St. Luke's Anglican Church works at growing its congregation and attracting some younger people.

element_people2By Pepper Parr

October 8th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The clergy, those people we often refer to as “men of the cloth” approach their life’s work quite differently than most people.

For those men and women it is a calling. We hear that often – just what does it mean?

For Stuart Pike, lead Minister at St. Luke’s Anglican Church on Ontario Street where the church is not just a place of worship but an historical site that is part of the congregation’s DNA, the journey began when he was 17.

Stuart Pike with congregants Sept 18

Stuart Pike with congregants in the church hall after a service.

His Father was in the Air Force which meant some moving around the country. High school years for Stuart, who is properly addressed as the Reverend Canon Stuart Pike, was in Arvida, Quebec. He suspected at the age of 17 that the church was where he was going to spend his life but wasn’t certain. He recalls telling God at the time that he would have to get back to Stuart later when he, God, was more certain as to what he wanted Stuart to do.

The second deep calling came a little later. Stuart was certain that he had been called – he just wasn’t sure where he was to go. He served in the Air Force, not full time, and was approached to become an Air Force Chaplin. He knew that wasn’t where he wanted to serve.

Before entering the Ministry full time Stuart completed a degree in psychology at Queen’s University and then a Masters Divinity degree at Huron College at Western University.

Then it was back to Quebec where he was Rector, Greater Parish of Gaspé in Quebec where he served from 1988 to 1998. Greater meant that there was more than one congregation to care for.

Stuart Pike with youth worker

Reverend Canon Stuart Pike with Rebecca Vendetti, Youth Ministry Coordinator.

Stuart was ordained as a Deacon in June 1, 1988, and as a Priest on January 5th 1989; both in the , Diocese of Quebec. He spent an additional two years in the Archdiocese office and then accepted a congregation in Grimsby – then years later he came to Burlington. I suggested to Stuart that he seemed to serve in a congregation for about ten years and then move on. He quickly assured me that he wasn’t planning on going anywhere soon.

The Sunday I visited St. Luke’s there was a congregational event during which the many different groups set up small tables to show fellow congregants what they do. It was surprisingly diverse. The room buzzed with conversation; people met in alcoves and corners to have quiet conversations.

There was no talking to Stuart at this point in his day. Everyone wanted a piece of him. A strong Minister will spot people who have a need even before they approach him. That is the part of the job that calls for him to be open, understanding and accepting.

That phrase “for the love of God” is more than a group of words; it has a meaning that is not deducible from those of the individual words. That’s the world Stuart lives in

When asked what his favourite book in the Bible was Stuart needed just a moment to say St John but then added that his favourite Bible story came out of St. Luke, the Road to Emmaus story is one of Luke’s ‘most exquisite literary achievements’. It describes the encounter on the road to Emmaus and the supper at Emmaus, and states that a disciple named Cleopas was walking towards Emmaus with another disciple when they met Jesus. They did not recognize him, and discussed their sadness at recent events with him. They persuaded him to come and eat with them, and at the meal they recognized him.

Our churches aren’t as full as they used to be. In Burlington there are several churches that have merged with others and a couple that will have to close if things don’t improve.

Couple promoting something

They wanted our attention – they got it – the conversation going on in the background looked interesting.

For Stuart Pike churches are about community. He will tell you that a journey of faith is to develop and grow into something far deeper than anything the secular world has to offer.

Prayer is fundamental to faith – he doesn’t say that people have forgotten how to pray but he yearns for more prayer in the life of people in his city

Two women in conversation

Quiet conversations.

That we are all sinners with a God whose love for us is unconditional is not an easy sell. Stuart will tell you that his own congregational growth is flat.

I ended the interview asking Stuart what his favourite him was.
He reached for the hymn book and paused for a moment until he had his voice and then quietly sang the words:

Eternal Spirit of the living Christ,
I know not how to ask or what to say;
I only know my need, as deep as life,
and only you can teach me how to pray.

St Lukes with fall colours

A church built on land that was part of the land grant given to Joseph Brant – it has been in place since 1834.

Come, pray in me the prayer I need this day;
help me to see your purpose and your will–
where I have failed, what I have done amiss;
held in forgiving love, let me be still.

Come with the strength I lack, the vision clear
of neighbor’s need, of all humanity;
fulfillment of my life in love outpoured;
my life in you, O Christ; your love in me.

 

 

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1 comment to St. Luke’s Anglican Church works at growing its congregation and attracting some younger people.

  • Robert Missen

    Thanks for this illuminating article about Rev, Canon Pike. He is such a positive force in our community. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Stuart on this summer’s One Burlington, a highly successful interfaith celebration that he had a large hand in creating last year. Your readers may be interested to know that the new Associate Minister at St. Luke’s hails from Cuba. I am really looking forward to meeting Rev. Dr. Leonel Bolona.

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