Anglican Samizdat

September 25, 2009

Anglican Bishops: vendors of religion

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David Jenkins @ 12:15 am

The street preacher exhorting sinners to repent in order to avoid the fires of hell is less than popular these days. For the typical Anglican bishop, it is unthinkable: after all the fires of hell are already licking at the foundations of most Canadian dioceses. So, instead, the pitch is to attend a church – any church, or even religion (“tradition” as bishops like to say); and for those less than enamoured with rampant inclusion, there is always a chance of a conversation about gay priests with one of the mitred reverends. It’s all very civilised:Add an Image

Bishops make pitch to startled commuters

Idling taxis, hot dog stands and four smiling Anglican bishops in full regalia. That was the sight greeting sleepy-eyed commuters leaving Union Station during this morning’s rush hour.

Sporting long, damask robes of pearly white or sky blue, heads topped with pointed bishop’s hats, the clergy passed out cards encouraging the Bay Street hordes to make their way to a house of worship this Sunday. Most people accepted the handout drowsily, without comment; others seemed startled or amused at the group’s elaborate outfits. A few passers-by stopped for quick chats before scurrying along to their offices.

“You invite people to baseball games or to the movies,” said Bishop of Toronto Colin Johnson.  “Traditionally, we’ve not been good at inviting people to come to church.”

Johnson oversees the 211 parishes of an area that stretches from Mississauga to Brighton and north to Haliburton; in total, 80,000people are on the church’s rolls. This morning’s outing was modelled on the United Kingdom’s “Back to Church Sunday” a two-year-old program that encourages regular churchgoers to invite friends to join them.

Although the foursome represent the 254 congregations of the Golden Horseshoe, Johnson stressed that they were encouraging Torontonians of all faiths to reconnect with their own traditions. “Faith gives life perspective, shape, direction and hope,” he said. “It helps people see they’re part of something larger than themselves.”

Most who stopped to chat with the bishops seemed to be regular churchgoers already. Making his way from Whitby to Bay Street via GO Train, Gerald Godinho stopped to debate with Bishop Linda Nicholls about ordaining gay and lesbian priests, a contentious issue that has led various international Anglican Communion members to threaten fissure from the central church.



  1. The plus side is – they got out of their ivory towers – mitre & cope (?bowler & suit?) notwithstanding.
    My prayer is that more in ANiC would do likewise.

    Comment by Margo — September 25, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

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