Last blog as All Saints’ pastor
It’s hard to believe that things are winding down in Kelowna. It’s seven years, this Summer, since my spouse and I arrived in the Okanagan, and it’s been a fun journey. We’ve worked at being a progressive voice in this area; we’ve also become parents and have begun enjoying the blessing that children are in life!
I’m always hopeful for the future of the church. The future, however, will not be as it has been. There is no “going back” to the glory-days of Christian churches being prominent fixtures in Canadian society. I can’t say where church community will end up, but I strongly suspect it’ll be something smaller – more of the “leaven in the lump” and “seed in the soil” – with influence, but not dominance (whether it was ever that way is debatable).
What I appreciate about Christian community is when people strive for grace-filled living. When people show hospitality and generosity, we start to get at what Jesus was about. When people resist the urge to be vengeful and jealous in their relating with others, we start to let go of those toxic sides of ourselves that so often do nothing but fill us with hurt and regret. When we take the time, on a regular basis, to gather with each other to sing, to eat, to share stories, we show that Sabbath rest is an important piece in our life together.
It’s easy to say that churches should just stop being – perhaps you’ve seen people with Facebook quotes or t-shirts reading things like “tax the churches and give the money to hungry children.” Or, to support the argument that residential schools and abusive priests are products of what churches are about, maybe you’ve seen slogans like “religion is the root of all evil.” Unfortunately, the church is made up of people – even people trying to do good things! Even as people try to set up systems that are helpful and desiring for positive change, we find ourselves also setting up rules and policies that end up supporting an institution more than the people it is intended to serve. So, in the same way government can get bogged down, or in the same way a school district or hospital might over-regulate itself, we churches do the same thing. …sadly, it means that churches – which might otherwise seek grace-filled living – end up spending time and energy on problem-solving.
To those who are critical and passing judgment on Christian community, with little or no experience of it: please come and see! In fact, look up an ELCIC congregation in your area, meet with the pastor, consider giving such a community a three or four month ‘trial run’ and see if there are any folks there with whom you might relate! (You may even find out that a friend or co-worker has been attending there for years!) I’m willing to bet that you’ll find the pastor more open than you may have previously thought! I’m willing to wager that there are some very decent, deep-thinking congregational members who may make good friends!
It’s true: change is happening around us. It’s true: our congregations can not continue as they have, taking for granted a future that resembles the past. Can we move in a new direction? Can we open ourselves to new possibilities and new people? Can we engage the need in our areas, and seek to meet need?
I am grateful for the opportunity to engage in ministry in Kelowna, and to seek to delve into the community around. It’s been an exciting seven years! We had a lovely ‘Celebration of Ministry’ event to observe the end of pastoral ministry, here, on June 9th. We joined for the last time in our Sunday morning Eucharist on June 24th – John the Baptist Sunday. I commend the people of All Saints Lutheran, and their courage to try something new, and I hope that the newness continues!
Peace be with you!
To continue to be in touch with All Saints, go to the community website.