Last week, as I mentioned at the foot of the previous post, we held our annual Clergy Conference, Monday evening to Wednesday evening.
"Clergy" Conference is a slight misnomer because lay staff on our Diocesan Ministry Team, a lay school chaplain and one or two lay ministers in parish leadership (and about to be ordained) have been included in the invite list.
We met at College House, an amazing complex of buildings, mostly for the purpose of providing accommodation for university students at the University of Canterbury, which has been built on "Oxbridge" lines, with buildings, including a chapel, surrounding a grassy quadrangle.
But a lovely secondary purpose is that there are facilities for conferences available when the university is on vacation. For our purposes it was especially beneficial to have a chapel for worship services, and, for all of Tuesday, for our retreat talks.
This chapel is not well known in NZ but architectural experts know it is one of our finest buildings, and arguably the masterpiece of one of our leading architects in the 20th and 21st centuries, the late Sir Miles Warren. The Chapel of the Upper Room - it is entered by ascending stairs - was opened in the 1960s, put out of action by the 2011 earthquakes and re-opened last year by me after considerable fundraising to secure the several million dollars needed to strengthen and repair the chapel.
If the chapel is a reinvigorated building, our conference gave us opportunities for personal and corporate invigoration.
One day was spent on retreat - opportunity for personal invigoration.
One day was spent on upskilling/development - opportunity for corporate invigoration.
A specific piece of invigoration on the second day was a challenging address on "Millennials."
I understand millennials to be those born between 1982 and 2004.
The gist of the address (from a vicar with many millennials in the congregation) is that millennials have expectations about church which differ from the "business as usual" approach of many Anglicans, otherwise doing things as they have been done through the second half of the twentieth century.
Those expectations relate to everything from seating, songs/hymns, liturgical matters, use of microphone by preacher [comedian mic better than Madonna mic] to how children are cared for in church. Etc.
Wow. There was good discomfort in that address, but it was discomfort.
In short, as I must bring this post to a close, because of time, the challenges the Anglican church faces in the Blessed Isles are not all about theologically diverse/divisive matters.
Arguably the greater challenge is whether we can connect with the next generations simply through "how" we do church, let alone "what" we might be saying in our sermons.