Guelph … Two tales of four churches: Charting a new course together

by Laurie Douglas and 
Trudy Lebans

After 39 years of passionate and creative worship, outreach and spiritual practice, and despite a great desire to maintain a strong Anglican presence in the south end of Guelph, it became increasingly evident that the parish of St. Matthias was being led in a new direction.

In recent months, St. Matthias’ congregation engaged in an intentional discernment process — reflecting on its ministry since the difficult decision to leave its building on Kortright Avenue in Guelph — with the support of the Reverend Amy Cousineau and Canon Christyn Perkons.

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Welcoming the congregation to celebrate Canada 150. Photo submitted

More and more it became clear that the next step was to disestablish the parish of St. Matthias in order to share a discipleship journey in partnership with the faith community of St. James the Apostle.

A covenant was established and approved by the congregations’ vestries, and at its September meeting Synod Council voted to approve the voluntary disestablishment of St. Matthias Guelph.

Building on the history and traditions of each church, we now come together to continue and embrace creative ways of leading and nurturing ourselves and the greater community.

It is exciting to view ourselves as one body rather than “us” and “them”. The power of “we” has filtered into committees, teams, studies, communication management, music and worship.

From the words of our Covenant, which is a living document that will govern us over the next two years, “our desire is to root our coming together in prayer, discernment and dialogue; living into Christ-like relationships and practicing the work of grace and reconciliation.”

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Members of the Garden Committee beautify the property around the church building. Photo: submitted

With an adjustment of Sunday start times at St. James, the first Holy Eucharist (BCP) service moved to 8:00 a.m. and the Choral Eucharist (BAS) moved to 11:00 a.m., opening up 9:15 a.m. for the new Contemporary Family Eucharist, which is very much in keeping with the style of the St. Matthias congregation. Already, there is a mingling of attendance among the three services.

The words of thanks and appreciation for the warm welcome expressed at the first official service by a St. Matthias founding member, Fran Taylor, captured the gratitude felt by many, and set a new course in motion for a renewed Anglican presence in Guelph being referred to as the Churches of St. Matthias and St. James the Apostle.

The Reverend Canon Trudy Lebans is Priest-in-Charge of the Churches of St. Matthias and St. James the Apostle Guelph.

Laurie Douglas is past warden of St. Matthias and presently a warden at the Churches of St. Matthias and St. James the Apostle.