Controversial speaker delivers Luther Lecture
By Frank Flegel
REGINA — New Westminster Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham said the
church is trying to find ways of connecting with a society that “has
in many ways lost its religious vocabulary.”
Ingham spoke at this year’s Luther Lecture Sept. 24 at Luther College, University of Regina. He was introduced as a bishop with a controversial history because of some of his views about the modern church. Ingham was head of the New Westminster Anglican diocese when it voted to sanction same-sex marriages.
His lecture was titled, Finding the Post Modern Balance: Evangelical, Catholic, Liberal, during which he explored changes occurring in the church in what he called modern and postmodern times and the labels, liberal and conservative, often used to describe movements and attitudes within the church.
He opened his remarks by referring to what he called the mantra that liberal churches are dying and conservative churches are growing. “The situation is much more complicated and has nothing to do with liberals or conservatives.”
In an interview following the lecture, Ingham said he would not use natural evolution as an explanation, but society is changing and the church is trying to find its way. “The old liberalism and conservatism are no longer working, although there still may be large congregations in churches, which leads people to think that this is still a successful method. In fact, all of the signs are that we need to move more into a kind of post-liberal, post-conservative church where these labels increasingly are meaningless as they are to young people today.”
Ingham said people are coming to and not just leaving the church but there is more diversity and that is having an impact on the need for change.
“They are very diverse in their interests and backgrounds and unless we can adapt to their spiritual inquiries and curiosities, their life stories and the particular questions they bring, we will not retain these people and they will move on to someplace else.”
Despite all the problems and controversies, Ingham said in both his lecture and in the interview that he remains optimistic that the Christian church will continue to grow. “I don’t think God will leave God’s stuff without witnesses and I particularly know that God will not leave us without a general, hospitable, open and inquiring Christian faith.”
He ended his lecture telling those in the packed auditorium that new people with different reasons are coming to church. “Pay more attention to the new people coming to church than arguing about those who are leaving.”