Faith Witness: At the diocesan synod back in May, Bishop Linda challenged a few of Huron’s lay leaders to share their experience of being Christ’s disciples.
By Lillian Scorrar-Olsen
I am very honoured to have the opportunity to share how I express my faith to Synod. Although, when I first received the letter from the Bishop asking me to talk at Synod about my faith, I thought she had the wrong sister. I know we look similar and have the same last name, but our theological discussions are very different.
My faith journey in the Anglican Church really starts nine months before I was born. Hana and I both attended Christ Church, Amherstburg as babies and haven’t had a break since! We were raised in a wonderful, supportive church environment, and by a mother who was and is a pillar of our community.
In my early twenties, I was given the opportunity to become our church’s Synod delegate, and just like my sister, got to explain to people, no I’m not part of Youth Synod. And I was embraced by Essex Deanery by being elected to executive council and then made Lay Co-Chair. And just like my church, Essex has been a huge part of my journey. They have always been so encouraging and welcoming, treating me with respect and dignity. It is so rare in the church to find places that lift you up as a young woman, and I am more grateful than I can say to Christ Church and Essex Deanery/Father Bill Strang, my priest; Jane Humphreys, my archdeacon; Rob Lemon, my Dean, and all the other clergy and lay people who have had a major impact on my faith life.
Now, I grew up in Sunday School and heard all the stories about the burning bushes and choirs of angels, and unfortunately, unlike in the Bible, God is often more subtle in speaking to you. You pray and you pray, and the answer can come to you as simply as a feeling of calm about a decision, or everything falling into place, miraculously.
This is exactly how my mission trip came about. I needed a mission to shape my thesis for my doctorate, which is in Global Heath. And I and my family had been praying about what to do. God sent me to the PWRDF Deanery Rep meeting to speak with Greg, who told me about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank mission trip to Malawi.
I had a very short period of time to apply, get vaccinated, and raise enough money for my trip. With the support of Essex, I was able to raise enough money for myself, and pay for half of the other Anglican missionary’s trip. And then I was ready, or so I thought.
I knew before I went about the incredible poverty in Africa, but this mission really opened my eyes to the harsh reality of gender inequality, climate change, food insecurity, and rampant socio-political issues stemming from colonialism. This was a country where the majority of people are impoverished to an extent that is beyond the imagination of the average Westerner.
And yet, everywhere we went, we were met with compassion and generosity, with kindness, and with profound faith. These were a people who had nothing, but who sang the praises of God in the hopes of a better tomorrow. They filled my heart with joy, but also sadness, because when I returned, I would come back to a church that had enough money for all kinds of things, and yet, we complain about how we don’t have enough. We lack the faith to have nothing, no building, no fancy vestments, no stained glass windows, no music except our voices, and still be the church, the body of Christ. We lack the faith to move forward with a hope based purely on trust in God, not on our material things.
I was asked to speak today about my faith journey, and our Synod theme is shaped by the idea of discipling. And so, I think I can say it no better than this: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who had the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”
Our calling as the baptized, our Christian vocation, is to love one another. Not in words, but in action. This is a love that goes beyond giving away your extras, and really changes the way you see the other. That’s what I learned in Malawi, that true love gives when it has nothing left, when there is nothing to be gained.
Having nothing is scary, but faith is stronger. Have faith God has put you on a path and he will guide you. The path may be tough, and you may fall or be hurt, but God does not give you more than you can handle.
The other person who has really lived out that example for me is my sister, Hana. She has walked a rough road towards ordination, and has never given up on her call. She’s always found a way to do ministry to people who need her, and the strength of faith to move forward with nothing but hope. And I pray for her to finally get to live fully into her vocation.
Thank you again, Bishop Linda, for this opportunity; and if anyone would like to support my continued work with Canadian Foodgrains Bank and PWRDF, we are having a black-tie gala to raise money, I have a personal goal to raise $10,000, so if you would like more information or to purchase tickets, please come find me!!