Archdeacon John Clarke presents 'My Last Day at Church,' the first instalment in a new Keeping Anglicans Talking (KAT) video series comprised of 15 presentations filmed in Halifax and Vancouver.

Keeping Anglicans Talking: New video series ponders big questions

A new Keeping Anglicans Talking (KAT) video series is starting to roll out online. Bringing together a range of diverse voices from the Anglican Church of Canada, the latest round of KAT Talks presents two topics: “Choosing Christ” and “What Could We Be?”.

Filmed in Vancouver and Halifax by Anglican Video and made possible through grants from the Anglican Foundation of Canada and the Ministry Investment Fund, the new KAT Talks feature 15 different speakers, including both lay and ordained Anglicans. The speakers provide incisive commentary and reflections on discipleship, ministry and what the church can offer society today

“We’ve got a broad range of age and backgrounds … There are some really terrific talks out of it,” Anglican Video Senior Producer Lisa Barry said.

The videos build on a previous round of KAT Talks produced in 2014, which asked Anglicans to consider topics such as the theology of giving. The format was inspired by the popular TED conferences (“a TED talk with a spiritual twist,” in Barry’s words).

Bolstered by that initial success, the new KAT Talks deal with broad spiritual topics that serve as a resource for Anglicans, spiritual seekers, or individuals looking for a deeper understanding of the Anglican church.

By drawing on their own spiritual journeys, the speakers offer a remarkably honest assessment of the current challenges faced by the church and institutional religion in general, but also an inspiring message that calls for a return to basics by acting as representatives of Christ in the world—supporting the vulnerable, defending creation, and walking with Indigenous peoples.

My Last Day at Church, a KAT Talk by Archdeacon John Clarke, is a case in point. First attending church in his late teens, the young Clarke did not feel he fit in at his congregation. On what he had planned as his last day at church, he heard about the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund in the Solomon Islands.

“It gave me joy to think that my church did this,” Clarke recalls. “The Anglican Church of Canada made a difference in people’s lives … I was filled with pride for my church, because my church was making a difference, my parish, and I knew that I could make a difference.”

Discussing some of the negative perceptions many people carry of the church, he urges Anglicans to “be a reflection of Jesus Christ in the world” by making a difference in the lives of others.

The Social Usefulness of Institutional Religion is the theme of a presentation by Dean Peter Elliott, which directly confronts the question of what the church as an institution can offer society in an era of declining participation in organized religion.

Answering the question in a format well-suited to the Internet age, Dean Elliott offers up a list of five things the church can provide—a safe, inclusive community; arts and music; peace through justice; non-violence and compassion; and the celebration of life passages—and challenges others to make their own lists.

A common theme through the presentations is the connection between ministry and current social and ecological struggles. In Christ-Sightings of a Recovering Racist, archivist Melanie Delva tells the candid narrative of how her views on Indigenous people changed while collecting records for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Reflecting on her experience at the closing ceremonies of the TRC in Ottawa, Delva warns the church not to fall into self-congratulation at its work towards reconciliation thus far. “I have come to believe strongly,” she says, “that we as a church cannot claim we have pursued reconciliation with Indigenous people while separating ourselves from current issues of Indigenous justice and self-determination.”

Linking solidarity with Indigenous people to the challenge of global climate change, the Rev. Laurel Dykstra uses the concept of watershed discipleship to unify the two issues, describing issues such as resource extraction that adversely affects Indigenous communities as modern forms of colonization.

Some of the KAT Talks focus on aspects of church life, such as the presentation by Tasha Carrothers on the Gather, Transform and Send model of parish development. The Rev. Lisa Vaughn, meanwhile, describes a different model of outreach to non-Christians as she recounts her experiences with small group ministry.

Personal experiences of Christ, prayer and what it means to “be” church round out the latest KAT Talks. Whether the Rev. Kristin MacKenzie remembering a student trip to a monastery in which she learned anew the power of using words as a Christian to seek Christ, or the Rev. Nicole Uzans extolling a broader meaning of church as “patterning our lives together into something holy,” the new videos offer plenty of food for thought.

Additional KAT Talks are planned in the future, Barry noted.

“We’re hoping to be able to build and do yet another series,” she said. “I would love to do a series of Indigenous speakers.”

Visit the KAT home page to watch and share all the latest videos.

KAT Talks filmed in Halifax include:

  • “Closer to Home” with the Rev. Nicole Uzans
  • “Stop Saying Can’t” with the Rev. Brieanna Andrews
  • “More Passes, Less Dribbling” with the Rt. Rev. David Edwards
  • “My Last Day at Church” with the Ven. John Clarke
  • “The Way, The Truth And The Life” with the Rev. Kristin MacKenzie
  • “And God Said It Was Good” with the Rev. Marian Lucas Jefferies
  • “What’s Your First Aid Kit” with the Rev. Michael Caines
  • “And They Pay Me For This?” with the Rev. Lisa Vaughn

KAT Talks filmed in Vancouver include:

  • “Why Church?” with Andrew Stephens-Rennie
  • “With God’s Help?” with the Rev. Alex Wilson
  • “Light of the Traumatized: Our Gift of Housing the Trauma of God” with Kate Newman
  • “Watershed Discipleship” with the Rev. Laurel Dykstra
  • “Christ-Sightings of a Recovering Racist” with Melanie Delva
  • “The Social Usefulness of Institutional Religion” with the Very. Rev. Peter Elliott
  • “Gather, Transform and Send” with Tasha Carrothers

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