001. In this year’s Christmas video message, Fred Hiltz, Primate of the ACC, and Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the ELCIC, reflect on a year marked by turmoil and violence around the globe – one that makes the message of the Prince of Peace more relevant than ever.

Amidst widespread human suffering in areas from Nigeria to Iraq and from Gaza to Ukraine, Hiltz offers the hopeful message of the Christmas story, quoting Isaiah 9:6: “A child is born, to us a son is given, and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Evoking the spirit of the season, Johnson expresses hope that the coming year may see “peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our communities, and peace in the very many places around the world that are in so desperate need of the message” of Jesus Christ.

Through their full communion partnership, the ACC and ELCIC retain each church’s independence while maintaining a deeper bond through joint worship, co-operative ministries and the exchange of liturgies and clergy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Show Love Rather than Try to Buy It: The Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Article

Is it just me, or does the fretting about Christmas presents arrive earlier every year? By early November, it’s difficult to miss the adverts from major retailers, subtly telling us to spend and then spend some more.

Drawing up a list of people for whom one feels obliged to buy presents can induce a gnawing anxiety. Expensive gifts must be lavished, we are told, on immediate family, extended family, Godchildren – not to mention the office Secret Santa. And then there’s the price of Christmas social activities: the ice-skating, the office restaurant meals, the pantomimes for the kids.

All wonderful things – but they come with a price tag attached. It’s no surprise that January can be a cruel month when it comes to finances as credit card bills land on the doormat and the cash machine informs us we have exceeded the overdraft limit. For some, the financial pressures of Christmas put enormous strain on their relationships: parents argue with one another and get more cross with their kids.

But does it have to be like this? Don’t get me wrong: I love Christmas – including the giving and receiving of gifts. Despite having played Scrooge in a parish Christmas play (quite convincingly, my parishioners told me), I don’t, in real life, respond “Bah humbug” when someone tells me how much they love Christmas. But I don’t think it makes me Scrooge to suggest that, in order to have a great Christmas, we need not run up crippling debts.

The origin of Christmas gifts lies in the Christian tradition that says God gave his son, Jesus, as a gift to bring us life; we reflect that generosity by giving gifts to each other. Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.

However, our gifts can, in small ways, reflect and point to the self-giving love of God. But the most meaningful gifts are about expressing life, not luxury. This is especially true if, as money-saving expert Martin Lewis tells us, people feel pressured into tit-for-tat giving at Christmas – buying something equally as luxurious as what they’re given.

There is nothing wrong with giving something small, something that is meaningful and reminds the person that you care for them – something from a charity shop, perhaps. It also gives the recipient the freedom to buy you something similarly small but meaningful.

And giving need not necessarily involve any financial expenditure at all. You can give your time – that increasingly precious and rare commodity. Offering to babysit for the time-pressed parents next door, so they can enjoy a rare night out together. Spending an evening or two serving food at a homeless shelter. Inviting the older person in your street who lives alone to join your family for Christmas lunch. Some of the best Christmases we as a family have enjoyed have been when we’ve invited someone for Christmas lunch who would otherwise have been on their own.

So there are ways of cutting the bill for Christmas and not waking on Boxing Day with a sense of dread about the bills that will come through the letterbox in the new year.

But Christmas will always cost something, so it’s important to plan ahead and budget. For my family it’s somewhat complicated: my wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary in December, and then it’s my birthday in the new year. When I was a parish priest, with five young children, it was a particular challenge ensuring there was enough money to last the month.

We learnt that it was vitally important to plan ahead, to decide on a budget and stick to it. You could put money aside each month during the year – into a credit union, perhaps – and decide to spend no more.

But if you do find yourself having overspent this Christmas, don’t sit around worrying – seek help quickly. Debt counselling agencies such as Christians Against Poverty can help you put a plan in place to get your finances in order.

You don’t need a large bank balance, or a stratospheric credit card limit, to show generosity. You can be generous in way that shows love and affection, rather than trying to buy it.

And, of course, in February, Lent arrives – the perfect antidote to Christmas.

Source: Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Archbishop Fred Hiltz on the Massacre of Schoolchildren in Pakistan

At Morning Prayer today in the crypt chapel at Lambeth Palace in London, England, Archdeacon Paul Feheley and I joined Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the religious community housed at Lambeth in remembering the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff massacred in yesterday’s vicious attack by the Taliban in Peshawar, Pakistan. As the world watches the anguish of grieving parents burying their children, we are left wondering how such evil intent to kill innocent children continues to stock the earth.

In light of this tragedy it is hard not to remember that the birth of the Christ Child prompted Herod to order the slaughter of innocent children. It is a part of the Christmas story that is not widely told, but it reminds us that from his earliest days Our Lord would have been acquainted with grief and that ancient image of Rachel weeping for her children. (Matthew 2:13-18)

Our Lord is known for having taken children in his arms, blessing them and upholding their awe and wonder in the love and trust of those who care for them.

In his dear name let us pray for the Holy Innocents of Pakistan and the death they suffered. Let us pray for their parents and the pain they bear and for all who reach out to comfort them.

As we remember this horrific crime against humanity let us pray for all the children who have been the innocent victims of the terrorist activities that have marred this entire year. Let us look and labour for that day when among all people it can be said, “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.” (Zechariah 8:4-5)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Female Bishop in the Church of England

Downing Street have today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley.

As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015.

Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles in the North of England in the Dioceses of Blackburn, York and Chester. For the past 8 years she has served as Vicar of St. Peter's Hale and St. Elizabeth's Ashley.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

Speaking at Stockport town hall where she was announced as the new Bishop of Stockport Libby Lane said: "I am grateful for, though somewhat daunted by, the confidence placed in me by the Diocese of Chester. This is unexpected and very exciting. On this historic day as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be Bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all I am thankful to God.

"The church faces wonderful opportunities, to proclaim afresh, in this generation, the Good News of Jesus and to build His Kingdom. The Church of England is called to serve all the people of this country, and being present in every community, we communicate our faith best when our lives build up the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable. I am excited by the possibilities and challenges ahead."

Responding to news of the announcement the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, said: "It is with great joy that on January 26, 2015 - the feast of Timothy and Titus, companions of Paul - I will be in York Minster, presiding over the consecration of the Revd Libby Lane as Bishop Suffragan of Stockport. Libby brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, in hospital and FE chaplaincy, in vocations work and the nurture of ordinands. I am delighted that she will exercise her episcopal ministry with joy, prayerfulness, and trust in God.

"When the General Synod rejected the previous proposals in November 2012, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote to 'pour some balm on (my) wounded heart'. That year, he encouraged me, his province was finally celebrating the election of two women bishops. 'Be comforted', he said, 'it will come.'

"When I wrote to him last weekend to offer my prayers for his battle with prostate cancer, he replied with these words: 'Wonderful that you over there will soon have women bishops. Yippee! I know you have pushed for this for a long time. Yippee again!'

"Praise be to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all in England!"

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said: ""I am absolutely delighted that Libby has been appointed to succeed Bishop Robert Atwell as Bishop of Stockport. Her Christ-centred life, calmness and clear determination to serve the church and the community make her a wonderful choice.

"She will be bishop in a diocese that has been outstanding in its development of people, and she will make a major contribution. She and her family will be in my prayers during the initial excitement, and the pressures of moving".

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: "Libby has had a varied and distinguished ministry, and is currently a first-rate parish priest. She has already demonstrated her ability to contribute nationally through her representative role in the House of Bishops, on behalf of the north-west England dioceses.

