Becoming a Beloved Community
Last week, your clergy team (Liska, Pam, Andrew) spent the morning with the curates (newly ordained deacons and priests) of the Diocese of Toronto. We were invited to speak to the topic, "Leading and Building Teams." We were invited because people are noticing that the way we operate as a clergy team at St. Clement's is unique: each of us brings our competence and experience to the table without turning leadership into a competition; we have different backgrounds, and we see that as an asset; we carry different tools and skillsets, and we use them in complementary ways; we are male and female, and we operate respectfully as equals.
Last week, I co-led (with Grace Jinkinson, our Manager of Finance & Administration) our parish's Screening in Faith workshop. We've developed and teach this workshop in order to safeguard our church community as a safe space to learn to follow Jesus Christ. On the morning of our most recent workshop, the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) issued a public announcement of the resignation of National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Mark MacDonald, due to acknowledged sexual misconduct. The devastation of that news and all that surrounds it will affect many, and for a long time.
Earlier this year - and in the wake of #metoo - the #ACCtoo hashtag was born. #ACCtoo is a movement seeking reform in how the Anglican Church of Canada responds to survivors of sexual violence. You can read more about it here. Our Theologian-in-Residence, Michael Buttrey, is co-founder of this movement.
Over the past year, St. Clement's has developed its own Violence and Harassment policy - posted here on our website. At the urging of the Diocese, we developed and formally enacted this policy, to ensure that our parish's stated values of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are upheld in our common life.
As your Rector, I need to tell you that violence and harassment isn't something that happens "out there" among "those people." It happens "in here" and among us. It happens when male parishioners make sexist and disparaging comments to our female staff and think that's ok; it happens when clergy are threatened via email or yelled at in person; it happens when parishioners speak down to each other instead of engaging in constructive conversation; it happens every time an inappropriate joke is made that makes someone in the room uncomfortable; it happens when members of our community are made to feel "less than" because of their race or sexual orientation. I'm not reaching for examples here...these are regular occurrences I see and hear personally.
We can do better. We can do better because God is calling us to be better - to become a beloved community. The sort of community that, in the earliest days after Jesus' resurrection, turned the world upside-down because women and men were in the same room together...and so were slaves and free. And they drank from the same cup and they ate from the same loaf. And they worshipped the same Jewish rabbi whom everyone agreed was dead but whom they were convinced had been raised to something greater.
Welcome to the new St. Clement's. Where the light of Christ's resurrected life is alive and moving in our midst.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the earliest believers:
“...but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.””
Yours truly in Christ,
The Rev. Andrew Federle
Rector, St. Clement's Church, Toronto