Amid the fiscal challenges facing General Synod, Archdeacon Michael Thompson urged Anglicans “to be patient and kind with ourselves in this time of transition and transformation.”
“God is putting something new in the church,” Thompson told the Council of General Synod at its meeting Nov. 15 to 18.
Reflecting on his first year as general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, Thompson noted the “change in ecosystem of the way the church lives.” He likened it to the trail that he and his wife hike near Lake Superior, where land burnt by a forest fire is now home to healthy blueberry bushes. Could the church adapt to a similar challenge? he wondered. “We don’t have trees anymore, so God doesn’t expect us to be in the lumber business,” he said. “Can we figure out what to do with the blueberries?”
The national church is “being called by God into a bunch of new futures, not just one,” said Thompson, adding the goal is to discover what ministries it is being called to develop.
Thompson said there are Anglican churches across Canada that have figured it out, citing the example of parishes in the diocese of Athabasca, which he visited along with diocesan bishop Fraser Lawton. In the village of Berwyn, Alta., the congregation has no resident priest but a deacon, and yet the church is thriving because “they’re addressing the hunger in their community.” The congregation looked at the resources it has and is using them in new ways, including an after-school program for children run by an octogenarian couple.
In Slave Lake, Alta, devastated by a forest fire last year, there is a thriving ecumenical shared ministry among members of the Anglican, Lutheran and United Churches, Thompson reported.
He also gave thanks for those who served in the Anglican Book Centre, which is shutting its doors as of January 18, 2013, because of declining revenue. “We’re grieving the loss of something iconic in our church,” he said.
Thompson paid tribute to Canon Gordon Baker, former editor of the Canadian Churchman (predecessor to the Anglican Journal) and former director of the Anglican Foundation, who died Nov. 8 at the age of 84. He called Baker “a learned and wise friend,” adding that he served the church in many ways. Among others, said Thompson, Baker was “tireless in his insistence that we tell the truth.”
Thompson and Vianney (Sam) Carriere, director of Communications and Information Resources, attended a memorial service for Baker at St. Peter, Erindale, in Mississauga, Ont., on Nov. 17.