Month: January, 2013

Take 2: Institutional Roadblocks (or “What Doesn’t Work”)

The “moo” doesn’t work!  The MOU or Memorandum of Understanding.  It’s the contract/covenant (if you will) between the aspiring project and ANiC, which spells out what relationships and potential actions are to be undertaken by the project, and what happens at an end-point:  either the dissolution of the project or the movement of the project into a plant.  There’s nothing wrong with it for a group who are starting up a Project with the hope and intention to move through the Three-P process, culminating in a Parish.  And certainly, for a tiny group of 2 or 3 whose intention is to move that way forward, the “moo” works wonderfully.  But we are choosing to put institutional requirements to one side in order to concentrate fully on ministering to arrivals at our door.  Instead of the no more than 35% of assets (personnel, finances, time, energy etc.) that a parish spends on administrative endeavours, we are choosing to pare that to less than 10%.

There are ‘pro’s and con’s’ to this MOU.  We are part of ANiC and if we wish to reap the benefits of belonging then we need a relationship with ANiC and for a start-up project of any kind, that relationship is realised in the MOU.  So, we have a local finance officer to handle bill payments and income, but he (in our case ‘he’) is only a middle person between the recipient/donor on one side and ANiC on the other (as is the case for any project).  ANiC handles all the more intricate niceties usually bequeathed to a parish treasurer.  That’s a nice ‘pro’!

The MOU also requires us to be connected with an ANiC parish and for us that is only for prayer support. Our chosen parish is about an 85 minute drive from where we will have our Sunday worship meeting, so a close proximity is not a necessity.  But where we are going to meet in Centre Wellington requires us to have certain insurance coverage in place, and that can be an expensive proposition, especially if it courses directly through the ANiC insurer;  it reduces by about 2/3rds if it can be accomplished through the supporting parish insurance.  The National Director, John MacDonald, is the go-to person for advice on this.

However, we found that we were walking perilously close to signing our names to a document that, for us, was blatantly untrue.  We had no plans to have wardens or to move into becoming a parish.  So, not wishing to perjure ourselves, we created our own ‘personalised’ MOU.

The document that ANiC uses was passed by the ANiC council, and so carries a certain legal weight, and we were to use that document instead of our newly created one.  Following e-mail and telephone communications with John MacDonald, where our state of ‘potential perjury’ was spelled out, all parties agreed that consciences would be salved and legalities would be saved if the two lines relating to moving through the Three-P process were initialed with a note stating it is not relevant at this time. The wardens and other issues were deemed to be there in the MOU ‘if the project needs them’, as opposed to being definitively needed in situ.

We signed and initialed the MOU and, at time of this writing, it is presently in the Canada Post system.

No doubt we will find other roadblocks in our path, but once we had settled the MOU ‘issue’, as well as our Name, our minds have now turned to where the rubber hits the road.  Literally.  How do we do what we want to do, or, in my former nursing terminology – how do we ‘ground’ the ideas in our heads into action on the ground?  What does Evangelism look like in ‘our’ neck-o’-the-woods?

ANiC Goes To War

Our future in the Anglican Network in Canada is not one of bricks and mortar. Canadian law courts are stripping us of our churches and leaving us homeless.  This is a painful blessing.  We now have to fend for ourselves in a cold world.  We are reluctant to face this unexpected hardship, of course, but face it we must.  And, indeed, the more we think about it the more we can see a land of opportunity before us that promises a new Christian life with much more adventure and much more fun than we have had in a very long time. No buildings means no bills.  No fixed address means mobility.  No stained glass windows, no altars, no organs, no vestments, no fonts, no pews, no processions means people come first not things.

We are going to have to become – no doubt much against our will – the mobile units of the Christian church.  We are going to have to learn far more about operating in small groups and building those small groups from scratch.  We are going to have to do what churches of fixed address cannot do – that is move around freely, invade our pagan culture and occupy some part of that world as a Christian rendez-vous for those who reject that culture or are rejected by it, and then move on again – think of Brebeuf among the Hurons (without the stake!).

The pagan culture in which we find ourselves is a chaos of shallow religions, spiritual indifference and vehement atheism.  A swamp of ideas and ideologies.  It is also a desert of pain and loss, of heartbreak and anguish.  And it is in this desert that small mobile Christian groups can create an oasis of spiritual calmness, strength and nourishment and a refuge for those who do not find a means of life in the surrounding culture.  Small church groups, anchored in an orthodox Anglican theology, can do this in a way that no traditional church congregation can.  In such groups, the formal is replaced by the informal. Such groups can meet when they need to meet and where they need to meet.  They can attend to the needs of the individual and put those needs first.  They can interrupt a liturgy, for example,  to deal with a pressing issue or to welcome a newcomer.  Such small church groups can concentrate on spiritual growth and teaching, on healing, prayer, evangelism and fellowship in a way that traditional churches can not or do not do.

