Magazine article Anglican Journal

How Is a Church Different from a Mall? How Is It Similar?

Magazine article Anglican Journal

How Is a Church Different from a Mall? How Is It Similar?

Article excerpt

Mississauga, Ont.

While these questions might at first seem academic, at the Rev. Jeffrey Metcalfe's workshop on the theology of money at the annual Resources for Mission (RfM) stewardship gathering September 8, they galvanized a wide-ranging and passionate discussion.

The comparison raised a fundamental, and often unasked, question about the relationship between participating in the church and supporting it financially: when a parishioner puts money in the plate, are they offering a gift or paying for a service? Of the roughly 30 people who attended the workshop, many resisted the notion that financially supporting a church is a transactional experience akin to purchasing a latte. But others said that is exactly how some Anglicans think about it.

The Rev. Carl Fraser, of the diocese of Nova Scotia, said that in one parish where he served, parishioners would not attend a Eucharist if they didn't have something to put in the offering plate.

Fraser noted that this how they were raised to think about the church, and lamented the fact that for many, the logical conclusion is the church is a product like any other."The church has bought into, in many places, a transactional kind of theology where people say,'Well, I didn't get what I was looking for, so I'm going to take my money somewhere else, so I can get what I'm looking for:" he explained.

The Rev. Terry Caines, of the diocese of Central Newfoundland, said this was a mentality he struggled with among his parishioners as well."We have people [in Newfoundland] who 'pay' the church. The language is different: if I pay, I'm entitled" he said. …

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