St. Matthias & St. James in Guelph to Journey Together

Posted October 3, 2017

The congregations of St. Matthias and St. James in Guelph have “decided to share worship, faith formation, social action and advocacy, and community life together,” reads the opening sentence of a newly established covenant between them.

“The power of ‘we’ has already filtered into committees, teams, studies, communication management, music, and worship,” observes Canon Trudy Lebans, priest-in-charge. She notes that the covenant is designed to be a living document that will be reviewed at least every six months and that its foundation is “prayer, discernment and dialogue; living into Christ-like relationships and practicing the work of grace and reconciliation.”

The move is a watershed moment for St. Matthias which after nearly four decades serving the south end of Guelph asked to be voluntarily disestablished as a parish.  Work towards a covenant began after an intentional discernment process was undertaken over the last year with the help of an outside facilitator, the Reverend Amy Cousineau, as well as Canon Christyn Perkons, director of congregational support and development.

“It became evident that the next step was to disestablish the parish in order to share a discipleship journey in partnership with the faith community of St. James the Apostle,” said Laurie Douglas, a former St. Matthias warden who now serves on the new leadership team. She also acknowledges that there have been a variety of feelings since the congregation made the difficult decision to leave its former church building in 2013. “But the sincere words of thanks for the warm welcome expressed at our first official service by Fran Taylor, a St. Matthias founding member, captured the gratitude felt by so many of us with this new chapter.”

With an adjustment of Sunday start times at St. James, the first Holy Eucharist (BCP) service moved to 8:00 a.m. and the Choral Eucharist (BAS) moved to 11:00 a.m., opening up 9:15 for the new Contemporary Family Eucharist, congruent with style of the St. Matthias congregation. Already, it is reported that there is a mingling of the congregations among the three services.

The covenant was drafted and approved by the congregation’s vestries, and at its September meeting Synod Council received it and voted to approve the voluntary disestablishment of St. Matthias, which was enacted on September 15, 2017.

“This is an exciting new ministry opportunity for St. Matthias, for St. James and for our presence in Guelph,” reflected Canon Lebans.