Looking into the future of church ‘creative, scary work’

By on December 1, 2009

Johnson

Niagara Falls, Ont.
Issues of leadership and ministry dominated discussions at the House of Bishops this fall. Topics ranged from declining revenues and membership, to new and creative ways of doing church.

“We are encouraged by the tone and content of this meeting which allowed us to focus more on broad themes of leadership than we have done in the past,” the bishops said in a written “Report Back to the Church.”

At the meeting, held jointly with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Conference of Bishops, bishops reflected on how their churches are facing similar challenges and exploring ways of addressing them.

Like the Anglican Church of Canada, which has embarked on Vision 2019, a project to create its long-term strategic plan, the ELCIC is also “in a process of structural renewal,” said ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, adding that since 1986, the ELCIC has lost 23 per cent of its members.

An ELCIC task force is reviewing several options: eliminating the national church structure; creating an overseeing structure for a network of synods; having a national church with no synods; or “something in between.”

“It’s creative, scary work,” said Bishop Johnson. The ELCIC’s focus is “being a church in mission for others” with a shift to looking outward.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted the church has four new metropolitans, and many new bishops. “It’s a real opportunity to reshape our work,” he said.  

Archbishop Hiltz now has visited 25 of 30 dioceses and hopes to visit all before the General Synod in June 2010. “I’m saying this not to boast, but in delight,” he said. “…It’s about building relationships, a sense of community and giving face to the primacy.”

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