by Karen Stiller
If you were going to write a letter to the Church, what would you say?
I know I’d have a few complaints and suggestions. Hopefully I would be polite and loving.
I know I would say thank you for all the Church has given me. For how it catapults me into community whether I feel like it or not, for how it comforts and challenges me, for how it forces me to grow by holding a mirror up to my unpleasantness.
I would say thank you for the small groups, for the good friends, for the egg salad and the white bread that is so hard to find anywhere else these days.
The cover story of the Jan/Feb Faith Today is exactly that: a letter to the Church from someone who loves it. Mark Buchanan, well-known and respected Canadian author, past-pastor and now professor of pastoral theology at Ambrose University, took the task very seriously. He says thanks, and then he makes some very solid suggestions to the Church he loves, and also challenges himself (and us!) to higher ground. On a purely superficial level, the spirit of the piece inspired one of our coolest covers ever, in my opinion.
The other piece I am personally very moved by in this issue is the interview with Danielle Strickland. She is a keynote at Missions Fest 2016 in Vancouver. Her service with The Salvation Army has moved her around North America and moved her to some insightful conclusions about how we work with the poor among us. “The way we construct churches and missions is to make programs the heart. Programs don’t transform people, relationships do. Relationship should be the heart of everything we do, and program should be the outcome,” says Strickland.
That’s a key insight to keep in mind in 2016 as we reach out into our communities.
An issue gripping the soul of the country right now is euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. We are a grappling nation. As we should be. This is a huge issue.
I interviewed palliative care doctors, hospice staff, grieving families and experts in palliative care across the country for an article that examines the link between the availability of excellent palliative care and the availability of physician-assisted suicide.
“You go out of the main centres family and friends. and you cannot find a palliative care expert. What this will ultimately result in is a legislated right to be killed to reduce suffering, but no legislated right to see an expert.” That’s what one palliative care doctor told me.
It’s probably important to note that I have no idea if this doctor is a Christian or not. I didn’t ask. He didn’t offer. Be assured, it’s not just people of faith who are raising the red flag of alarm over euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.
We hope you enjoy these articles and more in the Jan/Feb Faith Today. If you’re not currently a subscriber and want to try out a copy for free, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to send you one. And Happy New Year!
Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today.