Posts Tagged ‘Denominations’

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.


Is no longer a safe space

sacredness is lost

the soul revealed

souled out

a place of judgment



casting out


must protect self

attack on children

sacred stripped bear to nothing more than earthly power and lusts

Where is the Holy?

God misappropriated for horrors



In or Out

Right or Wrong

Is this truly what Jesus intended?


CHRIST (Photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh)

We didn’t know how to take you
such persistance in wanting our story
in benevolence
others had sought it to harm
to injure
to cast out

Yet you were there.
Too close to the pain of the last attack

Not yet healed we were

willing to accept you were

wanting to understand us

How a family

with beliefs so contrary to the church’s

yet so open with home & love and faithfulness in Christ

could find a home— here

Yet we did

but we misunderstood

authentic yearning for inclusion

not experienced

saw it as another form of abuse


We are sorry

we will re-enter the doors

we pray a new welcome


as we are healing

yet we want family

and to finally rest in Christ,

in a family in fused through the love that is our living

Cosmic Christ…


A Faith Family.

Yip, last night I declared we are leaving protestantism…but what it should have read is we are leaving the tired ol’ bull shit of church politics, hierarchy, exclusion, and drive for power.

We are seeking a place where labels are irrelevant, where we acknowledge our faith heritage for sure because that is what has shaped us, but a place where one and all are embraced, diversity and gifts are celebrated. Like the ancient church we can pray together, break bread together, and discover God in the beautiful diversity that is the rainbow of God’s children.

For example, my son has the gift of preaching, my wife is a prophet, my daughter is a gifted worship insiter, and I have been told I have a gift for teaching, and apostolic leadership (being the first one to break new ground in a new Godly direction)…

So yes, we are walking away from the crap, letting the spiritual gunk slowly (as it moves slower than molasses in winter) shed from our souls as we heal and prepare to discover a true home.


Op-ed piece on our brothers and sisters in homelessness (2000, Herald)

Lose the Soul, Lose the Community: The Role of Community in Healing & Ending Homelessness (Eisner Institute & The Mustard Seed, 2010)

Short-Term Mission Reasearch Committee (Canadian Theological Seminary, 2006)

ASQC Training Manual (1996)

The Problems with Killing (Theatreblitz 1996, Alberta Theatre Projects)

The Great War (Cecil Swanson School Library 1988)

BMX & Me (Cecil Swanson Newsletter 1986)

As well as thousands of stories, novels, plays, and a short-movie from 25+years of storytelling 🙂

Post-sectarian? Where did that word come from? Well, it could just as easily read post-denominational but didn’t want to rip off Matthew Fox too much. It truly isn’t as brutal as his journey from the Roman Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church, but it has given me pause to think and reflect on discernment.

After leaving the TSSF/OEF and fellowship with the OFS I reflect on the desire for the monastic life.  But what is the secular monastic life? It is the rule of life ministry that leads into discipline within a supportive community to discover the living (Cosmic) Christ.

So as I sit and pray/meditate I look within to seek the will of the Holy Mystery. Am I called to be an Ecumenical or Anglican or Catholic Secular Franciscan? Am I called to another order where my only fellowship unless I travelled many miles is online?

None of the above. For a realization that has crept into my soul is simple, the vocation is there regardless of the titles, and yes the community is forming. Something new has emerged on the horizon, that is why it is post-sectarian (denominational) because this call to be a monastic within the community is to be lived within my ecclecticness.

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, co...

English: Shield of the US Episcopal Church, colors from The shield was adopted in 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My only thoughts for my brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church is: God bless you and keep drawing the circle wide. May other faith communities follow suit.

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 Mother Church, from another perspective

The Mother Church, from another perspective (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Christian Piatt:

here’s a question I ask nearly every congregation I get asked to come speak to. Before we get into any other real substance about congregational transformation, I ask them: “If you could realize your vision for the community today, right now, but it meant closing the doors of your church forever, would you do it?”

If the answer is “no,” then the mission has taken a back seat to something more nefarious. If the answer is “yes,” and if they are truly committed to doing WHATEVER it takes with their personal and material resources to live out the gospel, then we have something to work with.

Full article here:


Just a good laugh…Franciscans using the wealthy to bless the poor 800 years and counting 🙂