I deplore the Anglican Consultative Council’s preoccupation with the differences within the church rather than concentration on the faith that unites us (Anglican council censures Canada, U.S.; September Journal).
If we accept the doctrine of original sin, are there degrees of sin if we are all made in God’s image? We know that each of us is unique. Some are born short-sighted, some are born epileptic, some are born left-handed, some are born homosexual. Do any of these individual traits make us less or more sinful?
Jesus did not condemn society’s misfits, but brought the good news of redemption to all. One can only hope that the Anglican Consultative Council will see fit to follow his teaching and reaffirm that the Anglican Church of Canada is part of the whole united family of all Anglicans instead of writing us off as an erring child.
Eileen Nattrass (Put youth first, September letters) laments the church’s preoccupation with gay issues at a time when young people are leaving the church. She thinks we should stop talking about gays (“marriage is for a man and a woman”) and put our young people first. Perhaps she feels that if the church would stick to teaching the tried and true, they would all come back.
I don’t think so. One reason young people are leaving is because in many ways society is ahead of the church, spiritually. Most young people today are raised to be more accepting of diversity. The schools hammer into them that prejudice and exclusion are wrong, a most Christian principle. Then they come to church and find that we are spending our time arguing about something that is not an issue for them. Worse, they feel our attitude is unchristian and unworthy of Jesus.
If we truly want to attract and retain young people, we need to reconsider what’s truly important in our faith (like God’s love) and stress those things, rather than spending our time straining out gnats (like participation of gay Christians) and swallowing camels (like the greed and militarism of the rich northern countries).
Ms. Nattras hits on a largely ignored issue in the church. In all of the controversy of biblical interpretation and sexual politics, we have lost sight of our mission. How long can we ignore the coming generation? All over the country, congregations are aging and this is a cause of concern. Yet are we really concerned with presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to a growing generation of spiritually hungry people or just that our buildings might be shut down in 20 years? Several years ago, the national church funded a position to encourage and strengthen youth ministry, which has since been cut. What does this say about our commitment to young people?
Capt. Shawn Branch
Prince Albert, Sask.
Re: Arctic diocese bans gays from employment (September Journal), I think the diocese of the Arctic needs to add a few defining statements to its job postings:
Social justice issues and constitutional rights are irrelevant to us. This diocese regards all forms of homosexuality to be criminal-like in nature. Because we honestly believe that this view on sexual orientation is morally right, we are therefore above the law.
Only individuals interested in actively practising discrimination will be considered for employment. Any person who believes in that insane idea of equality or those fluffy teachings of Jesus about love need not apply.
Is this the Anglican church?
Having read R. S. McKegney’s letter (Losing Anglicanism September Journal), one must continue to “wonder what the Anglican church is coming to.”
God does love us all, for he created us for fellowship with himself. When we come to him, he does accept us where we are, but he does not want us to stay there, in our carnal, immoral and sinful nature. Through sanctification, he calls us to repentance and holiness.
Yes, gays and lesbians must be welcome in the church, as are all sinners, but it is the purpose of all the church’s members to repent of their immorality (sin, rebellion, and disobedience), and to seek sanctification through the preaching and hearing of the Word. To say that a sinner cannot change (be sanctified) is to limit the power of God in one’s life; thus denying the reason and purpose of Jesus Christ – his life, death, resurrection, and redemption.
Red Bank, N.B.
Stay in communion
I am perturbed by reports of church leaders making plans to sever communion with one another over the issue of same-sex blessings.
I believe we should begin with what the Bible tells us. What the Bible tells me is that I should love my neighbour as myself. That is how I love God.
I take this to mean that I should seek the same blessing for my neighbour as I seek for myself. I want for myself the blessing of being joined in a lasting, mutual, loving union, with the person of my choice. I must seek the same blessing for my neighbour, even if their choice of a partner is very different from my own.
The Bible also teaches that we should love our enemies, those with whom we are in conflict. We do not have to like them, or agree with them, but we must love them and respect them – on both sides of this debate.
The Bible also teaches us that within the church we should love one another with the same sacrificial love with which Jesus loves us. We should work hard at staying in communion with one another, not splitting up. If we are able to love one another despite our differences, the world will see “how much these Christians love one another,” and will believe that the spirit of Jesus is really at work among us.
Evangelism should not lead to blaming one another, but to loving one another.
Rev. Fletcher Stewart
Canon Gerald P. Loweth’s letter (Grateful to be Anglican, October Journal) notes “we are working to allow homosexuals a full measure of acceptance.”
