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Tuesday Fellowship and the Ministries of the 1970s

A new chapter opened in 1971 when a small group of Anglican Clergy and theological students met together in a parish just outside Montreal to see how they might encourage each other in their ministry. John Newton wrote in the Autumn 1981 issue of Crosstalk: ‘Although not all would have been entirely happy with the label ‘evangelical’, all shared a firm conviction in the unique, divine authority of the Scriptures and in the need for a personal faith in Jesus Christ.’

This group, which has always been named by the day of the week on which it met, continues to this day as the Tuesday Fellowship. Its earliest venues included St. Simeon’s, Chomedy during the incumbency of Alan Cameron and St. Clement’s, Verdun during the incumbency of Peter Mason. It then found a more permanent home at St. Peter’s, Town of Mount Royal. In the early days of the Fellowship, Tom Robinson, then rector of Trinity Church, Ste. Foy, frequently visited Montreal and had a highly significant place in its founding and formation.

This monthly meeting of clergy and full-time Christian workers was undoubtedly the well spring of all the growth in ministry that developed from the ’70s on. The gathering centred on Bible study, prayer, sharing and fellowship and often included a further period of teaching. Most participants found this to be a time of inspiration and encouragement, away from the demands and sometimes difficulties and discouragements of parish life. It is highly significant that organizing and planning events did not take place at the meetings.

After about a year of coming together for study, sharing and prayer, the group began to perceive other ways in which, together as a group, they might be able to build up and strengthen ministry in the parishes in which they were involved. Two visions began to emerge. One was to try producing a new publication. Its purpose would not be to disseminate news. That job was already being done by other periodicals such as The Canadian Churchman and Christianity Today. It was not to be a theological journal for clergy. Plenty of those were available as well. This was to be a publication for ‘the person in the pew.’ Its intent was to help people find new life through faith in Christ and to help them grow in that faith. And so, as a kind of trial balloon, the first issue of Crosstalk was published in the spring of 1972.

The second vision arose from another need that was being felt at the same time – this one among young people. Youth groups were small and struggling in most churches, and something was needed to pull them together — not a magazine this time, but a camp. The first Anglican Provincial Youth Camp.

This took place on Labour Day Weekend, 1972. The purpose was to provide a Christ-centred camp within the Anglican family for evangelism and discipleship. Facilities were rented from Quebec Lodge in the Eastern Townships and the camp was directed by Brett Cane, then a staff worker for the Inter-School Christian Fellowship. There were 35 campers in attendance and the Rev. Robin Guinness, then of Toronto, was the speaker. There was a tremendous response in terms of commitment to Christ and the camp was a resounding success.

The clergy of the Tuesday Fellowship and the lay people involved as staff were thrilled and decided to continue the camp. In subsequent years, numbers increased, and as the first campers reached university or working status, it was decided to establish an older ‘Youth Conference’ (now Focus) over the Labour Day Weekend and hold the Youth Camp the week previous. This was in 1974.

Two other events were of great significance in the early 1970s, certainly as a back-up to the camp work. One was an annual Christmas outreach day when young people from the Anglican Summer Camp sang carols on the Saturday before Christmas outside Christ Church Cathedral, interspersed with short messages and testimonies. At the same time a coffee-and-outreach coffee house was run from Fulford Hall. The other event was a conference for theological students considering ordination into the Anglican ministry. Tom Robinson was the speaker at this conference held at Epiphany House, Iberville, and several now in ordained ministry owe much to that weekend, as well as to a similar one held at Wapoos, near Kingston, in the late 1960s.

It is probably not without significance that the refocusing of the work centred on the Tuesday Fellowship followed the disbanding of the Canadian Anglican Evangelical Fellowship’s Montreal chapter. On paper, it was a fine organization. In reality, it had become an ineffective gathering of those who championed a worthy cause but were unable to promote effective action.

Within the framework of this overall picture we can note a number of other related ministries that emerged in the 1970s. Reference has already been made to the publication of the four-page newsletter Crosstalk in 1972. Its purpose was succinctly summarized in the statement by its editor which read as follows: ‘Crosstalk is a magazine whose single purpose is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day. Through faith in Him, people are put right with God and given an altogether new quality of life.’ By 1980, circulation had risen to 5,000. In the following year it appeared in a magazine format offering twice as much space as the previous format. Regrettably, Crosstalk ceased publication in 1982. It had provided an immensely valuable service, reinforcing the pulpit and pastoral ministries of numerous parishes right across Canada. Its layout and content were excellent. The Barnabas Anglican Ministries publication, Incourage, carries on this tradition today.

Another Crosstalk-related publication that appeared for a short time beginning in January, 1977 was Stauros, subtitled ‘A Bulletin of Evangelical Anglicans in Canada.’

Also in the early ’70s, four or five annual McLaine Conferences on Ministry took place when a Canadian and an overseas visiting speaker would minister jointly for 3 days. The conference was repeated in Halifax, N.S., St. John, N.B., Toronto and Montreal. In Montreal, the need for this ministry declined when Reginald Hollis became Bishop in 1975 and began to bring in excellent speakers for the Diocesan Conferences on Renewal.