Church Vitality – week 3

Church Vitality: The church vitality team is a group that has been tasked by Cathedral Committee to help our congregation delve deeper into active discipleship—–to “stir up” a fresh transfusion of excitement for being a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral by facilitating thought and discussion centered on the recent Charge from Bishop Jane to The Assembly of The Territory of the People. So the vitality team will be sending out over the

course of several weeks via Claire’s weekly information emails, highlights or key points put forth in the Bishop’s

Charge. We encourage all members of St. Paul’s Cathedral to read, reflect on, and dialogue on these highlights. She poses quite a few questions and many good answers. We will have an opportunity to discuss these when we come together in the fall with our new Dean.

Highlights from Bishop Jane Alexander’s Charge to the 2022 Assembly of The Territory of The People

Week 3

8. We as a church need to keep doing the things that work but also embrace new ways of reaching out. We have a massive amount of work to do when it comes to children and young families. Let me stress though, that I am talking about discipleship here. The #1 reason for reaching out to youth and children is that they will come to know Jesus. It’s not about making sure we replace our eldest members with newer ones. We are not looking for maintenance, it is about discipleship. This is our task across all

age groups but it is especially important with children and youth. I hope to bring in a resource person to give some workshops on Messy Church in each of the Territory regions. If you are not sure how urgent this is I would say that there are hardly any children in our churches and we could not find youth delegates for assembly. Think about that for a moment. We have to do something and we have to do it Now.

We must also make some decisions about how we continue to be the church in rural communities that can no longer afford full- or even half-time priestly ministry. It is time to release our treasure to places with the potential for growth. Do not be disheartened, the fragility of the rural church is known far and wide, listen to this recent research finding: In many rural communities, congregations have already become quite small and are likely to be fragile.

9. There are five marks of a fragile church:

1/ financial pressure and congregational anxiety about dwindling resources;

2/ actual or feared inability to replace church officers;

3/ lack of time and energy among clergy to start new things;

4/ a lack of critical mass of children and volunteers to work with them

5/ ; and single-figure congregations with an age profile of 75 and above (S. Anne Lawson (2019) Research Report: The Marks of the Fragile Rural Church. Rural Theology, 17

(1), 51-57).

Naming these things means we are looking clearly at the challenges before us, and Rural communities have specific challenges. The shape of our rural communities is very varied depending on agricultural situations, economic and industry variables. There are communities which are dying and ones which are reinventing themselves.

10. Climate challenges have led to some areas of devastation, and in some of those places like Lytton, rebuilding is very slow. This leads us to ask of the church what is our role, our presence now, and what will it be in the future? You are blessed that in areas of the greatest devastation the church has been right there on the ground with the people, showing that we are in this for the long haul. How do we make sure that we stay? Because of the unique experiences of climate-based change here in the Territory do we

have something to say, to teach to the wider church? I think we do.

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