" We are living in a different time, and for this time we need to explore ways of being an doing that may look different from our past.” Willard Metzger...Daring to Dream Again
November 20, 2013 marked the beginning into a journey of dreaming between two congregations in Guelph; St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. David & St. Patrick’s Anglican Church. That evening a simple dinner invitation brought representatives from St. Paul’s to St. David & St. Patrick’s together to share a meal and entertain ecumenical ministry possibilities for the near future. In recent years, the two congregations had extended themselves into the occasional pulpit exchange as well as a yearly shared service. Despite this somewhat limited exposure, commonalities began to emerge particularly with the Church’s true mission and outreach into the community. At that November meeting, bold individuals were willing to dream differently. Propelled by possibilities, in addition to financial realities, a proposal to begin talks on a new congregational model between the two churches was agreed upon both on a local level and the Lutheran Eastern Synod and the Niagara Anglican Diocese.
That winter, representatives and clergy from both congregations began to define what that congregational model might look like. Although potential possibilities of ministry as one body drove many of the conversations, one could not ignore the ”Lutheran” and “Anglican” labels. Some obstacles were very real. Although the National churches have been in full communion since 2001, as defined in the Waterloo Declaration, governance models are very different. Tradition and personal church attachments also played a role.
A few months later, in April of 2014, Bishop Bird of the Anglican Diocese and Bishop Pryse of the Lutheran Eastern Synod met in Guelph with councils, clergy, and wardens to present their views and answer a list of standing questions. Their support and resources would play a central role and anchor point to conversations moving forward. A formal task force between the two local churches was established and carried these conversations into 2015. Amid many questions, a basic education of specific terms and practices of both churches was begun. It’s quite amazing how many assumptions we carry. We had to learn a common language.
In the spring of 2015, both congregations formally voted to enter a two-year partnership agreement and St. David & St. Patrick’s moved all of it’s resources to St. Paul’s. This was determined after evaluation of both physical properties and abiding finances. During this time, both communities lived, worked, and prayed together with the hope of creating a permanent shared Anglican-Lutheran ministry that would result in a long-term covenantal and legal relationship. It truly was a time of an engagement between two individuals.
A dedicated transition team was established which provided a bridge between the two governance models and provided a hub where existing teams or committees could talk and plan. This team was facilitated with support from the Anglican Diocese of Niagara and the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Eventually a Joint Council was formed and ran parallel to the traditional governance models.
Following congregational votes on April 30th, 2017, both churches were excited to announce that they accepted a formal merger agreement that would see a new church born to serve the people of Guelph. This new church is called All Saint’s Lutheran Anglican Church. It was one to be celebrated as it created the potential for us all to dream differently in our ministry. It wasn’t the fact that we reached some kind of finish line but rather we were at a new epiphany, a new beginning point…a new opportunity in mission.