"As the first woman bishop in the Church of England she will face many challenges as well as enjoying many opportunities to be an ambassador for Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that she has the gifts and determination to be an outstanding bishop.

"I am delighted at her designation as Bishop of Stockport after a lengthy process of discernment across the Church of England and beyond."

The nomination of Libby as the new Bishop of Stockport was approved by the Queen and announced today (Wednesday 17 December 2014). Libby succeeds the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, who is now the Bishop of Exeter.

Biographical Details:

Libby Lane has been the Vicar of St Peter's Hale and St Elizabeth's Ashley, in the Diocese of Chester, since April 2007, and from January 2010 has also been Dean of Women in Ministry for the diocese. After school in Manchester and University at Oxford, she trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall in Durham. She was ordained a deacon in 1993 and a priest in 1994, serving her curacy in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Prior to moving to Hale, Libby was Team Vicar in the Stockport South West Team, and Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands in the Diocese of Chester, advising and supporting those considering a vocation to ministry in the church. She continues to be a Bishop's Selection Advisor.

Libby has served in the Diocese of York, as Chaplain in hospital and further education, and as Family Life Officer for the Committee for Social Responsibility in the Diocese of Chester.

She is one of eight clergy women from the Church of England elected as Participant Observers in the House of Bishops, as the representative from the dioceses of the North West.

Her husband, George, is also a priest; they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together. George is Coordinating Chaplain at Manchester Airport, licensed in the Diocese of Manchester. They have two grown up children in higher education.

Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords.

Source: Church of England

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Preaching Advent 3: Christmas needs Pentecost

At this time of year I usually say that unless we use the season of Advent to reflect on how much we need God to come into our world and our lives, we won’t celebrate Christmas well. That way we can be looking forward with longing to the meaning of Christmas. But I think grasping the full significance of Jesus’ birth also requires looking back at Christmas in the light of Pentecost.

The gospel lection for 3rd Sunday of Advent features the ministry of John the baptizer. To get to the punch-line of John’s proclamation, we may wish to include up to verse 34: “He (Jesus) is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” We tell children that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. But the specialness of that birthday, above all others, remains hidden until we tell the rest of his story. Some Christians always want to mention the significance of Jesus’ death in their observance of his birth. Even then we miss something of Christmas if we don’t also remember Pentecost.

Jesus’ birthday is not special just because he was a unique person. After all we are all unique persons and the birth of every baby special. Jesus wasn’t the only, and won’t be the last, baby born to refugee parents in harsh circumstances. Indeed many refugee mothers giving birth in the strife of our present war torn regions might consider the typical manger scene an improvement on their circumstances.

There is not room to list the others, but Jesus is not the only one whose birth was predicted by prophets or angels. Jesus isn’t the only teacher or healer or miracle worker. He is certainly not the only one crucified by the Romans. Not even Jesus’ ascension into heaven is unique since such is also said of Elijah and perhaps Enoch. It may surprise some but in the Bible Jesus isn’t even the only Anointed “Messiah” or “Christ”.

No, the culminating work of Jesus Christ, that is uniquely his, is Pentecost. After his ascension Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and sends the Holy Spirit into the lives of his followers to continue his mission in the world. Without Pentecost there wouldn’t even be any church to tell the Christmas story.

On the day of Pentecost Peter said: “Let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ …so change the direction of you lives, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:36-38)

Celebrating Christmas without turning to God to receive forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit is like getting presents but never opening them, or like going to a banquet but only watching the others eat. If you are not sure you have received either God’s forgiveness or the gift of the Holy Spirit, just ask! But you had better be ready for your own Pentecost! When you are assured of God’s forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to work freely in your life, your Christmases will never be same again.

Source: The Community

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Does the Church Need Innovation?

Earlier today, someone on one of the clergy-based Facebook groups I belong to, posted a link to a project known as ‘McMass.’ (www.mcmass.com) I needed only to look at the advertising image to know I would not like this idea. McMass is the brainchild of several individuals from ‘Lux Dei Design'; which advertises itself as a Christian design-consulting company. According to the FAQ section of the McMass website, the project is an attempt to solve the ‘vacant church problem’. The founders are quoted as saying “We saw so many churches, grand old buildings, fallen into disuse or empty for significant portions of each week… We realized that a design approach—an entrepreneurial approach—had the potential to revolutionize how churches engage with the world.’ The logic involved in this idea is pretty strait-forward

1: Churches are empty. 2:McDonald’s is full. 3: Let’s jam a fast-food joint into the narthex.

McMass is centered around the idea that the Church needs to innovate in order to survive. The website is quite blatant about this fundamental fact. It boldly declares: “The Church needs innovation!’, and ‘It’s time for the church to innovate and PRAY DIFFERENT.” Why exactly the church is called to pray differently is never fully revealed. Will we choose the prayers via menu? Do we choose an order of Thanksgiving, with a side of Confession and a Blessing to wash it all down? Will hamburger buns be used for the Eucharist? Whatever is meant, it is clear that those behind this project believe that the church is being hampered by its current structure and nature, and thus can only move forward by being ‘reinvented’ (yes the website uses this word!)

I have to admit that I am not altogether sure if this is entirely legit. McMass could be a hoax. Yet while I do not know for sure if this campaign is true, I do know that these conversations are true. I have personally been part of many conversations that have centred around the church’s need for innovation. I imagine I am not alone in this. The idea that the church needs to be more innovative in this world seems to undergird some of the more popularized expressions of ministry. After all, what are “U2charists”, “Seussarists”, “Pubchurches”, or countless other ideas but mere permutations of this idea. McMass would simply be the latest attempt to build ministry upon the faulty and dangerous premise that the church needs to be innovative and new.

Is this really the case? Is ‘innovation’ the saving grace of the church? Do we ever pray ‘O Come, Innovation, Come’?

Frankly, I reject the premise that the church needs innovation. For one, all new ministries and programs are innovative in the sense that they are new. Furthermore, eventually, even the most successfully innovative programs or projects will eventually become familiar and ‘old’. If innovation is what it is all about, we simply condemn ourselves to an eternity of perpetual upheaval. Thus, innovation doesn’t actually solve anything except the vain attempt to create a popular craze. Herein lies the fundamental problem with the notion that churches need innovation; this idea is dangerous for the health of the church because it links the future of the church solely to the increase of numbers.

McMass is nothing but a numbers scheme, lacking any mention of the mission of the church or the presence of the Spirit. The idea behind McMass is merely an attempt to capitalize on the 70 million McDonald’s customers. ‘Innovation,’ as highlighted here, isn’t about ministry, but about merely placing people inside church buildings. What these individuals actually do in that building is of secondary importance.

Yet the church’s life and work has never been about vain attempts of number-gathering, or a desire to be ‘innovative’ or ‘forward thinking.’ In last Sunday’s epistle reading, we heard how Paul give thanks for the Corinthian church, yet he does not give thanks because they are innovative or because they ‘pray differently’. Paul writes:

“I thank my God always because of the grace of God that has been given you In Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind, just as the the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1st Corinthians 1:4-9)

I do not believe that Paul is trying to ‘butter up’ the Corinthians before pointing out the issues they need to face; I believe Paul is highlighting the spiritual nature which forms their entire identity and life. For Paul, it is only in understanding who they are, in Christ Jesus, that the Corinthians can then move forward and tackle the issues that face them.

