There was a sense of anxiety about all the uncertainities faced by small struggling parishes as well as fear about the possibility of churches closing, but as the day went on there was also a growing sense of wonder and energy: What can we accomplish and do together through the power of the Holy Spirit?
On November 9, St James, Beausejour, hosted an exciting time of listening to the stories of parishes from both the Dioceses of Keewatin and Rupert’s Land who share the east-west border north of Highway No 1: (St. John, Lac du Bonnet; Pinawa Christian Fellowship, Pinawa; St. James, Beausejour; St Michael, Victoria Beach; St Jude, Grand Marais; St Philip, Scanterbury).
The Diocesan Local Collaborative Group invited the parishes to gather to explore common ministry opportunities and to hear about local collaborative ministry (LCM or shared ministry) as one option for them to consider. To help participants better understand how LCM is lived out we heard stories from two LCM parishes: delegates from the parish of Pembina Hills (with five active churches) in the southwest corner of Rupert’s Land; and Diane Bradshaw, Alice Williams and Armelle Evoy from St Thomas, Weston in Winnipeg. These are two very different parishes but both appreciate the benefits of people from their midst having been identified, educated and equipped to carry out the ministries in the church with the support and encouragement of an ordained, seminary-trained mentor.
“I never knew anything about this LCM (local collaborative ministry) before, but it seems we are doing a lot of it already.”
A rich and telling comment during the reflections at the end of the gathering came from lay person, Marcella Vezina, from St Philips, Scanterbury, “I never knew anything about this LCM before, but it seems we are doing a lot of it already.”
Bishop Don was with us for the whole day and Bishop Elaine from the Evangelical Lutheran Church also spent the morning with us and shared what is happening in the Lutheran churches in this same area of the province. We are in the exact same position as all but one of the communities are no longer able to support a full-time ministry position.
There was a sense of anxiety about all the uncertainities faced by small struggling parishes as well as fear about the possibility of churches closing, but as the day went on there was also a growing sense of wonder and energy: What can we accomplish and do together through the power of the Holy Spirit? It was a great day as Christians gathered and shared stories and dreamed dreams – which are often the beginning of realities.
By Diane Guilford