A Winnipeg pastor known for being outspoken about churches that flouted public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recognized for his online efforts.
Feedspot, which calls itself the internet’s "largest human-curated database of bloggers and podcasts," has named Erik Parker’s Millennial Pastor as the third-best pastor blog in Canada.
The service, which provides access to more than 250,000 bloggers, awarded the ranking based on traffic, social media followers and freshness.
Parker, pastor at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church in East Kildonan, was surprised.
"I’m not chasing views or looking for controversial stuff," he said, noting he gets about a thousand visitors a week at millennialpastor.ca. "I’m just writing about how life intersects with where I am at. Sometimes, they go viral. Sometimes, they don’t."
Parker’s posts about churches challenging and breaking pandemic restrictions created a stir, including the two open letters he addressed to Springs Church in Winnipeg.
"I got a lot of reaction, some of it positive, some negative," he said, noting he received good responses from other pastors, both mainline and evangelical.
During the pandemic, it was a minority of churches getting all the attention for not following health orders, he said.
"They didn’t represent the majority of Christians," he said. "I wanted to provide a different perspective. I felt I had to say something, offer an alternative voice."
Parker, 39 and a father of two young children, has been blogging for nine years. He started doing it as a "way to express the things swirling around in my head."
For Parker, it’s also a way to communicate what it’s like to be a younger pastor working in an older mainline church setting.
"I’m an iPhone pastor in a typewriter church," he said, adding the blog is a way to "understand the generational commute."
Parker’s bishop, Jason Zinko of the Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada, is happy to see him being recognized for his work on the blog.
Parker "brings a current and fresh perspective into a denomination that is often very traditional," Zinko said, adding he especially appreciates how Parker "speaks up when he has something important to add to a conversation or to give a different perspective."
The blog is valuable for the synod since it "engages millennial generations, particularly pastors, in imagining a contemporary vision for our church."
James Bedford, 59, is a member of Sherwood Park Church. He likes how the blog builds bridges between older and younger people and for how Parker addresses issues in the wider religious community.
"That was an important message to send out there," he said of Parker’s posts about pandemic restrictions. "I’m thankful he spoke up. It’s our Christian duty to look out for others."
Parker plans to keep blogging.
"I want to write about what is going on in the world from a mainline, Lutheran perspective and help people navigate this time of incredible change," he said.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.