The Vicar writes for August

The Vicar writes………

‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ was the theme of the Chester Clergy Conference that Simon and I recently attended. As you read this letter, I trust God-willing, that I have been away on holiday and safely returned having preached the gospel in a strange land. Well, not so strange but different, as Angela and I have stayed in a Rectory and I have covered the Sunday services at the Anglican Church of St. Francis-in-the-Wood, West Vancouver. I met the Incumbent, Angus Stuart, whilst I went on overseas placement there in 2012 as part of my training for ordination.  Vancouver is a modern, clean city and it does feel quite British. It is in the Canadian State of British Columbia.

As a post-modern first world society the church there is, generally speaking, facing similar challenges to the Church of England although the parish system in Canada is nowhere near as large as it is in England in terms of churches per square mile. It is a huge country so adherents of Christian faith varies by region. Canada is a much younger country too. Vancouver Cathedral was built after our own St. Cross in the late 1800’s with subsequent improvements progressively taking place. The building is dwarfed by the skyscrapers on the surrounding streets but a quick look at the website will tell you that there is a vibrant ministry in the heart of the city. The external and internal Celtic cross reminds the visitor that the church has its spiritual roots in the British Isles. 

Canada, like so many countries with historical connections to Great Britain, was evangelised to bring Christian faith to that country. We often think of missionaries like David Livingstone taking the gospel to far-off shores but the reality of this is that we are now ourselves living in the strange land. Will the African continent be a source of re-evangelisation for our own country? Maybe, but the recent ordinations I have attended in Chester and Leicester have been a cause of celebration and a reminder that we are seeing high numbers of people from an amazing variety of backgrounds responding to God’s call in Christ to be ordained. There are many challenges in today’s world, and we need ordained ministers to oversee the ministry of the local church, to empower everyone to discover and use their gifts to remind our community that God is present and active in the world.

I am hugely grateful to God, that three years into my ministry here I have been able to return to Vancouver, this time with Angela, to spend a short time back at St. Francis-in-the-Wood to cover Angus’s absence and to meet the people there. I am also grateful that we have an excellent ministry team at St.Cross who have continued the work of sharing the story of God’s love in Christ, in my absence.

 

pictured below is Paul our Vicar (left), with Dr. Rev'd Angus Stuart, Rector of St. Francis, at the end of Paul's placement there in 2012