Shared Faith and Community Works: Cornerstones at St. Paul’s Anglican
This is a story of a church: its present purpose, its roots, its odyssey of faith and good works and its future. It could be any church but in this case it is St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Lindsay. This year, we celebrate 175 years of Anglican worship in this area. A church and its parishioners should periodically re-examine who they are, where they came from and where they want to go in the future and that is the motivation for these articles. We want to take this natural opportunity to travel our road of self-discovery and renewal.
We start with a self-evident truth: shared faith and good works within a community are the cornerstones upon which any church is built.
On good works: if we dig down deeply into the psyche of our species, past ego and greed, beyond the scars scratched on our lives and reach our innermost selves, we discover we are hard-wired to help others. “Others” may be our spouses, family, friends, community, country and those in need around the world. We feel good when we impulsively reach out and help. It is in our nature. We are prone to love dogs, coo at babies, cry at weddings and grieve at funerals. This instinct prepares us to “do good works:.
And on faith: when we can also say we “believe”, we add “faith” to the “good works” we employ in our daily lives and move this instinct one giant step further. The two together can “move mountains”.
And on community: when we then join others, come together as a “congregation” within a church, share our faith with those who might need it, lean on others when we need it and build a collective purpose as a community, we multiply that faith and those good works beyond bounds. When we merge these three and build a collective vision, we can change the world.
It is not surprising that this happens. We believe our deepest instincts for good come from God. We trust that we are doing what God expects of us.
With that belief, our clergy and parishioners work harder to try to make our place of worship a living embodiment of God’s plan. In doing so, we make ourselves better people, deepen our faith, increase our love and ensure our churches become even more special places for our people to worship.
In each generation of our 175 years, clergy and congregation have prayed, grieved, celebrated and worked together as they struggled to interpret God’s design for them.
And “struggle” was the operative word. As imperfect as all people naturally are, the road forward was never clear because it couldn’t be. We needed God at all times and wise clergy and lay people at critical forks in the road to help us choose the way. We stumbled often. But in every age we found a way to “come together”.
This story of St. Paul’s begins with the present. We will examine who we are now.
Next, we will travel back to 1836 and start forward. In each era we will seek out the clergy and lay leaders who guided the church, and we will celebrate their vision and decisions. And, because they were a part of their time and place, we will have a look at “their” Lindsay and “their” world. And soon enough, we will arrive back at the present.
Finally, with some understanding of our past and our present and with a great deal of prayer, we will “come together” to choose our future.
St. Paul’s today is both a spiritual and geographic community. We share our faith and good works inside the church and our daily lives outside because we live beside each other in a small town called Lindsay. Inside, we share in Communion, a baptism, a marriage and a great deal of hard work, with friends. Outside we talk “church” when we buy groceries, sell a house, share quilting techniques, argue politics and golf together. Our lives are entwined.
As a church, we have a full-time minister and are blessed with many full-time volunteers. We have older people and young, are planning hard to have more young but most of us are still young in spirit. A lesson we’ve learned over the years is that an effective remedy for aches, pains and grief is to honour God through hard work, shared laughs and prayers.
New arrivals from larger centres are often surprised at our insight and knowledge. They note our patina of traditions and multi-generation families but don’t immediately see that we are good at mixing wisdom and experience with new ideas.
Our Mission Statement is simple and direct:
To provide a unified Christian community which loves and shares together as it reaches out in worship, Christian education and community concerns
As we write these words, we start to recall the things we do to support that goal.
We offer our Christmas dinners for those alone or in need.
We organize our annual Lenten lectures, such as the “World Religions” series.
Our Outreach programs support the Food Bank and Food Source, reach out to churches in our north, provide international help through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, help children through the Army of Jesus Mission, offer monthly Community Care luncheons, weekly wheelchair services, special luncheons for our community nursing homes at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving and provide outreach support for refugees such as our wonderful success story: Karangwa.
We provide special programs at Christmas and Easter for King Albert School.
Our men and women take part in study and breakfast groups and the “Christianity 101” series.
And, finally, we find many ways to raise the necessary funds to support our church: our Mystery Dinner Theatre, Harvest Happenings, our Strawberry and Pancake Suppers and our St. Paul’s Food Booth at the Lindsay Fair.
We’re getting rather good at celebrating anniversaries. Over 175 years, we’ve celebrated many “Old St. Paul’s” occasions on Kent St. and “New St. Paul’s milestones on Russell St. On each of these, we’ve used the opportunity to re-examine ourselves and then to seek renewal.
We’ll do that again this time.
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