Gary Nelson on Canadians, Mission and the Missio Alliance

On Fridays, I post information on conferences either that I value, or I’m going to be at myself. (I also post videos that I’m a part of talking about key ideas.) Today’s post comes from Gary Nelson. Gary is president at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto. He’s talking about the Missio Alliance theology and practice conference coming up in Wash DC (actually Alexandria VA) April 11-13. We’re gathering from all over N. America to do the work of theology for the Future of the Gospel. We asked Gary “Why is he going to MIssio Alliance?” Here’s what he said.


nelsonIt is a fascinating question and new movements always have this ambiguity to them that makes a question like this seem relevant. I suppose there are a number of reasons that I could bring to the table. Let me share one.

I am a Canadian. We are a strange people. Lovers of two games played on ice that most people do not understand- curling and hockey and a football game that looks like chaos to NFL lovers. We are a people uniquely shaped by a history profoundly different than our neighbours to the South but yet intricately interwoven because of proximity. This reality has caused us to often long with hope to the South on one hand and hold a wariness of its influence on the other.

We hold this strange mixture of insecurity and apology that has for so long hindered us from forming our own voices. Robertson Davies one time stated: “we Canadians are an insecure people but one thing we are sure of, we are not Americans!” What happens to a people whose whole identity is formed around what they are not? Thankfully this is changing.

Much of what we have faced in the Canadian church’s march to After Christendom has been marginalizing and decentering. Who would have thought that this would have been good for us but it has been. There is a new confidence shaped by a humble sensibility (we still have this incredible need to say sorry!) emerging in the church in Canada. We are sorting things out, gaining in confidence and trying to learn not to fight amongst ourselves while holding to a missional imagination that is bigger than ourselves.

While this is emerging- here it is- we have been longing for a place to belong- place where we are one of the voices not just the listeners.  A place where we can be challenged and challenge—belong and feel safe. We hope for a place where we are not missed or carelessly assumed to be the same. It could be a rich tapestry of creativity if we can be unique among other unique, gifted and missionally passionate people. I bring that hope for a place to belong to the Missio Alliance meeting in Washington DC and that is why I am coming. Besides I can hang out with David Fitch, Bruxy, Cam Roxburgh and so many others. See you there!

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