A church plant in suburban Montreal experiments with new forms of leadership and ministry in order to reach out to unchurched people.
The first service I attended at Evergreen Anglican Community in November 2002 numbered five, including myself. That number jumped to eight, then to twelve. Today, our membership list exceeds fifty people coming on a regular basis, and we now rent a country church from the United Church at a cost of $100 per Sunday.
Most of our members have either not been to church since Sunday School, or have never been to church.
We began with no cash flow, one paid position, and we proceeded with few resources. Thus we became dependent on the most important component of the church structure–each other. The project (although shadowed by my leadership) belongs to the members, and they carry it. Thus they also enjoy the rewards of success.
In terms of formal structure, Evergreen has a normal Anglican Corporation, but instead of striking a Parish Council or Vestry we have a Visioning Committee, an Outreach and Evangelism Committee, and a Social Committee. People are asked to pray and then volunteer for these positions, rather than being elected.
All activities are geared towards the unchurched. In Christian education, for example, we recently began an Alpha for Evergreen members, and we plan to reach out to the larger community in January 2005 to see if Alpha works in the St. Lazare area. We have also had a series of discussions based on contemporary films.
Evergreen is always outward-looking, so missions are a fundamental part of our existence. In the summer of 2004, for example, one member of the community offered her garden, and others grew squash and gourds there. Then, at harvest time, community members made soup for the local soup kitchen and sold the remaining produce at a local flea market. The profits of $500 went towards a nutrition program for pregnant mothers in South America.
What have we learned?
Our vision needs to reflect our faith. If we wish to continue reaching out to those who need to know Jesus Christ, we have to walk in the faith of the early disciples. We believe that, when we walk in this faith, God will provide for the rest of our needs. It’s time to use new wine skins for the new wine.
The Rev. Marsha Mundy is Rector of Evergreen Anglican Community in St. Lazare, Quebec.