The origins of Cruxifusion are hidden 40 years before its birth, in the prayers of an almost forgotten generation of United Church leaders. They had grown up in a modern United Church committed to evangelism and congregational service to their communities. The memories have almost faded, but for almost half a century the United Church worshipped in a spirit of Christian unity sharing the words of Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, singing the Gloria Patri and threefold Amen in continuity with the ecumenical vision of the church embossed on the United Church crest at Church Union, ut omnes unum sint, That all may be one.
The story had been all but forgotten until Ed McCaig, former editor of Fellowship Magazine recalled a meeting of the United Church Renewal Fellowship where members had earnestly prayed that God would raise up 100 Christ centred leaders for the future United Church of Canada. As the institution floundered in a rapidly changing world, they continued to pray.
Cruxifusion was born at a board meeting of Fellowship Publications, itself made up of representatives from Renewal Fellowship, Church Alive, National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations, Community of Concern, and members at large. It was clear that the groups which had been created over decades for the revitalization of the Church were limited in scope, not in sync with one another, and could not speak for a new generation of leadership. At the same time, Christ centred leaders within the United Church of Canada had no mechanism for being in touch with each other.
Fellowship Publications decided to produce a special edition of Fellowship Magazine, “Cruxifusion,” a word made up for the occasion, meaning “joined by the cross.” The editor solicited one page articles from a broad cross section of younger United Church leaders with a love for Jesus. They chose their own topics and enough material came back to create the special issue. To read that special issue, download it here.
At the same time, representatives of Fellowship Magazine, Renewal Fellowship, NACC and CoC came together to discuss common ground and mission and came to the startling conclusion that they were ready to relinquish control, give up their own identities and hand over assets including bank accounts to a new generation, with no strings attached.
The first Cruxifusion Conference was held in Burlington, Ontario in the spring of 2010 Those who had been invited to write for the special edition received an invitation to the conference and were invited to invite others who might be interested. The three day conference was hosted by Diane Walker, editor of Fellowship Magazine, and consisted of worship and presentations by “Instigators” including Nora Sanders, Executive Secretary of the General Council of the United Church of Canada, and others.
The leaders of the existing renewal groups presented a panel discussion. David Dawson of COC gave a history of that group which included a timeline and a frank description of the accomplishments and failings of that group. The Community of Concern had a substantial fund through which they underwrote much of the inaugural conference so that participants could travel and pay only a small registration fee.
On the first night strangers gathered in a hotel lobby, recognizing one another by name, or by articles written for Fellowship Magazine or other connections. Such encounters prompted a description of the conference as “a family reunion of people who hadn’t met yet” fulfilling the main hope of the organizing committee: putting Christ centred, younger United Church leaders in touch with one another.
The participants were invited to form an organization, create a publication, or explore whatever other plans for further connection they might suggest. An entirely new board was elected for the newly formed Cruxifusion with existing renewal groups, the organizing committee of the event, and the Fellowship Publications board declining positions.
The Cruxifusion Board has evolved over time. Fellowship Publications turned over its corporation status, charitable status and modest financial resources with no strings attached. As National Alliance of Covenanting Congregations and Community of Concern wound down, these organizations also turned over their remaining financial resources to the work of Cruxifusion, without conditions.
Christ’s work and mission was born for a new generation.