Friday, February 5, 2016

Colleagues List, February 7th, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 24



Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:

Colleagues List Web Site:

"Quicklinks" are included with many items
at the beginning of this issue. To get a more
complete picture, however, scroll down to
find your special selection in the body of
the blog.


Dear Colleagues:

My Special Item this week is about
mainline church mission in the city.

This kind of book has not been very
common for some decades, and it is
a joy today to be able to provide a
book notice on this theme.

It is entitled:

  Stories from an Urban Church"
  by Mark Whittall

I hope you will consider it.

Please scroll down to read the backstory
and my comments about the book.


Colleague Contributions - this week are from: 

Elfrieda Schroeder (Winnipeg MB) who writes
by way of "In Transit" her personal blog -
"Wounds, Scars and a Broken Heart"


Jim Taylor (Okanagan BC) who writes -

"Selective Reading Causes Tunnel Vision" (and)

"Reclaiming the Goodness of Darkness"


Martin Marty (Chicago IL) - his column -

"What Makes 'Religion' News?"


Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio TX) - his column -

"Shirt of Flame -
 A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux"

Thanks to all four of you.


Net Notes - that caught my eye this week -

"Wilbert Loewen Dies at 93"- the first executive
  director of Canadian Food Grains Bank died recently
  and it is inspiring to read about his life and work
  (Christian Week online)


"Christian and Gay in Kenya" - much of Africa is
  not a welcoming place for gay people, and some of
  the challenges and triumphs experienced is described
  here (Sightings)


"Zika Virus Challenges the RCC" - as with AIDS,
  the Roman Catholic Church faces a quandary
  over contraception and abortion (the Tablet, UK)


"Obama Visits American Mosque" - During his
visit to a mosque in Baltimore, the President
denounces anti-Islamic bias in America
(New York Times)

"Beijing Tightens Grip on Hong Kong" - China
continues to reduce basic freedoms (UCA News)


"Israelis Demolish West Bank Homes" - at the
same time more Palestinian residences are being
bulldozed by their stronger adversaries 
(The Guardian, UK)


"UNESCO Confirms Site of Jesus' Baptism " -
interesting news that "Bethany Beyond Jordan
where John baptized Jesus" gets World Heritage
approval (


"British Survey Finds Christians are Happiest" -
from England, a report that those claiming
Christian faith are psychologically happier people
(Christian Post)


"Christians, Muslims Distort Each Other's Faith" -
David W. Schenk, Mennonite missiologist,
explains simply why and how this happens
(Christianity Today)


"Poll: 'President Trump' Would be Very Bad
for Canada" - while this is really not news for most
Canadians, the story is still worth sharing at this
point in time. Clinton and Sanders would be better
(CTV News)


Wisdom of the Week - comes via Sojourners and
the Bruderhof online for your inspiration -

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Amma Syncletica.
Blaise Pascal, Augustine of Hippo,
Søren Kierkegaard and Sadhu Sundar Singh

Scroll down to read their wisdom.


On This Day -

From the archives of the New York Times:

"Last German Forces Surrender at Stalingrad"


Closing Thought - John Chrysostom

Please scroll to the end of the blog to read him.


and ...

For Those Interested -
Continuing Our Program Season -
Winter 2016 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry at St. David's
United Church, Calgary

Scroll to the end of the blog to read about us.

Thanks for reading. The Lenten Season is upon us.




Book Notice:

Stories from an Urban Church
by Mark Wittall.
Wood Lake Books, Kelowna BC. 2015.
158 pp. Paper $19.95 CAD. Kindle $7.98
ISBN #978-1-77064-805-0.

Publisher's Promo:

ReInvention: Stories from an Urban Church
may inspire and challenge readers and leaders
to “re-think church” and, if necessary, begin

In these days of declining membership in
mainline congregations, a new church plant
is a rarity. Even more so, perhaps, when the
church plant involves an existing 145-year-
old building, and a focus on ministry to college
and university students, young adults living in
the neighbourhood, and those experiencing
homelessness and dealing with poverty.

