I don’t normally pick on individual Anglican parishes however severe the temptation, but in the case of St. Aidan’s, Oakville I am going to make an exception because its rector, Cheryl Fricker, was one of four rectors who attempted to set up a Potemkin parish at St. Hilda’s by staging weekly sit-ins with some of her congregation – well, also because I feel like it.
St. Aidan’s newsletter, the Messenger is a wonderful example of the church as Social Club, a place where the petite bourgeoisie of one of the wealthiest towns in Canada can play-act at embracing those in need (in the nicest possible way), being a community hub and partnering with others. As the Messenger reveals, at St. Aidan’s one can find everything from the aesthetic in the grant-funded Arthouse, to the environmental in pious green sustainability advice, to pop psychology in the Self-Esteem Support Group.
One article in particular caught my attention: Reaching Out by Ann Wood. In the article, Anne extols the virtues of a welcoming church:
Then we added a picture. It shows the congregation heading into the church as the bell rings for the morning service. There we are, walking up the path and shortcutting across the lawn, families, couples, singles, older, teens, and small kids tossing the fall leaves. The Minister is holding the door open. “That’s us,” the picture says, “We’re going into our church, come on in!”
It sounds all very cosy and would by an entirely unremarkable description were it not for the fact that Ann Wood – whom I affectionately think of as Nora Batty – is the notorious Diocese of Niagara Bouncer who marched me out of St. Hilda’s on Easter Day in 2009. I think I might have to join the Self-Esteem Support Group.