Andrew Stephens-Rennie


A growing number of people say they are drawn to churches that offer them sanctuary. Photo: nelosa

What brought you here today?

It’s one of the first questions on our minds when someone dares to walk through the front doors of our church for the first time.

Faith across generations

To this day I can still picture myself climbing the stairs of Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall toward the balcony. It was in the highest heights of that concert hall that I encountered The Messiah for the first time. By the time I was seven or eight years old, it had become family tradition to yearly immerse ourselves in George Frideric Handel’s masterpiece.

Our common future

If there is to be hope for the future, our faith-filled response will be hard-fought and costly. It will require those with power to cast it aside.

A new vision of home & community

This was an exciting summer for my family. There was the restful time away on a quiet island, visits with family and outdoor meals with friends. Among the highlights of these summer months, one stands out: the July 15 groundbreaking ceremony for our new home.

A barbershop is a surprisingly good place to converse about faith. Photo: Diego Cervo

Conversations that connect faith and daily life

The other day, as I sat in the barber’s chair, I couldn’t help thinking how wonderfully strange it was. There I was, sitting in this shop surrounded by machismo and boasting, listening to testosterone-fuelled music, and all the while engaged in a deep conversation with my barber about Jesus.

It all starts with listening

Music was a deeply formative part of my adolescence. Along with Biblereading and daily prayer, my Christian music collection was incrediblymeaningful to me. Audio Adrenaline, Amy Grant, DC Talk, Michael W.Smith, Petra and White Cross were just some of the bands in mycollection.

Discerning God’s call

I left home in 1999. Having packed what I needed in the back of myparents’ Toyota Camry, we drove the three and a half hours fromCambridge to Kingston, Ont., where I would spend the next four years.

The gift of questions

Phil Robertson’s reality TV show Duck Dynasty changed my life-eventhough I’ve never seen the show, am only vaguely aware of its contentand know nothing about its characters. I can’t tell you when it’s on, oreven on what channel. And yet, for some reason, in late December theshow presented me with an incredible opportunity for discussion…

God’s presence, in life and death

Some years ago, my grandmother, Dorothea Rennie, passed away in February. In the previous six months, she’d rallied and failed so many times that it was hard to know what to do, or how to prepare.

To boldly go in Christ’s name

After graduating from seminary, I served as the mission and outreach co-ordinator for a small Presbyterian congregation in Toronto.

Intentional communication

We spent the whole month of October in Valencia, birthplace of paella, on the southern coast of Spain. Half the day I’d usually go exploring with my family. We’d jump on buses or take long walks through the ancient walled city, investigating its history, architecture, food and culture.

Together in reconciliation

Each night before putting our son to bed, we read a few stories from our children’s Bible. There are stories of Adam and Eve, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Deborah and Ruth, of Jesus, Mary, Martha and the other disciples.

Awakening to the gospel

Before the inevitable autumn crunch my family escaped to one of the Pacific Gulf Islands for a short holiday.

Trouble in the dioceses

In summer 2002, I took a communications job at the north end of Toronto. Daily, I encountered scores of World Youth Day pilgrims and found myself regularly giving directions to Downsview Park, where the event was held.

What matters most

I was in the parish parking lot, closing the trunk of my car, about to head into the church. Suddenly a voice rang crystal-clear: “You can’t park here.”

Anticipating the blessed fire of Pentecost

It was a clear, crisp winter’s day when our six-day-old son wasmarked with ashes. That Wednesday in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, wewere reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Thesewords, in combination with Old Testament prophet Joel’s prophecy and thedark palm char on rosy newborn skin, left an indelible mark on myheart.

Campus ministry rescued my faith

I was a recovering evangelical. I grew up in a denominational context where answers were black or white, right or wrong. There was little room for doubt or questions. Trouble was, I had a lot of questions.

Translating the Gospel

One day, several years ago, I walked into the office and a well-meaning colleague pointed me out to a guest, saying, “Hey, there’s the youth!”

An emerging model of camp ministry

When young people come back from events like the CLAY (Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth) gathering, or a summer at camp, we often hear the question, “Why can’t church be more like camp?” Instinctively, we get our backs up—even though we’ve experienced the ways in which summer camp has helped young people (and many of us!) to grow in faith. What does camp have that we don’t?

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