What this world needs, and what we long to be as people of faith, is not a church based on innovation, but one which lives and breathes the grace of God in Jesus Christ. We are not called to strive to be a church merely filled with people, but one filled with the Spirit of Christ our Lord, a spirit that empowers and strengthens us for the ‘testimony of Christ’ in this world. The community which is at the heart of the church’s identity is about fellowship not mere familiarity. We are called to a radical type of togetherness, one that goes far beyond politeness and social nicety, because it is rooted in our immersion in the Holy Spirit and our joint worship of Christ our Lord.

Before we ask ourselves if we are innovative or not, we should take a cue from Paul and ask ourselves: Are we a body of grace-dependant and Spirit-filled people who gather together, in Christ’s presence, to worship Him and sing his praise?

This is what the church needs, and it is to this which we must be faithful.

Source: The Community

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Frenzy: Allowing Consumerism to Subvert Advent

If the multitude of advertisements are accurate, then this Friday is going to be a day to behold! There will be savings! Happiness! Music and dancing!

Black Friday, of course, is the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday. It’s the ‘kick-off’ day for Christmas shopping in the US. And it’s a tradition that’s growing/morphing every year. Black Friday hours got longer and longer, in some places starting at midnight and going for 24 hours non-stop. In 2005, the tradition of “Cyber Monday” upheld online shopping days after the Black Friday event itself. Now retailers are promoting Black Friday Week and Cyber Week shopping – basically extending the consumer opportunities into a 2-week shop-a-thon, either in stores or online.

This event/tradition/maelstrom seems to me to be highlighting consumerism over all else. ALL else. And it gives me pause for a few reasons. I’ll not go into much depth for any of these, but am curious if other people are thinking this way…

In Canada we don’t celebrate US Thanksgiving (having turkey-ed ourselves out weeks ago), so why would our shopping season depend on what our southern neighbours are doing?

Are we, as a society, losing our entire understanding of what Christmas is about (one Canadian advert has a mother high-fiving her kids’ focus on baubles and toys and shopping as “Christmas Spirit”)?

Are we, as a society, allowing the violence and closed-heartedness that takes place during these sales to become acceptable to us?

Do we consider how the companies making profits spend their money – are they ethical, do they treat employees fairly, do they support local economy?

If we participate in this shopping frenzy, are we being complicit in allowing consumerism to subvert Advent in our own lives?

Has our seasonal spirituality become getting more and better deals than others?

And finally: is this really who we want to be, as Christians? Are we demonstrating faithful witness in how we act in these situations?

I, of course, don’t have the answers, and I am not making judgements. But I do have my own opinions, which will influence my own actions. I hope that others will also give some careful thought and reflection when bombarded with information about what’s up for sale this weekend.

Source: The Community

Saturday, November 15, 2014

St. Philip's Church Supporting the NDG Food Depot's Annual Drive

Once again this year St. Philip's church is supporting the NDG Food Depot's annual food drive. It will take place on Saturday, November 29, 2014 from 09h30 to 13h00. This annual event goes door-to-door collecting food to be distributed to those in need.

We are proud to once again take a leading role by offering the Food Depot our space and a large number of volunteers from our church. All are welcome to help out with this important community event by volunteering in one of the following ways:

1. Pick-up teams. Pick-up non-perishable food items from households in NDG, Westmount and Montreal West. We need drivers with cars accompanied by two able-bodied volunteers to knock on doors and collect food and donations.

2. Traffic teams. Direct people to the correct entrance when they arrive with their bags of food.

3. Sorting teams. Sort food as it is brought to St. Philip’s. Items will then be packed into boxes for storage.

4. Storing teams. The Food Depot will be using part of our lower Hall to store food over the next several months. Volunteers are needed to fill boxes with food and stack them on pallets.

5.Feeding teams. All of this activity requires sustenance! Donations of snacks, refreshments, etc. and people to distribute it to the volunteers willbe gratefully appreciated.

If you wish to help with this important mission in our community, please contact Mark R.or the office or look for the sign-up sheet at the church.

To see a flow chart for the event click here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering - A Statement on Remembrance Day from Archbishop Fred Hiltz

The following is a statement from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

No matter where we are this Remembrance Day, whether a local cenotaph, a neighbourhood church, our home or workplace, we shall all in some way be drawn to Canada’s National War Memorial. The observances there will be especially poignant given the recent deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec and Corporal Nathan Cirillo while on honour guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Within just a day and a half, colleagues in his company resumed their duties at this tomb, – one of Canada’s most sacred sites.

While thousands will gather in person at the National War Memorial, thousands more will gather in spirit. Together we will honour all who have died in the service of our country and the freedom of the world. By way of tribute to their sacrifices there is a lot of pageantry. The Governor General represents our Queen and the Commonwealth and our Prime Minister and numerous other leaders in government pay their respects. Flags and regimental colours are dipped, and wreaths are laid. The Last Post and the Reveille are played and all join in the singing of “O Canada”. My sense is that this year our singing and our praying will be more fulsome than in many years. I say our praying too because our national anthem is as much a prayer as a song. “God keep our land” we sing, “glorious and free”. The rarely-sung fourth verse of the anthem reads:

“Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer, hold our dominion in thy loving care. Help us to find, O God, in thee a lasting rich reward, as waiting for the better day, we ever stand on guard.”

Led by the chaplains of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Legion these solemn ceremonies call us to be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and the costs in human life to protect and preserve that freedom. The processions of veterans those of the First and Second World Wars and, the Korean Conflict are now swelled in rank by another wave of veterans from more recent conflicts in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Some can still parade. Others must be wheeled. It’s when I see them wiping tears from their eyes that I often cry too. As I see a Silver Cross mother representing all mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters in war I find it hard to fight back tears for so much lost love.

I am always moved by that moment at the end of the ceremonies when everyone present is invited to remove their poppy and lay it down at the monument. By this simple gesture each of us is given an opportunity to remember someone by name – a family member, a friend, a comrade and to pray that they may rest in peace. We remember too all of the innocent victims of war, who are all too often forgotten and whose names are sometimes never known.

The Scriptures summon us to this holy work of remembering and to the sacred ministry of pursuing peace and reconciliation. They call us to labour for that day when “swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But they shall sit everyone under their vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid.” (Micah 4:3-4)

This Remembrance Day I invite you to pray a “Common Prayer for All Faith Groups”, composed in 2000 under the authority of the Chaplain General of the Canadian Forces on the occasion of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“Almighty God, Today our minds and hearts are with those who gather to witness Canada’s Unknown Soldier being laid to rest at our National War Memorial. Hear our prayer as we gratefully and enthusiastically join in the wave of remembrance sweeping across our nation.

In unity with all Canadians, of every race, gender, and creed we offer up prayers of thanksgiving for all those who made selfless sacrifices for God and country so that we and future generations might live in peace.

Bring your comfort and relief to those who mourn. Enable those who were wounded in body, mind, or spirit to live more peaceful and satisfying lives. Endow us all with a new resolve to hasten that day when war shall be no more and Your will alone is done on all the earth.

In Your Holy Name we pray.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Launch of St. Philip's Church Website

After more than a year of consultations and refinements St. Philip's Church is pleased to announce the launch of our new Website. In addition to pictures and a welcome page you can find tabs that open to provide detailed information about our mission, worship, history, buildings, Anglicanism, ceremonies, sermons, education and events.


A cursory history of our parish and our services, a little bit about our parishioners and a map of our location.


Our mission, ministries and outreach activities. This tab includes some of the things we have accomplished in recent years as well as a brief review of our history.


A review of our worship style and our music program.

History & Buildings

A short history of the church as well as a review of our buildings and grounds. You can also find out about our beautiful stained glass windows.


