Pat Bates, writing in the Cape Breton Post reflects on church closures in Canada that may offer opportunities for collaboration and new ways of doing church. Some ideas for others facing the same issues?
The Christian communities in Cape Breton are going through a significant evolution, one that encompasses changes in organizational structures and many traditional practices, and, most importantly, dramatically affecting people’s emotions and sense of place. The functioning of our institutions will nearly always reflect shifts in the composition of our communities. Unfortunately, in many respects, such shifts should be obvious to us all by now, if for no other reason than they are driven by the state of the economy and reported upon on a nearly daily basis — population decline, out-migration, an aging populace with the death rate exceeding the birth rate, and an unemployment level hovering around 17 per cent.
Among local church communities, members of the Anglican faith were the first to bring the size of their parish communities into line with shrinking congregations and declining resources.
Besides the need to let go of attachment to buildings we hold dear, Bates writes:
The way forward could be new means of co-operation and collaboration between the various faiths in the use of buildings and facilities. With regard to human resources, some faith communities already depend on lay ministry participation; other faith communities may also choose to do so. Lay leadership in all faiths requires reinvigorating.