Anglican Samizdat

April 19, 2010

Diocese of New Westminster coming to grips with dwindling church attendance

Bishop Michael Ingham and Dean Peter Elliott would like to sell some buildings – probably not to ANiC congregations though:

The institutional form of churches is changing,” says Peter Elliott, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. He says the study’s intent was not to mourn the local church but to determine the future of Anglican churches to best “serve God’s mission most effectively.”

Some churches may merge or close because of a shift of populations from urban to suburban areas but new churches may be started, officials say.

The diocese’s Bishop Michael Ingham has said the Anglican Church has church buildings where they don’t need them, that there are too many close together in West Vancouver and not enough in Surrey.

The Anglican diocese hasn’t sold a building in 13 years, Elliott says, but it doesn’t rule that out in future if the money could then be used for the church ministry.

St. Laurence Anglican Church, which proudly trumpets its permission to bless same sex unions, sees the solution in exploring South American shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies, surrendering to the pulsing heart of the green world, and avoiding putting too much emphasis on beliefs and doctrine:

“In South American shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies I’ve surrendered to the pulsing heart of the green world and immersed in Jewish Sabbath and high holy days gatherings with friends. I’ve probably taken too many workshops on a wide array of psycho-spiritual and body-oriented healing arts. Some people might say I’ve eaten too many vegetables! My root-meditation practice is inspired by the Buddhist tradition. For 45 minutes each morning I sit and breathe in loving-kindness, a focusing practice that strengthens the heart’s innate capacity to open, accept and forgive.”
Given his near-encyclopedia spiritual history, what did the Banyen Books owner want the Christians to do?

Certainly not copy him. What he did urge the Christian audience to do, however, was to avoid putting too much emphasis on Christian “beliefs” and “doctrine.”

Meanwhile, an unlikely source of inspiration comes from Statistics Canada who note:

[T]he latest numbers available from Statistics Canada, more conservative evangelical churches exploded by 130 per cent in B.C., and Catholic Church populations in B.C. grew 12 per cent and led to the recent building of a church in Abbotsford and the rebuilding of at least two parishes in Vancouver.

That remedy is probably a little too obvious for the enlightened theological mavens of the Diocese of New Westminster.

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