Nicodemus ProjectMonthly Updates

December 2011

Visioning day exciting, challenging
and full of possibilities

Saturday’s Visioning Day (November 26) with Nick Brotherwood and David Edwards was exciting, challenging and full of possibilities. About 80 New Brunswick Anglicans from all over the diocese — from the upper St. John River Valley through Saint John and up to the North Shore — got a close-up view of Fresh Expressions of Church through animated lectures, colourful power points, fast-paced videos, well-focused object lessons and lots of group interaction. Te energetic Nick, once a rock and roll drummer — is more properly the Rev. Canon Nick Brotherwood, coordinator of Fresh Expressions Canada, assistant director of the Wycliffee College Institute of Evangelism and half-time incumbent in St. Stephen’s Church, Westmount, Quebec — covered all the bases with the help of Archdeacon Edwards, parish development officer for our diocese. In one exercise we were asked, in table-groups of six or eight, to remove all our jewelry, including watches and glasses, and put everything in the middle of the table. Then we were instructed to try on something that belonged to someone else. While some things were definitely ‘not us’ (didn’t fit, didn’t suit, or, as was the case with glasses, were unusable), we were really surprised to find that some did work, that we liked some things we might never have chosen for ourselves. In fact, I think there were those of us would have quite liked to keep some of them! So it is when we change well-worn habits like church practices. Sometimes the new practices don’t work for us, but there are also times when we are surprised to find we like some of them better than the old ways.

When we consider starting a Fresh Expression of church, listening prayer is of the utmost importance as we try to discern God’s will. We need to take off our blinkers and look around our communities to see what God is already doing — then look for ways to join in. Our mind set must change from the kind of thinking that says, “the Church has a Mission,” to one that tells us “God of Mission has a Church.” God has a church that can and should do his work, and that work often takes place outside the walls of the building we call ‘the church.’

Nick actually spent a three-day weekend with us. On Friday he led a well-attended day for the clergy and on Sunday he preached at three services at Christ Church Cathedral.



June 2011

Messy Church Part 2


Two clerics from this diocese recently attended a day-long conference on Messy Church in Burlington, Ontario. It was led by Sue Kalbfleisch (Regional Coordinator for Eastern Canada) and the Rev. Nancy Rowe who has led a Messy Church at St. Geroge’s in Georgetown, Ontario for the past four years.

Messy Church is a Fresh Expression of church designed to reach those not connected to any church. It is for all ages and it is fun. Its aim is: “to introduce Jesus, to give an opportunity to encounter him and to grow closer to him.” Many of those who attend are two or three generations away from having any experience of church apart from
having attended an occasional funeral or wedding. They come because Messy Church is not churchy. It does not use a set form of liturgy. It is not a place where everyone is required to dress up, sit still or behave in a certain way. It offers a way to spend time with family when life is often too busy for families to connect in meaningful ways. People come because it is one evening a month when they don’t have to cook!

Messy church offers hospitality, friendship, stories, creativity, worship and a family friendly meal. Because having Messy Church requires a team of dedicated volunteers,
a Messy Church usually meets once a month. The preferred time seems to be between 5 and 7 o’clock. on a weeknight. When they finish work, parents pick up their children and go there directly.

Watch for an article in the September New Brunswick Anglican and the offer of how-to workshops for those parishes interested in a different approach to reaching those presently outside the church.

May 2011

Messy Church?

In I Corinthians 14:30, St. Paul tells us that worship should be conducted “decently and in order.” (King James and NRSV) The NIV translates this as ‘in a fitting and orderly way.’ So, how does a “Messy Church” fit in?

Messy Church has come about as a Fresh Expression of church (a concept which has previously been explained in these inserts). For many modern families Sunday is reserved for sports, shopping and family time. Messy Church is a way for such families, who are not already part of a congregation, to come together to creatively explore a biblical theme, to worship together, to have fun and to enjoy a meal. Messy Churches may meet on any day during the week at a time and in a place convenient for those who attend. Messy churches often meet monthly.

The first Messy Church was established in Hampshire, England in 2004, but the idea spread fast. Now there are many Messy Churches across the U.K. and in Australia, New Zealand and Canada to name just four countries.

In New Brunswick some areas are beginning to explore the idea of Messy Church and two of our clergy will be attending a one-day workshop in Burlington, Ontario at the end of the month so as to be better able to help people wishing to take the idea further.
“It's about providing an alternative to worship for families that don't come back to church after their kids are baptized, often because by the end of the week they simply need time to spend together,” says Di Jaggassar in Churches Along the Ottawa.
For more information check <freshexpressions.ca> and Messy Church books by Lucy Moore.


