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‘Pray for Jerusalem’: A call for prayer from the Primate

December 8, 2017 - 5:03pm

I join a growing chorus of voices raising serious concerns over President Donald Trump’s December 6th declaration that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel and his decision to relocate the US Embassy Office from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Numerous world leaders have reacted with dismay.

In advance of Trump’s intention to take such action, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican Archbishop Suheil Dawani had written him a letter. Here is an excerpt.

“We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land moving us further from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division. We ask you, Mr. President, to help us all walk toward more love and a definitive peace which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all.

Our solemn advice and pleas is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfil its destiny.

The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people, that live within it, from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing.”

Choosing to ignore this wise and godly counsel, the President proceeded with his intentions. His unilateral action has unsettled the entire Middle East and plunged Jerusalem into chaos. Violence has erupted in the streets. Flags are being burned. People are fearful. Schools and shops have had to be closed. It is hard not to imagine that access to religious sites dear to Jews, Christians and Muslims may be restricted in coming days.

Many see the President’s action as having precipitated a serious setback on the peace process. They contend and rightly so, that any change in the status of Jerusalem can only emerge from that process. As complex as it is, it has until now been borne of a vision of justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike. May the keepers of that vision remain vigilant.

I ask your prayers for Jerusalem and The Land of the Holy One. Pray for those who are suffering physically, emotionally, spiritually and for all who minister among them. Pray for the Patriarchy and Heads of Churches. Pray for the Chief Rabbi. Pray for the Grand Mufti. Pray for all in public office who are committed to measures to de-escalate the level of conflict and restore calm and order. Pray for the city so that as the Psalmist says, its peoples will know “peace within its walls and quietness within its towers”. (Psalm 122:7)

Within but a few weeks the eyes of all Christians will be turned toward Jerusalem and to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus our Lord. May we turn not only our eyes, but our hearts as well, and may they beat anew to the song of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth”.  (Luke 2:14)

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
December 8, 2017

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Anglican-Catholic diaconate conference set for May 2018

December 7, 2017 - 10:15pm

An international gathering of Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Ukrainian Catholics will unite in Regina next spring for a timely ecumenical discussion on the role of deacons in the church.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic-Ukrainian Catholic Conference on the Diaconate will take place from May 10-13, 2018 at Campion College in the University of Regina. Registration is now open for the conference, which is sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina.

Speakers and panelists include leading authorities on the diaconate, representing the Anglican, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic traditions and hailing from Canada, the United States, England, and Scotland. Topics will include the liturgical role of deacons, women and the diaconate, the prophetic role of the deacon, and relationships between deacons and other ordained ministers.

In comparison to last July’s meeting of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada, the upcoming conference is “more of an academic conference about the diaconate,” conference secretary Canon Michael Jackson said.

“We hope lots of deacons are going to come … but it’s a conference about the diaconate, and anyone who’s interested in the diaconate is welcome to attend,” he added.

The idea for the conference emerged out of a covenant signed between the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses around Regina in 2011. Jackson, the Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant Implementation Committee, is also the longest serving deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada, having served as an Anglican deacon for four decades. He hoped that the conference would lead to a better awareness and understanding of the diaconate, which he described as a very “current topic” in light of the revival of the permanent diaconate in the Anglican and Catholic churches.

“The diaconate is still not fully understood in both our communions, and I hope we’re going to get a better theological basis for the diaconate, a better understanding of it, and what deacons can do and their potential in the church,” Jackson said.

“There is still this underlying view among Anglicans or Roman Catholics [that] ‘Well, a deacon’s just a partway-there minister. Really, the full ministry is the priesthood.’ And we are arguing that no, the diaconate is … a full and equal order. There are three orders of ministry in our traditions … bishop, priest, and deacon. And we’re trying to re-establish the deacon as an order in its own right, with its own integrity in the church—whether it be in the structure of the church, in liturgy, in ministry.”

Recent Anglican discussion on the diaconate has centred around The Iona Report, which outlined a new list of competencies for deacons.

Roman Catholics are currently embroiled in a debate regarding the ordination of women as deacons, following the establishment by Pope Francis of a Vatican commission to study the issue.

Lead Catholic organizer Brett Salkeld, currently archdiocesan theologian for the Archdiocese of Regina, said that the conference also reflected the good working relationship between the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses based in Regina. The two churches have started a diaconate formation program together that is now in its fourth year, with its first cohort set to be ordained in June.

“In a diocese where this will be our first cohort, a lot of people don’t really understand the role of the deacon,” Salkeld said. “So it’s really important for us to communicate that a deacon is its own specific ministry, and that it’s not like a miniature priesthood. It’s a different thing.”

“The idea for this conference was perfect,” he added. “It’s a bunch of people who already know each other and who like working together … able to work on something that both of our dioceses are pursuing right now.”

Conference fees are $250 per person and include all activities and meals, but do not include accommodation. Registration will be open until April 29, 2018.

Register now for the conference.

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Anglican Healing Fund grant applications due March 1, 2018

November 28, 2017 - 2:30pm

Applications to the Anglican Healing Fund have reopened and are now online. With a new influx of funding, the Healing Fund can continue  to support community projects that promote healing and reconciliation and address the legacy of the Indian residential school system.

The focus of the Healing Fund grants going forward is to fund community projects geared toward Indigenous language preservation or language recovery, as well as youth programs to help teach traditional ways to young people. Criteria for applying and additional information are available online.

The deadline for applications is March 1, 2018. Eligible projects must involve Indigenous people at the community grassroots level, with applicants based on a reserve or territory or part of an off-reserve Indigenous community-based program.

Following the deadline in March, the Healing Response Committee will meet at the end of April 2018 to review applications. Applicants who do not receive a grant are highly encouraged to apply again the following year.

Fundraising update

The Healing Response Committee last met in April 2017, as funds from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that had supported the Anglican Healing Fund was coming to an end. With money from the settlement agreement spent, the Anglican Church of Canada established 2017 as a year of raising money for the Healing Fund. In January 2017, Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz announced that all undesignated funds raised through the General Synod’s annual Giving with Grace campaign would replenish the Healing Fund. The goal for the year was to raise $1 million, which would allow grants to be made by the Anglican Healing Fund for the next five years. Every dollar raised goes directly to the grant money; all administrative costs come out of the General Synod operating budget.

As of Nov. 21, the church has raised approximately $700,000 towards that goal. That total includes a $100,000 gift from the Diocese of Toronto, an $80,000 gift from the Diocese of Fredericton, money raised through Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, and $6,000 in donations made in the name of the late Archbishop Terence Finlay, a major supporter of the Anglican Healing Fund.

Find out more about the Healing Fund and criteria for grant applications.

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Anglicans attend National Conference on Ending Homelessness

November 22, 2017 - 5:16pm

Reflecting the ongoing commitment of the Anglican Church of Canada to address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing, a group of Anglican priests and deacons attended the fifth annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness (NCEH) in Winnipeg from Oct. 25-27.

Ryan Weston, lead animator of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice, led an Anglican delegation that included three priests from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land—the Revs. Gwen McAllister, Canon Henry Falconer, and Paul Lampman—and two deacons from the Diocese of Toronto, Michael Shapcott and the Rev. Christian Harvey.

More than 1,000 people registered for the conference, which is organized by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. It featured an opening half-day symposium on Indigenous homelessness issues and a variety of other workshops and academic presentations.

Attending his third NCEH, Harvey was particularly struck by the Indigenous speakers at the symposium.

“One of the things that really stuck out to me is just their boldness is saying how important reconnection to Indigenous spirituality is to ending Indigenous homelessness, which I think is a really fascinating angle at a conference like this where spirituality tends not to get much of a focus,” he said.

Harvey is currently a deacon and director of Warming Room Community Ministries, a program of St. John’s Anglican Church in Peterborough that provides shelter to those who cannot or will not use other shelters in town. The church also runs a drop-in centre providing warm meals, as well as the Home Program to help those who suffer from chronic homelessness.

Lampman, who serves as parish priest at the Parish Church of Saint Luke in Winnipeg, attended two of 66 concurrent workshops at the NCEH. Each session focused on the importance of reconnecting Indigenous people with their elders and their spiritual path, with one session focused on helping prison inmates reconnect with the sacred.

“My experience was overwhelmingly positive,” Lampman said. “It was a real honour to be part of this group of incredibly smart people, all working hard to change the lives of people. The focus on reconciliation with our Indigenous sisters and brothers was very powerful.”

