Dialogue Summer 2024

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Forgiveness Reconciliationand

In the kingdom of God, forgiveness of sin is assured, but the consequences of sin remain. Consequences that can echo for decades.

St. Luke’s promotes re-use and repurposing of household items as commitment to the 5th Mark of

Archdeacon Wayne Varley invites members of the Diocese of Ontario to journey through the season of Pentecost with his stewardship reflections.Use these reflections as guideposts to holistic stewardship.

County Kids Read and Harmony Music Lounge to benefit from Anglican Foundation of Canada youth fundraising campaign in Diocese of Ontario. 4

Summer Fruit for Souls

Tuesday July 23 to Friday July 26, 2024

Keynote speakers: Rev. Canon Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller, Rev Canon Lynn Dillabough, Rev. Dr. William Morrow. Contact: mraddon@hotmail.com, (613) 386-3931

Visit us Online: ontario.anglican.ca facebook.com/ dioceseofontario Serving the Anglican Diocese of Ontario since 1991 Dialogue A Section of the ANGLICAN JOURNAL SUMMER 2024 4 Leeds
Thrift Shop celebrates five year
Season of Stewardship Say Yes! to Kids Sunday, June 2: Churches support 4th annual AFC fundraising appeal
KINGSTON. ACW members from across the Diocese of Ontario gathered at Christ Church Cataraqui on April 17 for the 2024 ACW Annual General Meeting. During the morning communion service, Marilyn Benn was installed as the new vice-president of the ACW and before lunch, guest speaker Dr. Catherine McClellan from the Kingston General Hospital Cardiac Sciences Centre spoke on women’s heart health. Photo-Mark Hauser

Report on reducing emissions in Diocese of Ontario churches

The 2021 Synod passed a resolution addressing our responsibilities under the Fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion: to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Clause 4 of the resolution calls upon our parishes to: “continue the development of action plans including reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 over 2018 levels and to report annually to synod council on the progress being made.”

To assess the progress made by the diocesan churches, the bishop has annually requested information on the use of energy sources used for heating churches. The Green Group prepared an analysis of the returns, and Synod Council considered the results and provided further guidance on the reporting. This year, 13 churches reported statistics on energy use in 2023. They included 8 churches reporting annual consumption since 2018, and also in 2022 and 2023. These are: Holy Trinity, Maynooth; St. Paul’s, Marmora; St. Mathew’s, Marlbank; St. Mary Magdalene, Napanee; St. Lawrence, Brockville; St. Luke’s, Camden East; Christ Church, Tamworth; and St. Philip’s, Milford. Other churches reported on some years only. Most of the reporting churches also listed measures taken to reduce energy consumption. Since the annual energy use fluctuates among years depending

on the weather, incomplete reporting does not yet permit evaluation of the trend in energy use.

For the same reason, a longer time series will be required to detect trends in energy use and fossil fuel emissions. Most of the reporting churches still use fossil fuels (propane, natural gas, oil) although some heat exclusively with electricity which in Ontario is mostly free of fossil fuels.

In most cases, in 2023, churches reported a variety of measures aimed at reducing heat losses and thereby reduce the carbon emissions. The churches described diverse energy conservation measures to reduce fossil fuel consumption: programmable thermostats (including

Diocese of Ontario Green Group


2nd annual Diocese of Ontario Green Group gathering at the parish of Christ Church Cataraqui

September 21, 2024

9:30 am - 3 pm.

Christ Church Cataraqui

990 Sydenham Road, Kingston

RSVP: greengroup@ontario.anglican.ca

online), LED bulbs for illuminations, lowered indoor temperature to 5-6oC when the space is not in use, weather stripping, moving services to the hall, energy audits for old facilities, high efficiency gas furnace (1 church), and solar power exterior light outside the hall.

Some churches are dealing with urgent need to replace aging equipment and are facing significant investments in new equipment. Regrettably, they are often getting ‘traditional’ conservative advice to install gas furnaces from companies unfamiliar with the new electricity-only heat pumps. Currently available heat pump systems work adequately at air temperatures of -30oC

(-22oF), and indeed are the technology of choice for the new climate regime. They also make it possible for Anglican churches to live up to the 5th Mark of Mission. An added benefit of cold weather heat pumps is their providing both winter heating and summer cooling for yearround comfort. One of the first in the diocese, St. Luke’s Camden East, has installed a cold climate heat pump in May of 2023; so far the reduction in carbon emissions has been about 75%—perhaps partially, but not entirely due to a warmer than usual winter.

