With the global COVID-19 pandemic turning life on its head, 2020 turned out to be a year of shattered assumptions. The latest issue of Epiphanies, the digital magazine produced by the Anglican Journal team, considers a few of the assumptions that might have underpinned our expectations of this year—as well as those that may become important for the church in the months and years to come.
In his editorial, editor Matthew Townsend introduces the issue and asks, as we look ahead to the new year: What further assumptions might we be reconsidering? What questions have gone unasked?
In this issue, you’ll find theological reflections from Archbishop and Primate Linda Nicholls—who ponders the ways COVID-19 has challenged our assumptions of life and church, and how Jesus at times does the same—and National Indigenous Archbishop Mark MacDonald, who takes a look at the role and necessity of the Eucharist, and new ways to safely practice communion in this pandemic time.
With in-person gatherings impossible in most of the country for much of the year, church itself has been radically transformed. As online services take hold, a simple homily often takes centre stage. Tali Folkins uses this opportunity to take a deep dive into preaching in an Anglican context. Churches’ online pivot also has Anglicans engaging—perhaps more than ever before—with internet technologies and social media platforms. But what assumptions do we carry about these tools and about building communities online? Joelle Kidd considers these questions with technology essayist and author Joanne McNeil.
Anglican Journal readers will remember that we started 2020 with a look at church statistics, which raised the question of whether the church would exist beyond 2040, given statistical trends. The series of essays (“20-40 vision”) that appeared in that issue asked young Anglican leaders what they foresaw in the years ahead. On the other end of this expectation-upending year, Matt Gardner returns to those same leaders to ask how the pandemic has impacted their expectations of the church’s future.
There are more long-held assumptions to question, looking forward to 2021. Editor Matthew Townsend sits down with the Rev. Graham Singh, priest at St. Jax Anglican Church in Montreal and church transformation consultant, to talk about the lingering presence of colonialism in the Anglican church. This conversation is available in text or podcast form.
Finally, the Rev. Ray Aldred, interim academic dean and director of the Indigenous studies program at the Vancouver School of Theology, offers a reflection on a fundamental question that affects everyone on this land: Just which nations are treaty nations? Read his thoughts on relationships and “proper relatedness” here.
2020 has been a long year; for many, an exceptionally difficult year. As Nicholls writes, “We are in a maelstrom of a global reframing of assumptions right now as we re-evaluate our lives and expectations. Generations past have experienced similar upheavals that have changed the world. Now we are invited into a time of unsettling renegotiation of what is important and what needs to change.” We hope these stories will offer food for thought as the church looks toward the future.