In Winnipeg, the Church of Saint Luke has worked together with two United Church congregations—Fort Rouge and Augustine—to establish the affordable housing complex Fort Rouge Ecumenical Apartments, which since 2015 has been managed by Manitoba Housing.

The parish also runs a morning drop-in offering fellowship, a hot meal, used clothing, toiletries, and a $5 gift card for groceries to anyone who comes through their doors, along with counselling and some advocacy and referral to services.

In contrast to Lampman, McAllister—currently rector at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, which recently gave up ownership over its building to turn it into a smaller church and accommodate 27 units of affordable housing—was more critical of the NCEH.

“I was admittedly put off by the exaggerated professionalism and the expensive setting of the conference; it served to emphasize the distance between those with ‘lived experience’ who were invited to the conference and professionals working in non-profit and government fields,” McAllister said. “I actually felt discouraged and alienated by that atmosphere.  However, I experienced some wonderful and inspiring sessions at the conference.”

Among the sessions she appreciated were “Can You Hear Me Now?”, a presentation by women with lived experience of homelessness on helping those whose voices are often viewed by society as unimportant, and another presentation offering practical advice from social housing workers on how to work within existing systems to help vulnerable people.

For Weston, the conference provided an opportunity for those in attendance to bring lessons back to their local context and share with others what they had learned, helping to build a network of engaged people across Canada.

“I think Anglicans across the country are doing things about homelessness all the time, and this was one way of connecting to some of that work at the local level and keeping that all in a conversation going forward,” Weston said.

“I think there was a real sense … from folks that homelessness is a problem that can be solved—that it’s going to take a lot of political will and a lot of work by everybody, but it’s something that we can do,” he added.

“We have the capacity to equip ourselves to solve the problem of homelessness in this country, and so I think there was real hope for that. Rather than pessimism, I think there was some optimism about that possibility.”

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National Housing Day 2017 statement

November 17, 2017 - 3:16pm

View a PDF version of this joint letter.

November 2017

November 22 marks National Housing Day in Canada, an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the need for safe, adequate, and affordable housing, and to learn about the social, economic, and health impacts of homelessness in our communities. National Housing Day is also an occasion for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada to reflect on our calling, as Christians, to care for our neighbours and to offer prayers for affordable housing for all.

More than 235,000 Canadians experience periods of homelessness every year, with as many 35,000 people finding themselves homeless on any given night. Thousands of others live in precarious housing, struggling month after month to pay rent or remaining in unsafe or inadequate housing because of a lack of appropriate options.

Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing affects every community in this country, from large urban centres to remote northern communities, and is experienced by diverse populations including young people, seniors, families, veterans, and more. Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among homeless populations in Canada, and many Indigenous communities continue to experience acute housing crises such as overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and poor condition of existing housing stock. Many Indigenous people in urban contexts also continue to experience discrimination in access to housing.

Canada remains a wealthy country, with the capability to eliminate homelessness in our communities and to ensure access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing for all. Meeting this challenge requires collaboration between all levels of government, faith communities, the private sector, and civil society organizations. The upcoming release of a national housing strategy by the federal government will be an important step in insuring this collaboration. We encourage you to lift up National Housing Day in your communities, to advocate for improved access to housing for those in need, and to pray for the action necessary to address this need. Toward this end, we commend to you the following prayer:

Creator,
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to provide for all our needs.
We give you thanks.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might demonstrate your love through kindness, care and service.
Inspire our hearts and minds that we may discern where and how we can make a difference.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations that we might live in justice and peace.
We ask for courage and wisdom to transform unjust structures of society and to work for reconciliation. Inspire our actions, that we may promote equitable and innovative approaches to the challenges that we share. We remember before you the homeless, the under housed and refugees.
We pray for safe, affordable and adequate housing for all.
You give us land and neighbours and all our relations to teach us to rely on you.
Bless us with faith and hope.
In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Fred Hiltz
Primate,
Anglican Church of Canada

Susan C. Johnson,
National Bishop,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Mark L. MacDonald
National Indigenous Anglican Bishop
Anglican Church of Canada

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Primate endorses Bill C-262 in letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

November 15, 2017 - 8:05pm

Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of a bill that would require all Canadian laws to be in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In the letter, Archbishop Hiltz expressed his support for Bill C-262 on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada.

“As parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement,” the Primate wrote, “I believe we have a common obligation to ensure that genuine reconciliation in Canada becomes a reality. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has stated that the UNDRIP is the key to this reconciliation.”

Outlining the efforts of the church to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the Primate referred to his statement “Let our ‘yes’ be yes” in response to Call to Action No. 48, in which he asked that UNDRIP be read in parishes annually on the Sunday before National Aboriginal Day, and incorporated into baptism and confirmation ceremonies. The statement also established a council of Indigenous elders and youth—now known as the Vision Keepers Council—to monitor how the Anglican Church would honor its commitment to adopt and comply with UNDRIP.

Archbishop Hiltz said that the passage of Bill C-262 would encourage the Government of Canada to live into a response to Calls to Action 43 and 44, which call on all levels of government to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP as their framework for reconciliation, and for the federal government to take concrete steps to achieve the goals of the UN Declaration.

“Trying to move the laws of Canada in harmony with the UN Declaration … I recognize that’s a huge undertaking, and it could take a very long time,” the Primate said. “But we have to begin somewhere and we have to begin sometime, and I think this could be the beginning of that.”

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald applauded the support of the Anglican Church of Canada for Bill C-262.

“We as a church have committed ourselves in a number of ways to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, both in terms of guiding our own behaviour and action, but also as a standard for our nation,” Bishop MacDonald said. “So I think it’s very appropriate that we endorse this bill.”

“If our laws were brought into harmony with the UN Declaration,” he added, “we would be well on our way to a full-hearted experience of reconciliation.”

Reconciliation animator Melanie Delva said that the Primate’s letter reflected the official endorsement of the UN Declaration by General Synod in 2010, in a resolution that also called on the church to urge governments to do the same.

“If we as a society want reconciliation as we say we do, then the UNDRIP needs to be more than simply aspirational,” Delva said.

She pointed to the Marks of Mission and their counsel for Anglicans to “transform unjust structures of society”, noting that Bill C-262 “most certainly calls our government to do that.”

“Reconciliation, at the very least, requires the survival, dignity, and well-being of all people trying to reconcile,” Delva said. “This bill would see that factors such as inter-generational trauma, Indigenous health, and poverty—among other issues—get the serious attention they deserve.  It would also allow for traditional forms of governance, which are critical to self-determination.”

The same issues, she noted, also apply within the church.

“How can we say we as the Body of Christ are whole when part of our body is suffering to this degree?” she asked. “The church needs to be a leader in Indigenous justice in order to seek the healing of the whole body of Christ.”

Anglicans can express their support for Bill C-262 by contacting their MPs—by phone, in person, or in writing—and requesting that they publicly support and vote for the bill, as well as encouraging others to do the same.

Read the Primate’s letter.

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Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 12, 2017

November 13, 2017 - 6:51pm

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 12, 2017.

Council members gathered at 8:45 a.m. at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga.

Orders of the Day

The Very Rev. Peter Wall read out the Orders of the Day.

Marriage Canon Conversation

The Ven. Dr. Lynne McNaughton, chair of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) working group on the marriage canon, introduced a discussion on the marriage canon. In this segment, two pairs of CoGS members sat across from each other and engaged in “modelling conversations”, speaking about their respective backgrounds, views on the proposed changes to the marriage canon, and experience of the vote at General Synod 2016.

After these conversations, McNaughton invited all CoGS members to split into groups according to ecclesiastical province and discuss the process of the conversations they had just heard. In successive discussion periods, they responded to the questions: What worked about this listening process? How would you improve the process? And how might you use the listening process as a resource in your own setting?

Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz thanked McNaughton and the working group for putting together the discussion. The Rev. Canon David Burrows then put forward a motion related to the marriage canon, which was adopted by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that regarding the Second Reading of Resolution A051-R2 (Amendment to Canon XXI) on Marriage in the Church, this Council of General Synod:

  1. Request the Primate and Prolocutor to communicate with the Metropolitans and Provincial Prolocutors, and diocesan bishops and synods, and to encourage full consideration is given prior to General Synod 2019.
  2. Request that the consideration given shall be reported to the Council of General Synod no later than Nov. 1, 2018.

Partner Moment

The first of two “partner moments” related to the Anglican Church of Canada’s full communion partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner, Anglican representative to the National Church Council (NCC) of the ELCIC, briefly recounted the last NCC meeting in the beginning of September, which was almost entirely dedicated to developing a strategic plan for the ELCIC.