April 2011

An Innovative Ministry in a Rural Parish

By Debora Kantor,
Family Ministry Outreach Coordinator
Parish of Cambridge and Waterborough


Up, up and away!


Family Ministry Outreach in the Parish of Cambridge and Waterborough began in earnest on Feb. 1, 2011 with the support of the Diocesan Foundation for Life Program. This outreach ministry actually began, though, with the establishment of a prayer support team whose members are committed to praying for this
ministry in our parish.


I first felt led to focus on meeting families and listening to their concerns by attending community parent and child groups, taking youth on outings and visiting families in the parish, and other families whose children attended our summer “Kids Club.” In other words, I started by building relationships. A Saturday evening outing with three young girls led to the girls sharing a song and actions with the congregation the next day.


I have also purchased some resources for a lending library plus some Christian books/games to give to the children when I visit. In addition, I am asking families what the church community can do for them — some themes are beginning to bubble up.
Our rural setting also lends itself to many possibilities for children to connect intimately with God’s creation.


I am a member of Threshold Ministries and graduated from Taylor College in the spring of 2010. I am very excited to be able to begin something unique in this area where there is not a lot offered for children and young families.


March 2011

Congregational Development Officer

Thanks to a very welcome offer of assistance from the National Church and a generous unencumbered bequest from the estate of the late Mary MacDonald, (Parish of Kent), the diocese is able to respond to respond even more fully than before to one of the requests of Synod 2009 — to offer support of parishes in understanding and implementing congregational development and stewardship initiatives.

The hiring of a Congregational Development Officer, initially for a three year period with periodic reviews, was recently approved by Diocesan Council. An Implementation Team worked quickly to draw up a job
description and time line in hopes of filling the position this summer.

The successful candidate may be ordained or lay. He/she will have strong and effective teaching skills, experience in creating and leading training programs, and a passion for building and sharing a vision of stronger, healthier and more mission-focused congregations. A strong background in this type of work is also required.

Although the primary work of the Congregational Development Officer will be with congregations and their leadership, he/she will also lead and facilitate diocesan or regional conferences in the areas of stewardship, planned giving and the various aspects of congregational development.

Ideally, this position is envisaged as one person full-tim, but it is possible it could be filled by two people with complementary skills.

This is a wonderful development in the life of our diocese and the potential employment of the right person(s) to do God’s work in these areas is anticipated with excitement. Please pray that God’s man or woman may be found.



February 2011

A Foundation for Life

Thanks to the generous support of A Foundation for Life by New Brunswick Anglicans, many parishes are able to launch new initiatives, develop new and creative ways of doing ministry. The foundation requested donations of $25 per adult and $5 per child. The response totaled nearly $20,000, more than enough to fund all the grant requests.

The program embodies the core purpose of the Nicodemus Project — to encourage the spiritual, numerical and financial growth of the diocese for the making of disciples. Three of the firsts grants awarded addressed some parish needs for technology.

  • All Saints’ Church, East Saint John will purchase a multimedia projector, laptop computer and screen in order to project the words of the liturgy and music during Sunday services. The equipment will also be used as teaching resources during the week.
  • Stone Church, Saint John will purchase a projector for use at the Upper Room Youth Worship Café, during the YAH! after school supper and hang out time on Wednesday evenings, and at Kid’s Church. The parish is funding part of the cost.
  • The Parish of the Tobique will use a new digital projector to further develop an existing youth service and outreach program.
  • The Parish of Stanley completed its parish assessment and development plan last spring and discerned a need to develop ministry to children and youth. A Foundation for Life grant will enable purchases for the development of a puppet ministry —materials to build a theatre and to purchase puppets. The parish is funding 25 per cent of the cost.
  • The Parish of Richmond offered mid-week summer services in Jackson Falls last year. The expected attendance increased fourfold. A grant will enable the parish to continue the services next summer by supporting visiting clerics and an organist.
  • The Parish of Cambridge and Waterborough hosted a very successful Vacation Bible Club in a new hall during the summer of 2010 and many summer residents and locals participated in faith-sharing group there as well. A grant to cover the costs of follow-up ministry in this parish will assist in the preparation of expanded ministries this summer.

December 2010

The Archdeaconry of Moncton, (Moncton and area) is involved in Nicodemas Project initiatives — seeking renewal as Anglicans and new and more effective ways to serve Christ — in the south east corner of New Brunswick.

