This will be a short article, as I unfortunately arrived very late for the Sunday morning service at St. Margaret’s Church last week. However, despite my tardiness, I had a very positive visit.
The building is only 12 years old, and has a wonderful airy design. From the sanctuary you can look out through windows on either side directly into the subdivision the church is located in. The architecture gives the church a feeling of being rooted in the local community.
I had an interesting conversation after the service with Reverend Stephen Pessah. We talked about the fact that for churches located in urban cores, usually the needs of the local community are very obvious. Poverty, crime, housing difficulties and so on are usually quite visible. But in suburbia, although the needs may be very real, they are frequently hidden behind a veneer of respectability. You cannot immediately distinguish between a a resident who is comfortably well off or on the verge of bankrupt – they may both drive an SUV, dress smartly, and so on.
Furthermore I’m convinced there are more forms of poverty than simply financial. Our community can frequently suffer from relational poverty, as we isolate ourselves in our detached houses behind our ‘good neighbour’ fences. Or we can suffer from poverty of imagination, as we trudge through a lifestyle we find unfulfilling but can’t imagine changing. Or we can wrestle with poverty of hope – an inability to dream that life might one day be different than it is today.
St. Margaret’s will be holding a series of contemplative services during Lent, which I’m pleased to here. I’m convinced that the church in Barrie needs a healthy contemplative stream of Christianity. Brian McLaren, in his book ‘A Generous Orthodoxy’, says
I’ve noticed that among the people most dedicated to missional activism, you find either (a) people burned out because of the difficulty of the task, or (b) people who have best learned to undergird their activism with contemplation, with quiet resting, with finding God in the center of normalcy… Contemplation isn’t only for passive, withdrawn people, but also for active, involved ones.
Overall, I felt very welcomed at St. Margaret’s. In many ways, Anglicanism still feels like ‘home’ to me. I find that good Anglicanism strikes a very healthy balance: formal without being stuffy, orthodox without being exclusivist, liturgical while remaining accessible; a global denomination constructed entirely of local communities.