Mrs. Pat Lovell, partner to CoGS from the ELCIC, went into further detail on the NCC meeting. The NCC worked on areas such as courageous innovation, healthy church, empowering disciples, and clear theological identity, which ELCIC staff would bring back to their March meeting to continue to refine. The NCC has reduced the size of its council to 12 members, in addition to its executive. The smaller, more intimate group in part reflects declining church attendance.

Lovell touched on highlights from the Lutherans’ commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The theme of the commemoration, “Liberated by God’s Grace”, and one of its subthemes “Human Beings—Not for Sale”, particularly struck Lovell due to its similarity to the Anglican focus on human trafficking. During the previous day’s discussion at CoGS, Lovell was encouraged to hear so much about the need to end human trafficking. She believed that as full communion partners, Anglicans and Lutherans had a chance to make an impact together politically and socially.

As always, Lovell said, she remains impressed by the work of Anglicans related to reconciliation and Indigenous self-determination. She found herself inspired by The Road to Warm Springs and the personal reflections of those who attended. The morning conversations on the marriage canon also reminded her of the sensitive nature of the topic and how important it was for people to be heard, to hear one another, and to walk with one another rather than merely paying lip service to their concerns.

Finally, Lovell praised the presentation by the Rev. Mark Whittall on his experience of a church plant at St. Albans Ottawa. “I thought that was super, because he took a church from nothing and made it into something where all people can participate in the downtown core of Ottawa,” she said. As Lovell prepared to return to her local church in Newmarket, Ont. to take part in a visioning exercises, she invoked the words of Saint Leo the Great: “If you believe it, then act on it.” Lovell ended her presentation by saying she continues to be inspired by the work of the Anglican Church of Canada.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 8

Two CoGS members, McNaughton and Haines-Turner, offered the final personal reflections of the meeting on The Road to Warm Springs.

McNaughton echoed what others had said about what a privilege and honour it was to be present, and commended Anglican Video for documenting the event. Speaking personally, she saw The Road to Warm Springs as a deepening of the inner work she has done as a settler around decolonization, losing the idea of being an honest bystander and accepting the dark side of Canada and the residential schools. She recalled a phrase she wrote in her office: “We will have made significant progress when all Canadians speak of Indigenous ways as just as good as European.”

What McNaughton found particularly hopeful was the will to change. At the moment, the Anglican Church of Canada does not know precisely what self-governance and self-determination will look like, but is still moving forward on that journey. She compared this feeling to the moment in Exodus when people are standing on the edge of the Red Sea and experiencing fear, and God says to Moses, “Tell the people to go forward.”

Haines-Turner noted how The Road to Warm Springs was inspired by the gospel story of The Road to Emmaus, in which disciples on a journey together encounter the risen Christ. It was not long into the national gathering that she began thinking it really felt like a consultation and partnership, in which people were walking together. The Prolocutor acknowledged the graciousness of Indigenous people to even enter into such a conversation and walk together, something that was particularly important for her given the history that was discussed at the event.

Since the gathering, Haines-Turner said, she has been haunted by the image of burning drums and chopping up totem poles, based on accounts of Christion missionaries forcing Indigenous people to physically destroy the symbols of their own culture and beliefs. “It’s such a concrete image of a lack of respect,” the Prolocutor said. Accordingly, having the sense of being able to walk in partnership was something she felt throughout. While it does not change the awful image, she said, it does help her deal with it.

Members took a coffee break from 10:40 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Closing Eucharist

Council members attended a closing Eucharist in the chapel.

Members broke for lunch from noon until 1 p.m.

Partner Moment

Canon Noreen Duncan, representative of the Episcopal Church to CoGS, offered the second “partner moment” of the day. She discussed anti-racism work in her home diocese, the Diocese of New Jersey, which had recently passed a sanctuary resolution—the first of any in the Episcopal Church—allowing it to become a Sanctuary Diocese. That status declares the Diocese of New Jersey to be a place of welcome, refuge, and healing for people targeted for deportation due to their immigration status. Anti-racism training is provided throughout the diocese. The diocese has also participated in work against poverty, viewing the struggles of the poor as connected to the injustice and sin of racism.

Canon David Burrows discussed a visit to Episcopalians in the state of Maryland, where he recounted some of the common heritage and community of faith that bound Maryland and his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Burrows described his personal interactions with Episcopal Church members in other areas of the country and their efforts to cope with tribulations such as recent severe hurricanes.

At the end of his presentation, Canon Burrows performed a version of the “Chicken Dance” to accompanying music, having agreed to do so if council members donated money to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund throughout the meeting. Other CoGS members joined in and danced themselves. Bishop Bruce Myers took the podium to display an envelope that contained $300 raised thus far, and said that donations would continue to be accepted until the end of the meeting. He credited Burrows and fellow CoGS member Mrs. Katie Puxley for coming up with the idea.

2018 Budget Resolution

Bishop Fraser Lawton and Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner put forward a motion on the previous day’s budget, which was adopted by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approves the 2018 budget with a surplus of $29,853.

The Road to Warm Springs 2

After the passing of the resolution, former Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Donna Bomberry facilitated another discussion on The Road to Warm Springs. The goal was to give CoGS an opportunity to discuss what members had heard in the last day and a half about people’s experiences on The Road to Warm Springs, as well as the presentation by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) about the spiritual movement towards an Indigenous self-determining church and the goals that were set out.

Bomberry posed three questions to the table groups:

  • What did you hear in the Road to Warm Springs and the ACIP presentations that you found encouraging?
  • What would you like to know more about?
  • If your dream for self-determination could come true, what would that look like?

Representatives of each table group moved to the microphone after the discussion to summarize the responses of their tables. There was a sense that the whole church was on board and supportive of the goal of moving towards self-determination. Members were heartened by the the leadership of Indigenous Anglicans in developing that plan and the real sense of ownership and pride that was coming out of the reflections on The Road to Warm Springs, and appreciated the fact that the plan looked almost exclusively towards the future.

Many council members wished to learn more details about the specific structures and governance for the self-determining Indigenous church. There was a hope that the Indigenous church would be both self-determining but also fully welcoming to others. One member painted The Road to Warm Springs as a microcosm of that model, as a largely Indigenous gathering where non-Indigenous Anglicans were nevertheless welcomed and made to feel integrated.

Finally, one table group suggested the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop should be an Archbishop in connection with the Indigenous church, and that the Anglican Church of Canada should consider a change to its official crest that would reflect the Indigenous aspect of the church.

Bomberry thanked members for their feedback and collected the papers with their responses.

General Secretary/Budget Scenarios/Planning

General Secretary Michael Thompson’s presentation focused on what he called a conversation that CoGS would need to have for the next while. CoGS, he said, needed to be aware of how the church had achieved balanced budgets in recent years, and to be aware of potential budgetary scenarios in the coming years so as not to be taken aback or surprised.

Since 2010, General Synod has seen more or less stable diocesan income, achieving balanced financial results through long vacancies for various management positions, positions that had been brought to an end for programmatic reasons, and economies within General Synod ministries. New realities, however, meant increasing costs in the years ahead. Some expenses include human trafficking initiatives funded from the Ministry Investment Fund, the full funding of the Reconciliation Animator for five years from existing revenues, new suicide prevention work funded from deferred income, “Corn Soup” documents and the call after The Road to Warm Springs for growing financial commitment to a National Indigenous Spiritual Ministry.

Thompson recounted the priorities and practices outlined in Vision 2019, as well as recommendations from the January 2014 consultation Embodying God’s Call. In terms of revenue, these included developing and strengthening covenants with dioceses, with a review of possible new approaches to apportionment formula (since 2014, the church has reviewed the formula and decided to continue on its current basis for the time being), and developing new financial streams for specific ministries and partnerships, including Indigenous Ministries/ACIP, Council of the North, global partnerships, and the Anglican Journal.

The General Secretary invited table groups to discuss two questions:

  • As we consider funding new ministry initiatives and potential revenue declines, what principles and values should be under consideration?
  • As the Management Team, Financial Management Committee, and CoGS consider the financial future, with whom should they consult?

Table groups wrote down responses after the discussion and the papers were collected for study.

Key Messages/Word to the Church

Planning and Agenda Team co-chair Peter Wall invited council members to suggest 10 words or phrases that described what CoGS did over the course of its meeting.

