Going where the action is

Published April 1, 2009

The middle-aged man at the next table overheard the conversation that Old Cal and I were having over coffee and muffins. We were talking about church and the lack of young people.

“Which church are you from?” he asked. I told him that I work at the General Synod office of the Anglican Church of Canada.

“And where is your head office? You know, where all the action is?”

Old Cal was quick to respond, wiping a few bran crumbs from his long beard.

“That’s two different questions,” he said with a smirk. “The national office is in downtown Toronto. But if you really want to get technical,” Cal said, “there are about 30 head offices. Each is called a diocese and each has a bishop.”

“I’m sorry I asked,” grimaced the chap, turning to focus on his coffee and danish.

Old Cal smiled and said that he had only answered the first part of the question. “I told you where the head office is, or rather where they are, but if you want to know where the action is, let me buy you a coffee.”

Before the chap could respond, Cal asked: “What do you take in your coffee?” Not wanting to offend, the guy responded and then sat back. The guy said his name was James and he was a nominal Presbyterian. He said he figured out that a diocese was probably like a presbytery.

Cal returned with the coffee, invited James to join us at our table, and then he launched into a wonderful speech about how all of the action really happens at the local church.

“Bishops might tell you otherwise, young feller, but the real action doesn’t happen in meetings in Toronto or at the house of bishops. It happens up the street,” he said, pointing to his church. Cal asked me how many congregations there were and I said there are about 2,800.

Cal spent the next 15 minutes listing all of the “action” that happens locally: preaching, the eucharist, food banks, Alpha, Bible study, Anglican Church Women, summer camps, justice camps, support for mission at home and abroad.

“Sounds like something I’d want to belong to,” said James.

“And that’s exactly how the church grows: one person at a time,” said Old Cal.

Keith Knight is interim editor of the Anglican Journal.


Related Posts

Skip to content