The Table: Victoria, British Columbia

Zacchaeus, a hated man, found friendship across his own table when Jesus invited himself to dinner, and afterwards was able to extend friendship to others. A Pharisee hosting Jesus for a meal came face to face with his own sin when a woman and her alabaster jar enter the scene and Jesus exalts her rather than sends her away. He satisfies the hunger of 5,000 people gathered to hear him speak, and in watching this impossible feat, the faith of Jesus’ disciples is challenged and grown. In his final meal, shared between close friends, it is bread and wine that Jesus uses to explain God’s great love—a story that is still shared by disciples of Christ in the eating of these elements. Jesus connected with people young and old, hated and respected, believers and skeptics, righteous and self-righteous, over meals: he whose body was broken to offer atonement, in life broke bread to show the love that led to that sacrifice.

In Victoria, British Colombia, Josh Wilton and Andy Withrow are following the legacy of Christ, extending friendship through the breaking of bread, with a nontraditional church plant called The Table.

It was in Alaska while working as a tour guide that Josh met Andy and where both men met their wives. This was the beginning of a deep, divinely orchestrated friendship between their families, and over the past decade, they have shared homes in three different cities while working together in the expansion of God’s kingdom. Both Josh and Andy attended Regent College in Vancouver—Josh working towards his MA in arts and Andy his masters in Old Testament. At Regent, Josh became convinced that his gifts could best be used for the kingdom through church planting. He felt called to ordination, but was acutely aware of his need to plant in partnership with someone who could supplement his areas of weakness. Josh describes himself as a “fire-starter”—passionate, outgoing and entrepreneurial—and Andy, who is practical, administrative, and gifted as a shepherd: the “fire-stoker.” A perfect match, Josh asked Andy to partner with him. They were ordained by Rwanda as Anglican missionaries in 2008 and picked Victoria, BC as their plant site.

The capital of British Colombia, Victoria has about 375,000 people and a highly intellectual, cynical and untrusting culture. With only about 3% of its population attending church, it is the least churched place in North America. Ministering in such an environment is challenging and humbling. Flash conversation regarding religion is mostly ineffective, and often deteriorates into arguments in which the position with the most intellectual tone wins. The traditional “language” of the church does not work here: new language, and new strategies are needed to reach non-traditional people.

Facing the realities of the area, Josh and Andy spent 6 months before planting meeting with clergy in Victoria, scouting the area, and seeking answers to questions such as “What are the churches doing well, and what are the gaps? What are the implicit beliefs about Christianity?” Surprisingly, they discovered that the main hurdle to the Gospel was not a lack of intellect, but of charity.

As they worked part-time jobs, they developed a model of ministry to meet the needs of the community: “Tables” that are local community hubs for worship and mission, often lay-led. Very different from a traditional parish, these missional groups would be structured around the needs of each area; offer a safe place for open, honest conversation; and provide consistent, authentic and charitable friendship. After a stint of testing the concept, in September of 2009 Josh held a gathering to speak about the vision of this idea. He voiced the need for “comers, givers, and bringers” to make it a reality, and people responded well to his challenge to be committed for a season. Josh and Andy organized the launch team into demographically focused “outposts” that met regularly. Within the first year, they had four outposts and a launch team of almost 50 people. A local congregation—Church of Our Lord—offered free use of office space and the church building for evening services: The Table was set, and officially launched in 2010.

Every other Sunday, a larger gathering called the “Big Table” meets for a meal and a worship service with communion, and on alternate Sundays, local Tables meet for fellowship and worship. There are currently Tables in four neighborhoods, all unique to the area where they are found: the people who attend in Fernwood tend to be transient singles involved in transcendental meditation and new age spirituality; Fairfield is located near downtown and Tables are mostly comprised of singles and young married couples without children; Gordonhood attracts families and students, and Sannich young families with children.

The people who attend these meetings are quite often like Jim and Camden, some of the first who came to the Lord through this ministry, over a period of two years. These are previously non-Christians, even militant agnostics, who nevertheless continually show up to The Table to engage with Christians. These stories of faith happen over a length of time, and are a result of God’s work through faithful planting, watering, and tending.

Other opportunities of mission happen through mid-week “Outposts.” Josh leads an Outpost entitled “Table Conversations” that has celebrated its first anniversary. The hope is to “build relationships over substantial conversations,” a goal contrary to one of Canada’s cultural idols: ruthless independence and false nicety that leads to isolation and a lack of personal engagement. Table Conversations provides deliberate push-back to this idea and is affectionately called the “place to offend with a smile.” It has experienced such growth that it had to move from the home it was meeting in to a larger space. This group attracts middle aged, divorced atheists, and many who attend have come to think of it as a family. One of the attendees, who has become a good friend of Josh’s, is a pagan priestess who, in her own words, “experienced grace for the first time” at this gathering.