In ReInvention: Stories from an Urban Church,
Mark Whittall shares the insights and wisdom
he and a small-but-dedicated team gained as
they worked to establish a new congregation
in St. Albans Church, the second oldest
Anglican parish in Ottawa.

The challenges the team faced were not small:
the renovation of the original building, negative
reaction from the community to the placement
of a day program for the homeless, creating
new liturgies and a new kind of church
experience, and learning how best to reach
out to and involve people with little or no prior
church involvement. The result of all these
efforts, however, has been the transformation
of St. Albans into a vibrant centre for worship,
a beautiful venue for the arts, and place of s
helter and safety for many of the city’s most
vulnerable inhabitants.


Author's Bio:

The Rev. Mark Whittall is the pastor
of St. Albans Church and a priest of
the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. 

He is an engineer by training, and
obtained graduate degrees in Theoretical
Physics and in Development Economics
from Oxford University.  His first career
was as an engineer and executive in the
high-tech sector, rising to the position of
CEO and earning recognition as Ottawa’s
Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000.  Soon
afterwards he left his business career and
turned to the study of theology. He served
as Professor, History of Science at Augustine
College in Ottawa from 2002 to 2007 and was
ordained as an Anglican Priest in 2008.  After
a brief stay in a rural parish, he was tasked
with building a new congregation at St. Albans
Church in downtown Ottawa in 2011, where
he currently serves as pastor.


Author's Words:

... If there was anything that served as a
common theme (in my earlier education)
apart from loving a good challenge, it was
my fascination with models. Models,
conceptual frameworks, paradigms, or, if
they are comprehensive enough in scope,
worldviews, are the lenses through which
we understand, interpret and interact with
the world around us. Without models,
engineers can’t solve problems and
economists would have nothing to
say about economic behavior. 

But the one model that captivated me more
than any other and has since become a life-
long passion is the model of quantum physics.
Up until third year university, I was immersed
in the model of classical physics. Newtonian
physics. Matter, motion and forces.  Causality
and determinism. Objective reality. 

The clockwork universe.  Atoms as miniature
billiard balls moving on a stage of space and
time. But in my third year of university all that
changed when I hit quantum physics, with a
few doses of Einstein’s relativity thrown in
for good measure. Atoms turned out to be
mostly empty space. Particles turned into waves. 
Waves turned into particles. An electron could be
in two places at the same time. 

Causality and determinism both disappeared
at the microscopic level. Day by day as I went
to class, the concepts I’d grown up with, ideas
like space, time, matter, particle, mass,
causality, determinism, objectivity, all of these
were chewed up and spit out, to be replaced
by strange new conceptions. My brain hurt as
it was forced to move from the comfortable
world of classical physics to the brave new
world of quantum physics with its curving
space-time, wave functions, tunneling
electrons and uncertainty principles. 

It’s one thing to talk about paradigm shifts –
it’s a very different thing entirely to experience

Curiously enough, at the same time as I was
being both disrupted and fascinated by these
shifting paradigms, I discovered that Rev. Bob,
the priest at the Anglican Church on the corner
of campus, was also a big fan of models and
paradigm shifts, which he regularly incorporated
into his preaching and his theology. “But what
if we were to look at this with a new model”
was one of his favourite ways of bringing fresh
insight into a familiar passage of scripture... 
Bob ... handed me a book to read. (It was
entitled)The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
by Thomas Kuhn. It was in this classic text that
Kuhn introduced the world to the idea of a
“paradigm-shift” using examples from the
history of science. Progress and change
don’t happen as a result of the incremental
accumulation of more and more facts. 

Real change results from paradigm-shifts: 
conceptual revolutions that ask new questions,
fundamentally change the rules of the game
and re-write all the text books.

Is the church in North America in the early 21st
century in the midst of a paradigm shift? Or
perhaps the question should be, does the 21st
century church require a paradigm shift? 