A significant drawback of the heat pump technology is the initial cost of purchase and installation, especially for small con-

gregations in rural areas of our diocese. Recognizing this impediment, the Green Group had proposed that our diocese provide financial assistance in upgrading the heating plants of churches with obsolescent equipment. The 2023 Synod passed a motion “That the diocese assist congregations with the costs of the greenhouse gas reductions called for in the above resolution” (i.e., that from 2021). These are still under consideration by Synod Council.

If you have questions or comments, contact us at greengroup@ontario. anglican.ca. We would love to hear from you.

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Green Group Anglican Diocese of Ontario Most of the reporting churches still use fossil fuels (propane, natural gas, oil) although some heat exclusively with electricity which in Ontario is mostly free of fossil fuels Photo-Shutterstock.

Forgiveness and reconciliation as Christians

People don’t understand forgiveness. It is a counter -cultural concepts in our modern times. We are living in a “three strikes and you’re out” and a “zero tolerance” kind of world. Now we know that this is not the standard that the gospel shows us, and so when Christians try and live out the forgiveness of Christ in their daily lives, it can be confusing, unintelligible to others and downright odd.

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. If you wait until you feel like forgiving someone for a sin against you, I guarantee it will take a very long time and more often than not you will not get there. Many times in talking to folks I have had to prod them a little about the resentments and pain they are carrying and eventually we get to a point where they finally admit they thought they had forgiven, but it didn’t feel like it. They were still angry. They were still upset. They still lived with the emotional scars of the wounds they had received. They didn’t feel like forgiving and that made them decide that they haven’t forgiven.

Forgiveness is a choice. It is an act of the will, which means we are choosing - not based on our emotions - but on the principle that it is a command of Christ. It also happens that forgiving is

good for us and allows us to move past the wounds we have received. But there is so much more to forgiveness than just that act of the will. Forgiveness cannot be rushed, it cannot be imposed, it cannot be expected, it cannot be

bought or sold, nor can it be an automatic “get out of trouble free” card. After all of those complications, there is also the matter of the forgiveness we require for ourselves.

In the kingdom of God, forgiveness of sin is assured, but the conse-

quences of sin remain. In the realm of human affairs it is the consequences of sin that make us feel like we can’t forgive. When we have hurt or offended one another, personally, as groups, or even as nations, we must acknowledge that the consequences of sin

is a

still hang about us. The wounds and brokenness which sin caused don’t just vanish magically in a puff of forgiving smoke. When we are forgiven, we have to acknowledge the damage we have done, and show some form of repentance for the injuries we have caused. We have to recognize the effects of the consequences of our sin. Those consequences can echo for decades... even hundreds of years.

This is what reconciliation looks like in the Christian context. We must learn to live with the consequences of our sin, and learn that the forgiveness that we seek is a longer process. We must learn to live between the apology and the eventual washing away of the consequences of sin.

Jesus shows us that reconciliation in his conversation with Peter by the sea of Galilee. Remember that Peter had denied Jesus three times.

Maybe Peter thought Jesus wasn’t going to bring up the denial on Good Friday. Perhaps Peter thought the glory of the resurrection had wiped all of the brokenness and fear of that night away. But it hadn’t , it still seems awkward with Peter.

“Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asked three times.

“Lord you know I love you” Peter answers. Then he told three times that he must feed the sheep of the church. Care for them and love them. It wasn’t until Peter had faced his denial and the brokenness of his relationship with Jesus that the consequences of his denial could finally be put to rest. Peter couldn’t avoid it. Peter couldn’t hope it would go away or that Jesus would move on. Peter had to face it. Peter had to reconcile with Jesus...not because Jesus needed it, but because Peter did.

