I am writing to invite you to consider joining me in Nanaimo on September 30 and October 1 for We Together.
There have been precious few opportunities for us to be together, in person, since I began as bishop and this weekend event will be an important time for us to check in with one another and to engage, faithfully, in the work of discerning what particular work God is calling us to in this diocese of Islands and Inlets. The weekend is designed to be engaging, interactive and fun, and to send people away inspired and energized.
We will begin Friday evening at St Paul, Nanaimo, with an opening worship marking the National Day of Reconciliation. We will pray and reflect on the particular work of reconciliation we are called to do in our diocese. We will then adjourn to the parish hall for a meal and my Bishop’s Address. I look forward to sharing with you some of my own thoughts on our diocese’s history, present and potential future.
Ministry in this part of the world has never been and will never be simple. In 1881, the first bishop of this diocese, Bishop George Hills, after 21 years of serving, lamented the “constitutional religious apathy [of the] people of the whole Pacific slope.” All these years later, the secularism of this land has only intensified; surveys suggest that British Columbia is the most secular part of North America with those who identify as having “no religion” outnumbering those who identify with any and all religions combined. All of this, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, presents challenges and opportunities for churches in this part of the world. I look forward to beginning to explore this with you Friday night as we share a beautiful Middle Eastern meal.
On Saturday, we have invited Jill Harris to help us learn some more of the history of this diocese by sharing stories of the early Anglican missions in this part of the world. The history of these missions is not well documented or known and I am grateful to Jill for taking the time to learn of these missions and to share with us. We must know the history, particularly our complicated colonial history, for us to move forward faithfully into the future.
On Saturday afternoon, Rachel Brown, who has contributed to a recent book called Religion on the Edge: Nature, Spirituality and Secularity in the Pacific Northwest, will go deeper into the themes I began on Friday night about the particular context we find ourselves in. The conference will close on Saturday afternoon with a Eucharist at which John Thatamanil, diocesan theologian, will tie together some of what we have heard and shared over the weekend.
Please consider joining us for this weekend. The work that we all do in parishes, in the wider community, in our church building and as church in the world is part of a long, rich and complicated history. Understanding our history and our context and faithfully asking, alright then, what next, is an important part of our journey and our work together. The weekend is also an important opportunity to build relationships, to meet with people from other parishes and regions, to laugh and talk and just be together.
Hoping to see you there,+Anna