Diocesan representatives of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer Canada (AFP-C) will gather for a national consultation June 1 to 5 to look at ways of revitalizing the organization, which promotes the use and discipline of prayer.
In recent months, there have been discussions among the AFP-C leadership about the need to “reinvigorate” the organization, said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, national director of the AFP-C and principal secretary to the primate. He acknowledged the organization’s need for a “reboot” of sorts. “We’ve got a wonderful—if you’ll excuse the term—product,” he said in an interview, “but we haven’t in the last while learned how to market it, how to take advantage of social media, how to use the kind of communication tools that are available to the church.”
Most of the AFP-C’s resources, Feheley pointed out, “are not necessarily in a format that people use anymore.”
The AFP-C’s stated mandate is elegant in its simplicity, but complex in execution: the organization aims to help people pray. Or, more specifically, it aims to help equip people to pray. To facilitate this, the AFP-C’s executive works together with diocesan representatives, providing them with prayer resources to share with the members of their diocese.
The organization currently counts representatives in 17 of the Anglican Church of Canada’s 29 dioceses and one regional grouping, a number Feheley aims to increase during the conference, which will be held at the Lavrock Centre in St. John’s, Nfld. Feheley stressed the importance of achieving representation in every Canadian diocese, both to further the AFP’s mandate and to be able to draw on as diverse and wide-ranging a membership as possible in its quest to revitalize the organization.
“Part of what we’re trying to do with this conference as well is to increase the awareness of the AFP-C,” he said. “I’m going to be writing to the bishops, and I’m hoping that those who don’t have a diocesan representative will consider appointing one.”
Feheley expressed optimism, noting that the AFP-C is unique in that its mandate transcends theological divides. The organization believes the act of prayer to be an integral part of what it means to be an Anglican, of what it means to be a Christian of any denomination. “Liberals need to pray as much as conservatives need to pray,” said Feheley. “We’re not centred on a particular objective, or whether you prefer the prayer book or a new worship book or this or that. It’s centred on equipping people to pray. So it’s a wonderful organization in that sense.”
While the local bishop of Eastern Labrador, Geoffrey Peddle, will be invited to speak at the conference, the gathering will not be centred on any one guest. This was a deliberate decision, made in order to focus on listening to the suggestions and feedback from diocesan representatives, said Feheley.
One particular topic Feheley and the rest of the executive will broach at the conference involves the AFP-C’s readiness and ability to support the Anglican community in times of national and international crisis. Feheley noted that people naturally turn toward God, the church and prayer in the moments following a tragedy, and he would like the AFP-C to develop into a resource that people can immediately reach for in their time of need. Whether that takes the form of an active social media presence or a detailed e-mail list created in tandem with the diocesan representatives is something that will be determined at the conference.