Peter couldn’t become who Jesus needed him to become until he had faced not only the sin of his denial, but the consequences of his denial as well. It took some time too, but in the end, Peter became the fearless apostle that lay down his life for the flock. Peter became the one with the faith to see the Kingdom beyond Galilee, beyond Ceasar, and beyond even his own time. It is on that rock of faith that we continue to build the church. but it takes time.

Saint Peter the Apostle by unknown painter. Seville, Spain. Graphic-Shutterstock
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It is an act of the

Music and literacy among 2024 Say Yes! to Kids projects in our diocese

Say Yes! to Kids (SYTK)

is the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) nationwide effort to drive innovation, increase collaboration, and create a sustainable source of funding for youthfocused initiatives across the Anglican Church of Canada.

AFC Communications the County Kids Read program which now distributes about 500 books per month to local children and youth. By supporting County Kids Read, the church hopes to continue to build relationships with children and families while doing their part to address the link between poverty and literacy by providing books to at-risk children and youth in Prince Edward County.

Since it was launched in 2021, SYTK has provided over $640,000 to more than 100 unique beneficiaries and fundraising partners in support of youth-focused ministry and outreach from coast to coast to coast. We are grateful to our supporters in the Diocese of Ontario who have given so generously to help launch and sustain this movement.

The 4th annual Say Yes! to Kids campaign runs until the end of June and we currently have two teams in the Diocese of Ontario!

St. Mary Magdalene Picton Says Yes! to County Kids Read

Since 2009, St. Mary Magdalene Picton has been a champion for

St. Mary Magdalene Napanee Says Yes! to Kids

This is SMMAC Napanee’s third annual Say Yes! to Kids campaign. Proceeds will increase the church’s support for The Heard Youth by once again sponsoring their annual retreat.

Funds will also support the church’s Harmony Lounge & Music Club, a thriving music outreach program that provides free music lessons and arts enrichment to app. 70 youth, ages 12 to 16. You can visit our campaign hub at www. anglicanfoundation. org/sytkdonate to see all 25 teams that are campaigning this year. You can also support our

efforts by celebrating a Say Yes! to Kids Sunday in your parish, and praying for local, diocesan, and national outreach to children, youth, and young adults. Remember that for every $20 donated to this year’s campaign, $4 will support the Anglican Foundation’s grants to national youth ministries.

Please give generously to a Say Yes! to Kids team and help to grow a brighter future for young people, today!

P.S. You can also mail a cheque payable to the Anglican Foundation of Canada, with the name of the team you wish to support in the memo line to this address: The Anglican Foundation of Canada 80 Hayden Street Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2


Or watch for your Spring AFC newsletter and make your donation using the donation form and business reply envelope.

THE APPRENTICE: on the job clergy learning with

Iremember one day in the Diocese of Ottawa when I had finished work. I was waiting for the bus home. A person approached me at the bus stop and said that he noticed that I came from the offices of the diocese. He wanted to know what

officer (DEO) at the Diocese of Ontario, I was born and raised in the United States. I went to Nashotah House Seminary and I’ve worked in The Episcopal Church(TEC) for many years. In August 2008, I moved to the Diocese of Ottawa, and have since held a few positions in The Anglican Church of

priest in our diocese proposed an apprenticeship. The Rev. Noel Henry, incumbent of St John’s, Bath and St Alban’s, Odessa was curious about the work of the office of the DEO and was interested in learning about the functions of the diocese. Noel originally came from India and went to Tyndale

in the work of our diocese. He thought, in his words, “that the best person to learn this from was the DEO.” It was an interesting proposal.

With fewer and fewer first-career clergy, or otherwise I may add, I found this proposal particularly interesting because it allowed me to mentor and form a young clergy. We developed a learning agreement, sought permission from the then Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Michael Oulton, Noel’s church wardens, and began meeting together every week.

Every Friday, barring emergencies, appointments, or vacations, Noel would join me at the diocesan center. In the morning we would have conversations about the role of the executive officer with interesting questions and discussions that revolved around polity, theology, and lived experiences. We often spoke about the racism inherent in our systems, and how to work through

the executive officer

it, even when it was painful to discuss.

