Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the primate, greeted delegates on behalf of Archbishop Fred Hiltz and the Anglican Church of Canada at the opening of the Vital Church Planting Conference 2012. He harked back to a Fresh Expressions video of a few years ago, which made the point that not only do we not have children in our churches but we also do not have their parents and grandparents. That third missing generation “goes back to the time when church ceased to be a dominant force in people’s lives,” Feheley said. “But the church is finally beginning to wake up to this fact, and across parishes, communities and dioceses, we see it responding.”
Part of that response is the Anglican Church of Canada’s new national strategy, Vision 2019, which invites the Holy Spirit to take the life of the church more and more deeply into the paths of service and mission. “It challenges Canadian Anglicans to go beyond the institutional framework and embrace the call to mission that is at the heart of Christian discipleship,” Feheley said.
That call has been articulated in the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, a short statement of the core values that express God’s mission in the world. “Conferences like this, Back to Church Sunday and other Fresh Expressions enterprises are critical if we are going to be faithful to the great mission given to us by our Lord,” Feheley said.
He expressed the gratitude of the church to conference organizers such as Dr. John Bowen and the Rev. Nick Brotherwood, leaders such as keynote speaker the Rev. Dave Male, and supporters such as the Institute for Evangelism for moving the church forward and helping us “reclaim our vocations as evangelists, storytellers, caregivers, advocates for peace and stewards of creation. I believe the church, can and will and must find new ways to express our service to God and to our neighbours.”
He called the VCP conference another great step in that journey.