St. John’s Vancouver leaves the building, praying for God’s blessing on New Westminster
Posted on September 22, 2011
Filed under Anglican Communion
The latest from from St. John’s Vancouver is a reminder to keep our friends in Vancouver in your prayers –
“countercultural and counterintuitive”
1.) Media Release, and further below, David Short’s message for the Parish Life News for September 18 2011.
VANCOUVER, BC – September 22, 2011 – St. John’s Vancouver Anglican Church, the largest Anglican congregation in Canada, will begin Sunday services at a new location after moving from its historic location on Granville Street and Nanton Avenue. The congregation, through a lengthy legal action, chose to leave their buildings rather than compromise their beliefs.
St. John’s Vancouver, which had been meeting at the Granville Street location for almost 100 years, will begin Sunday services on September 25 at Oakridge Adventist Church, at West 37th Avenue and Baillie Street in Vancouver.
Disagreement over basic Christian beliefs has separated Anglican congregations around the world into two camps, usually labeled orthodox and liberal, with those holding to historic, Bible-based values and beliefs in the vast majority. The St. John’s Vancouver Anglican congregation has aligned itself with the mainstream global Anglican Church, rather than continue as part of the local, more liberal Diocese of New Westminster.
“It is remarkable to be part of a Christian community which is putting faith into action in a way that seems inexplicable to those who love the world,” explained Canon David Short, Rector of St. John’s Vancouver. “We are doing something countercultural and counterintuitive for the truth of God’s word, losing something very valuable for the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ, holding the unity of faith by acting together as one, and joyfully accepting the confiscation of our property.”
The underlying, central issues of belief are: the authority of God’s Word in the Bible, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and the need to be saved by Him. St. John’s, along with the majority of Anglicans worldwide, joyfully upholds the historic biblical faith, expressed in the founding Anglican affirmations.
The move was the result of a court action to determine whether the Diocese of New Westminster or the St. John’s Vancouver congregation was conducting the ministry for which the buildings were intended, and is a result of an on-going world-wide upheaval in the Anglican Communion, the 80 million member Christian Protestant denomination formed 500 years ago.
St. John’s Vancouver’s final Sunday services at the Granville Street location on September 18, attended by over 1,100 congregants, included prayers to bless the Diocese of New Westminster and those that would occupy the buildings after the congregation had left. Congregation members both wept and smiled as they left the church to travel the short distance to the new location. There, they joyfully sung hymns and prayed together.
“It is inexpressibly sad that we are forced to choose between God’s final word and these wonderful buildings,” said Canon Short, “but we feel relief and much joy in God’s faithfulness and provision for us.”
St. John’s Vancouver will continue to be led by its present clergy, Canon David Short, Rector, Venerable Daniel Gifford, Associate Minister, Rev. James Wagner, and Rev. Aaron Roberts, assisted by Canon Dr. J.I. Packer, Honorary Assistant Minister and a world-renowned published theologian, a staff of 15, and by the Trustees of St. John’s Vancouver Anglican Church.
The new location secured by St. John’s Vancouver is at West 37th Avenue and Baillie Street and belongs to Oakridge Adventist Church, which has graciously offered to share its building. St. John’s Sunday services will start in Oakridge on September 25, 2011 and all other mid-week activities are planned to continue as normal in the new location.
All those who visited St. John’s Granville Street location in the past, new neighbours in the Oakridge location, and all visitors and residents in Vancouver are welcome at the services, prayer times and church events. Special events are planned during the transition period and special welcoming services will be held.
2.) David Short’s 18th September 2011 letter to the congregation was posted on the St. John’s website –
I am deeply conflicted because I find it very difficult to know what to write for today.
I could say how deeply I feel my own hypocrisy and failure as an under-shepherd of our Lord Jesus. The older I become the more emphatically I pray the first part of the sentence in the General Confession: “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” I have an acute sense of being personally undone, in all aspects of my ministry, none the least in preaching God’s word.
Or I could say how inexpressibly sad it is that we have to bear the consequences of decisions made in defiance of the word of God. It grieves me that we are forced to choose between God’s final word and these wonderful buildings: between the fellowship in the gospel which we share and our property. I am aware that much of our grief is not about buildings per se, but what we have experienced here at the hands of God. Not just baptisms, weddings, and funerals, though some occasions have been touched with the glory of heaven, but many have been saved, changed, transformed, unmade, remade and served Christ with great and good faithfulness. Of course buildings are important, and the ones we are in today are a physical and visual reminder of what God has done and the faithfulness of many.
Or I could say how proud I am to be your shepherd. It is remarkable to be part of a Christian community which is putting faith into action in a way that seems inexplicable to those who love the world. I am unaware of any congregation in the world which is served by lay leaders of the courage, goodness and faithfulness of ours. I have learned far more from you than you could ever learn from me, and the testimony of the clean-up last Saturday is but one small example of the concrete commitment to bless those who come after us.
But most of all I want to say how thankful I am. Thankful that you are willing to do something countercultural and counterintuitive for the truth of God’s word; to lose something very valuable for the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ; to hold the unity of the faith by holding onto each other and acting together as one body; to joyfully accept the confiscation of your property.
God is not ashamed to be called your God, for he has prepared for you a city.
(Photo: The Gospel Coalition.)