Living in a post-denominational reality

Published November 4, 2014

I would like to thank the Anglican Journal editor for giving me the opportunity to write this monthly column and for the latitude she is allowing me in terms of title, theme and content. I hope to provide some helpful “insights” to you, my readers. I would also like to tell a little about myself in this first submission.

For 50 years I have been involved professionally in the church as a seminarian, pastor and teacher. Hopefully, with that experience, I’ve learned some from my mistakes. As my theme indicates, I am a “post-denominational” person living in a secularized Canadian environment. At the same time, I have remained faithful to the institutional church, at least so far as being active in a local congregation since my baptism as an infant.

Like some of you, I was raised in a warm, supportive Christian community. I grew up in southern Ontario as an Evangelical Lutheran. (I use that term to distinguish it from the more conservative forms of Lutheranism out there, and also to affirm that church’s growing relationship with Anglicans.)

During my student years I was fortunate to meet several Anglicans who helped me in ways my own denomination at the time seemed unable to do. I will always be grateful for those early personal and vocational experiences.

Ecumenical associations have been key to my outlook and my remaining in the church.

For half my active years as a church person I was an ordained pastor who sought to be a worthy representative of the tradition that shaped my spirituality. With 50 years of that formation, it would be quite unlikely that I could ever be other than a “Lutheran.”

Yet, to my great surprise, I have spent 25 of probably the most creative and fulfilling years of my life (thus far) in a different place than I started. As much as I feared and resisted it, the time came to move on and I have been an active lay member of an Anglican and a United church in Calgary ever since. I have been able to “transfer” my developing skills as a teacher within and beyond the church to the university. I have never been more vocationally at peace than I am today.

Like at least some of you, I am a post-denominational Canadian Christian. A good thing about that is that I have never had to give up anything important about who I am. I am a satisfied lay member of a local congregation that seems to value my contributions. I have never rejected the original ordination that was happily restored to me by the church of my birth at a crucial time of transition in my life.

I believe there are many variations to my story reflected in the lives of countless other Canadians in churches today. Think about your own life, or the lives of people close to you. Quite possibly, this will confirm what I suggest is a post-denominational reality.



  • Wayne Holst

    Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for twenty-five years; he taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and, for 15 years, he has coordinated adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.

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