PHOtO: CHRIst MEMORIAl CHuRCH
god was leading Christ Memorial Church in Oshawa, a city east of Toronto known for its General Motors assembly plant, in a new direction even before Rev. Judy Paulsen
arrived almost nine years ago.
This Anglican congregation wasn’t sure how a new vision
might be shaped. Some members were focused on denominational decline and an aging demographic, but most dreamed of
new ways of building on the congregation’s history of neighbourhood outreach. Paulsen’s doctoral program in missional leadership (at Fuller Seminary) enabled the congregation to reflect
more intentionally and apply outcomes more strategically as
they embraced this journey together.
Prayerfully, they addressed three key aspects of ministry. Keep
what is essential – the gospel. Adapt what is worthy – worship.
Scrap what is hindering. “We are here for the community, not
for ourselves,” states Paulsen. She believes the first task of the
church is not to preach the gospel but to hear the gospel, to hear
God’s purposes. People need a sense of where change (loss) will
bring new life (gain or possibilities).
towels for a teen shelter were
placed around the church’s altar.
two to five, opened to the community and continues operation
today under a board of Christ Church members.
Church members were involved in establishing Luke’s Place,
which grew from a tragic situation within the parish to support
women and children at risk from spousal abuse. And members
also helped 30 years ago to found Gate 3: 16, a drop-in resource
centre to serve marginalized people in the city’s downtown.
Christ Church has also sponsored the Lakeridge Hospital
Chaplaincy in Oshawa for many years, providing hospital visitors
and training on-call chaplains who visit and pray with patients,
their families and staff.
By spring 2004 members were ready to look at God’s mission
to the post-modern, post-Christendom generation. In addition to
the classic contemplative and traditional worship services, the
congregation launched a contemporary Eucharist which began
to attract young families, becoming the congregation’s largest
weekly service with about a hundred attendees.
Outreach has always been part of Christ Church. As members reflected together, the parish celebrated what God had been doing
since 1928. In 1949 Christ Church Nursery School, for children
Another new initiative, Messy Church, grew from a desire to
reach the “de-churched” – people raised in the church who left
because it was boring or due to growing suspicion of institutions.
“Surprisingly, people want their kids to know about faith,”
says Paulsen. Yet Sundays are often booked with kids’ sports,