In the afternoon we would break for the Coventry Litany at the Cathedral followed by lunch. We then would have further conversations, often with the bishop(s) and other clergy. This helped Noel to learn from other clergy, newer and older through collective wisdom. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. In a very similar fashion, I believe, it takes a college [of clergy] to raise a cleric.

I would often invite Noel to shadow me on calls and meetings that I had and would give him tasks that were an extension of the office of the DEO. This enabled him to see the breadth of the diocese, its various operations, and my involvement in them. For many, the work of the DEO feels like it’s done behind an impenetrable veil, like the Wizard of Oz. Although there is an element of confidentiality to the office, my time with Noel, I hope, will be the beginning of

greater transparency.

Our day together would normally conclude midafternoon with a debrief and further questions. This has been a fun and fruitful experience for Noel and me. We hope to replicate this kind of formative experience in other up-and-coming clergy. As disciples of Jesus, we must be intentional in spiritual formation, especially of our clergy. This is one way we are doing this in the Diocese of Ontario.

The benefits are oneon-one conversations and learning, learning from senior colleagues and lay leaders and the bishop and understanding the ‘day’ and role of the executive officer. A drawback, of course, is not being a full partner in learning when the issues or context is confidential, especially regarding personnel matters. I believe it to be a hands-on approach to learning ecclesiastical governance.

The two St. Mary Magdalene’s comprise the Diocese of Ontario teams for Say Yes! to Kids in 2024. Graphics-AFC

Re-new Creation St. Luke’s Leeds Thrift Shop Celebrates 5 Years in Elgin

Re-new Creation, St. Luke’s Leeds Thrift Shop in Elgin, celebrates five years in its new location on June 27, 2024. The Thrift Shop began as a ministry for St. Luke’s Leeds in 2014, when it was just two rooms in the ministry centre (former rectory) in Lyndhurst. When the parish made the bold decision to let go of the church building and rectory in 2019, while remaining a vibrant congregation, the Thrift Shop and Ministry Centre moved to a main street storefront in Elgin, next to the busy grocery store. The impact on St. Luke’s mission and ministries was more than we could ask or imagine!

On the surface, the Thrift Shop is a place where local people can get cheap goods—clothing, household items, toys, books—without travelling to an urban centre and paying higher retail prices

In a rural community where almost one in five children live in poverty, that is a significant incentive for the Thrift Shop to be present in the community.

In its new, more visible and accessible location, the Thrift Shop offers us a front-line opportunity to assess community and individual needs. As the base for many of our ministries, the Thrift Shop is a warm, welcoming space

for people of all abilities and socio-economic circumstances. This is especially important in the offering of our weekly Brown Bag Lunches and Meals to Go and our seasonal fresh produce exchange. An unexpected benefit of the Thrift Shop was how we support home-based and other small businesses who use Re-new Creation as a source for online sales or upcycling.

While many community members value the availability of low-cost goods, they also appreci-

ate having a local, ethical place to donate items. St. Luke’s Leeds promotes the re-use and repurposing of items as part of our commitment to the 5th Mark of Mission, “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” An Australian study estimates that the average charity shop receives 339 tonnes of donations in store annually – that is a lot of material diverted from landfills!

The proceeds from Re-new Creation Thrift Shop are shared between

Welcoming Connections: Diocese of Ontario Refugee Support

Have you ever considered what it would be like to leave the home you have always known, your extended family, your community rich in celebrations and connections and arrive in Canada as a refugee, grateful for the opportunity it brings, but as the newness wears off, the emptiness you feel, the loss of so much, the need to restart your life, the isolation of doing it on your own.

But we cannot do it alone.

the operating fund for St. Luke’s Leeds, which enables our many other ministries, and outreach at the local, national and global levels. Due to the pandemic, the first full year of operation for the Thrift Shop was 2023 during which $60,000 in sales were made. From these sales, over $30,000 was donated to causes that met our values: feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, caring for the environment, nurturing children & youth, responding to needs amid disaster.

Re-new Creation Thrift Shop is entirely volunteerrun. As our Thrift Shop Manager, Susan Duncan observes, “we have a great group of dedicated volunteers who truly enjoy their time at the thrift shop. The biggest reason they like volunteering is that they get to see firsthand the good work we are doing in the community, for example assisting people who may need some help just to get by, and also the Meals 2 Go program. We all enjoy our regular customers and look forward to greeting them week af-

ter week.” The volunteers are integral in identifying community and individual needs and how we can improve the space to make it more inviting.