Archdeacon Richard McConnell reports:

  • We have been meeting twice a year as Greater Chapter seeking a common vision for our life together. In that process we have approved an Archdeaconry Mission Plan that follows the outline of Bishop Salmon’s Stewardship Vision from the days spent in Sussex a year ago— Our Stewardship of the Gospel; our Stewardship of the Leadership of the Church; and our Stewardship of our Resources.
  • We met as a Greater Chapter on Sept. 29 to celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (renewing our identity as Anglicans) in concert with our Companion Parish of the same name in Worawora, Ghana. Parishes have responded magnificently to the appeal for a corn grinder for that parish.
  • We also celebrated the first few months of Street Hope in Moncton, where Eden McAuley is working with Threshold Ministry among young people at risk.
    We are also taking the first tentative steps towards a common webpage with links to parish pages.
  • About one half of the parishes in this deanery are seeking creative ways to thrive despite demographic challenges; six parishes are facing challenges in supporting full time priestly leadership. There are three examples of shared ministry that have already developed, but further, more creative, avenues of working together are being sought.
  • Our aim in all of this is not merely to survive, but, as Bishop Salmon says, to thrive the mission of Christ to the counties of Kent, Westmorland and Albert.

November 2010

Lost people matter to God.
Numbers Count!

Numbers (in the church) represent people and people matter to God. Miss the people and you miss the purpose of the church — that was the main message of the Diocesan Leadership Conference with the Rev. Charles (Chuck) Owens from the Diocese of South Carolina held in Saint John on Oct. 29 and 30. While faithfulness in worship and a Christian lifestyle are essential, faithfulness alone is not enough. It should, and must, lead to going out into the world to reach the lost.

About 95 per cent of unchurched people would attend a worship service if someone invited them and agreed to go with them, or meet them at the door, Owens said. To invite someone, though, church members must be convinced the service they attend will be ‘worthy.’ Good leadership and good preaching are paramount and cultural flexibility is necessary. Indeed, the cultural barrier is the largest single barrier to spreading the gospel. Sadly, many congregations are ‘trustees of the past’ and love their traditions more than their community.

A recipe to reach the unchurched:

HAVE

  • a safe, well-staffed nursery with clean toys in good condition
  • Sunday school during worship
  • an accessable bathroom with a changing station
  • the liturgy in the bulletin or on a screen (many people these days are visual learners)
  • some modern music
  • Bible study in the community.

BE

  • welcoming and careful not to use ‘insider’ language
  • Christian all week (not just during the Sunday worship)

KEEP

  • the church at a comfortable temperature
  • the service moving (some people have short attention spans)
  • in mind that open doors are more important than keeping the doors open.

Combine all the above with the exciting message of the Gospel and up-to-date methods so the church can change the world for Christ and change eternity for the world.

October 2010

The Bishop’s Task Force on Rural and/or Struggling Parishes recommended to Synod 2009 that:

  • the diocese immediately establish a Congregational Development Fund to support congregations (alone or in a shared ministry context);
  • make a decision to focus on growth through mission and community outreach;
    funding for this program come initially from an annual appeal to every Anglican in the diocese;
  • this whole initiative be overseen by the Parish Support and Development Team of Diocesan Council, whose membership would need to be expanded to include representatives from each of our nine deaneries;
  • parishes, regardless of size or location, be eligible to apply for financial support from this fund for a specific number of years – according to a clearly defined and time-limited plan;
  • all parishes in the archdeaconry/deanery of these risk-taking parishes, proactively and without hesitation, offer them as much support as possible in order to help them grow, become healthier and sustain themselves in the long term.

Synod 2009 overwhelmingly adopted this report and its recommendations. The Fund mentioned above is the A Foundation for Life Fund.

As an Anglican in this diocese, expect a package in the next week or two containing a letter from the Bishop, a brochure outlining the purpose of the fund and how to donate or apply to it, and a postage paid addressed envelope.

According to Archdeacon David Edwards, chair of the Parish Support and Development Team of Diocesan Council, an annual $25 donation (above the regular offering) from every adult New Brunswick Anglican, and $5 from every Anglican child, is requested to fund A Foundation for Life in order for parishes to help parishes so innovative mission and ministry can flourish.
All the money collected this year will be dispersed in order to make exciting new ministries and missions a reality. Fresh donations will be sought next year to support even more innovative opportunities.

This is our opportunity to make a difference — to help to fund the innovative projects that will lead our diocese into a new and vibrant future proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the making of disciples.

September 2010

As we enter the second of the two years between our Diocesan Synods (understanding that summer is for R&R on most people’s agendas) perhaps this is the time to review what has been accomplished in support of the priorities of the Nicodemus Project, and what is to come in the near future.

