Evangelization can’t be limited just to a building with a Cross, it must take place everywhere, said Rev. Dr. Iain Luke. OSV News photo/Jennifer Ratkovich

Ministry can’t be limited to church

  • December 1, 2023

To prepare for Advent, the Archdiocese of Regina has touted the power of ministry.

The Prairie diocese shared this during an interfaith livestream with the Ecumenical Stewardship Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

Rev. Dr. Iain Luke, the principal of the College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, an Anglican postsecondary institute in Saskatoon, was the keynote speaker of the Ministry Means Everybody webinar on Nov. 23. His presentation sought to answer two questions: how would the Church be renewed by a vision of the whole people of God engaged in ministry? And how would an understanding of baptismal vocation transform our churches and us?

To properly tackle these questions, faith bodies should adopt a different perspective, said Luke.

“I learned this from a colleague from the Church in Uganda, (who said) that ‘we don’t call people the laity as if that was somehow different from the real Church,’ ” said Luke. ‘“We call them the Christians.’ That vocation, that sense of who we are, belongs to every one of us by virtue of our baptism, but also caught up in something much bigger than ourselves by virtue of that name.”

Enlarging the potential impact of the Ministry of the Baptized (M.O.A.B.), a concept promoted by Luke extensively during his lecture, comes from not limiting the Church to a building with a Cross. Church ministry can be offered on sidewalks, in schools, places of business, homes — anywhere and everywhere.

Manifesting a spiritual and ministerial presence capable of vibrantly permeating into all the places that encompass a town and city requires belief and trust, said Luke.

“God has made a commitment and promise to the Church, and God doesn’t go back on God’s promises,” said Luke. “If God is going to involve us in His mission in our local communities, we have the gifts that we need. So, where are they? That as an article of faith requires a bit of digging.”

Luke said it is easy for people to feel this promise is not fulfilled especially when someone knows they are a member of a parish congregation on the decline.

“It is important to start scratching the surface and ask, ‘what gifts do I have? What gifts do my neighbours have? What gifts do the people have who are not here, and how do we connect with them?’ ”

In practice, this would mean going beyond only empowering the talents of pastors, teachers and administrators, as per tradition, to also endowing the likes of artists, athletes, Indigenous groups, businesspeople to expand the possibilities of a “holy surprise,” in Luke’s words, touching the Church.

Luke concluded his presentation by using Lumen Gentium (1964), the dogmatic constitution of the Church penned by Pope Paul VI, as a strong articulation about the calling of non-clerical Christians

Lumen Gentium has a lot to offer us about the language in helping us think about how the people of God are the core understanding of the Church, and the lay apostolate that is the embodiment of Christ.”

The passage of Lumen Gentium below elaborates on Luke’s point:

“The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and man which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus, every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal.’ ”

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