Key messages members identified were as follows:

  • Thoughtful
  • Enlightening
  • We continued down The Road to Warm Springs
  • Learning to listen
  • We heard both sides of the marriage canon debate
  • Courageous conversations
  • Holy worship
  • Holy manners
  • Heard a lot of thankfulness
  • Remembered the victims of war and prayed for peace
  • Careful stewardship of resources
  • Heard and learned a lot about mission

Closing out the meeting, Archbishop Hiltz asked for the lights to be dimmed and stood behind the altar. Council members had begun the meeting on Friday remembering Leo the Great and his teaching. The New Testament reading of that day’s Eucharist and Bible study was Philippians 2:1-13. In his sermon and report, the Primate had invited members to ponder what St. Paul might say to this young church. The reading from Philippians, he said, clearly informed the conversations and reflections around The Road to Warm Springs and how the church can continue that journey, while the text also appeared onscreen as members entered into reflection on modelling conversations with respect to the marriage canon.

The Primate drew the meeting to an end by re-reading this text so that members could take it with them as holy counsel—not only for themselves and their work in this meeting, but for the life and work of the church in those places from which members came, and to which they now returned.

After the reading of the text, council members held a moment of silence and said a closing prayer before departing.

Members adjourned the meeting at 3 p.m.

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Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 11, 2017

November 12, 2017 - 4:28pm

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 11, 2017.

Council members gathered at 8:45 a.m. at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga.

Orders of the Day

The Rev. Dr. Karen Egan read out the Orders of the Day.

Opening Hymn and Prayer

Members opened the morning session by praying and singing the hymn “Let There Be Light”.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 5

Ms. Siobhan Bennett, a youth member of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), prefaced the morning agenda with a reflection on her experience at The Road to Warm Springs. Aside from the chance to hear Dr. Martin Brokenleg speak about Indigenous spirituality, Bennett said that a highlight of the gathering for her was having everyone in one room and listening to each other. As a planning team member, she thought it was “amazing to see everyone come together to present their thoughts and ideas”.

2018 Budget Presentation

Bishop Fraser Lawton, CoGS representative for the Financial Management Committee (FMC), introduced the next presentation on the General Synod budget for 2018. Briefly recapping the annual fall meeting of the committee in Toronto, Lawton said that trends looking forward to the coming years suggest the church must be mindful of what appears to be the probability of declining income. At the moment, he said, more than 90 per cent of General Synod income comes from dioceses, and it might be wise to think now about critical things we must do to stave off or adjust to the decrease in revenue.

Treasurer and CFO Hanna Goschy presented the 2018 budget. The 2017 budget forecast project a surplus of approximately $27,000, while the 2018 budget featured a surplus of $29,853. Guiding members through the budget document, Goschy pointed to the major sources of revenue and expenses in various departments and ministries, with 93 per cent of net revenues coming from diocesan proportional gifts. She summed up the budget as oriented towards participating in God’s mission, with a “conservative but realistic outlook on revenues.

The FMC believes it is time to review the budget process, and said the coming year would be used to examine the current budget structure and to discern principles to guide future funding decisions, in part to prepare for the expected drop in revenues in the coming years. It was critical for the ministries of General Synod, Goschy said, that dioceses maintain proportional gifts commitments to the national church.“Achieving a balanced budget requires us to be prudent in projecting revenues, vigilant in pursuing revenues, and judicious in managing expenses.”

Council members voted by consensus to adopt the 2018 budget as presented.

Missionary Society

CoGS members voted to temporarily adjourn and reconvene as the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada (MSCC) in order to discuss the budget for the latter. Goschy presented figures for MSCC assets, liabilities, and net assets as of Dec. 31, 2016.

Members voted by consensus to approve the MSCC budget statement and a pair of related resolutions, before voting to adjourn and reconvene as CoGS.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Board of Management approves the Financial Statements of the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016 and that any two Officers are authorized the sign the statements on the Board’s behalf.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Board of Management of the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada approve the following changes to the Car Loan Application:

  • Change reference to “clergyman” to “cleric”;
  • Increase the maximum loans to $16,000;
  • Increase the period of repayment to 48 months; and
  • Remove the requirements for a borrower’s lien note.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the meeting of the Board of Management of the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada be terminated.

Pension Committee Resolutions

Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner and Chancellor David Jones presented resolutions from the Budget Committee. Council members voted by consensus to adopt all three resolutions.

Resolution

Be it resolved that The Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to make the following amendments to Regulations 1, 5 and 20 of the General Synod Pension Plan Regulations (Canon VIII) effective January 1, 2017.

Resolution

Be it resolved that The Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to make the following amendments to Regulations 1 and 3 of the Lay Retirement Plan (Canon IX) effective January 1, 2017.

Resolution

Be it resolved that The Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to make the following amendments to Regulations C.3.2A and D.3 of LTD Regulations effective September 18, 2017.

Interfaith Relationships

Bishop Bruce Myers gave a brief presentation recalling that General Synod in 2016 had considered a resolution that would have removed a prayer for the conversion of the Jews from the Book of Common Prayer.

That resolution ultimately did not pass, but Bishop Myers suggested that there could hae been any reasons why this did not pass. One reason could have been a lack of context for voting members and that CoGS should lay the groundwork for General Synod to consider a similar resolution again in 2019. He highlighted, in his own context, how removing such prayers affect interfaith relationships, particularly with people of the Jewish faith. During a discussion period, one CoGS member noted that she was sometimes unable to worship in places with the Book of Common Prayer merely because of the inclusion of this single prayer.

With the general support from CoGS, Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz suggested that CoGS should take a lead in inviting General Synod 2019 to revisit this matter in a way that would be much more thorough in terms of background, contemporary context, and the solemn obligation of the church to be sensitive to dialogue with people of other faiths. A motion to do so was carried by consensus.

Members took a coffee break from 10:15 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.

Remembrance Day Service

To commemorate Remembrance Day, council members held a special worship service in the chapel. LCdr. the Rev. Beverley Kean-Newhook offered a meditation in which she recounted her experience providing pastoral care to a wounded Canadian soldier in Afghanistan.

Council members concluded the service by singing “God Save the Queen” and placed poppies before a cross in front of the altar.

Members broke for lunch from noon until 1:30 p.m.

Bible Study

The afternoon session began with a Bible study. Table groups read and reflected upon Matthew 25:1-13 before discussing the passage among themselves.

Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples

Members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), including National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, the Rev. Vincent Solomon, Mrs. Grace Delaney, Ms. Caroline Chum, and Ms. Donna Bomberry continued the afternoon session with a presentation on the work of ACIP since The Road to Warm Springs.

Since the Pinawa gathering, Bishop MacDonald said, ACIP had met to shape both its response to Randall Fairey’s report on the event as well as to prepare its presentation for CoGS. In relation to the latter, ACIP recommended that Bishop MacDonald explain to the council details of his position as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, and to discuss preparations for the coming ACIP meeting in February 2018 as well as the next meeting of Sacred Circle in August.

The idea of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop had been spoken of at all Sacred Circles until 2005, when Sacred Circle called on then-Primate Andrew Hutchinson to give jurisdictional authority to 15 Indigenous bishops. In response, Archbishop Hutchinson suggested one bishop to serve in a kind of transition role. After a lengthy process, Bishop MacDonald was selected to be the first National Indigenous Anglican Bishop.

Immediately after the announcement MacDonald became very ill for several months, and used the time to watch Anglican Video presentations of every Sacred Circle going back to 1988. Through this process, he gathered from these meetings that the job of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop as imagined by the elders had five basic components. The National Indigenous Anglican Bishop would:

  • represent Indigenous people in the larger church and represent their ideas, their interests, and ideals;
  • act as an interpreter of the larger church back to Indigenous people;
  • act as bishop for Mother Earth, reflecting the unique and primary relationship of Indigenous people with the land;
  • serve in a transitional way to act as a “midwife”, facilitating the birth of a self-determining Indigenous Anglican church within the larger Anglican Church of Canada;
  • represent Indigenous identity, both inside and outside the church.

Those five components have guided Bishop MacDonald’s work ever since as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. To give council members a better idea of what his position involves, the bishop described in detail his activities over the previous month.

During that period, some of his work included travelling to Manitoba to perform services at St. James Church in Thomson; visiting Kingston, Ont. to participate in a Queen’s University panel discussion on the relationship between reconciliation ending corporal punishment of children; meeting with the House of Bishops; travelling to Winnipeg to plan an Urban Indigenous Ministry consultation in spring; speaking on moral formation and the character of knowledge during a Toronto consultation on synthetic biology; and flying to central Newfoundland to speak with thousands of people, including hundreds of Anglicans, who are now officially status under the Indian Act and are waking up to their Indigenous identity. Bringing the month to a close, he met with the Sacred Gathering of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh—their equivalent of a diocesan synod—and assisted Bishop Mamawka, both as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and in his role as her helper in northern Manitoba.