The evolution of Renew Creation St. Luke’s Thrift Shop didn’t happen overnight. It was through intentional discernment, listening for the movement of the Holy Spirit and trusting in God to bring us to new places where we are being called to be the hands of Jesus in service to others.

ACW Diocesan Retreat

We need co-sponsors. Local people who are willing to assist practically, socially and financially. Making connections is a good news story for everyone. Maybe you are able to help out in some way.

We need young adults aged 18-30 to connect with newcomer young adults who have left their friends, their studies, the world they were counting on, to come to a new and safe place where they feel very alone. They are look-

Since 2015, a collaboration between the Anglican Diocese of Ontario and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston have supported refugee sponsorship in our communities from Trenton to Brockville. Many people who have arrived in Kingston through DOORS are now sponsoring their families. This is good news!

ing for friends, to hang out with and do things together with people their own age.

We need language practice partners. While English classes are great, newcomers need a chance to practice their new language skills. A conversation at on a coffee date, walk in the park or even grocery shopping can help newcomers practice skills in every settings.

Welcome others, help make connections, make new friends, make a difference.

Interested? Please contact Mimi Merrill at doorsref@gmail.com.

September 10, 2024 9 am to 3:30 pm.

Retreat leader: Rev. Margaret Johnston-Jones, leads us through our theme of ‘Gratitude.’

All women of the diocese are welcome. Please come and spend a day of fellowship at the Italo-Canadian Club, 1174 Italia Lane in Kingston.

Cost: $71 including luncheon buffet and refreshments. Deadline for registration: August 15.

Make cheques out to the Italo-Canadian Club and mail to: Margie Mulvihill, 269 Hudson Point Road, Elizabethtown, Ont. K6V 7E3. (613) 3423281, margiemulivhill@gmail.com.

More information: Margie Mulvihill at margiemulivhill@gmail.com.

(L) Thrift Shop Manager Susan Duncan packing lunches for our Brown Bag Lunches to Go. (R) Re-New Creation St. Luke’s Leeds Thrift Shop, 18 Main St Elgin, open Wed-Sat 10 am- 2 pm. Photos-Trish Miller

Stewardship Reflections

Based on the Revised Common Lectionary - Liturgical Year B

The following reflections are intended to encourage individuals and parishes to think about holistic stewardship and serve as guideposts along the way of our individual and collective faith journey.

Bless you during this year’s Season of Pentecost and your various activities and ministries, including the practice of stewardship. We pray for the Holy Spirit to enable and equip us in taking care of ourselves; the gift and practice of faith; our relationships; Christ’s church; our local communities; and the wider world.

May 19, 2024

A reflection based on Acts 2:1-21

may 26, 2024

A reflection based on Romans 8:12-17

june 2, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 2:23-3:6

june 9, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 3:20-35

june 16, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 4:26-34

june 23, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 4:35-41

june 30, 2024

A reflection based on 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

july 7, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 6:1-13

july 14, 2024

A reflection based on Ephesians 1:3-14

july 21, 2024

A reflection based on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

july 28, 2024

A reflection based on John 6:1-21

august 4, 2024

A reflection based on John 6:24-35

august 11, 2024

A reflection based on Ephesians 4:25-5:2

August 18, 2024

A reflection based on John 6:51-58

August 25, 2024

A reflection based on John 6:56-69

Season after Pentecost

Day of pentecost: God blessed the church with the Holy Spirit to go forth and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. As faithful stewards, what is the Spirit inspiring us to do in this work in 2024 and beyond?

trinity SUnday: Saint Paul reminds us that we are the adopted daughters and sons of God, in other words, heirs by grace. In what ways are we called to be faithful stewards and share this gift of relationship with others?

second sunday of pentecost: Jesus invites an act of healing with the invitation to “come forward.” What is your experience of the healing presence of Christ and who might our churches extend the same invitation?

third sunday of pentecost: Be reminded that we are welcome and part of Christ’s family as we continue doing his will among those we are called to serve.

