On September 30, one of the guest speakers at our parish workshop was Dr. Joel Thiessen from Ambrose University, who told us all something enormously important: he told us that St. George’s has an incredible opportunity for ministry in the next 30 years. Only, he didn’t actually say it that way. Here’s what he did say. (1) There is reason for us to be anxious about what will happen to our churches and our denominations with our aging population and declining birth rates. (2) But there’s a future for Christianity in Canada thanks to immigration. (3) The heart of global Christianity, and the Worldwide Anglican Communion, is now in Africa and South East Asia (together with South America it’s known as “the Global South”). (4) People from Africa and South East Asia who are deeply, faithfully Christian are migrating all over the world, including to Canada. When they arrive, they’re looking for Christian communities to belong to. (5) A surprising number of people arriving into Canada are already Anglicans, and they’re looking for Anglican churches to belong to. (6) Christians from the Global South are much more used to congregational participation than caucasian culture in Canada: they’re vastly more likely to attend church every week (or even more often), pray and read Scripture every day, consider their faith when making important decisions at home and at work, and tithe 10% on their income. In short, the Canadian Anglican Church has a beautiful future indeed, if we intentionally, actively welcome Anglican and Christian newcomers to Canada, and help them find out what it means to be “home” here.
And the good news for St. George’s is this: we are THE Anglican Church in North East Calgary! We are on the front lines – or can be, if we have the imagination and the faith for it! – to figure out what this newcomer-friendly future looks like for the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. In turn, this good news means more good news. It means the natural pathway for our church will be to grow, not shrink. It means, unlike most other Anglican churches in our Diocese, we’re not staring at a 10-year horizon, based on the average age of our parishioners. Instead, we have more like a 30-year horizon, or even more. And it means we can be on the front lines of helping share and interpret what is “Canadian”, and how we do “Canadian Anglican” here in our congregation. We have a chance to shape the future of our church, and to pass on what we really care about to the new generations of Canadian Anglicans.
These are big ideas, but we shouldn’t let ourselves get worried about the size and scope of things. God promises us, “see, I am doing a new thing; do you not perceive it?” God is bringing us into contact with one another across all kinds of lines that might divide us; and God is asking us to see each other as the body of Christ, and celebrate what God is doing. My brothers and sisters, we don’t have to do anything on our own. God is doing it. We need only say, “yes, Lord!” and open our hearts, and it’ll be amazing what God does in our midst.
May this year be a year of new blessings and new discoveries of God’s grace. Amen.
Your sister in Christ,