Ginny Doctor discussed some of the work that ACIP had done since the last Sacred Circle. She noted that several members had experienced health issues which had had an impact on their work. A major focus of ACIP is raising up new leaders, and it recently established the Young Ministers Program to bring young adults into ministry. “Most people say youth are our future,” Doctor said. “But I believe the youth are our present … We have to teach them.”

At their last meeting, which took place weeks before the present meeting of CoGS, ACIP members worked on a draft document related to a self-determining Indigenous church. Doctor stressed that the draft was purely a working document. No plan is ever cast in stone, she said, since no one ever knows exactly what will happen and we must leave ourselves open to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

The ACIP members present then read aloud the draft document, The Spiritual Movement Towards an Indigenous Self-Determined Church: A Coalition, Confederacy, Council within the Anglican Church of Canada. The document contained five goals representing Indigenized forms of the Marks of Mission, objectives related to those goals, and immediate steps for achieving those objectives.

  • Goal A: To create an Indigenous spiritual mission and ministry in accordance with traditional teachings and the dreams of the elders. Objectives: Provide education and information for Indigenous communities to share the Good News, and arrange an ACIP meeting.
  • Goal B: To prepare leaders for ministry to teach, baptize, and nurture new believers. Objectives: Increase the knowledge of traditional and Christian teachings and values, and increase stewardship in Indigenous communities.
  • Goal C: To respond to human needs by loving service. Objectives: Continue to provide suicide prevention programs and Indigenous Catechist Training in Indigenous communities.
  • Goal D: To seek to transform unjust structures in church and society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. Objectives: Increase support to Indigenous non-stipendiary clergy; change the church structure by amending Canon XXII to move further towards an “entity” or fifth province; promote pathways to reconciliation in Indigenous communities; continue to collaborate with others in Church House and with ecumenical partners in unjust issues impacting Indigenous communities; particularly missing and murdered Indigenous women and human trafficking; and explore the possibility of federal/provincial incorporation for Sacred Circle.
  • Goal E: To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Objectives: Honour traditional teachings by incorporating them into meetings and resources, and speak on behalf of Mother Earth as determined by the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop from Sacred Circles to address issues such as hydro-fracking, climate change, and mining.

The document also contained six steps for nonviolent violent change, which MacDonald and Doctor read aloud. These steps included information gathering, education, personal commitment, discussion/negotiation, direct action, and reconciliation.

During a discussion period, Bishop MacDonald briefly touched on potential different models for self-determining Indigenous church, noting that consultation will be key and that the draft document is only part of a larger plan. The draft document itself, he said, had been affected “almost 100 per cent” by The Road to Warm Springs and largely emerged as a result of the gathering.

Human Trafficking Report Back

Ryan Weston, lead animator of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice, followed ACIP’s presentation with an update on the church’s work to combat human trafficking and modern slavery since the last meeting of CoGS.

Following the meeting and its passing of a resolution that called on the church to raise awareness of human trafficking, an Anglican reference group was established. During their first meeting in September, the reference group brought in individuals in to share their expertise on human trafficking, gaining valuable information on the scope and nature of the issue within Canada.

Among other facts, Weston noted that 50 per cent of girls being trafficked in Canada are Indigenous, and the average age that women become involved in south trafficking is 14. Participants in the Temporary Foreign Worker program, who work in all sectors of the economy, are often exploited. The status of these workers in Canada is often tied to their specific employer, leaving many unable to speak up about their working conditions. Members of the reference group also learned about domestic and international projects aiming to protect those vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.

Recognizing that we as a church cannot tackle every form of human trafficking, the reference group pondered where we are best positioned and engaged currently. They believed the church should focus on the issue of missing and murdered women and girls, as well as men and boys, by continuing to find ways to support Indigenous communities on that issue, particularly as a federal inquiry on the issue moves forward. Directly connected to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is the issue of forced sexual exploitation. In addition, the reference group believed the church could take part in constructive work related to participants in the Temporary Foreign Worker program.

The reference group has identified some key partners in moving forward in this work, some of whom the church has existing relationships with. As members continue to work out specific next steps, they have discussed the possibility of regional events across the country, with Bishop Michael Bird of the Diocese of Niagara having already offered to host such an event. They have also been in communication with staff members at the Anglican Communion office.

Importantly, Weston said, Anglicans must continue to bear witness to the crime of human trafficking, which many do not hear about enough in Canada. We must remind everyone about the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, and continue to develop specific advocacy pieces as we identify incomplete policy areas, services for victims, etc. We should engage the church and continue to offer resources or curate resources that already exist, including liturgical resources, since prayer is an important part of taking action.

Responding to the presentation, the Primate affirmed Weston’s description of human trafficking as a “crime against humanity” —one that struck to the very heart of our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every human being. “Human trafficking is an affront to the dignity of men and women and boys and girls,” the Primate said, having spoken at length about the subject in his address the previous week to the Ottawa diocesan synod. He noted that trafficking is a global issue, and that the Anglican Church of Canada belongs to the worldwide Anglican Communion, recalling Resolution 15.10 from the Anglican Consultative Council in 2012 that called on every province in the communion to confront human trafficking and make sure people are educated about it.

Human trafficking also directly reflects the commitment of the church to Indigenous ministries. “You cannot talk about human trafficking and missing and murdered women and girls as though they’re separate issues,” the Primate said, reiterating a statement from his Ottawa address: “They’re intertwined, and the tragedy is right in front of us.” Former Primate Michael Peers once said that the church’s commitment to Indigenous ministries is “for the long haul”. Likewise, Archbishop Hiltz said, the struggle to end human trafficking is also a call on our church for the long haul. He expressed gratitude to everyone in the Anglican Church of Canada and among its partners who were helping the church move forward in addressing the issue.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 6

Weston concluded by offering the sixth personal reflection on The Road to Warm Springs. Agreeing with everything said in the prior reflections, he said he felt privileged to be present. The experience that was most new for Weston was hearing so many of the languages of these lands being spoken in one room. Growing up, like most settler peoples, he learning about Indigenous people not as people currently living and thriving, but in a very “historical” way. As a result, the idea that languages maintain themselves and persevere never occurred to him until he was an adult.

For Weston, to be in a room and hear that contemporary linguistic reality so many times and in so many ways was very profound. He saw it as a profound demonstration of resiliency and determination that was quite profound—one that helped him recognize the resiliency and determination of Indigenous Anglicans themselves as they continue to move forward in the journey towards self-determination.

Members took a coffee break from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Market Place #2

After the break, CoGS members split into groups for three different marketplace discussions. The discussion topics included Answering the Call(s)!, #EngagingYouth #InYourChurch #ACC, and Equipping the Saints.

Members broke for hospitality and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Marriage Canon Response

Beginning the evening session, the Ven. Dr. Lynne McNaughton, chair of the CoGS working group on the marriage canon, said the working group had become aware that part of what it needed to do was facilitate conversation in dioceses and provinces on the proposed changes to the marriage canon, as well as preparation for General Synod 2019 to clarify the process of the resolution presented.

Accordingly, she asked council members to tell them what needed clarification, to help prepare a “facts” sheet as a resource. Members split into groups by ecclesiastical province for 20 minutes of discussion, during which they wrote down any questions they might have about the process leading up to or at General Synod 2019 and what needed clarification.

Afterwards, provincial group representatives offered up some of the responses. Hearing their responses, Archbishop Hiltz discerned three basic categories of question:

  • What do we need to pay attention to going into General Synod?
  • What do we need to pay attention to within General Synod in terms of the process, and what actually can happen to a resolution once it’s on the floor?
  • How do we come out of that General Synod in terms of being attentive to one another pastorally, remaining together as a church no matter what the outcome of resolution is?

To answer many of these questions, Chancellor David Jones spoke at length on the minutiae of voting rules and procedures for resolutions and amendments at General Synod.