The Big Table averages 120 in attendance while neighborhood Tables average between 70 and 80. The structure of The Table places high emphasis on leadership, and accountability, legitimacy, oversight, and support are prioritized for each group. Despite loss in local leadership due to the transient nature of the community, the Table has reached its original goal of 12-15 communities all working to “draw the people of Victoria into communion with Christ, community with one another, and send people on a mission to bless our neighbors.” In the near future, one of the largest neighborhood groups will become a Big Table to serve new Tables being created in the area. This unique church plant and its leaders are excited to see what God will do next as the Table continues to share the Bread of Life in Victoria.

The Table: Victoria, British Columbia

Zacchaeus, a hated man, found friendship across his own table when Jesus invited himself to dinner, and afterwards was able to extend friendship to others. A Pharisee hosting Jesus for a meal came face to face with his own sin when a woman and her alabaster jar enter the scene and Jesus exalts her rather than sends her away. He satisfies the hunger of 5,000 people gathered to hear him speak, and in watching this impossible feat, the faith of Jesus’ disciples is challenged and grown. In his final meal, shared between close friends, it is bread and wine that Jesus uses to explain God’s great love—a story that is still shared by disciples of Christ in the eating of these elements. Jesus connected with people young and old, hated and respected, believers and skeptics, righteous and self-righteous, over meals: he whose body was broken to offer atonement, in life broke bread to show the love that led to that sacrifice.

In Victoria, British Colombia, Josh Wilton and Andy Withrow are following the legacy of Christ, extending friendship through the breaking of bread, with a nontraditional church plant called The Table.

It was in Alaska while working as a tour guide that Josh met Andy and where both men met their wives. This was the beginning of a deep, divinely orchestrated friendship between their families, and over the past decade, they have shared homes in three different cities while working together in the expansion of God’s kingdom. Both Josh and Andy attended Regent College in Vancouver—Josh working towards his MA in arts and Andy his masters in Old Testament. At Regent, Josh became convinced that his gifts could best be used for the kingdom through church planting. He felt called to ordination, but was acutely aware of his need to plant in partnership with someone who could supplement his areas of weakness. Josh describes himself as a “fire-starter”—passionate, outgoing and entrepreneurial—and Andy, who is practical, administrative, and gifted as a shepherd: the “fire-stoker.” A perfect match, Josh asked Andy to partner with him. They were ordained by Rwanda as Anglican missionaries in 2008 and picked Victoria, BC as their plant site.

The capital of British Colombia, Victoria has about 375,000 people and a highly intellectual, cynical and untrusting culture. With only about 3% of its population attending church, it is the least churched place in North America. Ministering in such an environment is challenging and humbling. Flash conversation regarding religion is mostly ineffective, and often deteriorates into arguments in which the position with the most intellectual tone wins. The traditional “language” of the church does not work here: new language, and new strategies are needed to reach non-traditional people.

Facing the realities of the area, Josh and Andy spent 6 months before planting meeting with clergy in Victoria, scouting the area, and seeking answers to questions such as “What are the churches doing well, and what are the gaps? What are the implicit beliefs about Christianity?” Surprisingly, they discovered that the main hurdle to the Gospel was not a lack of intellect, but of charity.

As they worked part-time jobs, they developed a model of ministry to meet the needs of the community: “Tables” that are local community hubs for worship and mission, often lay-led. Very different from a traditional parish, these missional groups would be structured around the needs of each area; offer a safe place for open, honest conversation; and provide consistent, authentic and charitable friendship. After a stint of testing the concept, in September of 2009 Josh held a gathering to speak about the vision of this idea. He voiced the need for “comers, givers, and bringers” to make it a reality, and people responded well to his challenge to be committed for a season. Josh and Andy organized the launch team into demographically focused “outposts” that met regularly. Within the first year, they had four outposts and a launch team of almost 50 people. A local congregation—Church of Our Lord—offered free use of office space and the church building for evening services: The Table was set, and officially launched in 2010.

Every other Sunday, a larger gathering called the “Big Table” meets for a meal and a worship service with communion, and on alternate Sundays, local Tables meet for fellowship and worship. There are currently Tables in four neighborhoods, all unique to the area where they are found: the people who attend in Fernwood tend to be transient singles involved in transcendental meditation and new age spirituality; Fairfield is located near downtown and Tables are mostly comprised of singles and young married couples without children; Gordonhood attracts families and students, and Sannich young families with children.

The people who attend these meetings are quite often like Jim and Camden, some of the first who came to the Lord through this ministry, over a period of two years. These are previously non-Christians, even militant agnostics, who nevertheless continually show up to The Table to engage with Christians. These stories of faith happen over a length of time, and are a result of God’s work through faithful planting, watering, and tending.

Other opportunities of mission happen through mid-week “Outposts.” Josh leads an Outpost entitled “Table Conversations” that has celebrated its first anniversary. The hope is to “build relationships over substantial conversations,” a goal contrary to one of Canada’s cultural idols: ruthless independence and false nicety that leads to isolation and a lack of personal engagement. Table Conversations provides deliberate push-back to this idea and is affectionately called the “place to offend with a smile.” It has experienced such growth that it had to move from the home it was meeting in to a larger space. This group attracts middle aged, divorced atheists, and many who attend have come to think of it as a family. One of the attendees, who has become a good friend of Josh’s, is a pagan priestess who, in her own words, “experienced grace for the first time” at this gathering.

