Evangelism is simply telling good news of Christ

By on April 1, 2004

Dear editor,

May I commend you on the encouraging article on Canon Michael Patterson’s appointment as evangelism director in the diocese of Niagara (Evangelism not so scary after all, January).

His view on evangelism appears to parallel with the teaching I received from Rev. A. LeDrew Gardner, in Saint John in the 1970s.

Mr. Gardner explained that an evangelist is anyone telling someone the good news of Jesus Christ and why he came.

In Mr. Gardner’s eyes, a mother telling a bedtime story to her children is doing the work of an evangelist. This was the job Jesus left His followers – “Go tell”… Matt. 28: 19 – 20.

He suggested that there are different methods of evangelism – some we might like, other ways may not be our way, but if the end result brings a person to hear about Jesus and his love, who are we to knock the method?

I am excited to see Mr. Patterson taking this challenge to get the Word out – going where people are and offering the Gospel.

Bishop Ralph Spence is to be congratulated for seeing the need and seeking a solution that could sweep Canada with God’s love.

Norma Kelly

Riverview, N.B.


Many traditions

Dear editor,

While I am very grateful to the Anglican Journal for its story, and for trying to grasp what is often perceived to be a difficult concept (evangelism in the Anglican church), those who know me would understand that it was never my intention to compare ourselves to any other church nor to any other Christian method of proclaiming the gospel.

Perhaps the misinterpretation of my words (Letters, March) was in the fact that I did emphasize that our approach to evangelism will differ from others and will be very respectful of our tradition as Anglicans. This is very important for two reasons. First, our church is different and we have no intention of trying to mimic another tradition. Second, evangelism is a difficult term for Anglicans and I want to alleviate the fears that our members may have about what will inevitably be a wonderful, life-giving process.

What we know is that we have a wonderful tradition in our Anglican community of liturgy, spirituality and hospitality that is unmatched. Our problem is that we often do not know how, or better yet do not have the tools to let other people know about our wonderful gifts. At least in part, that is my job. I help our parishes to recognize their unique gifts and then find ways in which they might proclaim those gifts to their local communities.

We’re good people, with a great tradition. The time has come to proclaim that from the hill tops. This does not take away from any other tradition. We all understand that for many people in the wider community, the fit will be better in another church that offers a different theology or a different style of worship. That is wonderful and it is clearly my hope we can all work together, with our differing and complimentary gifts to build the reign of God on this earth.

Canon Michael Patterson

Director of Evangelism

Diocese of Niagara


Two streams then too

Dear editor,

Bishop Ronald C. Ferris wrote a thoughtful article headed As we enter this divisive debate, what are the rules (February). His analysis covered the many possible scenarios that could play out.

One paragraph caught my attention: “In the past century two streams of Anglicanism have co-existed, accommodated to one another, and I believe they enriched one another. These two streams could be characterized as Salvationist and Liberalist.”

It is natural that one should refer to God’s handbook, the Bible, to see if such problems existed in the early Christian church. My research showed me that the Apostle Paul seems to have had two streams in Corinth, and he wrote to them telling them so, and explaining the problem and its cause (Corinthians 3:1).

Paul calls his two streams the carnal and the spiritual. He explains the carnal Christians are recognized by division and strife. He explains it is the result of being influenced by the worldly mores and values of a society that has no absolutes.

Paul also explains that the spiritual Christians are influenced by God’s values being guided by the Holy Spirit and the absolutes of God’s word. Paul can have fellowship with them because they are in spiritual unity with him; they speak the same language.

Salvation is not the issue, all are saved and heaven bound, but the carnal while they are on earth may not be fulfilling Christ’s commands to take the Gospel message to the world, they may be busy with other activities.

It is my opinion that these two Anglican streams do not understand each other either. It is like trying to mix oil with water.

Commissions have been set up to find a solution to the schism in the Anglican church in Canada and throughout the world. They must recognize they are faced with the same problem the Apostle Paul faced in Corinth. To deal with it needs much prayer, wisdom and courage.

Tom Mason

Surrey, B.C.


