Monthly Archives: March 2012
Can Christian community exist without a building and without a pastor?
There’s an old song about how we are the church together – and that the church is not a building. While we say that, and even sing about it, we have trouble living it, at times. It’s hard to dissociate ourselves from the concrete, glass, and wood – especially if our parents or grandparents had something to do with it, whether in building the structure or being baptized, married, or buried, there.
And Lutherans have worked at being egalitarian about how church life is lived out. We have guidelines about how many clergy attend convention (and can vote) versus how many laity. We recognize the gifts – even call – that different people have for different parts of our life together. In Ephesians, chapter 4, we read:
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.’
11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
So we are to live together; we are to share of our gifts with one another; whether we have a communal gathering place, or whether we have a designated leader, we can do these things and be a model for Christian living together.
Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote a book in the late-1930s, “Life Together.” I would not want to get formulaic in any model for ministry – as though there’s a pattern or recipe that can be followed for any context – but I would say that there are basic ways in which we might all strive to come together.
As we work at living together, we must be intentional about study; we must work at openness. We can gather and engage good Christian education resources such as Living the Questions. We can learn about each other, and enjoy each others’ company in social gatherings – meals together, singing together, sharing stories together. It’s important, in Christian community, not to become insular – that is, to allow the community to become exclusive.
Lutherans have structure about how they gather. We have the larger church structured around synods and administered by bishops and office staff. We have the local church gatherings often structured around liturgy. We work at being thoughtful about who we are: why do we do what we do? We seek to engage current thinking in the culture around us, and we want to be able to comment in meaningful ways that work towards the needs and welfare of all.
Being church in the 21st Century in Canada is a challenge; we are called to engage with life around in new ways.
Decisions from the March 25, 2012, annual Congregational Meeting.
The community of All Saints Lutheran affirms the Charter of Compassion.
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As a Reconciling In Christ community, All Saints Lutheran affirms the decisions of the 2011 ELCIC National Convention – Motions #25, #26, #27:
– That the 2011 ELCIC National Convention consider for approval the Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.
-That the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in convention adopt the following affirmation as representing the position of this church and communicate this action to congregations, partner churches in Canada, sister churches in The Lutheran World Federation and other Lutheran church associations in Canada:
An Affirmation Concerning the Unity of the Church
As a confessional Lutheran Church which bases its life and teaching on the Scriptures, the ecumenical creeds and the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada affirms with the confessors at Augsburg in 1530 that “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII).
We affirm that the church ought not be divided because of disagreement over moral issues, no matter how distressing such disagreement might be. We believe that any attempt to divide the church because of disagreements over morals, polity or liturgy is an unacceptable confusion of law and gospel, which will lead inevitably to a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We encourage ELCIC members, congregations, synods and churches who share our commitment to the Scriptures, creeds and confessions and who disagree with one another over issues of morals, polity (including standards for ordination or consecration) and/or liturgy to remain in dialogue and unity with one another and maintain unity in the gospel and the sacraments as St. Paul recommends in I Corinthians 1:10-17. We encourage all Lutherans to work for and nurture the unity of the confessional witness to the Gospels which is essential to the Lutheran tradition. We ask those persons, congregations, synods and/or churches who are in disagreement to refrain from actions that will divide the body of Christ.
-That the 2011 ELCIC National Convention consider for approval the following policy statement:
It is the policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada that rostered ministers may, according to the dictates of their consciences as informed by the Gospels, the Scriptures, the ecumenical creeds and the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, preside at or bless legal marriages according to the laws of the province within which they serve. All rostered ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are encouraged to exercise due diligence in preparing couples for marriage. All rostered ministers serving congregations are encouraged at all times to conduct their ministry in consultation with the lay leaders in the congregation and with sensitivity to the culture within which the congregation serves.
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The mission congregation of All Saints Lutheran, Kelowna, acknowledging realities of finances and viability based on current offerings, will dissolve in June, 2012.
Thursday, March 15, 2012, 7:30pm
In attendance: Pr. Tyler, Jesse, Karen, Paul, Lynette.
Devotion: Tyler read from the book “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” the “Charter of Compassion” by Karen Armstrong
2) follow-up from last meeting
-funds – can only count on $1500/month of offerings
-online publicizing, local bulletin boards – Easter advertizing – limited to free advertizing
-Congregational meeting – March 25 (presenting reports, etc.)
What are people willing to commit to and what are people’s thoughts?
3) Discussion around future of mission and collaboration conversations
4) April calendar
Maundy Thursday at Christ LC
-Holy Week services
5) Souper Sundays
– March 18 – What Can We Know about Jesus (and How)? Soup: Delores, Arno/Lynette; Buns: Paul; Cookies: Jesse
– April 15 (Easter 2) – Will be our last one at The Centre. Resurrection video.
– May 20 (Easter 7) – music back at the church house; Soup: Paul
6) Looking ahead…
-Synod convention (May 10-13 in New West) Pr. Tyler attending
-Ascension Day (Thursday, May 17) Would need volunteers to make happen.
– Move Advisory meeting to the Tuesday the 15th?
-Campus Chaplains Gathering (June 3-5 in Cochrane, AB) Pr. Tyler attending
Next meeting: April 12 (Congregational mtg: March 25)
I remember, a few months ago, someone at a political rally (to encourage voting in an upcoming election) finding out that I was a pastor and also realizing that I didn’t fit his stereotype of “conservative fundamentalist,” so he asked, “why bother stay with the church? Why not just start something altogether new?” I responded, “one can work for change from within, or from the outside. I choose to work at change from the inside.”
More recently, I was speaking with a friend who commented that they wanted to be active about environmentalism, but felt they couldn’t in good conscience because they regularly drove their car to work, and flew out of town for meetings, etc. I said, “yes, it’s true there’s a real element of hypocrisy in it. I think we need to acknowledge our part in big problems like these; but until we have alternatives – which we continue to advocate for – we are bound to live with carbon-emitting modes of transportation.”
The thing is, systemic change requires a certain level of engaging the flawed system first. And, we’ll probably find that there is no perfect system.
So, we work at being people with integrity, and we constantly strive for good relationship with people and good stewardship of resources. It is, without a doubt, a constant struggle to discern the right thing.