Many would say yes.  (But) paradigm-shifts
are generally difficult, disruptive and divisive.

... I think that there’s room for new ways to do
and be church that will change the rule book
and shift our expectations. But while having
a passion for shifting paradigms is a good start
for a church planter, ideas alone won’t get a
church plant off the ground.

- From Chapter One "Getting Ready"


My Thoughts:

“But what if we were to look at this with
a new model?” -- that question, posed by
an Anglican campus pastor began a process
in the mind of a scientist with a desire
to live the Christian faith in light of the
changing ways by which the world seems
to work today. That opened the way to new
thinking, using new models for conceptualizing
the context for ministry as well as ministry

Some branches of Christianity seem to be
doing better today than others. In Canada,
mainline Protestant churches in general seem
to be living in a funk. Catholic parishes may
seem to be flourishing because they keep being
infused with new immigrant members from
other parts of the world. Conservative
evangelical churches have been somewhat
creative with local congregational models
and are not content to simply repeat old
formulas. But many are also in a malaise.

Taken together in truth, the handwriting is
on the wall for most of us and perhaps the
mainline is just the first to succumb to the
effects of seismic, contemporary, societal

I have always been interested in mission and
the challenge of communicating "good news"
across boundaries of time, culture and space.
That is why Mark Whittall's book is interesting
to me. It is exciting to discover how an old
downtown parish church could be remodeled  
into a new faith community without having to
be transformed into a restaurant or office space.

When I hear fellow-church members complain
about things going downhill, my first response
is to disagree. We can affirm what we still
have going for us, and to suggest how we
might 'think differently' using the resources
of our location and opportunities more creatively.

Truth be told, creativity is usually the way good
and  substantial church mission has always evolved.

First we need to claim that the Gospel is everlasting
but not confined to assumed expressions. Then we
must acknowledge the real changes taking place.
Then we need to become creative in terms of the
real possibilities available to us.

Mark Whittall seems to me to be a prophetic voice
in our midst. He has something to say to people
of faith across the church spectrum.

I thank you Mark for writing this book, and
encourage those for whom my words carry
some meaning to secure a copy and use it well.


Buy the book from:

Wood Lake Books


Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder,
Winnipeg, MB

"In Transit" Personal Blog
  February 1st, 2016

"Wounds, Scars and a Broken Heart"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
January 31st, 2016

"Selective Reading Causes Tunnel Vision"

February 3rd, 2016

"Reclaiming the Goodness of Darkness"


Martin Marty,
Chicago, IL

February 1st, 2016

"What Makes 'Religion' News?"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

January 31st, 2016

"Shirt of Flame -
 A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux"



First Director Canadian Food Grains Bank

Christian Week online
February 1st, 2016


LGBT Empowerment in Africa

February 4th, 2016


Contraception, Abortion at Stake

The Tablet, UK
February 4th, 2016

Denounces Anti-Islamic Bias

New York Times
February 4th, 2016

Basic Freedoms Under Growing Threat

UCA News
February 4th, 2016


Palestinian Residences Bulldozed

The Guardian, UK
February 2nd, 2016


Jordan World Heritage Site
Now Official
February 3rd, 2016


Their Faith Offers Certain
Psychological Benefits

Christian Post
February 1st, 2016


D.W. Schenk, Missiologist,
Explains How this Happens

Christianity Today,
January 29th, 2016


Clinton and Sanders Would Be Better

CTV News
February 1st, 2016


Provided by Sojourners and
the Bruderhof online:

There is no way to peace along the way
of safety. For peace must be dared, it is
itself the great venture and can never
be safe. Peace is the opposite of security.

To demand guarantees is to want to protect
oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely
to God’s commandment, wanting no security,
but in faith and obedience laying the destiny
of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not
trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles
are won, not with weapons, but with God. They
are won where the way leads to the cross.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Just as a treasure exposed is quickly spent, so
also any virtue that becomes famous or well
publicized vanishes. Just as wax is quickly melted
by fire, so the soul is emptied by praise, and loses
firmness of virtue.

