Reflecting Lenten themes through stories of northern ministry, a new weekly resource seeks to bring churches together across North and South with a reminder of their common mission.
The Council of the North, for the second consecutive year, has produced the resource in the form of a bulletin insert that may be used for quiet reflection during worship, as an opening devotional for a vestry meeting or as part of a Bible study.
For each week of Lent, the resource includes one true-life northern vignette followed by a prayer, connecting ongoing ministry work with the spirit of the Lenten season.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Hawkins, chair of the Council of the North, noted that the resources “explore Lenten themes like baptism, justice, discipleship, healing and servanthood through the lens of northern ministry.”
“In this way,” he added, “we hope to draw closer to you, over the many miles, inviting you to pray with us and for us.”
Reprising her work from last year, Sharon Dewey Hetke, associate with Council of the North Communications, wrote this year’s Lenten resource.
Through the stories from the North, Hetke hoped in part to pay tribute to the many non-stipendiary ministers whose work she called “truly sacrificial”—and not merely because they often go unpaid.
“Ministry is never nine to five…but these people really exemplify that, how they live their calling every minute,” Hetke said.
“They’re just part of the community and they’re constantly doing ministry.”
Yet the experiences of northern lay residents are an equally crucial component.
In the resource for the first week of Lent, “The Kingdom draws near,” Hetke paints a scene from Schumacher, Ont., describing clientele of the Livingroom—a new ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee that serves as a safe and welcoming space for members of the community in need.
Established following the closure years ago of the local Anglican church, the Livingroom offers refreshments, games and crafts, and a child-friendly environment free of drugs and alcohol.
Referencing Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, Hetke said that the Livingroom exemplifies the spirit of that week’s Lenten prayer, which encourages the faithful to “see the ways you are building your kingdom among us here and now.”
“The kingdom is still being built in this community, just in a different way,” she said, adding, “The way we approached it was this is Christ’s kingdom among us here now, in this little drop-in centre in the back of an office building.”
By sharing stories of northern ministers and residents with churches in southern Canada, Hetke hopes that the Lenten resource will help build a sense of community across the two regions.
“There are many miles between them,” she said. “But we want to show how we have one common ministry and purpose, and just remind the churches in the South how much their support means to the Council of the North.”
Resources for the first three weeks of Lent are now available for download, with the remainder set for release on Feb. 17.
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