What it means to be an Anglican as well as well as a short review of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. You will also find a breakdown of the church year, an explanation of the Anglican Communion as well as additional resources to explore these subjects further.


General information, regulations, and fees related to ceremonies associated with marriage, baptism and funerals.


A summary of select videotaped sermons given by Rev. Pratt at St. Philip's Church in recent years.


Information about our Sunday school, confirmation, adult education and education for ministry.


A summary of upcoming events.

Click here to visit our Website.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

St. Philip's Christmas Bazaar

Each year the people at St. Philip's put together a special fund raising event that has garnered a reputation as one of the best Christmas Bazaars in the city. Please join us on this wonderful day for our annual pre-Christmas event!

When: Saturday, November 8th from 10 am to 2 pm.

Where: The Memorial Hall (7505 Sherbrooke St. West).

Parishioners will be welcoming the wider NDG/Montreal West community as well as people from across the island of Montreal. There will be fabulous raffles as well as St. Philip's famous homemade baking, scrumptious candy & fudge, and sweet jellies & jams. You can also find fine hand-knitted sweaters & scarves, linens, one-of-a-kind antiques, furniture, books, elegant jewellery, videos/CD's/puzzles, and many other items suitable for a variety of tastes and budgets. And speaking of taste, be sure to stay for a hearty soup & sandwich lunch prepared and served by the men of the parish.

Come with your Christmas list and leave with the warmth and fellowship of St. Philip's!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

St. Mark's Anglican Church Bucks Trend by Growing

While many churches throughout the province are shutting their doors, one church in St. John's is looking to expand.

St. Mark's Anglican Church on Logy Bay Road has been growing steadily since it opened in 1984.

Reverend Robert Cooke says its growth has much to do with how it recruits new members to its congregation..

"We've really tried to focus on social media in recent years, and that's where people are right now," said Cooke.

"We've realized that we can't just sit back and wait for people to come to us, we have to be a church that goes out into the community."

Expansion plans

The church launched a campaign on Saturday to raise money for its proposed renovation, which includes new office space and a larger parish hall.

Reverend Robert Cooke says the two-phase plan to expand will accommodate the influx of new parents and their kids who attend services at the church.

"We have a lot of young families, and we need adequate space for them," said Cooke. "So we're trying to meet our own needs, but consider the needs of the community around us."

In order to meet those needs, the church will need to raise considerable funds, according to Reverend Cooke.

"For the first phase, we're looking at $300,000," said Cooke.

"We're already well on our way, and have received over $50,000 already."

As ambitious as the plan is, Cooke said St. Mark's may have even bigger intentions.

"The bigger project, if we go ahead with everything we've planned, could be as much as $2 million," he said.

Cooke said it could take up to five or six years before the first phase of renovations are finally complete.

Source: CBC

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Call to Prayer Amidst Violence

With all Canadians my heart is very heavy with the news of the killing of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa today.

This follows all too soon on the killing of another member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Quebec, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, just days ago.

I ask your prayers for these men, for their loved ones stricken with grief, and for the Canadian Armed Forces chaplains who are ministering to them.

Pray also for the perpetrators of these awful attacks and for their families as well.

With the whole world our country is on high security alert. Pray for all men and women in uniform whose vocation is to defend Canada and work for peace among all nations. Pray also for all who hold public office. Let us pray especially for the safety of our Prime Minister, all members of Parliament, and all in the public service. And pray for peace and reconciliation among all peoples.

Now is a moment when the refrain of our national anthem, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” must echo in every heart. Let our guarding be in the diligence of our prayer: “Lord, keep this nation under your care, and guide us in the way of justice and truth. Let your way be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations. Amen.

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Revival of St. Philip's Sunday School: Building Community to Serve

St. Philip's is proud to announce the revival of its Sunday school program after a protracted hiatus. St. Philip's used to have a thriving Sunday school, but like so many other churches it was suspended due to dwindling enrolment. In recent years, St. Philip's has been undergoing its own revival and as attendance grew, so too did the numbers of young families with children. It became apparent that there was a need and so in the Fall of 2014, a rejuvenated program was resurrected. The new program is called "Holy Moly," and it is designed to be exciting, fun and engaging.

Brooke Struck, the Coordinator of St. Philip's Sunday school, has dedicated his energies into crafting a program that integrates children into the community in an atmosphere that peaks their interest and encourages their involvement.

Brooke is well known to parishioners at St. Philip's. His mother, Barbara Baily, started coming to our church in the mid-60s. She was married in the church in 1975, and Brooke was baptized here in 1988. Brooke's two siblings, Alexandrea and Jordie, were also baptized at the church.

As a boy, Brooke attended St. Philip's Sunday school, and later he joined the choir, which left a strong impression on him. He fondly remembers Claude Bernier as a "fantastic" choirmaster, whose spirit left an indelible mark. In 2010 Brooke left Montreal to pursue a PhD in Philosophy, and he returned in 2013 with a desire to "serve the community that he knows."

In addition to rejoining the choir and sitting on the Advisory Board, Brooke volunteered to coordinate the curriculum for the Sunday school. He was inspired by his sister's children and his hope to be able to provide them with a place at the church. "We cater to the older generation through our outreach, but we also need to cater to kids," Brooke said.

While there is also an undeniable sustainability issue involved in bringing children and their families into the church, Brooke chiefly emphasizes passing on our traditions. He is a strong believer in the role that the church can play in the community. "There is a strong tradition of service at St. Philip's" he explained. "Sunday school can introduce you to a tradition, and gives you the tools you need to engage that tradition."

Brooke currently oversees 8 volunteers who animate the program week after week. In addition to formatting the curriculum, Brooke provides the logistical support and orientation sessions for all the volunteers. He also provides support materials for each of the twelve sessions that make up each module.

The program is not rigid or literalistic; it leaves room for questioning, allowing children to express their natural curiosity and encouraging them to ask questions about God. As Brooke explains, "our diverse group of volunteers gives the program balance." It allows kids to partake in an environment where, "differences of opinion are not just tolerated but explored."

The reasons why young people should come to Sunday school are the same reasons that bring anyone into church. This involves, "regular rituals [and] coming together to reaffirm values we all espouse."

The curriculum focuses on Biblical stories. "We have a shared bedrock of stories that does not move; but what does move is what we take from these stories," said Brooke by way of explaining the relationship between the Sunday school and scripture.

"The church has a role to play with regard to our attitude toward answering questions." He went on to explain that rather than being didactic, the adopted approach sees learning as more of a process. At Sunday school kids can "learn the stories and give them some experience figuring out what they mean."

The Holy Moly program gives kids a chance to discuss Biblical stories in groups and then do arts and crafts related to the readings. Rather than setting out one interpretation as correct, this approach provides important ways for kids to start engaging with and understanding these stories for themselves, hopefully providing tools to go back to these stories again and again, each time gaining new insights. "Educating children is not like computer programming where you enter the information and just walk away," Brooke said.

The school is ideal for children between the ages of 5 and 10. The wide range of ages gives kids a chance to learn from and to teach one another.

Acknowledging that not all children are exactly alike, it is the educator’s job to figure out how each individual child can be involved. As Brooke explains it, Sunday school is a, "starting point from which to build. It is not a catch-all, but rather a catch-most.”

So far, things have gone extremely well and at the last session there were 14 children, who by all accounts enjoyed their hour.

Sunday school is an important part of teaching children about scripture, worship and a life of community service; however, like so many other churches, the future at St. Philip's is uncertain. As Brooke concluded, "it is precisely because the future is not assured that our efforts matter so much."

