Expertise comes firstDear editor,
Foster Carter, in his letter in the Dec. 2000 issue (Volunteer Lawyers), suggests that “our legal counsel” should step forward and offer services on a pro bono basis as a solution to the problem of legal costs incurred in the litigation relating to residential schools. I assume that this is a call to the legal officers or parishioner/lawyers within General Synod and the various dioceses having to deal with these cases. While legal fees are indeed a heavy burden, it must be borne in mind that, with all the good will in the world, such potential donors of pro bono services may not have the specific expertise required for proper representation of the church’s interests in these cases. Not having to pay counsel would certainly be helpful in the effort to avoid diocesan bankruptcies and it would be a great temptation if offered, but the church, realistically, would not be entitled to the same expectations in terms of accountability, time and service as it is when it has engaged carefully selected experts in the field who are remunerated for their services.
At the church where we ministered for 22 years there was a cobweb. It stretched above the altar to the lectern. I removed it every Sunday just before the service. The first Sunday after we retired, friends took me to town and invited me back to breakfast. We approached the tiny church. I asked my friends to stop. “Why? You’ve been to church. Now you’re coming to breakfast.” “There’s something I have to do before the service. I promise I’ll come right out.” “What do you have to do?” “I have to remove a cobweb.” Laughter! And the little church disappeared behind us?. Fifteen years later, I telephoned. “What about the cobweb?” “I take it down every Sunday.” Church, keep spinning. Your web reaches around the world.
Nancy Simpson Cutts
Re letters “Gays need prayer” and “No gay disciples” in the January 2001 Journal: The use of phrases such as “touchy issue of homosexuality,” “this lifestyle” (homosexuality) and “practising homosexual” is not realistic. Two of our four children are gay. They are fine, upstanding adults. Neither needs counselling to be able to “refrain from continuing to practice this lifestyle” (whatever that means). We treasure diversity in our family, and do not like to see half our family demeaned by thoughtless comments of misinformed people. When the Anglican church has a policy of inclusion, perhaps I will be able to return to the church.
Mary T. Jones
Reader expects better
We much appreciate the monthly copies of the Anglican Journal which are kindly sent to St. George’s Cathedral. Personally, I find it very helpful in keeping up-to-date with all the activities of our sister church in Canada, particularly in making our intercessions for the province meaningful. The October edition has just arrived on my desk and I am interested to see the various advertisements for the Holy Land. The reason for this letter is to question the standard of advertising. As a Christian publication, do you not think you should have insisted that there be some reference to Christ? After all we celebrate the millennium because of his birth. I believe your Christian friends of this land would expect better things of you, unless you are simply concerned with revenue for your publication.
Dean of St. George’s Cathedral
Percy will be missed
I’m sure that many readers will miss the “Sharing the Joy” column by Harold Percy. His insight was invaluable. We read many reports of dwindling congregations, and, in fact, the reason appears obvious, and the solution has been penned many times. However, the problem is that a large section of the church is unwilling to change. Yet they still wonder at the crowds attending the churches that are relevant to this age. The Alpha program, for instance, is one teaching tool that tells us, on the first evening, that they have not changed, or watered down, the message, but have changed the package. Harold Percy is quite right. Growing and harvesting grapes, or strawberries, or tomatoes requires a different expertise. So does making the service relevant to the elderly, the adult, the youth, or the children of the parish. An up to date Titanic would be equipped with radar and communication by satellite instead of lookouts in the crows nest, and Morse code. It would “see” the iceberg. However, if it continued to ignore the changes in technology it would strike the iceberg, and sink, just as surely as it did then. If we recognize the cause of the problem, and know the solution, we must be bold and act or we do not have a future. As many of our bishops are aware, one good influenza pandemic (and we’re due for one!) could wipe out the majority of an aging congregation. As Harold Percy wrote in his final article, “the people in our communities have pronounced judgment, and have voted with their feet.” I pray, like Harold Percy, that we will be up to this challenge.
I sympathize with Mr. S.J. Jackson of Unionville, who feels embarrassment if he declines to shake hands in “The Peace” prior to the Eucharist. Adding this pagan greeting to the quiet of Christian commemoration of the Last Supper is the root cause of his dilemma. May I offer the following comments and suggestions? The handshake is a Roman custom, to show that both parties are not armed with weapons. The Anglican community is not yet armed in this way. “The Peace” handshake is unnecessary, given the usual opportunities to greet before and after the service. It might be argued that “The Peace” handshake is included to show that the Anglican church moves with the times, since the BCP makes no mention of it. If we continue merely to move with the times, will the next idea be “high fives” on Easter Morning? I find that simply to kneel sends a quiet message to glad-handing fellow worshippers if “The Peace” is included in the service.