fourth sunday of pentecost: We are like the sower in today’s parable when we generously and sacrificially share the gifts of talent, time and treasure. What are a few new ways that we see this offering flourish in 2024?

fifth sunday of pentecost: Jesus challenges us when we are reluctant stewards. “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” If you are feeling reluctant this year, what will enable you to renew your practice of sacrificial, faithful stewardship?

sixth sunday of pentecost: Saint Paul reminds us that we are expected to support one another so that there is “fair balance” between abundance and need. What are a few ways that you are supporting one another? Thank you for doing so!

seventh Sunday of pentecost: Saint Mark writes that the disciples of Jesus “went out and proclaimed that all should repent.” At the mid way point of the year, take stock. In what ways do you need to pause and renew your practice of stewardship?

eighth sunday of pentecost: Faithful stewards understand and accept God choosing the church to be holy and filled with love for God and our neighbours. What are a few ways you answer that call in 2024?

ninth sunday of pentecost: Jesus urges his disciples to “come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.” As faithful stewards, invited to take care of ourselves so that we may continue in loving service, how much quiet time do you give to rest and refreshment?

tenth sunday of pentecost: Jesus teaches his disciples a most important lesson about faithful stewardship. God’s abundant generosity is discovered when all of us offer our limited resources for blessing and use – together providing more than we need!

eleventh Sunday of pentecost: Jesus speaks about satisfying human hunger and thirst. Faithful stewards know who satisfies and it is a promise upon which we build our lives.

twelfth Sunday of pentecost: Saint Paul writes that we are “…to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God has forgiven you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” How are you and your church expressing thanksgiving for this greatest of gifts?

thirteenth Sunday of pentecost: It is in the Eucharist, the highest act of praise, that God declares to you how much you are loved. It is in faithful stewardship, the greatest act of response, that you declare how much you love God.

fourteenth Sunday of pentecost: The disciples say, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” Jesus responds, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” As faithful stewards, how are you doing in organizing your lives in accordance with the teaching of Jesus even when it is challenging and difficult to listen to?


The Lord is My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want “

“Only God can judge,” and “I am a child of God,” are two phrases that I say to myself often. It helps keep me focused on the importance of letting go of opinions that I really have no right to express (This is apparently one of the things I do from time to time that annoys people. When the priest at the church I attend told me this, I challenged her to give me an example of when that had occurred. Perhaps, fortunately, she could not come up with one on the spur of the moment. But, it did make me think more carefully about her comment). As God’s child I know I am accepted by Him, loved by Him, and comforted by Him—even when I do mess up. All I have to do is ask for forgiveness if I have offended someone, and He is there to reassure and shepherd me. And, I do ask often! Treading on peoples’ toes is not a good thing,

Everyone of us has things in their lives that they wish they could change

and not everyone likes to be caught doing so. I am no exception.

All that being said, there are times when I feel led by an inner voice to say something. On those occasions, I believe that this is meant to be said. So, when I am prompted to share a thought or observation, I do feel guided by God to respond. Sometimes it is wrong NOT to speak up. The key issue is: When is it right, and when isn’t it?

Every one of us has things in their lives that they wish they could

change, or regrets that have coloured their world—the ‘what if’s’ of living that result in negativity. I know it is hard to put them aside and move forward. When we ask for forgiveness and believe God hears our request, we should also feel His love and acceptance. But, sometimes, the mundane things in our lives take over, and priorities are abandoned. It is at these times that I feel the need to escape. I treasure those God-found opportunities. I love peace and quiet. It is bliss to sit quietly and read or write without being interrupted, to listen to birdsongs or music, to hear the sound of gentle rain, or watch soft, fluffy snowflakes. I am sure that is why our cottage is one of my favourite places. There I find tranquility. The troubles in our world, the “rat race” parts of daily living disappear and I feel the deep inner peace absorbing the beauty surrounding me. It is especially in these times that I feel the presence of

our Lord as Shepherd. How about you? Where is your quiet corner where you can be still and hear His voice? Not surprisingly, I also hear His voice when in the company of others who have similar values or beliefs. A phrase or kind word, a gentle smile to encourage someone having a tough day do mean SO much. After all, none of us knows exactly what the story is behind an individual’s life unless they trust you enough to share it. Otherwise it becomes a kind of mask effect, hiding their truth from prying eyes. I have learned not to assume anything. Instead I accept that I am not walking in their moccasins, and keep them in my heartfelt prayers.

