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Surprised by the Spirit
Learnings, Questions and Hopes from the Praying with PWRDF “parish”

Since early April, 2020, PWRDF has been gathering online first weekly and then bi-weekly for “Praying with PWRDF,” a time of music, prayer, reflection, and community that brings together our volunteers, supporters, friends, partners and staff from across Canada and around the world. Some participants have joined on an occasional basis, while others have done so regularly and a “parish” averaging about 50 people each time has emerged.

On Thursday, July 29, 2021, two dozen of those “parishioners” gathered with PWRDF staff to consider the reading and questions offered in the Surprised by the Spirit process.  What follows are the responses to the three final questions about learnings, questions and hopes from five small groups that were recorded at the conclusion of our time together.

With thanks to the Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, and General Synod staff for offering this opportunity,

Suzanne Rumsey and Kim Umbach
PWRDF staff on behalf of the PWRDF “parish”

  1. What is one learning you would like to share?
  • God will take care of us. God is present in each moment of our lives. Trust in God.
  • There is still a great amount of joy within the church community. The church continues as does the Holy Spirit, but the way we do church has changed. Those of us who are seniors have learned Zoom! So, a pat on the back! This has resulted in more outreach. There is a general missing of the actual building and community, so it will be both good and important to continue both modes of communication: in person and online.
  • There is a shared concern for the heritage of colonialism and what this has done to and means for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities among us.
  • It does take a village to raise a child and to bless a community. During COVID real pastoral needs were identified that might have been missed previously. The Anglican world is very small. There is a gratitude to PWRDF for its ministry over the years.
  • This time has offered the gift of meeting others of faith, interests, commitments, anywhere in the world, and to the “ends of the earth.”
  1. What is one question you would like others to wrestle with as well?
  • We live in the real world. The truth of the Residential Schools reminds us of this. Our entitlement makes us think “we own it.” So, what is God saying to me when my body is weak, or people are lost in my life? Through it all, how can I change?
  • The reconciliation work coming out of the Residential Schools’ revelations is a challenge to us all.
  • There is a need to address our white privilege.
  • Physical community is important and there is a concern for those who could not connect digitally. Observe that “Surprised by the Spirit” might not be so invitational to Anglicans! Many Anglicans find it hard to get beyond the physical and social to something that goes deeper. To what extent have you been able to move beyond the physical to the spiritual and the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life?
  • As we move towards a post-COVID time, how will we find the right balance of online and in person gathering and connection that meets the varied needs of our congregations and communities, including that of PWRDF?
  1. What is one hope you would like to offer?
  • God has given us the technology to reach out to others and offer support. It is truly beautiful how we transformed our ways of caring and supporting each other. Many churches have done financially well through this time.
  • The Holy Spirit is still moving in wonderful ways that are beyond our understanding.
  • When the truth is out we can address our realities. The ends of the earth where we are to witness are in our backyard/neighbourhood, as well as the larger planet.
  • When bringing together folks from different church communities, how do we create an organic whole? This can sometimes be a challenge, but many have discovered that the Church is bigger than they are. The Church has had to change and evolve and done that well. We’ve innovated and been creative. Our hope is that this continues.
  • Out of a developing a sense of the wider church in real ways, emerges hope and a vision for working beyond our immediate circles.

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