Posts Tagged ‘Anglican Church’


I have always enjoyed reading the practical current events spiritual magazines/newspapers published in Canada. Most are denominationally specific. Among my top 3 were: United Church Observer, Anglican Sower and Presbyterian Record. The last two I also had the privilege to write for and share thoughts, unfortunately they are also no longer publishing (the fact they carried my works has nothing to do with the ceasing of publication I believe). One can also trace in my spiritual journey, denominations or religious traditions have not been high, I have drank and do drink from the many wells the one river feeds, yet it is the one river that I thirst for.

As I wrote a few days ago after a cascade of flashbacks triggered by a denominational prayer cycle (Read post here) it is unique that the latest issue of the United Church Observer in their Question Box column, Spiritual Solidarity, touched upon clerical unionization.

                “Clergy conflict reflect the ongoing turmoil and anxiety within the wider United Church.”

-Christopher White

Workplace and community conflicts are part of existing together. They are to be expected, what is not to be expected in civilized society is such harassment, haranguing and trauma that individuals leave their employment, or wind up with deep rooted scars. This article triggered flashbacks, part of the work of trying to rise above my flashbacks is acknowledging the pain, but also acknowledging the good I have seen and been apart of.

Obviously, the article is centred on the organic transformation within the United Church on this issue, but I can attest it crosses Christianities tradition and denominational lines. Following is a few thoughts on the good and bad I have been apart of.

“I also believe that more and more…is moving from primarily seeing ministry as a covenanted relationship to seeing it as a contractual one.”

-Christopher White

  1. The small congregation that hired me as a youth leader leaving my first experience, and then a minister. Both with contradicting missions. The congregation responding to the pain their abuse had caused catastrophe with previous ministries, allowing those with the money to run rampant. Online abuse existed before social media it was done via cc and bcc on e-mail as my character and personhood were attacked by those in the church that did not like their children/youth thinking. The harassment also continued through the office of clergy towards me, and some youth with mental health concerns. Meetings were held; then it went up to the Presbytery level to meet with the congregation and even though these meetings concerned me I was not allowed to attend. Eventually they beat you down, and I chose to surrender my ministry—yes the majority wanted to bring me on as minister, but even with mechanisms to sanction the vocal minority bullies—they refused. How did the organization reward this community? With more money, bigger space…message sent to those targeted—you do not matter.
  2. Being a Lay Professional Leader in a congregation doing things such as contemplative worship services, pulpit fill in; leading a bible study. Yet the wealthy in the aging congregation got their tempest in a tea pot over kids at play, noise, and the online attack campaign begun. Unwillingness again to call out a spade as a spade from those higher due to—yup you guessed it—money at play as donors.
  3. Stalked on and harassed via social media by a congregation and their pastor—why? As a family, we attempted to advertise our home bible study and potluck on the church Facebook page. My wife encouraged to distance herself from me and my unChrist-like influence. When she refused, and we chose to leave as a family those that said they were our “friends” shunned us like leaving a cult.
  4. My son’s joyful noise at a Santa Clause service being called out in vehement anger by the minister and called to leave service. Shunned by the supposedly “inclusive” spiritual home. In the moment those who preached standing up for injustice became the bystanders while the bully postured and the bullied was left believing he was on Santa’s naughty list.
  5. In Bible College having a professor point blank tell the class when I answered in favour of inclusion “that is why your church must die”…and being taunted in the halls as the “fag church member” still standing strong and up as best I could, leaving the learning environment to be battered in my “church homes” as I tried to build ministries.
  6. Para-church directors head hunting to fire me for my political and/or theological beliefs not aligning with their personal understanding.
  7. Being the family scape goated by an ill-equipped children’s educational ministry, because we had the “special needs kid” and not looking seriously at the bullying issue by the children of the long term generational members, and having the “r word” used to describe my son.
  8. Hearing during service a priest being called out on the rug because he took a stand for inclusion of God’s children, and love for those who are differently abled.

That is the darkness. Some can see through that a need for the mediating voice, but a union is not just there for the darkness, they are there to create a support network for successes. A place where the story can be shared for what has transformed, what has been overcome, and can create a relationship where clergy can easily move between denominations.

