Epiphanies Part 2

Another thing that stood out for me about the cooperating churches combined Epiphany Service on January 5 was the “cooperatingness” of it all (my spell check tells me there is no such word as “cooperatingness” so I will not use it again – but I think you get the gist).

There is now some history to the development of the cooperating ministry of Westdale, Melrose, One Main St. and First-Pilgrim. It’s good history and I want to record some elements of it here.

It has begun in the enjoyable and constructive collegial relationships between the ministers who are in ministry with these respective churches: Andy Crowell at Westdale, Liz MacKenzie at First-Pilgrim, Ian Sloan at One Main St., and Jane Wyllie at First-Pilgrim. The four of us arrived at about the same in our respective churches and were drawn together principally because we saw that how we were doing ministry in these churches is going to be changing as the make-up and mission of the United Church changes. We were interested in forging connections between ourselves and the people of our congregations to allow for the possibility that through them we might make changes in our respective and perhaps collective identities.

Not clear ourselves, naturally, what is to happen beyond the moment that we are now in, though sure there will be such moments, we first held some events in which we’ve invited church leaders to work with us and with outside facilitators to explore how cooperation might enable us all to create positive change.

Our first general event for everyone was a Mardi Gras meal and movie celebration (Chocolat) on the eve of Ash Wednesday 2012 that was held at the Centenary site of One Main St. United. We’ve since done one pulpit exchange (The first Sunday of Lent, 2012) and now held four combined services. Our first combined service took place in a former TV studio, at Pentecost in 2012. Since then we have not missed an Epiphany service or Pentecost service together: Epiphany 2013 at Melrose, Pentecost 2013 at Westdale, Epiphany 2014 at First-Pilgrim.

It is difficult to point out trends yet, but I feel I can at least identify the direction of the intentions of the four cooperating ministers. We felt that it was time to have an outside preacher preach to us all (up to this point we’d shared the proclaiming responsibilities). Hence we asked Rev. Lee Claus to preach on right relations (see my previous blog post). We then wanted the focus that he brought to that service to inform some sustained study by anyone and everyone in these four congregations in the immediate aftermath. Hence our two-part series called “What it means to be reconciling communities” in January and February 2014.

There is information elsewhere on this website about the dates, times and facilitators of this two-part series. I hope you will attend!