Prepare our leaders for a different future

  • Fall 2009 and winter 2010 Natural Church Development workshops.
    Lent 2010 Nicodemus Project Lenten Bible study provided to all parishes.
    Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, 2010 Clergy Conference led by the Rev. Gary Nikolosi, expert in congregational development.
  • Oct. 28 & 29. 2010 Congregational Development workshop with the Rev. Chuck Owens of South Carolina, recommended by Bishop Edward Salmon. Everyone is welcome.
  • Nov. 6, 2010 Natural Church Development workshop specifically for Anglicans at Christ Church (Parish) Church, Fredericton, sponsored by the Archdeaconry of St. Andrews.
  • Nov. 20, 2010 Parish visitation program workshop in Sussex presented by the Stewardship Team.
  • Nov. 27, 2010 Leadership workshop led by the NB Cursillo team.
  • March 29, 2011 Wardens’ Day focused on re-learning what it means to be Christian and Anglican, Christ Church (Parish) Church, Fredericton.
  • Lent 2011 Nicodemus Project Lenten Bible study featuring web cast talks provided to all parishes.

Help our struggling parishes

  • Fall 2010 Continued investment in a Congregational Growth and Development Fund in support of forward-looking and mission-minded projects in parishes, groups of parishes and deaneries.
  • Spring 2010 and forward Review of diocesan governance structures and processes by a team led by Archbishop Claude Miller.

Parish self-assessments and future plans

  • Fall 2009 and following Parishes began work on these documents to send to their territorial archdeacons by fall 2010.
  • Summer 2010 Territorial archdeacons have many completed parish assessments in hand.
    Fall 2010 Archdeacons have all the parish documents and make archdeaconry plans based on them.
As a result of these Synod 2009 initiatives, we are moving toward a future that includes strong, healthy, welcoming and growing parishes able to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Making of Disciples.

June 2010

Sharing and Co-operation

“Our parishes are discovering that they are not alone in their difficulties, and there is a renewed sense of mutual caring and support.” (Sharing Ministry Task Group) It is in this spirit that significant loans have recently been made by two parishes to two other parishes.

The Parish of the Nerepis and St. John, an amalgamation of eight churches, worshiped in a school for six years until it built the Church of the Resurrection in Grand Bay at a cost of $2.5 million. Parishioners pledged more than $700,000 and the sale of buildings and land contributed to the cost but the parish incurred an $850,000 debt funded by the diocese and a chartered bank. The bank debt re-payment was $3,334 a month. Despite a congregation averaging well over 150, it was just too much to handle.

“What we needed was some help to reorganize our debt so that the monthly payments were reduced,” says parish treasurer Jamie Morell.

With the assistance of diocesan treasurer Canon Fred Scott and the support of the Finance Committee, a partner parish was found. The Diocese negotiated and guaranteed a loan and Christ Church (Parish) Church in Fredericton invested some of its assets in a sister-church instead of with a financial institution. The Parish Church capital is secure because the Diocese guaranteed the loan and a huge burden has been lifted off the shoulders of the Parish of the Nerepis and St. John.

“The aggressive debt repayment program was threatening ministry. Put simply, the staffing that is in place in the parish is essential to future growth — and if we reduced staff in order to pay down debt quickly, we would be cutting off the engine for growth,” says the Ven. Vicars Hodge, rector of the Nerepis and St. John.

Recently the Parish of Quispamsis also took a leap of faith the purchase of a rectory. It was an expensive undertaking for a relatively young parish with no existing bequests or investments. Only a loan provided generously by the Parish of Sussex made it possible. There is no immediate gain for the Parish of Sussex, but generosity brings its own heavenly rewards.

“With a very fair loan agreement in place, the Parish of Quispamsis can move forward in mission and ministry with known and stable loan payments in place,” says the rector, the Rev. Chris Hayes. “This is a great benefit in times when other financial matters can be so uncertain.”

May 2010

A mixed economy church has nothing to do with money

A mixed economy church respects the needs for its people. Some, especially newcomers, are not attracted to traditional forms and are seeking new forms of worship and spiritual encounter. Countless others love the familiar liturgies and would count it a great loss if they were changed beyond recognition. In a new economy church both types of worship and encounter exist, although some of the new forms don’t resemble worship as we know it.

The Parish of Bright’s monthly Stew ‘n Art evenings held in the church hall in Zealand over the winter are a fine example of a new form of encounter. The work of local artists, musicians, poets, writers and storytellers fed the creative spirits of those who gathered there once a month. Turkey stew, founded on the racks of the turkeys left from the parish’s annual turkey supper, fed their bodies. In no way did this creative gathering interfere with the traditional Sunday morning services at St Paul’s, Zealand and at All Saints’, Keswick Ridge.

