Two local Anglicans have important tales to tell
• Ed Hird: Battle for the Soul of Canada, 2006 • Julie H. Ferguson: Sing a New Song, Dundurn, 2006
BOTH of these books focus on Canada, but they are grounded in B.C. - and have international implications.
Ed Hird is a conservative Anglican pastor who has been a key player in the never-ending same-sex debate which has so preoccupied the Diocese of New Westminster.
Hird tells his personal faith journey, and the tale of how he and his congregation made the wrenching decision to leave their building and property with the diocese, and join the Anglican Coalition in Canada.
Lorne Gunter, columnist for the National Post, put it well when he said: "I expected Battle for the Soul of Canada to be a political book - a book about the battles of plucky little St. Simon's Church in North Vancouver to adhere to a biblically-inspired faith in the face of an increasingly secular (and hostile) church hierarchy. Instead, I discovered a wonderful primer on keeping faith in an increasingly secular (and hostile) world, filled with inspiring, joyful and practical examples from the lives of spiritual people."
And so it is. Yet Hird's folksy, upbeat approach incorporates a prophetic message - not strictly political perhaps, but Gunter's is just one of 42 endorsements for the book, many by conservative Anglicans worldwide. These elements are woven together with a study of the Book of Timothy, which provided "the skeleton upon which this book is built."
Hird says that "in many ways, Timothy has the personality profile of Canada: gentle, somewhat insecure and easily rejected. Yet Paul saw that this unlikely individual had the potential to be a great leader . . . We can be God's Timothy's, if we will only humble ourselves before the Lord."
Hird is at his best telling stories. He has discovered some impressive Christians buried in Canadian history.
He offers many anecdotes of faith-filled historical figures such as Colonel Moody, who prevented our province being annexed by the U.S. in B.C.'s first war, then gathered 40 miners and led worship from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Among the others are explorer David Thompson; pioneer settler and writer Catharine Parr Trail; and Frederick Seymour, first governor of the united B.C. colony.
My favourite is William Howland. As a young entrepreneur, he was led to Christ by his Anglican priest - and the change was immediately apparent. "Night after night, Howland visited the slums, going from house to house, and reaching out to the poor, the sick, the alcoholic."
His reputation for good works led to him being chosen mayor of Toronto in 1885. He promptly installed a 12-foot banner which read: "Except the Lord Build the City, the Watchman Wakes but in Vain."
Before long, Toronto was nicknamed 'Toronto the Good' - a sobriquet seldom heard these days(...)
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book 'Battle for the Soul of Canada', please send a $18.50 cheque to 'Ed Hird', #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.