THE BEGINNINGS OF THE SHARED MINISTRY
In the mid-1960′s it appeared as though the United and Anglican Churches in Canada were going to merge into a single denomination. Discussions had been going well, and several joint ventures had proved successful.
In early 1966, a number of Pastoral Charges of the United Church and Parishes of the Anglican Church, decided to begin the process of joining together at the local level, in anticipation that their parent denominations would merge. Both denominations locally struggled to afford full time clergy. These discussions were very fruitful and decisions were made by both local groups to merge on a trial basis beginning December 1, 1966.
Both the Most Reverend E.W. Scott, who was then the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Kootenays, and the Rev. Eric Birdsall, Presbytery Officer of the Kootenay Presbytery, United Church, were very supportive and, indeed, instrumental in forging the union locally. Even though the Anglican and United denominations did not merge, the Shared Ministry has continued usefully here in the Windermere Valley as it has elsewhere.
HOW DOES IT WORK
By agreement between the denominations, clergy for the shared ministry are appointed alternately for denominations, the usual term is five years, and to grant an extension if requested. Both denominations fully recognize and license the incumbent who serves the people of each denomination.
WHAT ABOUT THE DENOMINATIONAL DIFFERENCES ?
At the beginning of an incumbent’s term, the other denomination undertakes a training program to ensure any differences in meaning and function of regular duties are understood. In addition, they attend meetings for both denominations and are in touch with both the United Church Presbytery and the Anglican Diocese. There is a great sensitivity to denominational differences in the performance of day to day duties.
Worship and Doctrine
We are encouraged to worship as one body: In planning worship, one regular service monthly would follow the tradition of each denomination.
An Anglican Eucharist is celebrated at least once a month and a United Church Holy Communion at least quarterly.
Baptism and Confirmation are administered according to the rites and traditions of the member’s denomination.
The Incumbent, in consultation with Board, establishes a liturgical or worship committee including representation from each denomination, to assist in the planning and evaluation of worship.
Anglican and United Church ministers will respect their own consciences and the requirements of their respective denominational authority with regard to conducting marriages.
United Church ministers in Shared Ministries are supportive of the Marriage Canon of The Anglican Church of Canada, and will use the Diocesan Marriage Commission, where appropriate, when dealing with Anglican ceremonies.
WHAT ABOUT THE STYLE OF WORSHIP?
The present practise is that we have communion services on the first and third Sunday’s alternating traditions, and Services of the Word on the second and forth Sundays. Whenever there is a fifth Sunday, the norm is to celebrate with a combined intergenerational service in which young people are involved.
Usually we worship as a combined congregation. Most members of each denomination attend each other’s services. St Peter’s in Windermere has remained Anglican. Furthermore, we have many who worship with us who are either from another denomination altogether (who do not have a church here) or prefer to think of themselves as members of the Shared Ministry rather than members of either denomination.
Clearly, a spirit of cooperation and ecumenicism
is what propels and energizes
the Windermere Valley Shared Ministry