I recently returned from the Anglican Symposium on the Family, a three-day meeting of clergy and laity to discuss the ever-changing landscape of family ministry and congregational life. While many denominations within the greater Christian Church continue to operate in seemingly outdated and irrelevant models, the Anglican Church in North America is actively seeking to address modern cultural concerns and to educate church leaders about the needs that arise in post-millennial society. We should note, for instance, that we exist in an education-rich, relationship- poor culture, that is one in which access to information is readily available but within which it is difficult to develop meaningful, long-lasting friendships. People feel alienated from one another, they feel too busy to engage with others, and they are often too distracted to realize how much they need one another.
The church is called to address the culture around it, to engage actively the life of the world with the transformative power of Christ. But how do we as a church do this? We could, for example, embrace the culture and the vast potential it allows for widespread education in the Gospel. In other words, we could focus our ministry on classes, electronic apps, lectures, guest speakers, etc., hoping that education would itself lead to transformation. Another route that the church could go would be to focus solely on relationship building, addressing the shortcomings of our culture by hosting get-togethers, social events, support groups, etc. We could endeavor through such efforts to help people realize how much they truly need one another. Both of these approaches are totally legitimate. However, what we at All Saints wish to do is to combine these two approaches, so that we develop deep relationships within our church family that, in their richness, actively foster discipleship and spiritual growth. We want to encourage you to spend time with one another intentionally, to love and care for one another, and through an outpouring of that love and care to challenge one another to greater Christian faith.
We want the events, the classes, and the get-togethers that the church hosts to be not merely agenda-based events, but fertile ground within which deep, truly loving relationships may flourish. Thus, an All Saints pastorate is not merely a social gathering but an opportunity for instruction, for corporate prayer, for worship, and for meaningful fellowship. In the same way, Children’s Church is not merely Sunday School but an opportunity for our children to share their needs and concerns with one another, to pray for one another, and to serve together in our church. And these are only two small ministries in the life of our parish.
Together, we endeavor to share in the life of God, in order that we can live out God’s kingdom ethos in the life of the world. This basic philosophy will shape our ministry at All Saints in the years to come. Indeed, we believe that this philosophy will transform the city around us in the years to come! It is encouraging to know that the province supports us in this work!