All posts by Michael Shapcott

New Numbers Tell It All: Lack of housing is killing Torontonians

The new official numbers of homeless deaths from the City of Toronto released in late May were sad confirmation for those who have been gathering every month for almost two decades at Holy Trinity’s Homeless Memorial.
Toronto Public Health has reported that 27 people who were homeless died from January to March of 2017 – that’s a rate of more than two per week. If this pace continues, then more than 100 homeless deaths will be recorded this year – a record for Toronto.
People have been gathering around a plain gray memorial at the south side of Holy Trinity on the second Tuesday of every month at 12 noon. They remember, by name, the women, men and children who died from homelessness over the previous month. Continue reading New Numbers Tell It All: Lack of housing is killing Torontonians

Prisons we choose to live in – Homily May 8, 2016

To see music and readings that surrounded this homily:

HT bulletin Sun May 8, 2016 Easter 7 C

God knows – Canada has more than enough jails.
In 2013, the Correctional Commissioner for Canada reported to Parliament that the number of prisoners in federal and provincial jails was at an all-time high, even though crime rates have been steadily dropping for more than two decades.
He noted that indigenous people make up 25% of the prison population, even though they form only 4% of the overall population of Canada.

He noted that there had been a 75% increase in the number of visible minority prisoners in the past decade.
The International Centre for Prison Studies reported that, in 2015, Canada had 106 prisoners per 100,000 population.
That’s a big number, but pales in comparison with the United States – where they have an astonishing 698 inmates per 100,000 population.

Here in Toronto, the relatively new Toronto South Detention Centre is a huge facility – with a capacity of almost 2,000 inmates although it is still only partly filled. Some of the inmates are men serving sentences of less than two years, but many are in remand – that is, they in jail awaiting trial or some other proceeding. They have not been convicted, but they are in jail – sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks, sometimes longer. Continue reading Prisons we choose to live in – Homily May 8, 2016

“Not in the Bible!”

This past week, I posted a short note on the Holy Trinity e-list with observations from my past weekend at Canterbury Cathedral – the ‘Mother Church’ of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

As we are in the midst of a conversation here at Holy Trinity on liturgical formation – how we shape and express our faith in worship services – Lee very kindly invited me to share a few thoughts from Canterbury this morning. We will continue the conversation after the service in our adult forum. Continue reading “Not in the Bible!”

Render Unto Caesar

by Michael Shapcott

Sometimes a handful of words in the Bible can be wrenched with violence out of context in order to support a position that is pernicious. Take today’s Gospel reading of the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus. The phrase often plucked out of this little passage is part of verse 21 that most of us know by heart in the poetical language of the King James Version:

“Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

This story was obviously considered important to early Christians as it is repeated, in somewhat similar form, in Mark and Luke.

Skip forward to Romans 13 and we read, once again, in the good old KJV, ‘let every soul be subject to higher powers’ in verse 1 and the word ‘render’ appears once again in verse 7. In fact, the margins notes in my old and beloved King James Bible has these three phrases next to the first few verses in Romans 13 – Duty to the State, Authority of the State, Duties of Citizenship.

Continue reading Render Unto Caesar

‘oh you are so big’

May 18th Homily by Michael Shapcott

Good morning. We may be somewhat diminished in numbers today in the midst of this holiday weekend, but we gather as participants in a Christian communion that stretches back some 2,000 years and circles the globe.

I am four and one-half months into theological studies at the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College in the University of Toronto where I am seeking to deepen my understanding of the profound connections between universal human rights and fundamental faith values. My goal is not simply more knowledge, but a more effective rights-based practice when it comes to fundamental issues of justice and equity such as housing, homelessness, poverty and hunger.

Continue reading ‘oh you are so big’

The Mystery of Faith: Fear and Trembling

Accordian Evangelist, Michael ShapcottA very special welcome on this ‘Back to Church Sunday’ to our visitors this morning. Last year, at this time, I was welcomed back to Holy Trinity after I spotted Archbishop Colin Johnson in his full vestments standing in front of Union Station.

I took up the invitation last year… and here I am today.
Let’s begin with a plunge into the deep end of the doctrinal pool, starting with the words of the great American Anglican theologian, Robin Williams. Our sisters and brothers in the Anglican communion in the US prefer to call themselves Episcopalians. Here the esteemed Mr. Williams sets out the top ten reasons for being an Episcopalian:
10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female, God created them; male and female, we ordain them.
7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color coded!
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry, none of the guilt.
2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.
And the number one reason for being an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you. Continue reading The Mystery of Faith: Fear and Trembling