Changing Church – Part 1

By on November 1, 2021

Today I am starting a new series of articles for The Highway. Let me start with a joke… “How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb?” You probably know the answer “Change? We don’t do that!” 

Well if that joke ever had any truth in it, it certainly doesn’t now! The Anglican church has been going through changes with an increasing pace. I was not a cradle Anglican, but if I had been I would have started my life with a BCP baptism by a male (paid) priest. But in my teens a liturgical change would have begun with the advent of women priests. By the 1980s we had a new “alternative” prayer book. That was the start. The pace of change accelerated through the 1990s and 2000’s. But the Church has changed the most in the last 18 months. We left our buildings for long periods of time, we could not gather in person or receive Eucharist. And we have adapted and shown our resilience. Change lightbulbs? No problem. 

In my work for the national church I have worked on a survey about the Church during Covid. One of the strong messages in that survey was about how we are changing due to Covid. Most of us would like to go back to how life was before Covid, including how the Church was before Covid. Looking back we can see a rather rosy picture – no worrying about masks and vaccinations, no social distancing, no prospect of closed churches when we need to be on holy ground. But that same survey told us that most people recognise that we cannot go back. 

That is what this series of articles is about – the change that we are going through. Not just the changes that Covid is bringing, but all the other changes that we are seeing. I believe that Covid has been a catalyst for change – the changes we have needed to make. Sometimes we welcome those changes, like having a Woman as our Bishop and Archbishop. Sometimes we regret the changes, like the difficulties of gathering and the ways Covid has divided us and our society. 

We will be looking at the changing face of the church. Our priests do not look the same or work the same way as they used to. In the West Kootenay Region, for example, we have a majority of female, Locally Trained priests. We also have an incumbent who is a lay person. We will be looking at the changing technologies in the church like online worship. 

As I work on this series I would welcome your input. What are the changes you have seen in your time in the Anglican church? What have the most significant changes been? These may have seemed small at the beginning. What have the good changes and the bad changes been? And what changes do you see coming? Write to me at [email protected] 


  • Neil Elliot

    Canon Dr. Neil Elliot is the Dean of West Kootenay Region and Incumbent for St Andrew/St George, Trail.

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