Caution: may inspire readers to re-think church and, if necessary, begin again.
A surprise phone call leadsto a challenging assignment: plant a new church in the oldest church building in downtown Ottawa. Working without a playbook and without much time, the author scrambles to get church up and running in the midst of neighbourhood battles and theological controversies. ReInvention: Stories from an Urban Church is the story of this urban church plant, told through the eyes of its pastor, a former entrepreneur and quantum physicist. It IS also the story of the profound and often disturbing changes currently taking place in mainline churches across North America. Often humourous, sometimes poignant, but always hopeful, these stories from an urban church plant serve as both spiritual autobiography and as manifesto for the paradigm shift that is taking place in today’s church.
In these days of declining membership in mainline congregations, a new church plant is a rarity. Even more so, perhaps, when the church plant involves an existing 145-yearold building, and a focus on ministry to college and university students, young adults living in the neighbourhood, and those experiencing homelessness and dealing with poverty. In ReInvention: Stories from an Urban Church, Mark Whittall shares the insights and wisdom he and a small-but-dedicated team gained as they worked to establish a new congregation in St. Albans Church, the second oldest Anglican parish in Ottawa.
Mark became the Incumbent of St. Albans on July 1st, 2011. Mark was born in Montreal but grew up in Manotick, Ontario. His studies took him to Queen’s in Kingston and Oxford in the UK, where he completed degrees in engineering, physics and development economics.
He returned to Ottawa to begin his career in technology and international development in 1987. His work with Intelcan took him to more than forty countries around the world, from the jungles of Africa to the tundra of the Arctic. But in 2005 he returned to school, this time to St. Paul University in Ottawa where he completed his Masters in Pastoral Theology in 2008. Mark was ordained in 2008 and served as Incumbent of the Parish of Huntley in Carp until 2011.
Mark is enthusiastic about his return to downtown Ottawa to be the Pastor at St. Albans Church. Now he can bike to work! Ministry at St. Albans provides Mark with and exciting and unique opportunity to engage with a diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds, including the folks at Centre 454 and students at the University of Ottawa. Mark brings a particular passion for working with children and youth to his ministry, a passion which is evident in his puppet collection!
At home, Mark shares his life with Guylaine, his wife of 20 years, and his two children, Jonathan, 17 and Michelle, 15. In his leisure time he enjoys sports, music and even a bit of quantum physics, and he tries to get away on a canoe camping trip with family and friends every summer.
““ReInvention” is a story of positive deviance: an urban congregation that is bucking recent trends.”
-The Presbyterian Outlook
“This book is a “must read” for any church leader who feels that God is calling their church to live out their vocation in a new, authentic way. ReInvention was written with the promise that “God is not done with us yet” and (author Mark) Whittall, in explaining how St. Albans Church was planted, proves that this isn’t some lofty, far-off promise: the Gospel can be and is lived out through the Church.”
-Morgan Bell, Crosstalk
“Mark Whittall seems to me to be a prophetic voice in our midst. He has something to say to people of faith across the church spectrum.”
-Wayne A. Holst, Colleagues List
“Whittall’s book is inspiring – who doesn’t like the story of ta successful start-up? – But it also presents a profound challenge to the established order.”
-François Bregha, Image