For more information click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Message from the Rector of St. Philip's Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Although Thanksgiving comes but once a year, we need to continually give thanks to God for all the blessings of life.

This year has not been without its challenges, with the failure of heating pipes in the church, the leaks in the hall roof, a broken water main, and continued financial difficulties. Yet as a community, we have risen to the challenges. We can be thankful for the faithful stewardship of members who have responded generously to special appeals for the tower and for the heating system, and who have continued to give faithfully for our operating budget. We can be thankful for the ministry of the wardens and Building & Maintenance Group, who have devoted many hours dealing with our aging physical plant.

We can be thankful also for the spiritual growth that is springing forth, among both young and old. Our Tuesday evening forum brings out deep and often passionate discussion on questions of living as Christians in our society. A large and diverse team of volunteers has come forward to re-launch a formal Sunday School for our children. “Holy Moly” is proving fun and educational for both students and teachers. We have a confirmation class for teens starting soon. Our support for the NDG Food Depot and St. Michael’s Mission continues to grow.

The root of all this is our people. Members have generously given of their time, talents and treasure. It may be one hour a week, supporting our worship as a sidesman, greeter, server, chorister or altar guild member. Or it may be 20 hours a week patching leaks in the roof and working with contractors on other repairs. It may be $5 a week in the offering plate, or it may be a $15,000 special gift for the tower. We give thankfully because we find God here, and because we have received blessings, whether in peace and prayer, or in music, or in fellowship and community.

In the prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi, we are reminded that “it is in giving that we receive”. In thankfulness for all that God has done for us, may we continue to give of ourselves, so that we may receive even greater blessings.

Yours in Christ

The Rev. James B. Pratt

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Message from the Wardens of St. Philip's Church

Wardens Letter
Thanksgiving 2014

"Trusting God, Journeying Together, Building Community"

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to God for His gracious gifts. This is a joyful time of year when we show our gratitude for bountiful harvests that are both literal and symbolic. As the leaves change into their Autumnal colours and begin to fall, we give thanks for the crops that have been grown under summer skies. We are also called to be thankful to God the Father, who is also a Gardener and our parish is one of his many gardens.

How have we grown as a parish this year?

First and foremost we have become closer as a community and as a Christian family. Under the guidance of Janet Marshall and the National Church Development initiative, we have managed to greatly improve the morale in our parish. Our progress led Janet to describe us as a model of renewal to be shared with other churches.

Our frank dialogues at Parish Forums, Vestry and Advisory Board meetings are an indication of the new reality that is moving us forward. We have launched a dynamic new Sunday school program that is helping to keep our traditions alive for future generations.

Working together, we have shown that we can meet our challenges. We have completed repairs to our church tower. More recently, when a major problem was discovered in our heating system, we came together at a Special Vestry and made the difficult decision to proceed with costly repairs.

We are also working on the long term picture by dealing with very difficult issues that have been ignored for far too long. We are working on plans to redevelop church property and get our financial house in order.

We offer heartfelt thanks to those who have stepped forward and contributed. However, there is still a lot of work ahead, including repairs within the church. We all need to increase our giving if we are to preserve our parish. The road ahead will be anything but easy and it may be a while before we harvest the fruit of our labours

Winter is coming, a time of preparation for the birth of our Lord. As the temperature plummets we must work even harder to keep our church warm and welcoming. Let us pray that our efforts allow us to continue to serve and worship here.

Your Wardens
Richard and Shan

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Message From the Primate: A Call to Prayer

Once again we are at a moment in history when the world God loves is on high alert. The terrorist movement known as ISIS continues its aggressive campaigns to conquer Iraq, Syria and other nations. The world has witnessed horrific crimes against humanity and in the considered opinion of global leaders ISIS poses a very real threat to international security.

The governments of many nations have wrestled with engagement in a mission to bring this terrorist movement to a halt. Through a vote this week in the House of Commons, Canada is now among numerous allied nations engaged in this mission.

While I am deeply aware of the significant debates among people of faith with respect to “just war,” it is not my intent at this moment to draw us into that discussion but rather to call us to prayer.

I ask your prayers for all people who have been victims in this conflict, all those who have been displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and all those who are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

I ask your prayers for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who will be deployed for this mission, for their families for whom times like this are very unsettling, and for all the CAF chaplains and their ministries.

It is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada. As we gather “to raise the song of harvest home” and give thanks for this good land in which we live, let us be mindful of all the blessings we enjoy, including religious freedom Let us remember those who are denied this freedom and persecuted for their faith.

Let us turn to God and pray,

"Lead us, Father, into freedom;
from despair your world release,
that redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace."
(Hymn 576, Common Praise)

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate,
The Anglican Church of Canada 10/10/2014

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Anglican Church of Canada 2013 Annual Report

Here is the 2013 Annual Report from the Anglican Church of Canada. It comprises a statement from Fred Hiltz, Primate and Archbishop and Michael Thompson, General Secretary. It also includes the Mission, a thank you message and the Consolidated Financial Statements.

"The Generous Gift"

In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he commends the churches of Macedonia as an example of eagerness of desire and generosity in giving to support the work of the wider church. He confidently calls for gifts according to their means, and for joy in their giving. Indeed it is from this Second Letter to the Corinthians that we know that oft quoted text “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The gratitude with which Paul receives such gifts is reflected in his efforts and those of his colleagues to administer the gifts with care and diligence and to render account for the same. In a similar spirit, the annual report of the Anglican Church of Canada for 2013 is presented here. Inside the figures are many inspiring stories of wonderful people doing incredible ministries, each and every one enabled by your gifts.

As I say a sincere thank you, I pray with Paul that “you will be enriched in every way for your great generosity…for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:12)

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

Dear Friends,

A “national church” and even a “global communion” are always intensely local—always grounded in a place where people are making the difference God asks us to make. You do that in your own community, in your church, your workplace, your home, your neighbourhood. This annual report identifies and celebrates the “network of sharing” that allows us to share our gifts and resources with one another.

Here you will read about important work to strengthen ministry in remote and northern communities, among aboriginal Anglicans, and in the Diocese of Jerusalem. Here you can rediscover the church’s potential to give leadership in the movement towards reconciliation among aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, a long-standing commitment of our church that we celebrated in the twentieth anniversary of Archbishop Michael Peers’ apology for the church’s role in residential schools. Here you can enter into some of the excitement of a “Joint Assembly” with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as our churches rise above denominational difference to celebrate a common mission from coast to coast to coast.

As you read, I invite you to savour how God is at work both in the intensely local ministries of the church and in the networks of sharing that strengthen us all. This annual report tells that story. I hope you find yourself—your faith and compassion—reflected in its words and images.

Yours faithfully,
Michael Thompson General Secretary

Mission Statement

As a partner in the worldwide Anglican Communion and in the universal Church, we proclaim and celebrate the gospel of Jesus Christ in worship and action.

We value our heritage of biblical faith, reason, liturgy, tradition, bishops and synods, and the rich variety of our life in community.

We acknowledge that God is calling us to greater diversity of membership, wider participation in ministry and leadership, better stewardship in God’s creation and a stronger resolve in challenging attitudes and structures that cause injustice.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to respond to this call in love and service and so more fully live the life of Christ.

Your support is a blessing

Thank you for your generous support of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2013!

Gifts received from individuals, parishes, dioceses, and sponsors make it possible for the church to respond to God’s call at home and abroad. Your generosity has touched the lives of women, men, and children everywhere. They are deeply grateful that you have reached them through the ministries of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Consolidated Financial Statements

The Anglican Church of Canada adheres to the standards set out in the Imagine Canada Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code. For more information, visit www.imaginecanada.ca.

