When I was a teenager, I joined an evangelical youth group because I had a few friends who were in it. Every Friday night, we'd meet at the church hall and the pastor and his wife would organize an outing that involved, you guested it, food and fellowship, which usually evolved into a fundamentalist spiel about how our souls needed "saving" and the best way to do that was by "accepting Christ into your heart." The caveat being, if you didn't do it, the way the pastor recommended, you were on a one way trip to hell.
One day, I invited a friend of mine to attend the youth group with me. She wasn't long in pointing to a notice on the Parish hall's bulletin board that screamed the word poison. First I thought the warnings were about drug and alcohol abuse. They weren't. Underneath the ominous poison, was a list of every denomination and faith group known to mankind.
I wasn't intimidated enough to get saved. I stayed with the group through high school and admittedly have some fun memories to show for it, late night tobogganing on a snowy, moonlit hill, bowling, pizza, donuts at Tom Hortons, caroling at a nursing home. Yes I used the group to my own end but that was the risk they had to take. Will she convert or will she not?
Today I am a member of St. Marks Anglican Church. a broad minded parish with a big heart. Last Wednesday, St. Marks was featured in our local paper The Telegram. The piece was about the steps that the church was taking to welcome the Syrian refugees that are expected to arrive in St. John's within a few months. The church has successfully sponsored one Syrian family and is now in the process of coordinating the necessary supports to help them settle into Canadian life.
The article closed with the priest stating that if the family in question is Muslim, St. Marks will connect them with their faith community. Marks will still continue to support the family for one full year till they get established.
St. Marks has an open door policy when it comes to helping those in need. Regardless of a person's faith or background, you are accepted. There are no attempts to convert people into becoming Anglican. There are no threats of fire and brimstone if you follow your own path in life. To quote Rev Mark Nichols as he said in the Telegram "...It's the Christ-like thing to do in reaching out with compassion to those who are in need."
Now that's the kind of attitude that resonates with me. Since I was never into evangelism or fundamentalist thinking, I'll just take the Friday night fun without the fundamentals and try in my own way to reach out to those in need.