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This page last updated 8 May 2017
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

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Letters from the week of May 1 - 7, 2017

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Faith and interfaith

I read your piece on church statistics. There has been quite a bit of media of late on such a decline of mainline Christianity. One of the reasons I suggest is the shift from denomination(s) whose task is to "make disciples" — depending on how that was interpreted to an interfaith world where church leadership embraces a multiplicity of other faith leaders in a widening understanding of what it means to be a person of faith

Where are the theses on interfaith relationships and what this means for our understanding of mission and evangelism? How does one grow congregations in a world where people self identify as spiritual and not religious? What will organic ministry look like in a world where religious labels no longer define us? As a hospital chaplain I find myself ministering to a congregation of 1200+ staff, 300+ acute beds, mental health patients, and all their families irrespective of labels and religious titles. Making disciples has shifted — its is me acting as a disciple in tending to the Christ within each person I meet irrespective of the title they have for God. I still function, when called upon, as an honorary within the parish celebrating the Eucharist and delivering a homily.

Yet my personal formation has meandered to a place wherein I seek to fan the flame of holiness within each who crosses my path rather than seeking to classify their faith orientation and persuade them to fill a pew in "my" congregation and choose our way as the only way. They are certainly welcome but they may also seek such community from a mosque, temple, or other expression. I suggest how we mitigate interfaith may determine mainline Protestantism's future.

The Rev Donald Shields
Grace Church Markham
Markham, Ontario, CANADA
planet.shields@gmail.com
3 May 2017

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We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.

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