Pews, Hymnbooks And Elders - A Transformational Journey

Matt and Julie Canlis brought folk from Seattle. They organised 'The Abbey School' in Scotland. Matt's old friend, James Houston, aged ninety three, former Principal of Regent College Vancouver, mentored them. Then they brought a group from his small Presbyterian church to us, including their son and daughters.

Matt is minister at Trinity Church in Wenatchee. He was in the emergent house church movement, wanting to plant more and bigger churches. His mentor, Eugene Peterson, who succeeded James Houston at Regent College, suggested that he needed to learn to be a humble American who could work for God without an ego trip and build solid relationships. The ideal framework, said Eugene, would be to become a minister of a small, traditional Church of Scotland congregation which had pews, hymn books and elders! So Matt became the minister of Methlick Church, of Scotland, Aberdeenshire, for six years. He says this was founded by St. Ninian and is the earliest church foundation in north eastern Scotland. What did he learn there? To slow down. To work with people as they are. To see what the Spirit is doing and support it. To grow genuine, Christ-centred relationships.

Matt's current church does not allow women in leadership , but Julie is a guest lecturer at three universities which are, I think, Regent, Whitworth and St. Andrews in Scotland. She wrote her doctoral dissertation in Scotland, a work published as 'Calvin’s Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension'(Eerdmans, 2010), which grapples with Calvin’s vision for the way humanity ‘becomes itself’ by participating in Christ. It won the Templeton Prize for Theological Promise in 2007 and the Christianity Today Award of Merit for Theology in 2011. It traces links between Irenaeus and Calvin. She is committed to slow food and slow church.

I liked this Trinity church group. We shared two mornings together. We talked about daily rhythms of prayer, reflection, silence and regular 'desert experiences'. 'How do you put that into American language?'one person asked. I copped out. 'That's your job', I replied. Then we talked about their church's name - Trinity - and how they might fall in love with the Trinity. And we talked about desert oak trees, which grow roots downwards for seven years before they branch wider and higher. ''But surely all you need is Jesus?'. Yes, the Jesus who sustains creation and structures everything in the cosmos including humans...

Posted at 02:51am on 28th July 2015
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