To read the Consolidated Financial Statements, General Synod of Anglican Church of Canada click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bishop’s Communiqué - Bishop’s Purple Prose September 2014

The Right Reverend Barry B. Clarke, Bishop of Montreal, The Anglican Church of Canada
Bishop’s Communiqué - Bishop’s Purple Prose September 2014

Greetings in the name of our Lord!
Let us give thanks for God’s gifts as we move forward in Ministry. ___________________________________________________

Executive Archdeacon Janet Griffith

With my support, The Right Reverend Bol Bennett has appointed Archdeacon Janet Griffith as Rector of the new Brantford Regional Ministries.

Brantford Regional Ministries is four congregations , including an evolving church plant with buildings at St. James, St. Jude’s and Grace Church locations. While there are 751 persons on the parish registers, Sunday attendance averages 235. The clergy team of this new ministry initiative includes two Associate clergy, four Honorary clergy and one deacon, plus a host of energetic laity. As you may be aware, Janet is from the Brantford area and her adult children and grandchildren are also located there. Janet last day is October 18th.

Join me in prayerful thanks to Janet for 7 years of dedicated service, pastoral guidance and to continually remember before our God and Father, her work produced by faith, her labor prompted by love, and her endurance inspired by hop e in our Lord Jesus Christ. May God continue to richly bless her ministry.


Archbishop Percy Coffin and Bishop-elect David Edwards

Archbishop Percy Coffin was elected as the new Metropolitan for the Ecclesiastical province of Canada this past May. I will be attending the Installation of the Metropolitan Percy Coffin at Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, on September 18th.

I will also be attending and participating in the Consecration of Bishop-elect David Edwards of Fredericton on September 20th. Join me in prayers of support for our new Metropolitan and the new Bishop of Fredericton.


Diocese of Masasi

The Anglican Church of Tanzania in Masasi, will hol d the consecration on September 21,2014 for the newly elected bishop, Father James Armasi. Regretfully, I will not be able to attend, therefore have asked Archdeacon Michael Johnson and Archdeacon Bill Gray to act as my emissaries. They are both honoured and ex cited to be present for the consecration. Please keep them in your prayers.


Clergy Conference 2014

REMINDER : The 2014 Clergy Conference, “In and For the World” will be taking place at Manoir d’Youville from September 21 st to 23rd . This year’s speaker is The Venerable Dr. Michael Thompson , General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.


The 155th Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal The 2014 Diocesan Synod will be held on Saturday, October 18, 2014 , 8am - 6pm in Fulford Hall. This year’s theme is Called to Grow . Please be on the lookout for the registration information coming soon.


Bishop’s Annual Dinner

We are again excited to host the Bishop’s Annual Di nner to support the mission work of the diocese, a cause that is so very important to o ur brothers and sisters in need. This year’s guest speaker is George Greene from St Michael’s Mission The dinner will be held at a new venue: Club Atwater 3505 ave. Atwater Thursday, November 27th Start time is 5:30 (cocktails) Ticket price: $200 a person (tax receipt available)


St. Matthias will soon be seeking a full time Incumbent

St. John the Baptist Pointe Claire and St. Matthias The Church of St. John the Baptist, Pointe Claire is seeking a full time Incumbent. The job description and Parish profile is available on both the diocesan and national websites.

In Christ,

† Barry

Friday, September 26, 2014

Climate Change and Christian Faith

On Monday October 6th from 7 - 9 PM an event will take place at Christ Church Cathedral - Anglican Diocese of Montreal (1444 Union Ave. Montreal, Qc.) called Climate Change and Christian Faith. It will address the science of climate change and how Christians might address it theologically.

A climate change scientist (and Cathedral parishioner/chorister) Dr. Barbara Winter will speak about the impacts of climate change and the Cathedral's own Rev'd Dr. Donald Boisvert will offer some guidance in how we might think about the issue from a theological perspective.

A conversation will follow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anglican, Lutheran Leaders offer a Pastoral Message on Climate Change

On September 19, 2014, just ahead of the People's Climate March (September 21) and the UN Summit on Climate Change (September 23), the heads of the Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America issued the following Pastoral Message on Climate Change:

We are united as Christian leaders in our concern for the well-being of our neighbors and of God’s good creation that provides life and livelihood for all God’s creatures. Daily we see and hear the evidence of a rapidly changing climate. Glaciers are disappearing, the polar ice cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. Incidents of pollution- created dead zones in seas and the ocean and toxic algae growth in water supplies are occurring with greater frequency. Most disturbingly, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising at an unprecedented rate. At the same time we also witness in too many instances how the earth’s natural beauty, a sign of God’s wonderful creativity, has been defiled by pollutants and waste.

Many have reacted to these changes with grief and anger. In their outrage some have understandably focused on the neglect and carelessness, both in private industry and in government regulation, that have contributed to these changes. However, an honest accounting requires a recognition that we all participate both as consumers and investors in economies that make intensive and insistent demands for energy. In addition, as citizens we have chosen to support or acquiesce in policies that shift the burdens of climate change to communities that are most vulnerable to its effects. People who are already challenged by poverty and by dislocation resulting from civil war or famine have limited resources for adapting to climate change’s effects.

While an accounting of climate change that has credibility and integrity must include our own repentance, we find our hope in the promise of God’s own faithfulness to the creation and humankind and in the liberation that comes from God’s promise.

God, who made the creation and made it good, has not abandoned it. Daily the Spirit continues to renew the face of the earth. All who care for the earth and work for the restoration of its vitality can be confident that they are not pursuing a lost cause. We serve in concert with God’s own creative and renewing power.

Moreover, we need not surrender to political ideologies and other modern mythologies that would divide us into partisan factions — deserving and undeserving, powerless victims and godless oppressors. In Christ we have the promise of a life where God has reconciled the human community. In Christ God sets us free from the captivity of blaming and shaming. God liberates us for shared endeavors where we find each other at our best.

While the challenge may seem daunting, the Spirit’s abundant gifts for service empower us to find common cause with people who exercise countless insights and skills, embodied in hundreds of occupations and trades. We have good reason to hope in all the ways God’s grace is at work among us. We can commend ourselves to the work before us with confidence in God’s mercy.

Opportunities to act imaginatively and courageously abound in all our individual callings. The Holy Spirit’s work in us leads us as faithful consumers and investors in a global economy to make responsible choices to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and the wasteful consumption of water and other natural resources. As citizens, we have voices to use in educating children about the climate and in shaping public and corporate policies that affect the environment. The Spirit has also given us our voices to contribute our witness to public discussion of just and responsible use of natural resources.

We also have the resources and responsibility to act together for the common good, especially for those most vulnerable to the effect of climate change in the spirit of the seventh Millennium Development Goal, “to ensure environmental stability”. World leaders will meet this month in New York for a Climate Summit, and in December in Lima, Peru, to discuss global cooperation on climate change. Working under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), participants in the UNFCCC’s negotiations hope for an agreement in 2015 that will move toward reduction of carbon emissions, development of low carbon technologies, and assistance to populations most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

We encourage you to take the initiative to engage decision-makers in this godly work in all arenas of public life — in government and business, in schools and civic organizations, in social media and also in our church life. We are not powerless to act and we are not alone. “We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ to give us hope and courage.”i

The present moment is a critical one, filled with both challenge and opportunity to act as faithful individuals and churches in solidarity with God’s good creation.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Anglican Church of Canada

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Equilibrium Photo Essay Exhibition at St. Philip's Church

Equilibrium, is an Art For Peace, photo essay exhibition organized by St. Philip's own Cynthia Nichols. It will take place in the Memorial Hall on Sunday, September 21st, 2014, at 11:30 AM. This event is in support of the People's Climate March which will take place in New York and cities all around the world. Hundreds of thousands are coming together for the March on September 21 to send a message to those in attendance at the UN Climate Summit which is scheduled for September 23.

