Edmonton diocese welcomed a special guest visitor, October 13-16. Bishop Jane invited Stephen Backhouse, author and theologian, to connect with parishes and clergy to learn and to get a sense of whether Stephen’s particular gifting might be something that could benefit the diocese going forward.
Backhouse joined the ID session at St. Matthias Anglican Church in Edmonton on Saturday, October 13 and preached at St. Luke’s on Sunday, October 14. St. Luke’s parish found him to be one of those rare people who are academically gifted, yet able to communicate in a very down-to-earth, accessible manner.
Monday evening, October 15, Backhouse engaged in lively discussion at a Pub Theology session. Diocesan Educational Chaplain, the Rev. Heather Liddell counted 32 people at the event (special thanks to Grindstone Theatre and Bistro for opening up especially for this group). She says, “We opened the floor for people to ask a traveling theologian any question they wanted. They dug deep and asked some of the really difficult questions you don’t get a chance to ask anywhere else, and Stephen handled it amazingly. It was intense and wonderful!”
Finally, Backhouse met with a group of about 40 for a clergy day on Tuesday, October 16, hosted at St. Luke’s. The Ven. Richard King, rector of St. Luke’s says, "It has been a joy to have Stephen with us in the diocese. He is immensely talented, knowledgeable and authoritative. His commitment to the local church and to seeing each member of the local church activated in their discipleship and growing in their ministry in our post-Christendom world, is inspiring and impactful. I hope we will see him again.”
Stephen Backhouse is Canadian, but completed the majority of his academic education at Oxford University. His most recent formal position was on faculty with St. Mellitus College in London, England. Formed in 2007, it is a fairly new, yet influential theological college known for its practical approach of hands-on ministry training combined with rigorous academics. Notable lecturers include the Rt. Rev. & Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and his wife, Dr. Jane Williams, who is a lecturer in systematic theology.
Backhouse was Director of Graduate Studies at St. Mellitus and lectured on social and political theology, yet he sensed a call to something different; something that would bring him and his love of practical theology closer to the local church. To that end, he has launched Tent Theology, which is a ministry that brings custom-designed teaching to parishes to meet their own perceived needs and to develop ongoing relationships with them. He currently pursues this ministry in both the UK and Canada. He is also author of Kierkegaard: A Single Life which is available on Amazon.