CoGS Planning Team co-chair, the Very Rev. Peter Wall, asked if before the end of the present council meeting, members could give consideration to a resolution that would ask the Primate and Prolocutor to communicate with metropolitan bishops and bring forward concerns about their responsibility around provincial synods to consider this matter and to keep them up-to-date on the actions of CoGS. The Chancellor suggested referring this communication to dioceses as well, and Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner said she would take this suggestion to the resolutions committee.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 7

The Rev. Vincent Solomon offered the final reflection of the day on The Road to Warm Springs. He called the gathering “a very healing time and wonderful place to be”, driven by the knowledge that all participants were of one mind in the determination to get on with the process of Indigenous self-determination within the Anglican Church of Canada.

Such feelings were a stark contrast to what Solomon had experienced one year prior after General Synod. In the immediate aftermath of the vote on Resolution A-051-R2 regarding proposed changes to the marriage canon, an electronic voting error briefly made it appear that the resolution had not passed by the required two-thirds majority vote in all three orders, and emotions were running high.

As an Indigenous priest, Solomon said, many people came up to him and blamed him for the failure of marriage canon resolution—to the extent, he added, where “I didn’t feel particularly safe.” Many Indigenous members of General Synod had given away cloths which were now thrown back in their faces and on their tables because the resolution had failed. In addition, Solomon did not feel that his cultural prerogatives and procedures were followed or that his elders were treated very well.

After that experience, being invited to The Road to Warm Springs was difficult for Solomon. He doubted whether he should attend and feared that many of the same things that happened at General Synod would happen again.

Instead, he experienced a pleasant surprise in Pinawa.

“I saw once again the church that I fell in love with … the church that had guided me and moulded me into the Christian that I am today, a church that has amazing foundations, a church that has a heart and the lordship of Jesus Christ at its very centre,” Solomon said. “I saw people of different colours and backgrounds, theologies, sexualities, come together and be one in their deliberations, in their way of talking to one another, in their holy manners. That’s what I feel was there.”

“My hope for 2019 is that those of us who were there will have learned … that it is possible to be of one mind and one body and one purpose,” he added. “Hopefully, people like me who have been hurt will once again rise up and take the mantle of Christ into the world once again so that we are seen to be who we are supposed to be.”

Holden Evening Prayer

Council concluded the evening session with Holden Evening Prayer in the chapel.

Members enjoyed a social from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m.

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 11, 2017 appeared first on Anglican Church of Canada.

Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 10, 2017

November 11, 2017 - 6:00pm

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: November 10, 2017.

Council members gathered at 8:45 a.m. at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga.

Opening Eucharist and Primate’s Report

Members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) began their meeting with an opening worship service and Eucharist. During the service, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, combined his sermon with a report to council.

In his report, the Primate recalled the great joy he felt in July of being present for the 200th anniversary of the church he grew up in, Christ Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Visiting the church and celebrating the laying of its cornerstone, his mind was flooded with memories of the people who had such an influence on his early life and call to ministry. The upper hall of the church contained a copy of the book Letters to Young Churches by J.B. Phillips, which helps introduce the letters of St. Paul to young Christians. Seeing the book prompted Archbishop Hiltz to wonder: If Paul were to write such a letter to Anglican Church of Canada, how would it read?

The Primate noted that the conclusion of the present council meeting would mark the halfway point of the current triennium. With General Synod 2019 looming on the horizon, members of the church must be mindful of who we are and what we are about. In a recent speech at the Synod of the Diocese of Ottawa, Archbishop Hiltz quoted the World Council of Churches document The Church: Towards a Common Vision, which describes the church as drawing life from the gospel while still needing to regularly examine itself and discover anew the direction of its journey. With that day’s worship commemorating Pope Leo I, the Primate invoked Leo’s renowned teaching ability, which never divorced Christian doctrine from living—always answering the question “What should we believe?” by in turn asking “How then should we act?”

Across the church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Primate saw a new emphasis on discipleship, with the 2016 Anglican Consultative Council calling for a Season of Intentional Discipleship by Anglican provinces around the globe. He highlighted the continuing influence of Anglican heritage, characterized by qualities that include a questioning spirit, allowing space for ambiguity, and embracing diversity in unity.

Archbishop Hiltz discussed a recent visit by representatives of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), who visited several dioceses during a two-week tour of Canada in September. In doing so, they provided an outsiders’ perspective on the Anglican Church of Canada, noting the commitment of the Canadian church to addressing issues faced by Indigenous peoples, helping refugees, and fighting human trafficking. Canon Grace Kaiso, general secretary of CAPA, acknowledged that the Canadian church does not wait for people to come to it, but actively reaches out to communities, challenging a perception of many Anglicans in Africa that “the church in Canada is dying.”

The latest conference of the Anglican Indigenous Network, hosted in Six Nations, was another opportunity for Canadian Anglicans to hear the perspectives of their foreign counterparts. Representatives who attended the conference showed considerable interest in work related to truth and reconciliation in Canada, particularly in the Anglican Church of Canada. They would also contend, the Primate said, that reconciliation without self-determination would be incomplete—reflecting one of the first statements out of the Road to Warm Springs gathering in Pinawa, Manitoba. A report from the AIN conference expressed support for Bill C-262, which would require Canadian laws to be in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Returning to the question of how Paul would view the Anglican Church of Canada, the Primate believed that Paul might reiterate the counsel he gave to the Galatians—to put on the garments of God’s chosen people, to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). In the council’s deliberation on the Road to Warm Springs at its present meeting, Paul might urge us to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). In the ongoing work of the Anglican Healing Fund, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), and Anglican Foundation, he might tell us to “not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9) while reminding us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Finally, the Primate concluded, Paul might pray in the same way he did for the Ephesians—by praying that our church might understand the incredible greatness of God’s power and trust in it; that we might have the power to comprehend the extent of God’s love for us is; that we be filled with this knowledge; and that it may be known to the world through our own lives and actions.

Welcome, Opening Formalities, and Orders of the Day

Following the worship service, Archbishop Hiltz welcomed council members, guests, and officers to the present meeting and listed regrets. Planning and Agenda Team co-chair the Rev. Dr. Karen Egan read out the Orders of the Day, and Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner listed all e-ballots that had been conducted since the last meeting.

CoGS members adopted the minutes of their previous meeting by consensus vote before approving the agenda of the present meeting.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 1

Throughout the meeting, a select group of members who attended the Road to Warm Springs provided two-minute reflections on their experiences of the gathering.

Reconciliation Animator Melanie Delva was the first to offer a reflection. She expressed her gratitude at being invited to such a gathering, and pointed to one particular highlight: the signing of the call to the whole church that emerged from the meeting. “The tears that were in people’s eyes as they signed the Call from Warm Springs was really what struck my soul,” she said.

Members took a coffee break from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

General Synod Archives

Archivist Nancy Hurn resumed the meeting with a presentation on the General Synod Archives, which was established in 1927 to collect information and records of national significance. Many archival records, documents, and photographs related to Anglican-run residential schools have now been sent to the Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Hurn discussed the various kinds of records in the archives and the individuals and organizations who often access them, such as academic researchers, historians, and genealogists. She concluded with a demonstration of how to use the online database for the General Synod Archives.

Anglican Journal and CIRC Working Group Report

The Rev. Dr. Karen Egan introduced a presentation by the Communication and Information Resources coordinating committee’s joint working group on publications, providing an update and discussion on potential changes to distribution of diocesan newspapers and the Anglican Journal. Canon Ian Alexander delivered the presentation on behalf of the joint working group.

In his report, Alexander related how the establishment of the working group followed a request from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land pointing to the need to more clearly understand current and future trends in diocesan newspaper distribution and their potential impact on distribution of the Anglican Journal. Forming the group also provided an opportunity to revisit and test assumptions about the Journal in light of financial realities and the need to rethink communications strategy.

The joint working group made an initial presentation at the June 2017 meeting of CoGS and has four surveys currently in field, distributed to diocesan publishers (i.e. bishops), diocesan editors, CoGS members, and senior staff. Having heard from half the editors, the group still plans to hold one-on-one interviews with selected respondents, and may distribute future surveys to all members of General Synod. Additional research and analysis may involve looking general media usage trends, business modelling, and meeting with the Anglican Editors Association. The working group hopes to present an interim report with options to CoGS in spring 2018, followed by a final report with recommendations in the fall of 2018.

At the end of the presentation, Alexander posed two discussion topics to council members. The first asked CoGS what criteria the working group should bear in mind as it develops options and recommendations for the future distribution of diocesan publications and the Anglican Journal, what factors should guide its choices, and whether some of these were more important than others.

After five minutes of discussion in table groups, members put forward various criteria:

  • Cost, value, effectiveness, and target audience;
  • Alternate models for distribution;
  • Ease of print and accessibility;
  • Diversity across the country, realizing that “one size does not fit all”;
  • Sustainability for maintaining a useful model
  • Need for flexibility
  • Being mindful of users who are not online;
  • Hearing from broad representations of Anglicans, including through a physical survey.

