Vital Church Planting conference an embodiment of top priorities identified in Vision 2019, Archbishop Fred Hiltz told delegates. Photo: General Synod/Brian Bukowski
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, offered Ascension Day greetings to attendees at the close of the fifth annual Canadian Vital Church Planting (VCP) east conference. He called the 40th day after Easter a holy and significant day and one of great promise. “And so it’s in the strength of that promise that we endeavour to be the kind of church Christ calls us to be and to do the kind of work that he would have us do in our time in history,” he said.
“I am pleased to see this conference taking shape and others like it happening all across our beloved church,” said Archbishop Hiltz, acknowledging that the three-day missional event attracted people from several denominations apart from the Anglican, including United, Presbyterian and Baptist. He called this type of conference an important embodiment of one of the top priorities identified for Vision 2019, a guiding document for the revitalization of the church adopted at last year’s General Synod meeting in Halifax. “The very first priority identified for Vision 2019 is the training of leaders, ordained and lay, to build viable intergenerational congregations that serve the mission of God,” the archbishop said.
To be vital, churches must be outward looking. He cited the deconstruction of the logo VITAL by Canon Dr. Harold Percy in a talk last year given at Wycliffe College’s Institute of Evangelism in Toronto. ” ‘V’ stands for visionary leadership. ‘I’ for inspirational worship. ‘T’ for training in discipleship. ‘L’ for loving outreach and evangelism. “Those he described as the marks of a healthy and growing church,” Archbishop Hiltz said. “So once again, in this conference you are able as a church to grow more fully in your capacity to live the marks of mission.”
Held in Toronto at St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, and co-hosted by diocese of Toronto and the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, the three-day event featured a range of workshops on church planting and pioneering-from missional coaching and the language of Vision 2019 to the mixed-economy urban church and fresh expressions within the sacramental tradition. Its keynote speakers were the Rt. Rev. Stephen Croft, Bishop of Sheffield and leader of Fresh Expressions in the U.K., and the Rev. Beth Fellinger, lead pastor of Destination Church in St. Thomas, Ont., and a church planter with the Christian Reformed Church. A Vital Church Planting (West) conference was held in Edmonton in May.