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In an average congregation of 25 or so, we may have as many as 12 taking some formal part of the service. There is no choir – we are all expected to sing, however off-key, sometimes accompanied by violin, sometimes karaoke (CDs), sometimes a capella. We have many other parts to our lives, whether ACW or Bible discussion groups informally gathered or just coffee-and-cinnamon-bun gatherings or the regular “breakfast at Jean’s” where we gather with members of the other churches in the group. The “Dresses for Haiti” campaign has run its course, but we still contribute largely, in goods and in effort, to the local food bank; we still contribute to the street mission at Harvest House; we try to respond to needs in our scattered community (Alma to Moncton makes a long community!) We keep together socially by having a potluck supper on “second Sundays” at 5 PM, to which we invite our physical neighbours, as well as our priests (who otherwise have to rush off to a second church each Sunday just as we start coffee time) This meal, or “agape feast”, is followed by a service of Evening Prayer or Communion at about 6:30 (although we are open to the idea that sharing a meal in this manner is closely related to the formal Communion). And we do offer Quiet Times in Lent or other penitential times, for simple quiet, meditation, contemplation, whatever, with no preconditions about the type of prayer to be said – just time to listen to God. We are open to other suggestions which will support your, and our walk.
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The Book Club usually meets on the second Tuesday evening of each month in the Vicarage
office, Lynch Street, next door to St. Philip’s, at 7 p.m. The following comprises a short
description and summary of Club members’ responses to books read and discussed, then the
books to come.
Rick Warren, The PurposeDriven Life (November, 2013)
Pastor Rick Warren heads an evangelical megachurch in California. This book, a twin
to his The PurposeDriven Church, is designed for a sixweek personal study around
discovering God’s purpose for our lives. Discussion revolved around Warren’s tone of
assumption that all readers would share his views, and his frequent Scripture quotes taken from
many versions of the Bible and out of their original context. Reactions to the book’s usefulness
implied by the title were varied, although many participants could point to specific passages
applicable to their own journeys.
William Young, The Shack (January, 2014)
A Christian novel, originally written for Young’s children and later published to become
a bestseller. On a camping trip with his children, Mack’s youngest daughter, Missy, is abducted
by a serial childmurderer. It is subsequently discovered that Missy was taken to the shack,
where she was killed. Mack is drawn to the shack by a note that seems to have come from
God. At the shack, he meets contemporary personifications of the Trinity, and his subsequent
conversations with them lead him to a greater understanding of the place of God in evil and of
forgiveness. Group discussion revolved around these themes, along with reactions to Young’s
characterizations of the persons of the Trinity.
Diana Butler Bass, A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story
Bass, an Anglican who has taught church history in U.S. universities, wrote this book
as a history of what happened “after Jesus” and up to the present time. Her emphasis is on
Jesus’ Great Command to love God and one’s neighbour, highlighting the stories of men and
women involved with this theme who don’t usually feature in mainstream histories. Reactions
were very much divided within the group: especially those interested in history enjoyed reading
it and appreciated this enhancement of their knowledge, while others found the book
uninteresting or difficult to read for various reasons.
Nadia BolzWeber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (March, 2014)
A richlytattooed, recovering alcoholic, BolzWeber founded her Lutheran church, the
House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, for others like herself, on the margins of society
and most churches, calling herself Pastrix because it is a term used to disparage women
pastors. In frank language, she uses her own and others’ life stories as springboards for the
expression of her own Christian faith and life. The Book Club admired and enjoyed her honesty,
humour, and deep care for others, especially when her church began attracting the mainstream
worshippers it was founded to avoid, and how she came to appreciate this variety amongst her
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (April, 2014)
Lewis’s explication of the fundamentals of Christian belief arose from his series of
radio talks, delivered in Britain during the Second World War, which, shortly afterwards, were
published in three separate books then combined into the one, Mere Christianity. This book, like
his many others, was very popular and has remained in publication and widely read over the
decades since. Club discussion revolved around the wartime context of the book and its writing
style and ideas at that time, and their applicability in the present time and to members’ own
lives. Several members stated that the second half of the book, devoted to Christian behaviour
and the Trinity, had more meaning for them than the first, which comprises philosophical
arguments underlying belief in God and Christianity.
Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide (May, 2014)
The author is pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta, which he, a “preacher’s kid” set
up to attract the “unchurched”; this book is about his experiences and a guide for others to do
the same. The Club felt that the first part, about the author himself and his life, although
interesting, was too long. The rest of the book sparked lively discussion about the applicability
of his ideas and techniques to our own churches, particularly in making them welcome to the
“unchurched” and outsiders in general. As usual, discussion also involved members’ own
feelings and experiences in approaching a new church.
Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith (October, 2014)
Borg, a retired professor of religion and author of many books, explores two visions (or
paradigms) of Christianity: the earlier, rooted in traditional authority, and the “emerging” vision
of the last century, the Bible and Christian life as historical, metaphorical, and sacramental. He
isolates the topics composing the “heart of Christianity” with changes in and conflicts between
the two visions. The five Club members able to attend critiqued Borg’s treatment of a range of
topics, whether and how God intervenes, miracles, sin, salvation, and the afterlife, relating them
to events and feelings from their own lives and experiences.
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (November, 2014)
In Holland during the Second World War, the ten Boom family hid Jews and others in
danger from the occupying Germans in their home, and were later arrested and imprisoned.
This book is Corrie’s account of that time. The group were unanimous in their enjoyment of the
book, admiring Corrie’s strength and the family’s faith and trust in God in times of great danger
and the hardships of concentration camps. This faith and trust was discussed, along with the
themes of forgiving and praying for one’s enemies, and thankfulness not only for God’s
alleviation of hardships but for even negative happenings and circumstances.
Debbie Macomber, One Simple Act (March, 2015)
Author of many romance novels, Macomber here turns her writing to nonfiction, “simple
acts” of generosity as a Christian. The small number of us at this meeting were evenly split
between those who loved the book and those who disliked it. Criticisms centred around the
many anecdotes, some being only loosely connected to the conclusion drawn from them, and
the lack of “grittiness” both in tone and recipients of the simple acts. Regardless, the book led to
a lively discussion of outreach and inreach, both churchbased and personal, including some
members’ experiences where simple acts led to a negative response.
Upcoming meetings and books
April 14, 2015: Wayne Jacobsen & Dave Coleman, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church
We have been in a cooperative Team Ministry sharing two priests equally since May 1, 2011. Essential to the vision is our team approach where both priests alternate leading worship weekly, thus providing a fuller expression of personal Baptismal gifts and an understanding that each parish is in full, equal, cooperation.
The rotation model has resulted in an excellent expression of our Baptismal ministry. The team thus exemplifies how each parishioner should live out their understanding of the Gospel, and how the parishes combined in shared ministry can cooperate and realize the Body of Christ (see Rom 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). In this model both Father Rod and Father Douglas have resisted any hierarchal title, as they see themselves as equal in the task, just as the four parishes are equal in the task: none more important than the other, all working together for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
The following are examples of our coming together to do ministry as a family: we have a Common Bulletin, Joint Services on all the 5th Sundays, the full use of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), a fuller use of the Book of Alternative Services (BAS) in all points, a shared Sunday School Program, a common Bible Study, Back to Church Sunday, Youth Ministries, Joint Men’s Group, a very successful Video night, increased multi-media services, a joint deanery Advent Carol Service at a sister church, and celebrating together throughout Holy Week and the Triduum.