The Anglican Church of Canada is shrinking faster than a haemorrhoid in an argon laser. Consequently, the dioceses of B. C., Toronto, Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Ontario and Huron (and Montreal) are “restructuring” in order to survive with fewer people. This, of course, is a euphemism for closing parishes.
I just received an email from a friend in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land who was very excited by the fact that a committee of the Synod will be looking at the vitality and viability of all the parishes in the diocese. This follows on the news of the completed Diocese of B. C. study that called for the closure of some parishes and restructuring of others. The Diocese of Toronto has a strategic plan in the making, Ottawa, Ontario and Huron as well as others I may not know about.
The Diocese of Niagara, however, during the diabolarchy of its last three bishops, has been clever enough to anticipate fleeing parishioners and has been closing churches in advance. Bravo the Diocese of Niagara!
This is simply to illustrate that in light of declining membership and resources in many dioceses the leadership is taking a hard look at the future, most have decided to create a “grand plan”. We in Niagara have taken a slightly different approach and under the leadership of the Bishops Asbil, Spence and Bird and the support of Synod Councils over the years, we have been closing and amalgamating parishes at a pace that makes us the Canadian leaders in restructuring for mission in a changing context.
This technique has been so successful, it is to be exported:
Our Synod has been so successful in our approaches to these issues that the writer and other members of the Mission Strategy Committee have been asked to present our methods to other Diocesan leaders across Canada and the United States.
The whole thing is based on relationship and trust:
This respect leads to relationship which leads to trust and finally a mutual understanding of what the next steps in ministry may need to be.
And doing things the Niagara Way:
What is more it all seems to be very much our “Niagara Way”.