From our Bishop:
I love almost any kind of vista. A compelling vista has details which become apparent as you gaze over it. The accompanying photograph captures a lighthouse and early morning sun off the coast of Montrose, Scotland. When I first paused to take it in, it appeared to me as a single, captivating view. Eventually, I became more aware of the movement of the waves, the slow rising of the sun, the lines in the sand, the soft colours in the sky, and the increasingly sharp outline of the lighthouse as daylight deepened the intensity of its white walls.
There is something calming about being able to look out over space and distance, and this often lulls me into a state of prayerfulness. I believe this is because our perspective changes when we are drawn away from ourselves.
Our diocese has opened up a new way of sharing news in the form of an online publication called Perspective. In a couple of years, Crosstalk, our long-standing printed newspaper, will be discontinued as our national Church moves the Anglican Journal into an online-only format. For now, many Crosstalk articles will appear in Perspective, along with current stories (This is particularly significant given the lead time required for Crosstalk’s print and mail distribution, a month before it reaches you.) Eventually, Perspective will become our principal newspaper.
Change is always happening. Societal changes have deeply affected Anglicans and other religious groups in recent years. But our diocese has gained a new perspective and achieved a remarkable consensus. After listening carefully to one another, we have chosen to guide change rather than be changed. We are doing things that will allow us to be well-run and well-resourced, so we can focus outward with humble confidence and expansive generosity—a benefit to the wider community around us, sharing in God’s mission to bring the whole world into the orbit of Christ’s love.
Over the last three successive Synods, we have moved toward adopting a vision of being a Spirit-led Church that is equipped for mission in our time. We will build our capacity to do this, to be this, through a range of initiatives which will enable, support, resource, and nurture practical and spiritual renewal among clergy and lay people across our diocesan church.
Our Synod in 2023 committed us to two specific goals: 1) by 2028, each of our parishes and congregations will be engaged in contextual mission, and each will be involved with at least one new venture; 2) by 2031, the 135th anniversary of our diocese, we will have 35 new worshipping communities, in a great variety of shapes and sizes.
Depending on your perspective, this is either very daunting or an exciting development in our ministry in this part of creation. One thing is certain: we must learn how to do contextual mission. We must learn new skills which allow us to discern and understand how the Holy Spirit is already active in the people and communities around our churches—and when we have done this, to ask how God is calling us to use our gifts and resources to enable God’s work in the rural areas, villages, towns, and cities of our diocese.
What we need to do first, however, is to pray: to step back, look at the vista of opportunity before us, and pray. We need to stand in a place where we can see how God is already at work in the world before we can discern how we may be called to participate in God’s work. We must listen in a new way to the Holy Spirit—because we cannot afford to repeat the historic mistake of thinking we have the agenda in hand and must get others to follow it.
In October, we celebrated the launch of a year-long Time of Prayer—Listening for the Divine Sparks in our Midst, in order to make prayer integral to how we move forward. I whole-heartedly encourage every member of our diocese, in every parish and ministry, to join in, using the Time of Prayer resources found on our website.
The season of Lent, which begins in this month, is a time to take stock and gain perspective by “self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.” Take these words to heart, praying for yourself and for our beloved diocesan church as we step into the vista of God’s future.
The Right Reverend Shane Parker
Bishop of Ottawa