The challenge thus becomes to focus our attention on small mobile church groups:  how to organize them;  how to build them;  how to equip them.

In ANIC, we are inclined to think of future church growth in terms of church Projects,  church Plants and church Parishes.  That is, a small group driving toward a permanent structure and then toward a permanent building.  That is an option, but there is a place and a place of honour for small church groups with no such ambition but looking always outward and living out in the open, behind enemy lines.

 

D’Arcy Luxton

Take 1: The Orphan Circle Forms

We are orphans – just the two of us (unless there are others of which we know not) – living in the Centre Wellington area north of Guelph/Waterloo in Ontario.  And in the 4 years since we met at the ANiC synod in St. Catharines, where our opening conversation was “We can do something about that, can’t we?” referring to Archbishop Duncan’s call to plant 1,000 churches, we have attempted to ‘get something going’ in Centre Wellington.

In the local area there are like-minded Anglicans in the ACoC, some quite disturbed by its trajectory, who are not willing to leave their local congregations, partly because they have not ‘felt called to leave’ but largely because the congregations haven’t done anything to rock the local boat.  There are also some ANiC members who live far from their congregation who see ANiC’s church planting strategy as somewhat complex and energy draining.

So we remain the two of us – attending local and not so local (orthodox leaning) churches of other denominational stripes.  Myself, I sometimes travel to an ANiC church 75 minutes south and, for the last 16 months, as an ANiC licensed priest, have taken a monthly service at an ANiC project 95 minutes north.  My ‘partner-in-crime’ (as I call him, he’s a retired lawyer), attends Anglican/Episcopal churches when outside the local area.

Wishing to flounder no more, we decided to start a ‘trimmed-down’ project as an evangelistic endeavour (all ANiC congregations/projects have that as their mandate), without much of the ‘institutional accoutrements’ of a regular start-up project.  (Darcy has expressed this idea clearly in his own blog, ANiC Goes To War).

So trimmed down were we that we felt the need to receive Episcopal blessing, and having sent Bishop Charlie 3 documents we visited him on the Eve of All Saints 2012.  Our idea to have no wardens, very minimal costs, no commitment to the Three-P process i.e. a moving from project to plant to parish (without saying that might not happen), but with a commitment to be of service to those who choose to walk through our doors even to the point of disturbing whatever slimmed-down liturgy with which we are occupied (see the attached “CW ANiC Proposal“), that idea was met with genuine approval.

Bishop Charlie asked if he could do anything to help and all we asked for was his permission to go ahead, which he enthusiastically gave.  He smiled when he said it wouldn’t help if he visited, with which we agreed and then I said, “and when you do come, come in civvies and come unannounced!”

In the interests of full disclosure I should add, perhaps the ease of acceptance of our proposals by Bishop Charlie had 3 assets:

  1. We are in an area with 3 major centres and nary an ANiC church in sight, and an area that has been on Bishop Charlie’s heart for some time.
  2. I have personally known Bishop Charlie for some years, at least since that catastrophic ACoC General Synod in St. Catharines in 2004.
  3. My ‘partner-in-crime’ has known Bishop Charlie for even longer, as Bishop Charlie knew his Episcopal father.

The purpose of writing this Blog is to document our risings and downfalls, and to encourage other tiny groups of orphans (even a ‘twin’ like us) to start something where they are.

News: Article on ANiC on The Anglican Planet

There’s a great – and very informative – article on the Anglican Network in Canada on The Anglican Planet.

One paragraph of the article notes:
“At its first synod in 2007, ANiC had only 2 bishops, two priests, two deacons and two congregations but that has changed considerably. The new denomination now has 6 bishops, 128 priests, 28 deacons and 69 parishes, church plants and projects with more than 4,000 parishioners in church on an average Sunday.”

There’s also a mention of the Anglican Sojourners Fellowship in the article:  “Mark Larratt-Smith told of his web-based group Sojourners, an online fellowship offering support for Anglican “orphans,” “isolated Christians who live where there are no biblically faithful Anglican churches” nearby.   See www.anglicansojourners.ca.”

Read the rest of the article:  Former National Director of Essentials to lead ANiC: New Denomination Grows Steadily

(Of course, we know that the ANiC/ACNA Anglican churches are not a “new denomination” but a returning to the roots of the Anglican denomination – but why quibble!)