In 2012, the clergy of the Anglican parishes in Peterborough were invited by then-Area Bishop Linda Nicholls to discern a plan for a way forward for the parishes, which had collectively experienced a decline of approximately 50% in attendance over the previous decade. The conversation which followed expanded to include the laity and, in March 2014, the four remaining Anglican parishes (All Saints', St Barnabas's, St John's, and St Luke's) entered into a Covenant relationship with each other (click here to read the Covenant). It affirmed that "the covenant relationship among the clergy and the four congregations will be a shared ministry of love and trust to which Christ is calling them". It called for weekly meetings of the clergy, periodic meetings of parish leaders, and a Council which would seek opportunities for deepening the shared relationships between the parishes. Later in that year, Christ Lutheran Church joined the Covenant.
In the fall of 2015, the Bishop called together the five churches for a meeting with her and diocesan staff to review the work done so far and to challenge the churches to be more intentional about discerning a vision for sustainable ministry in the city. That led to the formation of the Covenant Commission, which spent most of 2016 in consultation with the five congregations and external resources. The Commission explored our joint mission, collected information on resources, provided a report on options, and provided a final report in November 2016 with recommendations and next steps towards creating a sustainable Anglican-Lutheran presence in Peterborough.
On Sunday, February 12th, 2017, the five Covenant churches held Special Vestry/Congregational Meetings to vote on a motion to proceed in principle towards the recommended amalgamation option of reducing the current five churches to two. At St John's, the motion passed overwhelmingly, and it was carried in all of the other congregations.
In Eastertide 2017, Archbishop Colin Johnson appointed a five-member assessment commission (under Canon 13 of the Diocese of Toronto) to review the information contained in the reports of the Covenant Commission. The assessment commission also visited each of the five churches and met with the Covenant Council to receive additional submissions. They submitted their report on May 31st to the Archbishop.
On October 1st and 2nd, 2017, the Area Bishop, the Rt Rev. Riscylla Shaw, held two meetings to announce her vision for the Peterborough churches (read her letter here). Briefly, the vision is that all four Anglican parishes and Christ Lutheran Church will amalgamate and operate from the current St John's. The four existing incumbents/priests-in-charge/pastor will remain, with the Rev. Brad Smith and Pastor Scott Schellenberger as primary pastors. In time, a new congregation formed from the amalgamated congregation would plant a church in the west end of the city on land already owned by the Diocese.
A Special Meeting of the Vestry was held on Sunday, October 29th, to vote on the following resolution: "Over the period of five years, the members of the Peterborough Covenant Churches (All Saints' Anglican, Christ Lutheran, St Barnabas' Anglican, St John the Evangelist Anglican, and St Luke's Anglican) have discerned together, in the midst of a changing world, a calling of the Holy Spirit to be church in new, creative, and missional ways. Be it resolved that we, the Vestry of St John the Evangelist Anglican Church, amalgamate with the churches of the Peterborough Covenant to form a new parish at the site of the present St John the Evangelist Anglican Church." The resolution passed at St John's and St Barnabas', failed at All Saints' and St Luke's, and will not be voted on at Christ Lutheran.
St Barnabas' Vestry voted to join St John's for worship beginning on Sunday, January 7, 2018. The conversation continues.