Magazine article Anglican Journal

Rethinking Evangelism

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Rethinking Evangelism

Article excerpt

Five years ago, Bishop Donald Harvey would not have expected an invitation to be a panelist at a forum on evangelism.

Had he been asked, the bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador would have declined.

Back then, Bishop Harvey said, evangelism was a naughty word. It was better left to the holy-rollers down the street who could shout, sway and holler to their hearts' content.

He wanted to minister in his own style which included "saying mass to the most obscure saints."

All that changed after a visit to southeast Asia where he was impressed by the deep faith and enthusiasm of his fellow Anglicans, most of whom are first generation Christians.

"We can be terribly deluded if we worry about the correct way of doing things," said Bishop Harvey, one of three panelists who participated in a synod discussion on evangelism.

Speaking for the Primate's Commission on Evangelism, Rev. Maude Parsons-Horst said that although Anglicans have been silent about evangelism for a while, there are encouraging signs across the country of an awakening.

This year marks the end of a decade on evangelism. According to recent statistics, Canadian Anglican membership dropped from 864,814 to 740,262 between 1985 and 1995.

Bishop Peter Mason said he is not surprised by the decline in church membership since we live in an increasingly secular society.

"But I don't think membership has dropped because evangelism is suddenly not working," Bishop Mason said in an interview. …

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