On Jan 29th, 2013, approximately 150 people gathered on a misty Tuesday evening for an ecumenical event called Finding the Postmodern Balance: Evangelical, Catholic, Liberal. Participants were well represented by members of different Anglican churches, members of varied and sundry faith communities in Abbotsford as well as unaffiliated but interested members of the wider community.
The event was sponsored and hosted by the Parish of St. Matthew, Abbotsford. As participants gathered the moderator of the event, Missioner and Incumbent of St. Matthew, Fr. Allen Doerksen set the evening's events in the context of St. Matthew's emerging vision as a place for healing and thoughtful engagement with the Christian faith.
The event featured a lecture by Bishop Michael Ingham, responses by two panelists, and questions from event participants. Bishop Ingham explored the contours of Christianity in the contemporary world thoughtfully drawing the conclusion that labels such as "liberal" and "conservative" are fast becoming irrelevant in churches where people of all ages, but especially the young, are looking for a deeper Christian spirituality that integrates the Bible, the Tradition, and developments in Science and Culture in interesting and helpful ways.
The two panel respondents, Ron Dart (professor at the University of the Fraser Valley) and Patrick Doerksen (grad student at Regent College) shared appreciative observations and raised several questions for further discussion. In his response to the panelists and to the questions raised from the floor, Bishop Michael used humour and personal experiences to get across the point that only as we engage with our neighbours in face-to-face dialogue can we hope to bridge divisions. Ultimately there are resources of great value in all of our traditions. The Church that is emerging is Evangelical in its call for conversion and personal commitment as it interacts with a secular society; it is Catholic in its understanding that the historic Trinitarian doctrines provide us with resources for a deep, rich, inclusive spirituality and for mission that focuses on working for the good of the entire created order; it is Liberal in its openness to God's revelation in and through our interaction with the wider world, including other religions, science, culture and other realms which have often been considered "outside the boundaries" as avenues of learning and wisdom for living.
The atmosphere was enhanced and brightened by a talented duo of violinists (Chloe and Halla Kim) who played a variety of classical pieces as people arrived and during the first-class reception that followed. The reception was sponsored and hosted by Bishop's Warden Carole Keighley and St. Matthew Mission Council members, Ria Ferguson and Linda Burton.
An offering was held and over $1000 dollars was raised for the Abbotsford Food Bank.
The event was well received and many conversations were begun. A great big thanks to Bishop Michael! It is the hope and prayer of the parish that the dialogue will grow and deepen towards common commitments and action.
Images: Top and homepage, Bishop Michael confers with panelist Ron Dart. Upper right, Moderator, Rev. Allen Doerksen greets guests. Middle left, Bishop Michael takes some notes preparing his response to the panel. Lower left, musicians: Chloe and Halla Kim. Below One, Bishop Michael confers with some legal folks, Douglas McAdams and Ross McLeod. Below Two, enthusiastic guests at the reception that followed the lecture, panel and panel response.
PHOTOS: Cornelia Naylor