The Hope Canteen is an experiment that was born with the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. When we found that we had to close our churches, we quickly worked to develop resources that could connect Christians who found they couldn’t go to church.
Our first goal was to provide connection and encouragement. We started to write a newsletter that we published three times a week. It followed a menu format so we could imagine that we were sitting in a café, sharing spiritual nourishment. We also started a lectionary-based podcast as a way to help people connect ancient scriptures to life in the pandemic. We meant these to be stop-gap measures to get us through the pandemic. However, a surprising thing happened. God showed up.
People actually engaged with the materials and started asking questions. We developed a daily online prayer and bible study Zoom group that started having profound conversations. People told us they were growing in their faith in exciting ways.
The Hope Canteen: Helping Christians Walk Faithfully in the Pandemic
The time of pandemic has been marked by paradox. On the one hand, much of the conversation in this time has been marked by anxiety and frustration by the fact that this virus is keeping everyone close to home. There is loneliness, fear and concern about the future. On the other hand, there is excitement that ‘the church script’ has been thrown out the window. We have had to scramble to ‘be church.’ And in this scrambling, we have found deep reminders about discipleship, prayer and community. The Hope Canteen is one attempt to walk faithfully in this paradox.
Things you might like to know:
Purpose of The Hope Canteen
1) To provide discipleship resources for Christians in mainline church traditions. (Obviously, it is for everyone, but we assume what we write will be mostly interesting for people whose faith traditions are in mainline protestant denominations
2) To have a place to reflect on the changing face of the church as we move through this pandemic and beyond it.
Viewpoint and Foundations
1) Inclusive Orthodoxy: the articles are written from a broadly small ‘0’ orthodox position that celebrates the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ in the life of the church, and believes that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God means that we have a vocation to work for racial and economic justice.
2) We believe that in the future church worship will be as much in people’s homes and in the community as it will be in the sanctuary. Christians will need to develop an expression of faith that is not dependent on the worship and programs of the institutional church. We believe that there will continue to be a role for the institutional church, but it will be as a support for faith and not the focus of faith. The call is then to help Christians grow in their personal faith and discipleship.
3) Christianity is not individualistic. We are made for relationship and community. We meet God in a wealth of different ways as we learn to live with and for each other.
4) The future of the church is ecumenical. We believe that mainline church denominations are beginning to explore creative ways to be family together rather than apart. We are very excited about this prospect. Most of the material in this site is ecumenical. While we worship and have been formed in the Anglican tradition, there is nothing distinctly ‘Anglican’ here, but it is rather an attempt to find treasures in lots of different traditions.
5) We want to articulate Christian faith for the 21st century without losing our connection to our roots. The reality is that Christian faith looks very different on this side of the Enlightenment, two World Wars, Apartheid, Charles Darwin, the Civil Rights movement, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Vatican II, Biblical Criticism and the Holocaust. We celebrate and take seriously all of the learnings of the past three centuries. Most importantly, we believe that Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God, come to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to embody salvation through his life, death and resurrection.
Most of All
6) We love God. We love Jesus. We love the Holy Spirit. We love the church. Following Jesus has been life changing for us. We have known grace poured out into our lives again and again and again. And we want people to know that deep love and to find ways to live faithful lives.
In one sense, it is very simple. We want to help people love God and love their neighbour. This is the vision of the Hope Canteen.
The Revs. Steve and Stephanie London