The Rev. Dr. Iain Luke

 RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS

Response to Profile

In these few words, I hope I can offer you a picture of my faith, spirituality, and vision for ministry, which will help you discern whether God is calling us into partnership in God’s mission, as bishop and diocese. The first thing I want to say is that for me, God’s call always leads towards other people, in relationship and partnership. As a Christian disciple, a priest, teacher, spouse and parent, I take my greatest joy in the people God has called me to be with, appreciating their unique identities and God-given gifts.

That experience has given me a love for, and faith in, the church. I love the church, as the environment in which you and I can keep growing in our capacity for relationship with God, with the world we live in, and with one another. I believe in the church, because it is full of people who can make a difference in the world through our compassion, creativity, and dedication. My faith is tinged with two different kinds of reality. One reality is that we are only on our way to becoming those people and that kind of church, and we are capable of getting an awful lot wrong in the meantime. The other reality is the living love of Christ, which still reaches out to the whole world, through people just like us.

I am excited to see, in the diocesan profile, convictions about our calling and identity which reflect this realistic faith. We know we need to be a diocese in which everyone takes their share in God’s mission, whether in city centres or small communities. We know reconciliation is everyone’s calling, so that God’s gifts entrusted to indigenous peoples can be fully offered and received. We know God’s invitation to us, to live the love of Christ, compels us to address historic divisions between churches, and current disagreements, so that together we can be attentive to how God is reaching out to the world we live in.

As a small diocese made up of (mainly) small congregations, we know we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. But this is a conviction of strength, not an admission of weakness. It is a renewed vision of church, in which we learn to depend on the gifts God gives us through one another. If I am called into leadership as your bishop, my priority will be to reflect that vision as fully as possible, in the structures and actions of the diocese: through consultative processes, strategic investment of resources, and creative opportunities to make connections between people in different settings.

In response to the specific questions asked by the Search Committee:

1. In my spiritual journey, God’s guiding only rarely comes through an inner voice arising from my own experience. More often it comes as a challenge to my self-image, and an invitation to go beyond who I thought I was, primarily through the wisdom and support of other people. God’s church has nurtured my growth, and propelled me into unexpected adventures, and I am thankful for all of it. God’s call to serve in different places and roles has led me to a sense of vocation as a pastor-and-teacher, offering others the same mix of support and challenge I need for myself. So, in leadership roles, I aim to speak from within the community, as one who looks for the places where God is inviting us to grow together.

2. As a parish priest, I learned early on what it means for people to be “of one heart, but not one mind.” The parishes I’ve served contain political differences, varied worship preferences, and tensions between the old guard and newcomers, but I always try to lift up for people the unity of heart which they share in loving God and neighbour. In pastoral relationships with individuals, I aim to create a safe space where someone can offer their concerns without anxiety, but can also offer their gifts, trusting they will be welcome. These same attitudes have been tested and affirmed on a wider scale in the church, for example when I served on the pastoral team at General Synod 2016, or oversaw the process by which our recent Provincial Synod gave consideration to the marriage canon amendment.

3. In times when I have been called to lead in the midst of active disagreement, my first response is to demonstrate respect for the people with whom I disagree, and for their convictions. This includes finding tasks we can work on together, communicating mutual respect to third parties, learning from the

other person, and praying for and with them. Almost always, my partner in disagreement is looking to do the same things! On the rare occasion when that is not so, I recognize I am still responsible for my own behaviour, and do what I can to meet the standard set in Jesus’ command to “love your enemies”.

4. The Marks of Mission have been a great revitalizer for Anglicans around the world, and in Canada, in two different ways. On the most basic level, we are now growing into a way of thinking about the church that begins with God’s mission. That is what we are here for. The good news of God’s love for the world, offered and enacted in Jesus Christ, continues to be offered and enacted by God’s people. We have a purpose, and it is way more exciting than just keeping the doors open! But the Five Marks also draw out different dimensions of living the good news. Individual Christians or congregations may major in one of those dimensions, but we need partners in mission (here or overseas) who care about all the others. As we bring together many gifts and passions, our church discovers its unity in mission.

In our diocese, servant ministries keep multiplying, though they are often unsung. Care for creation, and social transformation, catch many of our members' imagination: some as advocates, others working in existing structures of society, government and industry. I would love to see us become more focused, as a diocesan community, on the shared sense of God’s purpose that motivates and activates us. What is the church’s mission in central Saskatchewan? What is God doing in our cities, towns, and countryside? I am convinced these questions will give us new energy, conviction, and unity.

5. Over the last two years, I convened a working group for the Province of Rupert’s Land, reporting on initiatives towards reconciliation in our parishes and dioceses. Our key message was that reconciliation involves a conversion of the heart, for each individual and community, no two of which are the same. While we can learn from others’ experiences, we each need to make our own journey. The diocese of Saskatoon covers an area with a substantial indigenous population, both urban and rural. We have some effective indigenous-centred ministries already in place, but what do we do to address prejudice, discrimination, and the history of wrong relationships?

The only answer I have is to keep building genuine, respectful relationships, with indigenous people in our region, in the diocese, and beyond. In my current leadership roles, I work to clear space to hear indigenous voices, in order to demonstrate respect, and to learn what right relationship looks like from the other person’s point of view. The development of an Indigenous Anglican Church in our land, with its own voice, is something I celebrate. It reflects what right relationship looks like, in the make-up of our church community, and invites us all to carry the work of reconciliation beyond church walls.

6. I grew up in a United-Anglican church in this diocese (Porcupine Plain), and virtually every chapter of my faith life has some ecumenical dimension, right up to my present work in a partnership of theological colleges. The church I love, with its shared call to God’s mission, is the whole body of Christians in all traditions. My experience in ecumenical dialogue tells me we have many willing partners in other churches. When we can focus together on God’s mission, we realize we are called to work together, and our differences are gifts we can bring to the table. Whether with ecumenical partners or Anglican parishes, then, the question I would ask is: What do we need to do, to live our Christian faith in this district, this city, this part of the world? Asking that question seriously, requires us to acknowledge the other people around us, Christian or not, who are a part of the answer.

There are a few final things I want to say, because while most of these responses have been about me, our discernment is really about the life of this diocese, and that involves you. I believe in you, the people God has created and called. I depend on you, all of you, because we can only share the wholeness of God’s love together. I am counting on you, and you can count on me, to find our common purpose in God’s mission, and to carry it out. That’s where we will find God’s goodness, and our fulfilment.

CLICK HERE TO READ RESUME

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

 

If you have trouble accessing any of these documents, please email me at kwhitelock44@gmail.com  and I will do my best to fix any problems ASAP.