Monthly Archives: April 2012

Contact Us

Email
Rev. Brian Wilker Frey  pastor@stansgar.ca

Pamela Kormano – Intern intern@stansgar.ca

Anna McRae – Office adminstrator admin@stansgar.ca

Website editor webmaster@stansgar.ca

Address
St. Ansgar Lutheran Church
1498 Avenue Road
Toronto,  Ontario  M5N 2J1

Phone 416-783-3570
Fax 416-783-1751

Canadian Lutheran World Relief – CLWR

Canadian Lutheran World Relief is the international development and service vehicle for Lutherans in Canada.  It is a shared ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and Lutheran Church – Canada (LCC).  A full description of their work can be found on their website at: www.clwr.org.

Voices For A Just Society

Voices is “a growing community of faith-based groups in North Toronto working together for a just society by strengthening and supporting relationships within our community; learning and sharing to increase our knowledge of issues; speaking with one voice; and acting together to address injustice.”  Call the office to find out about times, locations, and events of this inter-denominational group.

The Olive Branch for Children – Tanzania

The Olive Branch for Children was founded in 2005 by Deborah McCracken and registered in Canada in 2006 and Tanzania in 2008. The main objective of the Olive Branch for Children is to help remote communities in Tanzania assess their primary needs and establish programs that target the most vulnerable.

St. Ansgar Toronto supports this ministry by sponsoring the education of various children and promoting the ministry in the congregation and community.  Some members of St. Ansgar have travelled to Tanzania to offer their skills and talents to the Olive Branch Community.

Please check out their web site and support them as you are able.

Pastor’s Message – April 2012

As you may be aware, St. Paul Lutheran Church, primarily serving a Mandarin speaking population, has been renting space from us every Sunday afternoon for a couple of years now.  However, for their own internal reasons, they have chosen to move to Markham and rent space from Bethesda Lutheran Church in Unionville.  This move will take place at the end of April.  We wish them well as they worship, serve and proclaim the gospel in a new setting.

When I arrived in 2007, a Korean Presbyterian congregation was renting space from us on Sunday afternoons.  Additionally, our Fellowship Hall is booked up every evening from Monday to Thursday as well as every Saturday evening, leaving only Friday evenings free for our use.  And, of course, the Day Care has much of the church space booked every weekday.  We do this because rental income accounts for about 60% of our budgeted income.  That’s just the way it is.

But now, on Sunday afternoons and evenings beginning in May, the whole church will be available for us to do with as we like!

It will mean taking a small financial hit.  We could easily rent out our space on Sunday afternoons and evenings to some other Christian community; we get requests for rental space all the time.  However, I’ve asked Council not to rent out that space, at least for the time being, and they have agreed.

If the space ends up sitting empty, after we’re done with it by 1:00 every Sunday, then, by all means, we should allow some other group to worship here.  But, is there something we can do with the space?  Is Sunday afternoon and early evening a time when you and your family might consider coming to worship in a new and creative way?  Are there mission projects we might consider using the space to engage and participate in?  Musical or dramatic presentations?  Speaker series?  Learning opportunities?  Outreach projects?

We have been endowed with wonderful facilities.  We have inherited a form of Christian faith, doctrine, tradition, and heritage that has the potential of speaking to the lives and realities of folks who may have never ever darkened the door of a church before.  And now, we have space and time to be creative, imaginative, and playful.  This seems to me like a gift too good to pass up.

What do you hear God calling us to do with this gift?

See you Sunday!

Pastor Brian

Pastor’s Message – March 2012

On March 25 we will gather as a congregation to either affirm or reject the motions passed at the ELCIC National Convention this past summer regarding: Unity of the Church, Same-Gender Marriage, and Ordination of Gay and Lesbian Pastors.

I hope, and in fact I believe that we will affirm these motions removing homosexuality as a barrier to full participation in our congregational life, and here is why.  I believe that, in our hearts, very few of us want to reject gay and lesbian people.  Many of us have gay or lesbian friends, family members, neighbours, or co-workers and we know that nothing about sexual preference makes us different in any significant way from anyone else.  The problem is that many of us have received the message that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian faith, and we want to honour our faith by the decisions we make and the lives we live.

But homosexuality is not inconsistent with Christianity, and especially not with our Lutheran expression of it for the many reasons that I outlined in our adult education classes last fall and in “A Faithful Acceptance,” which I wrote as a summary of each of those classes (available in the narthex or upon request by email).

I am hopeful and believe this motion will pass at the March 25 meeting because I believe most of us will cheerfully and enthusiastically support a motion that brings together what we know to be good and right in our hearts with our theology and practice.

But, what if the motion fails?

I have to admit that I have wondered about the value of five years of teaching and preaching among you, should this motion fail.  Is my proclamation of the gospel being heard here?  Should I stay if the motion fails, or should I seek a call with a congregation that more closely resembles my values and my theology?

Here is what I have concluded:  If the motion fails I will not receive that as a message that I should seek a new call.  Instead, I will take the rejection of the motion as a sign that I have not been clear enough with you in my proclamation of the gospel and must take a more radical approach to communicating it.  And I hope that those of you who would be dejected by the failure of this motion would also stay and support this more clear and radical approach.

And if the motion passes, I will also take that as an excuse to be clearer in my proclamation of the gospel and to take an even more radical approach to communicating it.  And I pray that all of us would be uplifted, empowered and energized to even more enthusiastically proclaim this gospel through the life and ministries of our congregation.

So, either way, I look forward to many years ahead of proclaiming with you a radical gospel of grace, peace, love and abundant life for all people and celebrating with you the presence of the Kingdom of God wherever it emerges in our lives and our relationships.

See you Sunday, and especially March 25.

Peace,

Pastor Brian

P.S. – I’m pleased to announce that the vote passed overwhelmingly with more than 90% in favour!  

Somethings Gotta Give

Let’s face it, church is optional these days.  Worship.  Support.  Volunteering.  Serving.  Learning.  All of it is optional.  There are no state laws compelling us to participate.  There is no social pressure guilting us into participation.  This is a good thing and as it should be.

However, the institution we’ve inherited from Christendom never foresaw such a possibility.  Our whole structure – from our governance structure to our building and facilities to our structure for ministry and mission – is all built on the assumption that regular worship, learning, support and participation in the life of the congregation is the norm for all of our members.

All of which leaves us in a bit of a pickle.  The institution demands regular participation, but participation is optional.  How are we going to deal with this?

If you’re ever wondering: Why won’t the church just leave me alone and let me commune with God on the golf course in my own way? – that’s why.  We’re trying to keep a Christendom Church alive in a Post-Christendom age.  The two are simply not compatible.

So then, something has to give.  What’s it going to be?  What do you think?