(Posted on the Canadian Evangelical Theological Discussion list, September 25, 1999)

by Robert Brow   (web site -

I hate to draw attention to the dirty washing of my denomination (I have been known to call it a franchise). But you already know from the papers that we allowed a huge amount of child sex abuse in our (happily defunct) residential schools. And the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled we are responsible. Which means that thousands of pending lawsuits will soon cause us to declare bankruptcy.

But every day of the Lord has good news to follow. Here is by far the best article I have ever read in my denomination. It is the October 1999 Diocese of Ontario Dialogue editorial:

"This is a chance for all of us to start thinking about the worst-case scenario. Let's say the Anglican Church is required to pay out so much in lawsuits it can't go on as an organization. Let's say it goes belly-up. It sells its building, fires its staff, sacks its clergy, gives its bishops the (tarnished) golden handshake. What's left?

Well, the people in the former pews would still be there, somewhere, in their homes, probably stunned by the news. Perhaps it would be similar to the feelings of the first Christians. After Jesus was gone, they must have wondered what to do next.

The first Christians didn't have telephones, cars, or the Internet, but they turned the situation around anyway. If the Anglican Church as we know ceased to exist, its people would still be there, hearts still beating just as before. We would either die spiritually from an inability to adapt, or we would call upon our resources and creativity as never before.

We would meet for worship in parks, community centers, homes. We would become advocates for the poor and oppressed. We would keep the telephone lines hot. We would communicate, share, invent, and support one another. Wouldn't we?

Of necessity, we would start all over again. We wouldn't have time to debate thorny ecclesiastical issues. There would be no room for division. Things that seemed so critical before would take a back seat to the immediate need of acting as a community. Wouldn't it?

The deep wounds felt by the church over the residential school scandals could be an opportunity for growth, change, refreshment; and for questioning our true motivation. All this could happen, perhaps appropriately, at the beginning of the new millenium. We could survive: differently, but with a fresh spirit, in ways unrecognizable to us now.

It's a frightening thought, or invigorating . . . depending on how you look at it."

This old gadfly is totally excited and invigorated. Hallelujah. But then an awful thought occurs. What happens if they lay hands on my pension fund? And that is precisely why things never change much in our denomination till there is a good old fashioned Day of the Lord to get us on track.

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments