Changing Church — Part 8

By on June 1, 2022

The Living Vine — Regions & Structure

As I write this I have just spent two long days discussing the future shape of the West Kootenay region with colleagues, and as you read this we will be preparing for a day, looking at the proposed shapes, with a large group of leaders from our area. This work is alongside the work being done by the Structures working group for the whole diocese. Some might shake their heads in wonder at all the effort going into structures. They might wonder how this benefits the work of the Church. They might be surprised how much change there
has been in our structures and how much difference it makes.

I came here from England where every small village seems to have an Anglican church. The church often has a small group of congregants trying to keep the roof repaired on a thousand-year-old stone church. And many priests look after 5 or more of those small churches, each with a church committee and each wanting services as often as possible. That’s one kind of structure.

When I arrived here in 2005 we had a variety of different structures across the West Kootenay. In the area from Nakusp to Nelson there was one big parish, Kokanee, where six churches worked together to train and support Locally Trained Priests. In Salmo and Fruitvale there was a Mutual Ministry Team where six people shared the ministry for the two churches. I was the Missioner for Salmo/Fruitvale, with a responsibility to help them do the work of ministry. In the Kootenay boundary parish the Grand Forks church looked after Greenwood and Rock Creek.

A few years after I arrived we decided to combine Kokanee parish and the rest of the West Kootenay region into one, with the same structure. We copied the structure from Boundary parish and pasted it into the rest of the region. We then had four big churches each with two satellite churches. This was a really helpful structure for a while. Then Nakusp closed and New Denver did not have the capacity to run its own church committee. So the Diocese developed the idea of a worshipping community, a church that was administered by a bigger local church.

Now things are changing again. More churches are running out of money and people to lead the church. All of the clergy in our region are currently part time and do not have the resources to get to every church every week. Thank God, and those involved, for the LTP and lay ministry that keeps things running. We have got through two years of COVID which showed us new ways to run services.

So we are developing new types of structure for this new era. The church keeps changing. As it does so it proves that we are a living organism. We are not a stone monolith planted immobile in the ground. We are like a shrub clinging to a mountain side. We send out roots here and there to draw nourishment. Our branches seek out sunlight and bend with the wind. We move and adapt to the changing conditions we face. This is what it means to be The Living Vine.


  • 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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