The second discussion topic related to the Anglican Journal and its mandate from General Synod to be “a national newspaper of interest to the members of the Anglican Church of Canada, with an independent editorial policy and not being an official voice of or for the church.” Alexander asked CoGS members how important they believed it was for that mandate to continue, as well as how important they believed it was for diocesan newspapers and the Anglican Journal to continue to be mailed together to all Anglicans in their dioceses, free of charge.

In response, council members suggested that the mandate of the Journal needs to reflect diversity across the country and that editorial independence remains important, though some suggested that the mandate was not understood widely. Some highlighted editorial confusion, as most diocesan newspapers are not independent, while others questioned the value of independence and how the Anglican Journal fit into overall communications strategy. Suggestions including clarifying grant criteria and liability, exploring alternative mandates, and maintaining synergy in both directions for both the Journal and diocesan newspapers.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 2

The second moment of reflection on the Road to Warm Springs came from Ms. Caroline Chum, a member of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) who provided additional context for the gathering by discussing some of the previous work of the ACIP. She said that there was no single highlight of the gathering, but that “the whole event was wonderful.”

Members broke for lunch from noon until 1:30 p.m.

Bible Study

The meeting resumed after lunch with a Bible study. Table groups read Philippians 2:1-13 and discussed the meaning of the passage among themselves.

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

The work of PWRDF was the subject of the next presentation, as delivered by executive director Will Postma. Beginning with a brief history of the origins of PWRDF following the 1958 Springhill mine disaster, Postma discussed the current work of the organization in responding to emergencies globally and in Canada. He cited figures describing 2017 as seeing the highest level of human suffering since the Second World War in the face of the ongoing refugee crisis (nearly 60 million people around the refugees are now considered refugees), natural disasters, wars, and “stress multipliers” such as climate change that generate new tensions and exacerbate existing ones, particularly with regard to resource management, land availability and use.

In the face of such widespread need, PWRDF strives to work with local churches and communities, forming partnerships to enhance the effectiveness of its services, engaging with local governments and national leadership in affected countries, and ensuring gender parity in participation and decision-making.

Postma quoted former UN Special Advisor Jennifer Welsh, Canada’s 2016 Massey lecturer, to describe the current situation for relief agencies: “donors are fatigued, refugees are exhausted. Despite the worsening nature of world’s crises, metrics reveal growing public fatigue, a decline in interest, and a bigger gap between funds needed and funds given. In response, PWRDF has made increasing appeals to its Anglican constituency for funds, sending out three times as many appeals for emergency response in 2017 as it did the previous year.

This year also saw an increase of funds spent on emergency work. Among the emergencies that PWRDF has directed funds are mudslides in Sierra Leone, floods in Nepal and Bangladesh, an earthquake in Mexico, hurricanes in Cuba, Haiti, Dominica, Antigua, and the United States. Canadian Anglicans have also provided $379,000 for famine relief through PWRDF to address drought, hunger, and famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. PWRDF coordinates its efforts with ACT Alliance and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to leverage and maximize impact, and Postma described a growing recognition of faith-based organizations as important actors.

There is a growing interest for PWRDF, he said, to do more to respond to emergencies in Canada such as the 2011 wildfires in Slave Lake, 2013 fires in Calgary, 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray, and 2017 wildfires in British Columbia. Many such emergency situations across Canada are directly related to climate change.

The Rev. Gillian Hoyer, a PWRDF board member, briefly outlined future plans for the fund. PWRDF is currently in the process of developing its next strategic plan, which will cover the years 2019 through 2024. It also recently concluded an Independent Institutional Evaluation, which offered a set of recommendations for improvement, including for domestic emergency preparedness and response in Canada.

A subsequent table discussion allowed council members to ask questions and provide feedback on the PWRDF report.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 3

In the third reflection on the Road to Warm Springs, Mrs. Grace Delaney described how privileged she felt to be part of the Pinawa gathering. “I came with an open mind and found such freedom to be part of that gathering we went to,” Delaney said. She recalled the bittersweet feeling of seeing Indigenous Anglicans who had signed the 1994 Covenant now signing the Call from Warm Springs; while there was a feeling of sadness at those who had died in the interim and could not be present, Delaney also felt a sense of optimism, “looking around and being hopeful of people that were willing to stand with us.”

She acknowledged the patience of Indigenous people who waited so many years to see movement within the church on the issue of self-determination. That process is now seeing some movement—in part, she told CoGS, “because of people like you who are willing to have an open mind and see us as part of you.”

Members took a coffee break from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Market Place #1

Following the break, council members broke into separate market place discussions, which featured three themes: the Anglican Healing Fund, the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, and the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue.

Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice

Bishop Riscylla Shaw, chair of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, offered a brief update on the work of the commission, which last presented a report at the June 2017 meeting of CoGS.

Members of the commission plan to meet the week after the present meeting of CoGS to discuss the Road to Warm Springs and finding ways of rooting the Doctrine of Discovery out of the church, among other topics. With 2018 marking the 25th anniversary of the apology of then-Primate Michael Peers for Anglican participation in the residential school system, the commission will discuss what that anniversary means for the nation and the fabric of our church.

Following Bishop Shaw’s update, General Secretary Michael Thompson took the podium to declare that gifts designated to the Anglican Healing Fund from individuals and dioceses had brought the total amount raised for the Healing Fund to approximately $700,000. “We are, I think, well on our way to our goal of $1,000,000” for the year, Thompson said. He thanked General Synod staff members for their role in bolstering fundraising efforts—in particular Healing Fund Coordinator Esther Wesley, who received a standing ovation from council members.

Members broke for hospitality and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Conversation with Mark Whittall

Bishop John Chapman kicked off the evening session with his introduction of the Rev. Mark Whittall, who discussed his shepherding of a church plant in the Diocese of Ottawa. Whittall is currently incumbent of St. Albans Ottawa, a congregation that describes itself as a “Spirit-led, Christ-centred, contemporary urban church”.

Noting that society and culture have changed very much in the 21st century, Whittall describes how he approached the task of trying to find a new model for “being church” after Bishop Chapman called on him to help set up the church plant at St. Albans. With so many Anglican congregations across the country, Whittall said, there is room for many different ways of expressing church, and St. Albans offered a valuable opportunity for “research and development” in that regard.

Early on, the congregation at St. Albans tried out a range of different ideas. They experimented with new approaches to social media, tried having a slam poetry night rather than a sermon, and embraced eclectic forms of music. Another experiment involved the use of open space, by turning the floor over to the congregation itself after the homily and giving them discussion questions. In this way, Whittall said, many members of the congregation got to know each other in the middle of the service. Meanwhile, he added, “social justice became part of our DNA”, following an initial planning meeting in which Whittall and his team aimed to reach out to young adults and intentionally engage with contemporary issues.

Communications was also one of the central tasks for the fledgling church plant. For three or four weeks, Whittall’s team immersed themselves in branding, creating a logo, putting together a welcome video, and setting up a website. On an Easter Sunday, they launched St. Albans on Facebook, declaring the date of the first worship service and inviting members of the community to start meeting and join their team to develop the congregation. In response, a diverse group of 18 people attended the first meeting at a neighbourhood pub, and weekly meetings subsequently took place there very Wednesday as the congregation tried to discern its mission, by answering the question of how God was calling them to proclaim the Good News in their time and place.

After continuing to meet weekly, praying together and individually, walking around the neighbourhood and getting a sense of its demographics, the team quickly came up with a mission focus. While striving to be an all-ages church rooted in the neighbourhood, St. Albans would focus especially on students, young adults, and homeless individuals. Illustrating the success of the church in reaching these individuals and bringing different groups together, Bishop Chapman described a visit to St. Albans in which a homeless man from the area joined children during the liturgy. “No one gave it a thought”, the bishop said, adding that the man subsequently serenaded the congregation with a rendition of Amazing Grace during the Eucharist. 

The Road to Warm Springs 1

The last major item of the evening agenda served as the first part of a discussion on the Road to Warm Springs. By the glow of candlelight at the altar, Archbishop Hiltz, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, event co-chairs Randall Fairey, and Caroline Chum read out the titular Indigenous translation of the Road to Emmaus story, which is known as the Road to Warm Springs.

