Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Shrinking Anglican Church

The ominous signs are increasing. The Anglican Church in Canada are in deep trouble. The latest diocese press release (26 Jan 2010) reports that out of the 52 parishes under the BC diocese jurisdiction, 19 will be closed, 13 will be relocated and 13 buildings put up for sale. The Christian Post picks up on this gives a dramatic headline: "Anglicans in Canada Agree to Close Churches." Others predict that Anglicanism will disappear in one generation's time. Some leaders within the diocese have anticipated this problem since 2009. However the report reflects a pessimistic tone, even though it presses for change within the existing Church. It urges the leadership to avoid delay, and to change before it is too late. In "Avoiding a legacy of Too-Little-Too-Late," the writers argue for 'bold radical change.'

It saddens me to see a denomination struggling for survival. It saddens me more to see when the main objective is to try to sustain the existing structure, rather than growing through outreach and evangelism. I tend to agree that in situations like these, a 'transformational' change is preferred to a 'transactional' (incremental) change. The brief report is in a nutshell brief.

I do not want to add salt to wounds. Thus, I humbly suggest that all who are concerned and care for the Anglican Church in Canada, pray for the leaders. Pray in such a way that sustaining structures is not the primary goal of the Church. The primary goal of the Church is to be faithful to God, to proclaim God's truth fully and purposefully. Sometimes, such proclamation can also lead to unhappiness and persecution. If the Church is in the world but not of the world, do not expect easy treatment from others. If on the other hand, a Church becomes too identified with the world around them, people will not see a difference in the Church. If that is the case, perhaps, closing down such churches will be a good thing.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." (Martin Luther King Jr, Strength to Live)


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