  1. I have been apart of wonderful churches that have had no actual building. Where ministries and retreats for youth were sponsored by church family members (with or without kids) in their own homes.
  2. I have been there when seniors have continued to answer the call to serve our children as they closed in on 100 years old, as we created “Elders Time” where a big comfy chair was created and the Elder could share the story, and then have the youth be their hands and legs for the activity.
  3. I have seen the passion of inclusion, where walls were broken down and churches laughed off the “tradition” of church youth/community youth time tables to have open youth group for all where spiritual formation was encouraged, and critical thought.
  4. I have seen youth and young families forego the “contemporary” service to be apart of the old liturgical service because it is where the seniors were, and allowed those without grandparents to find that role in their life in church.
  5. I have broken bread, shared meals, lifted many families and friends within my own home around simple things as movie discussion nights, bible studies…where life was done for those shunned by churches they did not fit the mold for due to life circumstance, simple acts of kindness and love allowed the journey to continue… and yes, the noise of children is apart of that.
  6. A Children’s Ministry coordinator coming and speaking directly to my son about coming and being part of the group, not asking us, asking him and listening close for his body language and spastic voice if he wanted to come.
  7. Having a priest during High Mass while blessing the host pause, as my son cheers loudly, and state to the congregation overflowing, “May we all have that excitement to be one with Jesus!”
  8. A minister that contacts my son about if he wants to be in the Christmas pageant, and then the congregation learns about inclusionary communication tools.
  9. Simple things, like a free half day Vacation Bible School that I was blessed to be apart of growing up, and then my teacher asking if my daughter would attend as they are re-launching (and yes, this past summer she learned some French!).
  10. Offering scholarships for VBS’s that have a cost so no child is turned away.
  11. Celebrating the diversity in our unity as spiritual beings from who we are to where we are from…whether it is being Affirming or Dancing our Offering to the Altar to everything in between and not even dreamed of yet.
  12. A Priest taking the flack for replacing offering over two weeks of masses to ensure the food cupboard is overflowing with blessing.
  13. A nun that gathers toys to deliver with food hampers to families in need, and when families without homes sleep in the church ensure that even the volunteers have what they need.
  14. A priest that is troubled by persons with mobility issues not being able to get to the dining hall with dignity for church meals, installs and elevator.
  15. A priest that volunteers with homeless families and realizes they do not have the opportunity to shower in the parish before going out for their day. Installs showers, and announces offering from that weekend needs to be generous to pay for it.

For every horror story there is good stories, even great ones. Yet we cannot say the good outweighs the bad. We cannot say “this is church” to allow for the bullying. People are essentially good. We need to be generous in our ability to do what we can to build a better world, one simple act of kindness at a time.

A union for church employees on the surface may be something to be scoffed at, but it creates a mediating body, removes the ability of congregations or higher church authorities to cover up for PR reasons. It creates an environment with standardized codes of care and conduct that cannot be shouted down due to the “wealthy donor” paradigm. It levels the playing field, much like the gospels pointed to.

This is my story, my experience, my opinion. My act of reconciliation as the story stands, the truth told…now it is time to move forward…into a new day, and a hopeful healthier relationship in the congregation we have settled in.


I was wracking my mind and heart about what to share on this day of new life. Then I do what many do on Christmas day, a family tradition. We would gather throughout my life to watch the Queen address the Commonwealth. So the wife and I once again did today, and her message, the 60th on television, she was the first monarch to use the medium (and has been the only one since)…celebrating her platinum wedding anniversary to Prince Phillip. Speaking of the light in the darkness, the love of neighbour and self through first responders, charity, church and reclaiming/claiming home.

“The simplicity of the call of home this time of year”

-Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth, Religious head of the Church of England (Anglican Communion)

From our family to yours this season, please join our tradition, read the article and listen to the Queen’s Christmas Message 2017.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR.

 


I have provided many snapshots to my growing understanding, theology of the Holy Mystery if you will here in these pages. You have had the opportunity to read reflections on belief statements from the ancient Creeds, the United Church and the Anglican Church.  Currently my family finds ourselves in attendance with the Associated Gospel Churches (Canada) and it has led me to reflect on their doctrinal statement.  The doctrinal statement is bolded and italicized, my thoughts follow each section in normal type. I do appreciate this denomination’s attempt to proof text each statement with multiple scripture excerpts, but really, do not find much holds water in this type of systematics. Without further ado here begins my reflection…

Read the Associate Gospel Churches Articles of Faith and Doctrine with my reflections here.

