Bureaucracy and mission

Published September 1, 2009

OLD CAL CAUGHT me  off guard when he walked into my Journal office last week carrying two cups of coffee and exactly four Timbits. He said he wanted to check out my office before I vacated it.

“I’m not sure whether to celebrate or to mourn your departure,” he said. I told him that I experience elements of both; that transition is always a time to mourn the old and celebrate the new.

He placed two napkins on my desk and neatly transferred two Timbits from their yellow box onto the napkins, keeping one obviously larger Timbit for himself. He smiled as he did that. “If I had asked you to choose a Timbit, would you have chosen that big one?”

I told him that I would have left that one for him.

“See? I saved you the trouble.”

He paused thoughtfully, then said, “I don’t like the Journal.” He said it loud enough for the staff writers and art director to hear. “It’s too bureaucratic.”

“Old folks like me don’t care much about Anglican covenants or moratoria or how big the General Synod budget is.” He opened the latest Journal that was sitting on my desk and, as he turned the pages, he said: “Bureaucracy, bureaucracy.”

We talked about the importance of reporting on news stories; that theological discussions by bishops are important to the church and that budgets are all about accountability. He finally acknowledged that.

“Well then, you should produce two Journals a month; one for bureaucrats and one for us church folk who want to read stories about mission.” He said that each diocese has wonderful stories about outreach and mission, innovative programs to feed the poor or reach young people.

“When I open up the Journal, I want to read about how Anglicans put their faith into action. Wouldn’t it be something if the house of bishops talked about that! Or if they talked about ways to fill our pews with young families.”

Cal looked around my office and said that he will miss this special connection with the Journal. I told him that our friendship began long before my stint at the Journal, and that it will continue for many more years.

He finished his second Timbit, wiped his beard with the napkin, said: “Well done, son,” and sauntered out the door.

Keith Knight has completed his one-year term as interim editor of the Anglican Journal.


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