Writing | Rage | Relevance

A glimpse into an Anglican priest's moral dilemmas as he takes a Colombian refugee into sanctuary within his failing Southwestern Ontario church. How far will he go to protect her, honour his faith, and minister to his congregation?

Story Origins

Relevance

I was raised in the Anglican church: my mother was choir director, my father often led the litany, and I sang in a surplice and cassock for almost fifteen years while my voice matured from soprano to alto then fell to tenor and finally settled into bass. My wife and I were married in that same church, my children were baptized there, and a lot of my family has been buried with an Anglican funeral service.

While I have many fond memories of that upbringing (Christmas candlelit services were always beautiful), I have seen the Anglican church decline over the years with congregations becoming much more sparse than they were in my childhood. Aside from issues like same-sex marriage and female ordination (which posed challenges for largely conservative and oftentimes insular parishioners), I've seen schisms created over seemingly smaller matters, too--such as the introduction of the Book of Alternative Services in 1985, which was intended to be a liturgical update to 1962's Book of Common Prayer. To say that transition went well and is over today would be an outright lie.

It's this climate of schism and decline in which "Relevance" is set. The story opens with the Reverend Nathan Sandry leading his seven remaining congregants through a Sunday morning service when a troubled Hispanic woman barges into their church and begins to change their lives. Nathan senses an opportunity to not only do some good, but also to restore faith and reclaim purpose in his waning institution.

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