“This Beloved Church of Ours”

I love our Primate’s now well-known epithet for the Anglican Church of Canada – “This beloved church of ours”. The description inspires confidence that we’re engaged in important work in an expression of Christian faith that we do indeed love as a part of who we are as a collection of individual servants of Jesus.

When I recently read a letter published in the Vancouver Sun in which the writer boasted about some Anglicans in Greater Vancouver who have chosen to leave our diocese raising a significant amount of money  because Canadian Anglicans are fleeing a dying, ineffective and inadequate Anglican Church of Canada, I must admit that my emotional state went through anger, shot forward to frustration, turned a corner into sadness, and then landed at profound disappointment.  Why do people with whom I had worked and worshiped feel this kind of communication is necessary? Yes, this whole situation,  fueled, I believe, by unattractive and misdirected spiritual arrogance has had an emotional effect on me personally over the past few years. I’m hurt, and I’m fed up with continuing vilification of our diocese, its leadership,  and its bishop.

Letters like the one published in the Vancouver Sun recently represent a serious breech of Christian conduct. What kind of a message does this kind of mean spiritedness send to the world? You can easily answer that question. What positive motivation can there possibly be for such a public statement that demeans us all as Anglicans?

What continues to frustrate me most in missives such as this is the blatant misuse of words like “biblical” and “orthodox”. Both terms have been debased by those who would take them away from us. Look at me: I’m “biblical” and I’m “orthodox” in terms of my Christian faith and commitment. No one’s spoken or hidden agenda is going to convince me otherwise.  No one’s theological axe is going to grind me down. I’m sure most of us feel the same.

After my headache went away – occasioned by reading the letter – God gave me the words of Jesus: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. This Gospel work continues each and every day through the work of faithful Anglicans in our diocese, and across the country in this ‘beloved church of ours’. If there are those who choose not to join with us in our expression of the mission of God, then so be it. They can pursue the mission God has put before them without resorting to bragging and unpleasant expressions of spiritual arrogance. We can –  and must – after all, work together. But I fear that’s a Gospel imperative that some simply don’t want to hear and be challenged by.

Rev. Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and an administrator of nwanglicanblog. He welcomes your thoughts and comments.

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2 Responses to “This Beloved Church of Ours”

  1. Neil says:

    Every time I hear the Primate use that marvellous phrase, my heart soars. It’s is why, like so many others, I devote my life to serving Christ in and through the Anglican Church of Canada. We love this Church, God loves this Church. Are we perfect? No – praise God! But in countless ways all over this country, we serve Christ.

    It is sad to see those who have chosen to leave to justify their actions by characterizing us in such uncharitable ways. It puts God in a box: a God who can only operate within narrow limits defined by us. That’s not the God of the Scriptures or of the orthodox faith!

  2. Steve Bailey says:

    More absurd media skirmishes! Today’s Vancouver Sun (January 5) offered up a letter that, like the one a week or so ago, is completely unacceptable in terms of its motive and degree of misinformation. Yet again we see clearly a situation where people, represented by these letter writers, are unwilling to enter into meaningful dialogue, but continue sniping from the back benches, creating embarrassment for themselves and for Anglican Christians in general.

    All we can do as serious Anglicans is to continue to refute what is not factual and to urge restraint in airing internal Anglican struggles in the public media – something that is destructive to the cause of Jesus Christ.

    It is not my intention, nor should it be the intention of any Anglican in the Diocese of New Westminster to enter into fruitless argument. It should be our intention to continue in ministry together as befits our communal and individual commitment to Jesus Christ.

    Nevertheless, here are a few reminders which again, it seems, need constant repetition:

    1. Contrary to the assertion of the January 5 missive to the Sun, there is no question that the Bishop of New Westminster is constantly offering invitations to dialogue with the leadership of those who differ with the diocese. This is a matter of record. To deny it is absurd.

    2. The claim that the Bishop is not “inclusive” is highly ironic. The Bishop has not “excluded” the “present ministerial leaders” of churches like St. John’s (Shaughnessy). Those clergy, along with others, have renounced their orders as ministers in the Anglican Church of Canada. They excluded themselves. The analogy with BC’s political party leaders is, of course, ludicrous. Enough said.

    Faithful Anglicans in the Diocese of New Westminster should not have to be wasting time and energy responding to these kinds of pronouncements. But we must, together, resist those who seek, for whatever reason, to hinder our social and spiritual ministry. Let’s get on with being the ‘church’.

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