The Canadian Church Calendar published annually by the Anglican Church of Canada will take a new direction in 2017, bringing aboard a full communion partner in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and changing focus from church buildings to church ministry and engagement in God’s mission.
Praising the legacy of the buildings bequeathed to the church by previous generations, General Secretary Michael Thompson described the new missional focus as underscoring the role of the church in Canada and around the world.
“There’s nothing wrong with buildings; it’s just that they’re not the story,” Thompson said. “The story is the ministry of the church in service to God’s mission. That’s the story that we need to put in front of the church.
“Every month, when you turn the page of the new calendar, you’ll see a new engagement in activity that serves the common good or advocates for justice for the poor, and I hope that is inspiring for people.”
The impetus for the change came from a 2014 joint staff meeting between the Lutheran and Anglican churches in Winnipeg. For several years, the ELCIC had expressed interest in the idea of sharing the calendar with the Anglican Church.
“The idea of a joint ELCIC and Anglican Church of Canada calendar has been in discussion for a while now and we’ve explored several concepts,” ELCIC director of communications and stewardship Trina Gallop Blank said.
“The concept of a joint project that helps lift up ministries where we are working together feels like a natural extension of our full communion partnership.”
Thompson credited ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson with suggesting that the calendar might focus more on the activity of the church rather than its buildings. As a strong advocate of the Marks of Mission, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, was “jazzed” by the idea.
Pointing to a common trope that the church lavishes much of its money and attention on maintaining its buildings, Thompson noted, “It seemed rather contradictory for the Anglican Church of Canada to produce a calendar that actually reinforced that notion that the buildings are the most important, most lovely thing about the church.
“There are some beautiful church buildings, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “But the loveliest thing about the church is God’s people engaged in the transforming mission of God: feeding the hungry and looking after … the poor, sheltering AA groups, welcoming refugees.
“This is the work that Jesus asked us to get up to, and so we thought that there might be an interest in the church in a calendar that celebrated that engagement.”
Responsibility for overseeing the new calendar fell to Gallop Blank and Meghan Kilty, director of Communications and Information Resources for the Anglican Church of Canada.
Currently engaged in layout and design with her Lutheran counterpart, Kilty noted that the main focus of the new calendar would be on “exciting, beautiful photos of mission.”
In the process of brainstorming and reaching out to staff members, the pair have repeatedly found many commonalities in mission work, such as involvement by both churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, their mutual support of hospitals, and their joint organization of the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth gathering.
“There are interesting stories out there, and so moving away from the veneration of buildings to focus on ministry life I think is an important change,” Kilty said.
Delivery of the 2017 Canadian Church Calendar is expected in August, with the calendar subsequently available for order by church members and parishes.
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