He’s been called the diocesan hit man. As a joke, of course. Not a great joke. People with the skills of Simon Bell have become necessary in Canada’s major Christian churches.
He determines which congregations can survive, and why, and which ones have slid so far into the abyss of decline that they need to be put out of their misery. His title is congregational development consultant with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, the largest Anglican jurisdiction in Canada. Churches call him in when they realize they’re in trouble.
He acquired the hit-man sobriquet after his involvement in the protracted – it’s still going on – and unpopular closing of one of Toronto’s most historic and architecturally significant Anglican churches, St. Stephen-in-the-Field at College Street and Bellevue Avenue.
This is what is going on as Canada completes its emergence from Christendom, the cultural hegemony of Christianity that had defined the country since the onset of European settlement.