A longstanding tradition of the Anglican Church of Canada, the annual Canadian Church Calendar saw a major shift in approach in 2017.
That year’s calendar was a joint project between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) —the first time the two full communion partners had collaborated on the calendar. Thematically, the calendar also saw a change in focus, from church buildings to ministry and mission.
Now, incorporating feedback from last year’s calendar, the 2018 Canadian Church Calendar sees a further evolution in theme—one that General Secretary Michael Thompson believes represents a successful balance between the two aspects of church life and ministry.
“I think last year was an important first step in refocusing the calendar away from simply being about church buildings towards the mission of God,” Thompson said, but added, “I think that one of the things that we might have overdone was [the idea of] the church in action.”
“Sometimes the church is not in action. Sometimes the church is still and silent. Sometimes its action isn’t going out into the world to do something … but encountering the God who is busy caring for and inviting change in the life of the world.”
The theme of the 2018 calendar, Meeting the Holy, centres on the myriad ways that we encounter the presence of the Holy in our world through the quality of our lives, the places where we meet each other, and where we meet God.
That presence is expressed through monthly images depicting church exteriors, objects embodying the sacred, and photographs of Anglicans and Lutherans engaged in ministry and mission, which collectively illustrate the many ways each church encounters the holy.
“We meet the Holy in art,” Thompson said. “We meet the Holy in broken-heartedness. We meet the Holy in the change of day into night, as that wonderful picture of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver shows.
“We meet the Holy in the experience of children learning … We meet the Holy when a bishop goes out into the street and encounters a little child, and takes that child seriously … And sometimes we meet the Holy when we’re engaged in mission … There’s this balance between action in the world, and action in our own souls and in our own churches, that I think we found more accurately this year.”
Feedback responding to the 2017 calendar was generous and played a major role in determining how to improve the 2018 edition.
“One of the things we didn’t think through carefully enough was that these are not just devotional or inspirational calendars; they’re working calendars,” Thompson said. “I think that was the biggest mistake, was to reduce the workability of that by little things like not colouring the dates to reflect liturgical colours.”
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, he noted, “once said that the Western church has an underdeveloped theology of beauty, and I think maybe we undervalued the role of beauty in the church calendar … I think we’re closer to that goal with this calendar than we were. Beauty is part of the nature of God and of the nature of the Holy.”
Meghan Kilty, director of communications for the Anglican Church of Canada, played a key role in oversight of the calendar. One of her main responsibilities was to ensure that feedback from 2017 was implemented in a manner that met the needs of people across the church.
“We heard really clearly the feedback of people across the church, and I believe that the 2018 calendar now meets the needs of the church and the communities who use the calendar in a very practical way, like chancel guilds and others who prepare space for worship,” Kilty said.
“I’m pleased with how staff in the communications department of the General Synod came together and worked collaboratively with our partners in the ELCIC to produce a calendar that meets the needs of both churches and reflects our lives in the world.”
Trina Gallop Blank, director of communications for the ELCIC, called the 2018 calendar “a wonderful sign of the full communion relationship between our two churches … I would encourage ELCIC and ACC congregations to look for opportunities to share and utilize this resource.”