- Amma Syncletica


How few things there are which can be proved!
Proofs only convince the mind. Who has ever

been able to prove that tomorrow will come,
and that we shall die? And what could be more
generally believed?…

In short, we must rely on faith when the mind

has once perceived where truth lies, in order to
quench our thirst and color our minds with a faith
that eludes us at every moment of the day

- Blaise Pascal


Have pity on me and help me, O Lord my God.
Tell me why you mean so much to me. Whisper
in my heart, "I am here to save you." Speak so
that I may hear your words. My heart has ears
ready to listen to you, Lord. Open them wide
and whisper in my heart, "I am here to save you."

- Augustine of Hippo


The path of an honest fighter is a difficult one.
And when the fighter grows cool in the evening
of his life this is still no excuse to retire into games
and amusement. Whoever remains faithful to his
decision will realize that his whole life is a struggle.

Such a person does not fall into the temptation of
proudly telling others of what he has done with his
life. Nor will he talk about the “great decisions” he
has made. He knows full well that at decisive
moments you have to renew your resolve again
and again and that this alone makes good the
decision and the decision good.

- Søren Kierkegaard


Every day of our lives is like a precious diamond.
We may have wasted countless days already in idle
and selfish pursuits, so that they are now lost in the
depths of the past. But let us at least awake now,
see the value of the days that remain, and use
 them to acquire spiritual wealth. If we use them
in selfless service to God and if we use them to
warn others who are still frivolously throwing
away their days in pursuit of fleeting pleasures,
then we will gain the boundless treasure of
heavenly bliss.

- Sadhu Sundar Singh



From the archives of the New York Times

"Last German Forces Surrender at Stalingrad"


CLOSING THOUGHT - John Chrysostom

A friend is more to be longed for than the light;
I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for
it were better for us that the sun should be
extinguished, than that we should be deprived
of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be
without friends.



Continuing Our Program Season -
Winter 2016 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry at St. David's
United Church, Calgary


Theme: "The Other Two Religions of Jerusalem"
                Judaism and Islam

Books: "Chosen? Reading the Bible
              Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"
              by Walter Brueggemann

             "Islam: A Short History"
               by Karen Armstrong
A  ten-week investigation into the religious 
sources of modern global unrest centered
in the Mid-East:

Ten Monday evenings, 7-9PM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 18th - March 21st, 2015
Including Monday of Family Weekend

Books and Registration/Hospitality - $60.00
Books only - $35.00

Total book sets made available for sale: 32.
All sets have now been sold.

Now beginning seventeen years
of Monday Night Studies
Our thirty-second series of
(usually) ten week sessions!

Course design:

Check our complete archives
for all 46 book studies:



Theme: The Book of RUTH and other
Hebrew Bible themes of justice for
vulnerable people in society

Five sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30AM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 28th - February 25th.

No charge.

Study resource -

The DK Complete Bible Handbook

(copy available in our church library)

The Bible Study Group provided the
service reflection Sunday, Jan. 17th, 2016
and it was well received.



Something to Anticipate This Year

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, Alberta

Mark your calendars!

Sunday February 28th
11:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Theme: "Opening the Jubilee Door:
A Focus on the Ecological Spirituality
of St. Francis of Assisi"

Registration, including lunch and
refreshments during the day - $35.00

Reflections will be led by Susan Campbell
enthusiastic, qualified and new MSF director;
and will include a nature walk.



Coming Soon - our "Memories Project" --
Sight and Sound Packet contributed by those
taking the "Jerusalem and the Lands of Three
Great Faiths" tour last October and produced
by Jock McTavish. 12,000 pictures were offered
and processed.

Available free to all who took and tour with
additional packets at a modest price for those


New Project Later This Winter --

"Where Would You Like to Travel Next?"

Beginning our process to find a destination
for a trip somewhere in the world in 2017.


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