I also believe that the 23rd Psalm is balm to the wounded spirit: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.”

Thanks be to God!


Check-in on community engagement with coordinator Russ Grant

Here are some common themes, observations and perception of challenges faced from the parishes I’ve had the opportunity to visit and engage in dialogue: We need more youth: Often congregations want more young people involved in their churches. Spirituality, and therefore, “church going” for today’s parents and their children, has changed drastically. It has moved away from the traditional “Sunday obligation” to something else. The dilemma is that scheduling time on Sunday mornings may not fit the busy schedules of young families who are engaged in dual careers, organized sports and more handson parenting. As a result, if we want to increase church attendance and membership, we have to consider stopping trying to change the people to fit our package and start changing the package to fit the people. That we need to do this in almost drastic ways, and sooner rather than later. It is not about

changing the message— just the delivery system. And yet, there is no magic construction or manual by which to do this, you just have to find something that strikes a chord in your particular community and do it.

One suggestion is that there are organizations in the community who work with youth, likely they would be a good place to start in learning what needs there may be. Sometimes we take on activities that could appeal to youth (eg: tree planting, seniors dinners, spring clean-up to name a few) they may offer an opportunity to participate, gain community service, learn about others by meeting them first hand. Ask, what youth can we invite to join in this activity?

How do we know what needs may exist in our community?: Critical to success is finding ways to engage and forge relationships with community organizations who are service providers and/or know about needs within the community. Be careful not to make assumptions about who or what is needed. Given that actions speak louder than words, this activity in itself also demonstrates genuine interest. Offer to host events, make your space a community hub and make

your agenda to listen and learn.

People today tend to be more cause oriented in how they support (with time and money) the things that they believe in and feel make a difference. Our challenge is to connect what we are doing to meaningful causes and potential outcomes. It is almost not so important what we do but rather how we do it that can make a difference…..back to actions speaking louder than words.

How and where do we form partnerships?: Partnerships can represent a huge opportunity to leverage our strengths such as hospitality,

compassion, pastoral care, fund raising, with partners who can open doors, provide complimentary resources, connections to other organizations and resources.

We can’t expect to engage in these relationships with a clear picture of how it will work or what benefits we will gain or indeed expecting a guarantee of outcomes. If we share a common sense of purpose, take the risk and work together. Obstacles and challenges can be addressed when they arise.

Many of our parishioners may be feeling burnt out and frustrated because we don’t seem

to be making positive progress. And we are not getting any younger. Partnerships can let us concentrate on what we do well and use our energy for that, then we find partners with complimentary strengths. They may be other faith groups, social service agencies or service providers for local community programs.

We are already doing lots: Activities that are part of our current outreach and community engagement can be both a blessing and a curse. Blessing for all the great things so many parishes shared about the benefits of their efforts. A curse because

they can lead us to the comfortable place where we are reluctant to try new and perhaps uncertain activities. Be sure to follow the Outreach column featured in the weekly diocesan eNews newsletter, find out what other parishes are doing, look for, be open to investigate and discuss new ideas within your parish.

We have signage and openness to our communities: the extent to which our buildings, signage and things like how quickly telephone and internet inquiries are addressed speaks volumes. Do you have a Facebook page where events are posted? Does you message taking system offer numbers to call for emergencies? How welcoming is our signage? Are service times clearly posted? Do you offer time for quiet reflection during the week? How important is your space for community gatherings and how well is that information shared in the community? I would be delighted to lead a discussion about this important topic and opportunities to test or try; or to be a resource for parish mission/vision planning; and/or to help brainstorm ideas for your future. Contact me at russellgrant@outlook.com 416-931-7153.

Diana Duncan-Fletcher: “As God’s child I know I am accepted by him, loved by him and comforted by him—even when I do mess up.” Photo-Mark Hauser Russ Grant

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