The Big Table averages 120 in attendance while neighborhood Tables average between 70 and 80. The structure of The Table places high emphasis on leadership, and accountability, legitimacy, oversight, and support are prioritized for each group. Despite loss in local leadership due to the transient nature of the community, the Table has reached its original goal of 12-15 communities all working to “draw the people of Victoria into communion with Christ, community with one another, and send people on a mission to bless our neighbors.” In the near future, one of the largest neighborhood groups will become a Big Table to serve new Tables being created in the area. This unique church plant and its leaders are excited to see what God will do next as the Table continues to share the Bread of Life in Victoria.

 

Litany & Collect for the Election of an Archbishop

Intercessions to be inserted into the Prayers of the People during a Eucharistic service, or during Morning and Evening Prayer can be downloaded in Word format here.

An official Litany and Collect has been created for this occasion and can be downloaded in PDF format here.  The text can also be ‘cut and paste’ from the following:

LITANY FOR THE ELECTION OF AN ARCHBISHOP
Easter & Pentecost 2014

God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth
    Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world
    Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful
    Have mercy on us.

Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity one God
    Have mercy on us.

By the mystery of your holy Incarnation; by your holy Nativity and submission to the Law; by your Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation.
    Good Lord, deliver us.

By your Agony and Bloody Sweat; by your Cross and Passion; by your precious Death and Burial; by your glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Spirit,
    Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech you to hear us, O Lord God; and that it may please you to rule and govern your holy Church
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to illumine all bishops, priests, deacons and catechists and religious, with true knowledge and understanding of your Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may set it forth, and show it accordingly,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to inspire our College of Bishops, successors to the Apostles, as they seek to discern your will and conform their wills to your will,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to put it upon the hearts of your faithful people to offer thanks and praise for the ministry of Robert our Archbishop,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please you to inspire your faithful people to cast all their fears, cares, and concerns onto you, as we await the announcement of our new Archbishop,
    We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech you to hear us,
    Son of God, we beseech you to hear us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
    Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
    Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
    Grant us peace.

O Christ, hear us
    O Christ, hear us.

Lord, have mercy
    Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen

V. Lord, let your mercy be shown upon us
R. As we put our trust in you

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, to whom all the saints in heaven and earth adore and bend the knee: Pour out your Holy Spirit on our bishops as they gather together to elect our new Archbishop. Grant that they may have all wisdom and discernment; a spirit of revelation and the knowledge of your will, the confidence in your guidance in the decision to be made; this we ask in the Name of and for the glory of the One who is, was, and ever shall be, your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

COLLECT FOR THE ELECTION OF AN ARCHBISHOP

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: we thank you for miraculously raising up a new Anglican Movement and giving us a courageous Archbishop, Robert Duncan, to lead our Anglican Church in North America these past five years. Look graciously now on your Church, and send your Holy Spirit to guide the hearts and minds of the College of Bishops who will choose an Archbishop for our Province, that we may receive a faithful Apostle who will lead us in mission and evangelism with our brothers and sisters around the world, and who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries in North America, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

FOR THE SELECTION OF AN ARCHBISHOP

For use in the Prayers of the People during a Eucharistic service:

First Order” after the third petition in the Prayers of the People

Look down with favor, we pray, on the College of Bishops and bestow upon them the gift of Holy Wisdom as they seek to conform their wills to your will in the selection of our next Archbishop.  Show them, we pray, the one whom you have selected and empower us to speak with one accord as we glorify you.

silence

Reader  Lord in your mercy

People   Hear our prayer


“Second Order”

Give wisdom, heavenly Father, to our College of Bishops as they seek to discern your will in the selection of our next Archbishop.

silence

Reader  Lord in your mercy

People  Hear our prayer

Concluding Collect

Heavenly Father, to Whom all the Saints in heaven and earth adore and bend the knee: Pour out your Holy Spirit on our bishops as they gather together to elect our new archbishop.  Grant that they may have all wisdom and discernment; a spirit of revelation and the knowledge of your will, the confidence in your guidance in the decision to be made; this we ask in the Name of and for the glory of, the One who is, was, and ever shall be, your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For use in Morning and Evening Prayer immediately before the Collect for Mission. 

This collect and the concluding collect for the Prayers of the People may also be used at other liturgical events.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift; we thank you for miraculously raising up a new Anglican Movement and giving us a courageous Archbishop, Robert, to lead our Anglican Church in North America these past five years.  Look graciously now on your Church, and send your Holy Spirit to guide the hearts and minds of the College of Bishops who will choose an Archbishop for our Province, that we may receive a faithful Apostle who will lead us in mission and evangelism with our brothers and sisters around the world, and who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries in North America, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen