“I am surprised at the impact of the One Thing Initiative!” said the Reverend Canon Pam Guyatt at the Clergy and Licensed Lay Workers Conference. “It seemed like such a small idea has caused some wonderful things to happen.”
It started at last year’s conference when Bishop Susan encouraged everyone to take on one thing over the summer that would help them draw closer to God. “Our people had gone through so many changes, and I felt they just needed permission to stop and refocus,” she said.
The ember was picked up by several clergy and lay people, fanned into flame and the One Thing Initiative took off early in 2019.
After parishes, small groups and individuals had dreamed about what would draw them closer to God, they made a commitment to fulfill those dreams by sending in a completed pledge card. Bishop Susan has received over one hundred.
“As I visit parishes people talk to me about their One Thing. I don’t think everyone has filled out a pledge card, so this is probably bigger than we think,” she said.
Certainly, the impact is bigger than one priest first thought. When the Reverend Nirmal Mendis, Christ Church Wainfleet, challenged every member to take on One Thing, the response at first was quite disappointing, even after extensive promoting.
Then a beloved parishioner died and the whole parish council made a decision. In memory of their fellow parishioner they would take on One Thing as a spiritual act. “God and our church were important to him, and now these One Things are important to us,” said Deacon Dianne Elliott.
As the pledge cards indicate, there are as many One Thing spiritual practices as there are people. Some committed to commune in nature. Others offered their energy to an outreach ministry and some are dedicating time for study and prayer. For example …
The Reverend Nigel Bunce, St. George’s Lowville, committed to develop a Sunday lectionary for Sunday-only churches. “Attendance at mid-week services is declining. A Sunday-only lectionary allows people to experience the whole Christian narrative through worship on Sunday morning.”
Kenneth Gaston, the Church of Our Saviour The Redeemer Stoney Creek, decided to send a daily email message of comfort and support to their friends and family. Called Morning Glory, it includes messages in English and Tamil. “I hope they ignite their everyday life with small thoughts. Just finding the appropriate messages to send to others, helped me to spiritually connect.”
The Reverend Canon David Anderson offered a contemplative prayer workshop. The One Thing committee promoted the event throughout the diocese and brought together more than 50 people. “There is no doubt more people came to the workshop because it was part of the One Thing Initiative,” he said. Leading this workshop rekindled this important prayer practice for him, he reported.
Another One Thing event was a two-day icon workshop held at the Church of the Resurrection Hamilton. The Reverend Regan O’Callaghan took participants through a step-by-step process of learning the ancient practice of “writing” their very own Pantokrator (meaning ruler of all or almighty), one of the oldest icons of Jesus. The Reverend Canon Sharyn Hall, Christ’s Church Cathedral Hamilton, remarked, “There is so much going on right now, but I really needed to pull away and take these two days just for me and God”.
It is amazing how a little change can have such a huge impact in our church and in people’s lives.
There is still time to choose your One Thing as the initiative continues into the fall and ends at our Diocesan Synod in November.
The Reverend Canon Dawn Davis is Faith Formation Coordinator for Niagara Diocese.