A more truncated version of the AGC Statement of Faith is here. I did not reflect on this one for the simple fact that there was more meat to the 2004 version for reflection.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Now, after viewing the reflection one may ask how I landed at what may appear as such as divergent theological spot. The answer is simple, Crossroads Community Church through their Mum & Baby group, parenting support groups, community dinners, great spiritual formation (sunday school for all ages), preaching & worship, work with the local public schools, community outreach, community associations, other churches, and of course the planting of the Cornerstone Youth Centre have proven themselves to me without a doubt (and possibly to some of their chagrin, 🙂 ) to be a community within the Franciscan Charism of living the Gospel Life.

 


Unicorn Golf & Games

A.C.A. Electric Ltd.

Chuck E. Cheese, Calgary Co-op, August Electronics Inc.

Smithbooks/Coles

United Church of Canada‘s congregations of Foothills, Symons Valley, Campbell-Stone

St. George’s Anglican Church (also where I was the first wee babe baptized on the parish role in 1978)

The Mustard Seed Society (formerly Street Ministry)

Hull Child & Family Services, Calgary Sun, Presbyterian Record,

Spiritual Directions, University of Calgary Continuing Education

Eisner Institute for Professional Studies


La Villita Chapel, San Antonio, TX

La Villita Chapel, San Antonio, TX (Photo credit: bethers)

Logo of the Anglican Church of Canada

Logo of the Anglican Church of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ahh yes it was not too long ago I pulled the plug on the Rainbow Chapel. Yet as this time has elapsed I have spent time listening, to the Holy Mystery, but also to others who have jounrneyed through churches but not necessarily found a place to fit or better yet be welcomed.

The Rainbow Chapel for its first run did quite well, many rediscovered or discovered their faith. Renewal, recreation…this is the purpose of the little Home Parish that could.

What has changed this time?

Not much, we are still offering our pizza n’ movie, bible study and sporadic services (check out our facebook page that you can link to through the Rainbow Chapel page). But it is becoming more intentional as a place of welcome, drawing the circle wide, being that one place of inclusion & hospitality where the traditional hierarchal ladder of the Christianities is torn down.

We are in discussion with the Universal Anglican Church of affiliating with so that we are connected to a broader inclusive Christianity.

Now, some sit and say that this home parish is just a way to make money…sorry that was my laughter pause.  For you see money is the least from our mind, here is what we think of tithe/offering. There are three ways this is offered:

Giving time to your community/world

Giving of your talents to your community/world

Giving of your treasure (monies) to your community world

Some are blessed to give in one area, some two, some three… but let the Holy Mystery guide you in your passions to build Her reign here.

So what is the re-created Rainbow Chapel about?

Jesus. Love. Inclusion. Peace. Justice. Hope. A better community.

Come join us in the heart of Rundle.

Shalom & Namaste.


 

  The challenge of being a father to a differently abled child in the church is that churches trapped in the Modernist Paradigm do not see them as they truly are, people. We tried two different churches over the summer.  I decided to inform my discernment committee my heart was not in the ministerial call, which it wasn’t, the congregations reaction to my son had ripped my soul apart with this church that had meant so much to me.

  Hillhurst United presents as a progressive church, but it is highly barriered for move those around who require assistance. The music is awesome, and the preaching is good, unfortunately no one would talk to us, and when we took our son to Sunday School, they would sneak him down to the Baby’s Nursery not knowing what to do with them.  It was the day I caught them doing this, taking Leland out to the car, when he gave me a big hug and said “Love you Da” that I knew we needed something different.

  We tried the United Church in our community, Robert McClure, but found after 3 weeks that unfortunately not even our 2 year old, Justina, was being fed.

  We were trapped in a conundrum, because we truly believed in the Creeds and statements of faith of the UCC as a family, yet we were unwelcome in the United Church (funny I know).  Shawna and I were part of a book club, with a friend of mine, Nicholas, from my Anglican Church days, and he mentioned a progressive Lutheran Church he was apart of in the “Holy Cul de Sac” of the Properties.

  It was better than not attending a church, we understood that the ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) was struggling with the question of human sexuality, but unlike some churches were talking openly about it, and bleeding members on both sides of the equation. We considered St. Thomas More, but discovered the priests had been removed from the diocese, and the new leadership was not taking it in a good direction.

  I delivered my official resignation to Foothills United from their church council and from membership, the UCC, while progressive on paper was trapped in a severe death spasm that was going to play out (much like the Presbyterian and Anglican church, how I pray human ego could be removed so the main line church in Canada could get together as one voice, one body, so as not to loose this strong progressive Christian voice).