Equilibrium is an Avaaz People's Climate Event. Avaaz is a global civic organization that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict. The organization is the world's largest and most powerful activist network. They operates in 15 languages and have over thirty million members in 194 countries.

According to Avaaz, the People's Climate Events are meant to send a message to world leaders who don’t believe enough of us care about climate change, that’s why they’re still not yet rising to the challenge of saving our planet. They see September 21, as an unprecedented chance to prove them wrong, with the largest climate mobilisation in history.

Cynthia describes the Equilibrium event as a "photo essay presentation of ideas." The images used in the exhibition are a reflection of a series of brain storming events held in Montreal where people shared their views on the term ‘Peace.’ They also expressed their thoughts on the ways in which their Peace was being hindered. Through these interactions the environment emerged as an important theme. The photo essay was assembled with the aid of photographer Nedco Ivanoff, who scoured the City looking for emblematic images to express conversations that augur change.

Please join us in the Hall of St Philip's church (750 Sherbrooke St. West) on Sunday September 21 at 11:30 AM for Equilibrium, a powerful photo essay accompanied by a presentation from Cynthia.

For more information contact Cynthia on Facebook or email her at galleryrealart@gmail.com , @ragsart or by phone at 438-931-6698

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tania Lesack to Further her Worship Studies at St. Philip's Church

Tania Lesack is studying for the Master of Divinity at Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and will be at St. Philip's for this academic year, learning about planning and leading worship. Here is an article about Tania from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College's newsletter:

A few years ago, Tania Lesack was seeking an opportunity and a space where she could discuss her faith with other people:

“Our [Anglican Church] worship services are not set up to give people a chance to discuss; and a lot of people find it difficult to discuss their faith; they’re uncomfortable because we don’t do it a lot.”

Lesack also found gathering people for parish bible study was often challenged by scheduling issues.

Now a graduate of the diocesan Centre for Lay Education’s Education for Ministry (EfM) program, Lesack reflects on how the program provided students with a safe space to explore their faith, look at the basics of Christianity, and gain a level of comfort in talking about faith and issues related to personal faith.

What exactly is EfM? It is a program of theological education for lay people, comprising four years of study total, meeting in small groups with a trained mentor. The program combines academic study with integrative components to help participants take what they learn about Scripture, church history, theology and ethics into their own lives and hearts, supporting them in living out a vibrant baptismal ministry in the church and in the world.

 “I have a much deeper knowledge, certainly a knowledge of the context [in which scriptural texts were written], which is really important. When you attend church services you get snippets of the bible. In EfM, you don’t justread it; you study it. The program texts speak about how the bible was put together and you come to understand it’s not a book you read cover to cover, which is normally how we read books; and it would appear to make sense with the bible because it starts with “In the beginning...”and ends with the events after Jesus’ resurrection; yet it’s not really that sort of book at all. It’s more like a library between two covers.”

One of the books read by the class this year examined the topic of interfaith relations. Lesack remarks that she learned how interfaith relations work most effectively through relationships between people rather than meetings where the topic itself is interfaith relations: “The stories were not about Christians impacting others but how the faith of other people had an effect on the person who was writing the story. Fascinating, especially in a multicultural society where we need to be much more open to interfaith dialogue.” “When you attend church you get snippets of the bible. In EfM, you don’t just read it; you study it.”

For more information about the EfM program offered by the Centre for Lay Education and to sign up for classes starting in September, please contact the Director of the Centre for Lay Education, the Rev’d Tim Smart at: revtimsmart@gmail.com or visit the Centre for Lay Education webpage at: www.dio-mdtc.ca/lay-ed 

Source: Montreal Diocesan Theological College's newsletter

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ecumenical Exchange in Montreal

One of the two new spiritual leaders of much of Canada’s Armenian community paid a courtesy visit to the Anglican bishop of the diocese of Montreal, Barry Clarke, on September 4 and presented him with a plaque of the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian.

The Very Rev. Fr. Abkar Hovakimian, 42, primate-elect of the Canadian Diocese of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, took the occasion of a short visit to Christ Church Cathedral to exchange views with Clarke on the role of altars, icons and other liturgical elements in the Anglican and Armenian Apostolic churches. Hovakimian was elected as spiritual leader of the diocese of the Armenian Church in Canada last May.

Clarke noted that the director of the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, Adriana Bara, herself Romanian Orthodox, is a scholar of icons. The bishop will be one of about 14 clergy and scholars at a conference organized by the centre in the Anglican diocese’s Fulford Hall on October 24 to 25, in part to mark the 50th anniversary year of the centre.

The primate, based at St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in the Montreal midtown suburb of Outremont, was born in the Republic of Georgia and has served his church in Armenia, in Hamilton and St. Catharines, Ont., and most recently in Bulgaria.

For historic reasons, the Canadian Armenian community, estimated to be 80,000, includes churches of the Canadian Diocese of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, linked directly to the ancient see of Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia, and the Prelacy of Canada, linked to the Catholicate of Cilicia, based in Lebanon. (There are also Catholics and Protestants.)

Bishop Meghrig Parikian, who has served his church in his native Lebanon and North America, including 12 years at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Toronto and who is known as an author and musical composer, was elected prelate of the prelacy last May. The bishop, 44, is based at Sourp Hagop Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in north-end Montreal.

Source: Anglican Journal

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back to Church Sunday: What are We Inviting People to Come Back To?

Back to Church Sunday is quickly coming upon us. I realize that I am stepping on sacred territory. To be clear, I love the movement and the initiative that this has created. I have heard many great stories from congregations that have seen people come back to church and many who have come back into Christian community.

I’ll confess that when I first heard of this, I thought this was ironic and had an image of someone in full clericals standing on the doorstep of the church, yelling out, “Come back…come back…we’re still here!” I’m glad that we haven’t seen that…I hope. I remember doing some work with a parish, and they really wanted to do something to get people to come back to church. I asked the blunt question, “Why?” What is our motivation? This church’s vestry didn’t have consensus – some wanted numbers up so the offering would be up, some really wanted families that had left over disagreements to come back…and a few really believed that the church offered something that no other group in the community offered.

The movement is about creating opportunity for a conversation. We tried our own version at All Saints a few years back on Valentine’s Day. It happened to fall on Sunday that year. We planned a special service, had some people create some valentine’s to give everyone, made some invites and a few of us took a couple evenings and walked around our neighbourhood to deliver them. I’m glad that I had developed thick skin during the days that I had to do door-to-door evangelism – we had more than a few doors slammed in our faces. I’ll confess, I was wearing jeans and a sweater, and was not robed.

Sunday morning came, and with it 3 new families, including one from the neighbourhood. They loved it; the kids loved the valentines and the candy. Our problem? Next Sunday came. We went back to the normal Anglican liturgy and the traditional hymns – and no candies. The 3 families returned, once. I was horrified and kicked myself. We created an environment that was far from our authentic selves. One of the 3 families returned and became part of the community, and for them, it was because of relationships they built.

In the end, it really had nothing to do with the special treats and it certainly wasn’t the liturgy we prepared. It was the lasting relationships, and the reassurance that they could be themselves too.

What are we inviting people to come back to? Or even to come to for the first time? Is our church even ready to be inviting people to join?

