St. George the Martyr

By Barry Parker, Rector (Senior Minister)

Posted on February 5, 2018

I wanted to give you an update on the evolution of ministry at St. George the Martyr. 
To recap, St. George the Martyr (SGtM), located by the Grange, just south of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), was in crisis in early 2017 with a “perfect storm” of events. The sanctuary was deemed structurally unsound due to significant deferred maintenance, the Incumbent took a ministry position outside of the Diocese and the newly appointed Diocesan Administrator resigned after 48 hours when confronted with the complexity of the immense challenges facing the parish. The Diocese called on the help of leadership from St. Paul’s Bloor Street (SPBS). 
The Diocese has provided great support to SGtM over the years, providing large sums of money, especially in 2017, to help with the acute building problems and to enable staffing configurations with the hope this would lead to growth and sustainability. Unfortunately, the parish has not been able to attain these goals. It has become clear a fresh course needs to be charted.
For the past several months Bishop Jenny Andison has been collaborating with SGtM and the leadership of SPBS towards a ‘reboot’ of the parish. Bishop Jenny likened it to a tugboat coming alongside a ship in distress, to guide it safely into harbour. Similar creative configurations are unfolding with other congregations in our Diocese. 
Since becoming involved with SGtM we have determined that the structural issues are considerable and will take time and resources to resolve. In addition, the congregation is unable to financially support public worship services. 
As a result, it was announced at a recent SGtM congregational meeting that, while the parish is not being disestablished, there will be a “sabbath rest” from public worship for a season. The last Sunday worship gatherings will be held on February 11th. I will be at SGtM presiding over the last of these services. Bishop Jenny and the Diocese have sought to assist the parishioners of SGtM in finding other welcoming congregations with whom they can worship during this period of “sabbath rest.” To be clear, the Church will still be there so that in the future, when the time is right; a new, sustainable and dynamic community can be reborn in that location. 
I give thanks that SGtM has been a community worshipping God and loving its neighbours for many generations. St. Paul’s will now move into a season of discernment to determine the best way to build and support a revitalized community. Along with Bishop Jenny, it is my determined hope that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, SGtM will emerge as a sustainable, dynamic, Anglican community, making a difference to the Grange for generations to come.