I was born an Anglican (Church Missionary Society Mission of West Bengal, India) in 1927 and am attending St. Paul’s church since I took up residence in Toronto in 1995. The “measure of acceptance” referred to would be against the principles of biblical teachings. The day homosexuals receive Anglican church approval and/or the day the adulterous Prince Charles ascends the throne of England thereby becoming the head of the Anglican church, I will boycott the Anglican church and build a church of my own within my own heart.
I only wish none of these “measures” would come true during my life on this earth.
Albert S. Mondle
Re: Breaking away (September letters). My 15-year-old daughter, hearing my incensed conversation with my husband about the above letter inquired as to what was wrong. She read the letter and her response follows:
“I am replying to the suggestion by R. Kersey of Langley, B.C., that lesbians and gays should break away and form their own church and that they have no courage. Well, I think that they have courage by staying in the church even though many people disagree with their lifestyle and hate them for it.”
As for me, I will only add that my Anglican church, my Christianity, my God, does not ask people to leave – my God welcomes and loves all, and so should the church.
I have a dream
In his book A Year To Live, John Bowker writes: “The consequences of treating Scripture as though history and personality made no difference to the words and content of Scripture have been, in Christian history, horrendous. By lifting a text from its context and treating it as a timeless truth, Christians claimed scriptural warrant for the murder of Jews (Matthew 27:25); by lifting a text, Christians found warrant for burning women whom they regarded as witches (Exodus 22:18); by lifting a text, Christians justified slavery and apartheid (Genesis 9:25); by lifting a text, Christians found justification for executing homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13); by lifting a text (Genesis 3:16), Christians found warrant for the subordination of women.”
Will the day come when we can look back and say, “Christians once used Scripture to forbid the blessing of same-sex relationships?”
I have a dream. I dream of a church where membership is about loving the Lord. I dream of a church where members are free to know the truth as each is led by the Spirit. I dream of a church where we can weep for one another and for ourselves. I dream of a church which can integrate 1 Corinthians 13 into its life. I dream of a church which can embrace the pain of the world.
Conception Bay South, Nfld.
All editors receive pleas to print “good news only,” such as Clare Dennis requests (Bad news, October letters). Propaganda is an ugly word, but that is what is being asked for – not printing lies as such, for they are easily seen through, but suppressing uncomfortable truths and either presenting only convenient ones or, worst of all, dressing up goodish half-truths to make them appear to be the whole truth.
Apart from mainstream religion being in decline, editors of Christian publications have an added handicap, that the kind of news that makes cheerful headlines in a religious newspaper – full churches, thriving Alpha groups and rows of happy smiling faces – represent the kind of “success” that Jesus never sought for a single second.
On the same score, you are to be congratulated for winning the award for the most balanced coverage of religious events (Journal wins 12 Canadian awards; Synod coverage gets first place; September Journal). Now that is good news for your readers.
Rev. Michael Skliros
Editor, Mustard Seed
Re: Mission possible; Orientation program prepares Canadian volunteers for realities of life overseas (September Journal). I would like to thank you for the article about the Canadian Churches’ Forum for Global Ministries’ orientation program which prepares Volunteers in Mission to serve in the Anglican Communion.
I am a grateful graduate of both the orientation and re-entry programs. The time spent with others going overseas to serve and learn helps enormously in anticipating some of the dilemmas and joys that come later. The time for reflection is especially valuable as there are wonderful resource people and materials to guide people as they try to discern their purpose. While I waited to go to the Solomon Islands I got so much support from the Forum community long with the national Anglican church Partnerships staff and my sponsoring parish. The Forum, as it is called in mission circles, is now 85 years old. It is truly ecumenical and provides a place for discussion about mission issues as the connections develop between Canadian churches of all denominations and their overseas partners. Anyone interested in the Forum and its work could find more information through its Web site www.ccforum.ca.
When did the taking of communion become a privilege that so many take lightly and not meaningful?
I was taught (when preparing for confirmation) that when I return to my pew, I should kneel, say my prayer of thanks, then continue to take part in the rest of the service until finished. Instead of returning to pew, laughing and talking to the next person to them, getting ready to leave, not paying attention to the final part of the service.
Phyllis V. Murray
Saint John, N.B.
Not a fundraising tool
I want to begin by acknowledging the wonderful job that the staff of Anglican Video did in producing Topahdewin – The Gladys Cook Story. My original purpose in telling my story was to help others who may find themselves in similar situations. I see the video as a meaningful educational tool, and that is how I hope it will be used.
It has come to my attention that the video has sometimes been used to encourage fundraising efforts for the Residential Schools Settlement Fund. This is unfortunate, and was not part of my original intention.
Portage la Prairie, Man.