Source: The Community

Monday, September 8, 2014

Signs You’re Not Ready to Hire a Youth Minister

I believe in youth ministry. In the same way we are called to minister to senior citizens as they make the transitions of old age and help those living in poverty find ways to live with dignity and help young families with the challenges of modern parenthood, the Church has an opportunity to serve young people as communities of elders, parents, singles and professionals who can usher young people through the transitions in their lives.

For many churches, the pivotal accomplishment of youth ministry is hiring a youth minister: An individual with the skills, faith, experience and, most importantly, “gifts with young people”. Unfortunately, for many, hiring the youth minister becomes the end, not the beginning of an exciting ministry.

I work with and support many fantastic youth ministers serving God faithfully and, through a lot of hard work and prayerful support from their parishes, are doing some great, creative ministry with young people. I have also sat with too many others who have felt caught in a “bait and switch”. They were excited to accept an opportunity to serve in youth ministry, expecting a community that would support them, only to find that they were expected to create a youth ministry from scratch with no financial, prayer or volunteer support. Not only that, but after a year when they have done some important foundation building but there is no increase in the “bums and pews”, the rumours are now starting that, in next year’s budget, their position will be cut.

You can expect a follow up post about when to know you are ready to hire a youth minister but, more urgently, many churches need to consider the possibility they are not ready. The good news is that none of these are final. These are not signs that you will never be ready to hire a youth minister, but things to start working on within your community before you start writing up that job description.

1. There is no long-term congregational development plan or, worse, hiring a youth minister is your long term plan

If you get nothing else out of this post, read this: youth ministry does not happen on its own. A common solution is, “if we just get more young people, then we will grow.” Any sentence that starts with “If we just…” is oversimplifying and simply isn’t going to work.

Youth ministry is too vulnerable and unpredictable in its early stages to pin an entire community’s hopes on. The pressure of being your only congregational development strategy will stifle any possibilities out of fear that it will not work. A healthy youth ministry exists as part of a longer plan which includes faith development of the whole congregation, stewardship and reaching out to the wider community.

2. The lead cleric has said, “I am not gifted with young people”.

Speaking as a priest, I know I am not fully competent in many areas of running a church. None of us are. Hiring a youth minister does not replace the vocation of every cleric to care for every member of the congregation, “…old and young, rich and poor.” A good youth minister can support leaders in building relationships with young people, as long as they are willing to learn and grow. In the meantime, seek opportunities to learn more about relating to young people. I don’t mean learn how to use the latest technology; I mean learning how to listen to and support them through their transitions and challenges of adolescence.

3. You have calculated the salary based on minimum wage

You may not be hiring an ordained person, but you are hiring a minister; a professional with training, experience and qualifications. Whether or not you have a payscale system, there are many guidelines you can use. Consult with other churches in your area. Start with the average income in your parish, then consider the education level and experience you expect. And do not forget to budget enough in the long term for raises in cost-of living and merit based on increased experience.

4. You have enough funding for salary (more than minimum wage, even) but not program

We can talk about relationships being the foundation of youth ministry all day. I can also talk about the dangers of relying too much on program (in short, without relationships they do not nurture lifelong faith in Christ) but every youth ministry needs a program budget. Mark DeVries of Youth Ministry Architects suggests, between salary and programming, you should budget $1,000 per student. The lower the income of the families in your parish, you want to invest more per student to cover the costs of outings, retreats and supplies.

Another part of programming is continuing education for your youth minister. Make sure time and money is available for her/him to attend conferences, network with other youth ministers and keep up with the latest research.

5. Parishioners and lay leadership express no interest in getting to know your young people

Let’s be honest. Teenagers can be intimidating. They insist on dressing in their own style, they stick their heads into devices we don’t understand and, according to what we see on TV, know way more about sex and drugs than we ever will (this is not true, by the way, but it feels that way). Wouldn’t it be easier to hire someone who already understands all this to deal with them?

Well, maybe easier, but not effective. The Christian faith has survived for over 2,000 years because it is lived out in community. Jesus was always drawing his disciples into relationship with those who made them uncomfortable. As isolated as they sometimes appear, teenagers need community. They need mentors. They need nurturers. They need to be invited to help with dinners and taught how to use the 40 year old coffee urns. They need to know they are loved.

Do you have a prayer team? Ask them to start praying for your young people daily. Try a secret grandparent where older volunteers are paired up with a teenager to pray for them and write them letters. If you start to build relationships across generations, you may even find you don’t need a youth minister at all!

6. You do not take Screening in Faith or your safe church programs seriously

I am getting dangerously close to blaming and shaming churches who are trying to find ways to get around these requirements. I would go so far as not recommending such a church to a family looking for a church to call home.

Every time you try to cut a corner with insurance or screening, you are putting everyone at risk–your youth, your volunteers, your staff and your new youth minister. Youth ministers are not contractors. They are staff. Youth ministry is a community responsibility. Do not look for ways to not have to deal with your insurance broker or police background checks. Don’t think of it as going through the motions. Imagine your church as a place committed to keeping people safe. And don’t make your youth minister solely responsible for the safety of your most vulnerable people. Make it a community responsibility.

7. You expect young people to fit seamlessly into your way of doing things

I remember serving on a parish council as a young person. When I would ask a question or make a suggestion, I was often told, “We already dealt with that months/years ago.” It was suggested I refer to the minutes from years before I was even capable of sitting on a parish council. The other line I heard a lot was, “Are YOU going to do it?” In other words, we’ll let you screw it up so we don’t need to take any responsibility for it’s failure. It seemed no one thought I had anything new to add to that conversation, or maybe what I am suggesting could be worth the risk.

Youth are not the church of tomorrow, they are part of your church…today. The Holy Spirit is speaking through them. Rather than building a church where our older folks are comfortable to hand down to our young people, Christian community means everyone has a voice and an opportunity to serve God with the gifts we have at this moment.

Don’t hire a youth minister if you are not interested in hearing what young people want to create with you in your church.

8. You think your worship is just fine and doesn’t need to change

By hiring a youth minister I can only assume you want to open up your worship to a whole new demographic. You don’t need to immediately invest in guitars, drums and screens. But have you considered what it is like to come to your service for the first time for someone who has never been to church? How easily can a young person understand why you worship God the way you do? You may be surprised to find young people have few complaints about your service except that they are not really a part of it. Can they hear their language and concerns at all in the liturgy? Do you expect them to come just because it is Sunday morning? If so, hold off on hiring a youth minister until you have listened to your young people’s perceptions of your worship service and your leadership is ready to take them seriously.

9. You have not consulted with wider church youth ministry structures

Most churches that are part of a denomination will have some staff or wider network of youth ministry. There is a wealth of resources for your parish at this level. I can’t count how many times I have heard regional youth ministry staff say, “If only they had called me sooner, I could have helped them avoid this.” With only a few exceptions, I’d be willing to bet your denominational authorities who take calls about money and buildings all day would be happy to share some ideas about how to build a ministry with young people.

Don’t be discouraged

If you have reached this point and are beginning to think you have to go back to the drawing board, don’t be discouraged. Just like a new building, a youth ministry needs a solid foundation. Dealing with these issues before you start on that job description will give your youth ministry a much better chance to grow.

Finally, consult, consult, consult.

Talk to your neighbouring churches. Talk to your denominational structure. Most importantly, talk to your young people! And if you are ready for the possibility that they already have all of this figured out, they are just waiting to be asked, then you are even closer to being ready to hire a youth minister.

Source: The Flags of Dawn