The Rev. Deacon Debbie Edmondson came up with the Stew ‘n Art idea. “When God’s creativity is released in song or dance, painting or sculpture, poem or narrative, composition or drama we are able to communicate heart to heart with our Creator,” she says.

One evening a painting done by Rowena Scott of the old Pugh’s Crossing School sparked an avalanche of reminiscing and storytelling about the school that delighted everyone there.
In his preface to The Mission Shaped Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams writes: “If Church is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ at the heart of every expression of Christian life in common.”

The evenings in Zealand certainly provided a place for community, and God was very present.


April 2010

Fresh Expressions of Church

Fresh Expressions started in the Church of England.

Bishop Graham Cray says, “It is a way of describing the planting of new congregations or churches which are different in ethos and style from the churches that planted them. They are designed to reach a different group of people from those already attending the original church.

There is no single Fresh Expressions model to copy, instead there is a wide variety of approaches for a wide variety of contexts and constituencies. The emphasis is on planting something which is appropriate in its context, rather than cloning something which works elsewhere.”

The Rev. Canon Bruce McKenna researched the Fresh Expressions movement while on sabbatical last year. He has since inspired two Greater Chapter meetings (Saint John and Fredericton) with his talk on what he saw and many of us are still intrigued with the message “Managing decline is not a Gospel value.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury is calling for the introduction of ‘fresh expressions’ forms of worship while maintaining the more traditional “mixed economy” church. The Fresh Expressions movement is blossoming in Australia and Canada and there is interest in Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, the USA, Chile and New Zealand.

Check out Fresh Expressions websites like freshexpressions.org.uk and freshexpressions.ca.

In 'The Problem of Pain,' C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Is this God’s megaphone moment?

NICODEMUS NOTES
• The Nicodemus clergy and warden learning weekend is postponed.
• Diocesan Council granted approval, in principle, of the Companion Diocese Grain Grinder Project. Stay tuned.

 

March 2010

Nicodemus Project in mid-Lent. How are we doing?

On Ash Wednesday, many parishes began the 'Christian and Anglican' Bible Study prepared by the Spiritual Development Team of Diocesan Council. The study is mainly based on the Gospel readings for the Sundays in Lent, but the first focused on the Exhortation for Ash Wednesday found on p. 611 of the Book of Common Prayer - and in Christ's Sermon on the Mount Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7, from which the three goals of the penitence of Lent (fasting, prayer and almsgiving) are drawn.

Also available on the website now are the guidelines for parish assessments aimed at those parishes which would like assistance from an outside facilitator. Several people are available to help and parishes need only call Archdeacon David Edwards (506-634-1474) to be put in touch with someone.

The Nicodemus Learning Weekend for Clergy and Wardens is planned for Friday evening and Saturday, May 28, 2010. Details are still being firmed up so please watch for updates.

There is a great need in the Diocese of Ho for corn/millet grinders. Each of our Archdeaconries is paired with a parish. If each of these parishes could be provided with a corn grinder (at a cost of about $4000) people would not have to resort to expensive third parties for this service, something which is often far beyond their means. Corn grinders do not require expensive maintenance. The proposal will come before the next meeting of Diocesan Council for approval. Perhaps this mission could become part of our archdeaconry plans? Please pray for guidance.

 

February 2010

The Nicodemus Project begins

With the launch of the Nicodemus Project across the Diocese at the end of January, many people wondered how we expected to accomplish its ambitious goal — to inspire a deep spiritual transformation in the diocese.

It is important to remember that when God calls, God enables. We believe that God called us at Synod 2009, as well as during the two years before it, to become a diocese of healthy, mission-focused, welcoming and growing parishes. God also called us to be open to the changes necessary to achieve this transformation.

How this takes place depends upon each parish — what it was like in the past, where it is in the present, and what its vision is for its future.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula.

It will take several years to accomplish what we want in our diocese, so Synod 2009 identified ‘action’ items that parishes can implement in the very near future that will begin the process of change.
• Conduct a self-assessment and produce a Parish Plan as individual as the parish itself. Facilitators are available to help parishes that need assistance.
• Use the specially prepared Lenten study, based on lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays in Lent, that relates the Gospel to Anglicanism.
• Send clergy and parish leaders to a leadership workshop planned for late spring.
• Address financial stewardship with the help of forthcoming supplies.
• With parish visions in mind, work with surrounding parishes to create plans for the future of the deanery.
• Pray for God’s guidance and help in all that we do.

The Nicodemus Project is both urgent and necessary. Over many years we have moved away from being the church that God calls us to be, so now we are a church in decline. We need to ask God to transform us — as individuals and as his church — and help us re-learn the true meaning of being Christian and Anglican.