The year 2008 will be a year of change in our church. Of course the Church, at least that part of it in the world and not in heaven, changes all the time. But change most likely will be especially visible to members of the Diocese of New Westminster in the coming months.
Change will come from the Ministry Assessment Process (the "MAP"), currently taking place in several parishes of the diocese, and will be happening in more of them. The process can lead to the merger, amalgamation, or partnering of parishes, and even closure. Our list of parishes, unchanged for several years, will not be the same at the end of 2008 that it is now.
As the task force that created the MAP put it last year, church structures "participate in the reality of change in order to have and give life. They have a life cycle. They are planted. They grow. Sometimes they transform. Sometimes they die and in so doing bring new life."
Another process sure to bring change is "Plan 2018." That name has been given to the diocese's current strategic planning process. It's a valuable exercise to engage in, as 250 members of the diocese found out in ten meetings that took place in all our deaneries. More meetings are yet to come, with the strategic plan presented to the Diocesan Synod in May. After that one can expect more change.
Then it's no secret that some Anglicans within four parishes who continue to protest the actions of the 2002 Diocesan Synod, but have stayed within the diocese, may leave the Anglican Church of Canada. We hope not. We don't think it's necessary. Both we and they would be impoverished by a departure. But again, change seems likely.
Churches seldom find change easy. But it seems that change they must to remain vital and alive in this world. The hard part is determining what things should be changed-and what must remain the changeless core of our faith. May God help us as we continue to try to discern the one from the other.