Vol 7 No. 39 Reflections on Transitions

Dear Folks,

Today’s letter and topic take us to a difficult place. For several years, the Anglican Church of Canada has been torn apart by a variety of issues.  It has resulted in some congregations splitting, some leaving the Anglican Church of Canada and some starting over in independent churches. Some Anglican congregations have chosen to become part of the Anglican Network in Canada. One of those churches is St John’s Richmond Anglican Church, which shares the domain with Broadmoor Baptist Church.

The congregation of St. John’s Shaughnessy in Vancouver was in its day, the largest Anglican Church in Canada. It was the church home of Harry & Fran Robinson, J.I. Packer, and of late, David Short. Any church is complicated and St John’s Shaughnessy is no exception in that, despite being large numerically, it is also situated in one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Canada. As a result of disagreements with the Bishop, Michael Ingham, and numerous court challenges, St John’s Shaughnessy needed to leave their premises on Sept. 18th. They have since moved to a Seventh Day Adventist Church fairly close by. I attended the last service of St. John’s in their old building and I also attended the first service of the new congregation that replaced them. It was interesting to see the graciousness of St. John’s Shaughnessy congregation, who with great pain and angst prayed a blessing on those they had disagreed with and who would follow. It was a moving service. Their minister, David Short, wrote the accompanying letter, and I think it instructive for many reasons but I’d like to cite three.

David begins by saying that he doesn’t know what to say, but then continues to say a lot. I don’t know about you, but usually when I say I don’t have anything to say, that’s when I should shut up. In David’s case, he was speaking from Hebrews 11, so he knew of what he spoke. Secondly, this letter is about the faithfulness of God, and thirdly, it is not an angry letter despite the pain from which the letter is written. Maybe this is when I follow my own advice since I have no more to say about the letter than to identify with his comment about listening to the words from the general confession “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done”. You have no need of my further comment; I invite you to read the letter. It is to be read, I think, not as the biography of a church or the chronicle of struggle, but as instructive in our own personal spiritual journey.



In Christ,




St. John’s Vancouver Anglican Church

Parish Life Notes



I am deeply conflicted because I find it very difficult to know what to write for today.

I could say how deeply I feel my own hypocrisy and failure as an under-shepherd of our Lord Jesus. The older I become the more emphatically I pray the first part of the sentence in the General Confession: “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” I have an acute sense of being personally undone, in all aspects of my ministry, none the least in preaching God’s word.

Or I could say how inexpressibly sad it is that we have to bear the consequences of decisions made in defiance of the word of God. It grieves me that we are forced to choose between God’s final word and these wonderful buildings: between the fellowship in the gospel which we share and our property. I am aware that much of our grief is not about buildings per se, but what we have experienced here at the hands of God. Not just baptisms, weddings, and funerals, though some occasions have been touched with the glory of heaven, but many have been saved, changed, transformed, unmade, remade and served Christ with great and good faithfulness. Of course buildings are important, and the ones we are in today are a physical and visual reminder of what God has done and the faithfulness of many.

Or I could say how proud I am to be your shepherd. It is remarkable to be part of a Christian community which is putting faith into action in a way that seems inexplicable to those who love the world. I am unaware of any congregation in the world which is served by lay leaders of the courage, goodness and faithfulness of ours. I have learned for more from you than you could ever learn from me, and the testimony of the clean-up last Saturday is but one small example of the concrete commitment to bless those who come after us.

But most of all I want to say how thankful I am. Thankful that you are willing to do something countercultural and counterintuitive for the truth of God’s word; to lose something very valuable for the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ; to hold the unity of the faith by holding onto each other and acting together as one body; to joyfully accept the confiscation of your property.

God is not ashamed to be called your God, for he has prepared for you a city.