Not holy matrimony

Dear editor,

Bishop Ronald Ferris’s article only makes me want to lash out at those who are making this a divisive debate.

Basically, the blessing of same-sex relationships as they currently exist is like blessing a home, a dog or a cat or a boat. It is not holy matrimony.

I’m sure when General Synod meets, many will put this hot topic on the back burner, as they have tried to avoid controversy for years. Their neglect has blown up in their face.

Peter Iveson

Toronto


Challenging

Dear editor,

Your story Essentials broadcast unites conservatives (anglicanjournal.com Web site, March 3) carries two generally accepted errors which need to be challenged.

First, that only conservative Anglicans oppose liberal views on homosexuality. Many like myself agree with Essentials on this but we are far from being conservatives.

My second point is far more critical. It is the assumption that the issue is homosexuality, and that it must only be dealt with in terms of the whole field of human sexuality. It is a moral issue, not a theological one. It concerns not homosexuality but homosexual activity.

Until our whole communion faces the real issue honestly and realistically there can never be hope for a consensus nor any unity in faith with diversity in cultural expressions. I hope General Synod will face this issue honestly and not exacerbate the present devastation by sticking their heads under their wings while mumbling some pious aphorisms about unity in diversity, Anglican inclusiveness and Christian sensitivity.

C. Russell Elliott

Wolfville, N.S.


Get out of marriages

Dear editor,

Marriage is the first and most basic of all human institutions. It existed long before there were governments or churches.

There should be one civil marriage ceremony for everybody in Canada. Clergy should get out of the business of marrying people in the church before they are asked to perform homosexual marriages.

Michael Li

Grand Bank, Nfld.


No equivocation

Dear editor,

Re: John DiMarco letter (February) entitled Compassion.

What a clear understanding of the crisis in the Anglican church over the blessing of same-sex unions.

God is love and compassion should be shown towards all. But He does not equivocate. He stands firmly against such relationships. God is not going to change His word to agree with what society may confirm and we are warned not to change His word either.

The fear of God seems to be missing in our Christian walk – even our leaders seem to lose their direction.

Rosalie Yates

St. Catharines, Ont.


About St. Martin’s

Dear editor,

Re: your article Diocese reclaims one parish (March). The parish of St. Martin has not rejoined the diocese of New Westminster and is still a member of the Anglican Communion in New Westminster.

The truth is that Bishop Michael Ingham appointed the executive committee of St. Martin including Lindsay Buchanan, who only speaks (under Canon 15) for a minority of the parish. The majority, who now form St. Martin-in-Exile, worship separately and disagree with Ms. Buchanan. The dues paid to the diocese were forced by Bishop Ingham under Canon 15, and in no way represent the wishes of the majority of St. Martin’s parish.

Douglas W. Haigh

North Vancouver, B.C.


More on organists

Dear editor,

Re: the letter Can any organist beat record of 72 years? (December 2003). Many years ago, I met a church organist, age 93, who had begun at 16 years and was reputed never to have missed playing for Matins on Sunday, a record of 77 years.

I was attending a church in an upland valley of the Lake District of northwest England. The valley was surrounded by mountains with Scawfell, the highest mountain in England, towering over the lot. The 40-seat church was in the centre of the valley and served the many sheep farms in the area. My brother was a lay preacher taking the service and I went along with him. The service was sung; the organist had played so slowly that it was rather dreary. My brother told me that nobody was prepared to tell her that she should give up. The Good Lord would do so in His own good time for she was much beloved.

I heard that she had died shortly after I had met her. She had played for the Glory of God and doubtless, she continues to do so in Heaven.

Her great-great granddaughter, age 16, had taken over and the services had cheered up no end.

Norah Browne

St. John’s, Nfld.


Relevant remarks

Dear editor,

The primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, felt the need, in his final sermon on New Year’s Day, to take the federal government to task for its visa requirements (Canada’s reputation damaged; February). What is the relevance of these comments to the Christian faith? And how relevant does he think his remarks are to the Canadian public and government when he speaks as the head of a church which has shrunk to only a shadow of its former self during his tenure as its head?

Claude Mury

Victoria

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