CoGS members then watched a 24-minute video documenting the Pinawa gathering, produced by Anglican Video. The video featured opening remarks from the Primate and Bishop MacDonald; gospel-based discipleship; participation in mapping exercises; the sharing of stories, music, and history; eight key ministry moments; a presentation on Indigenous spirituality by Dr. Martin Brokenleg; report from a focus group tasked by Sacred Circle 2015 with looking into the possibility of a fifth ecclesiastical province; and the Primate’s final speech and signing of the Call from Warm Springs document, which committed the church to a renewal of the 1994 Covenant and to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples in their quest for self-determination.

After the video, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and the Primate both gave personal reflections on the Road to Warm Springs gathering.

Our society and our church, Bishop MacDonald said, have been infected by the systemic evils of racism and colonialism. Long after it became unacceptable to express outright prejudice towards Indigenous people and people of colour, these evils continue to shape people’s behaviour, institutions, and ideas. They shape people through fear and habitual ways of thinking and acting, to the point where it becomes very difficult and elusive to try and counter these ideas.

Good can emerge when a group of oppressed people decide that they will no longer be victims, but survivors—so long, he stressed, as it the oppressed who make this choice and not the oppressors. When the oppressed make the choice to reclaim their humanity, it can influence people, institutions, and ideas. Having experienced systemic evil, such changes allow us to begin to “experience what we might call systemic good,” Bishop MacDonald said. “As people become free of some of the internal forms of colonization and racism, they begin to live their lives in way that is positive that has positive impact on everybody and on the system.”

For the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, the Road to Warm Springs was part of a larger trajectory of healing and reconciliation going on in life of our church and society. However, it is not a done deal, and now is not a time to celebrate the end of colonialism. Rather, it is a time for us to renew ourselves in this struggle, while understanding the positive changes that have resulted. At the Road to Warm Springs, Bishop MacDonald saw the beginning, or the continuation, of healing from the systemic evils of racism and colonialism—a healing that affects both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Thanking the planning team who put together the Pinawa gathering, Archbishop Hiltz stressed that it is the deep commitment on the part of Indigenous leaders, elders and youth to address the crisis in many communities, and to put in place a ministry plan, that is at the heart of the church’s ongoing conversation.

“It’s not all about structures,” the Primate said. “It’s about ministry, and the structures that can support that ministry.” Invoked the words of Bishop MacDonald’s concept paper on self-governance that described “a self-determining church, a church of living hope in the midst of so much pain and despair,” he challenged those present: “Can we be that kind of a church?”

The Primate noted a sense of urgency behind the need for continued training of Indigenous clergy, the need to expand conversations about governance changes and funding Indigenous ministries. He sensed that when people look back at the Pinawa gathering 25 years from now, they will remember the Road to Warm Springs as another watershed moment in the long journey towards healing and reconciliation. Coming out of Pinawa, the Primate discerned that it was not time for a new covenant, but to keep working on the Covenant of 1994 and the vision enshrined within it. He hoped that the dominant headline coming out of General Synod in 2019 would be that it was a moment to celebrate another major step on the road to self-determination.

You Are My Witnesses: Moment 4

Bishop Bruce Myers offered the final reflection of the day on the Road to Warm Springs.

Though those looking for “constitutions and canonical-type things” may have left disappointed, Bishop Myers said, the Pinawa gathering was primarily about meeting people, listening to them and their experiences, and trying to give living expression to what emerged from those conversations. The Road to Warm Springs was not so much about creating new structures—although that may be one of the outcomes—as it was about continuing the journey towards healing and reconciliation together. Though the end of that road might not always be clear, he said, we know Christ is at its centre and can continue to journey down that road together in faith, hope, respect, and love.

Evening Prayer

Planning Team co-chair Peter Wall concluded the evening session by leading council members in evening prayer.

Members enjoyed an evening social from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m.

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Regional stewardship gatherings anchor giving in the gospel

November 7, 2017 - 2:30pm

Mention the word “stewardship” and the first thoughts that come to mind for many Christians may be raising money, or effectively managing the resources of a church or parish.

For Wendy Fletcher, president and vice-chancellor of Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, stewardship is a core element of Christian identity and its relationship to the world—a theme she explored this fall as a plenary speaker at one of two major stewardship gatherings organized by the Anglican Church of Canada with local partners.

Wendy Fletcher. Photo by Anglican Video

In regards to stewardship, Fletcher said, “The first question cannot be, in this generation, how do we help our institution survive? Our first question has to be what does it mean to be faithful stewards of the gospel—which means, what does it mean to live Jesus as Lord rather than say Jesus is Lord?”

The need to link stewardship to gospel values was a common thread through much of the stewardship gatherings, which featured multiple workshops along with plenary speakers. Diocesan stewardship representatives and parish priests were among those attending the gatherings.

The first event, Generosity Conversations, took place from Sept. 27-29 in Saskatoon, Sask. and was presented by the Stewardship Education Network for Development. The second, With Our Thanks and Praise Stewardship Gathering, took place from Oct. 2-4 in Chateauguay, Que.

The importance of stewardship today

While the church has always had a need to pay its bills and fund its mission—as workshop facilitator and Executive Archdeacon Alan Perry noted, “The disciples had a treasurer”—changing times have brought a new level of importance to stewardship.

“It’s a lonely time to be the church,” Fletcher said. “It’s a lonely time to be a Christian … I spent 14 years in B.C. where the decline of Christianity is more advanced than it is here in Ontario, and in other parts of the country, and it’s a lonely business … You have this faith and you want to be responsible to it and for this institution that we’ve inherited and that we love, and yet trying to find partners for that work is an incredibly difficult business.”

Stewardship, she added, is “partnership based on a shared commitment to the well-being of the world, and the care of the gospel as a care for the world in new ways.”

Fellow plenary speaker Dean Andrew Asbil, who spoke at both the Saskatoon and Chateauguay events, said that stewardship is “part of our DNA”, a form of ministry that Christians have been called to from the very beginning of the church.

“Living as a community means that we’re sharing not just the work of ministry, but we’re also sharing in the expense and being generous,” Asbil said.

Andrew Asbil. Photo by Anglican Video

While suggesting that Christians may have been more comfortable talking about stewardship in the past, Asbil argued that the new century had provided “clarity” about the need to re-emphasize stewardship.

“I’ve been ordained for 30 years now, and one of the things that I was never trained to do in seminary and had to learn by trial and error was really talking about money,” he said.

“Hospitals do it well and universities do it well and the United Way does it well and all these other charities do it extremely well, and churches tend to shy away from it … We tend to become very passive, as opposed to also being able to say to our parishioners, ‘Have we got an opportunity for you to be generous for a ministry,’ and we need to be able to talk about it.”

In his presentation, Asbil highlighted a biblical passage from 2 Corinthians: “The one who sows sparingly reaps sparingly, and God loves a cheerful giver.” Discussing what it means to be a “cheerful giver”, he pointed to qualities such as giving from abundance, understanding that everything you receive is from God, offering as well as receiving, and inviting congregations to be “storytellers of generosity”.

“If people and members of the community are invited inside that conversation and participate in building the ministry and mission, they are more apt to be more generous,” he said.

Workshop presentations

To encourage further conversation and help participants build relationships, each gathering featured a variety of workshops that explored particular aspects of stewardship.

Some workshops emphasized the spiritual dimensions of stewardship. Facilitating his workshop “Discipleship Development Before Spiritual Education,” Canon Terry Leer described the primacy of God’s mission and developing disciples as key to helping congregations escape the mire of protectionist thinking, rooted in a desire to return to “the nostalgia of bygone days”.

Generosity, Leer said, is most closely linked to the ‘why’ of the church’s existence—its very purpose.

“Once we have adequately formulated the ‘why’, then we can begin to design the ‘what’ of ministry, including stewardship education,” Leer said. “That will lead us to the ‘how’ of ministry, the concrete steps we will take to fulfill our purpose.”

Greg Masse, president of the White Wing Group, a firm that helps churches build capital campaigns, offered lessons from his company’s experience helping congregations raise money for goals such as roof and building repairs. He described the “essential ingredient” of stewardship campaigns as love—“love for your parish, love for your church, love for your building, love for your community, love for your parishioners, and you really feel that emotion.”

“It’s really about getting enthusiasm and sparking emotion and love and care in the campaign, and that comes from the top down,” Masse said.

Other workshops examined more practical aspects of stewardship. In a workshop on planned giving, facilitators Glen Mitchell and Peter Bennett explained the concept of gift planning—giving a gift of capital rather than income, which tends to encompass a more long-range, intentional, and unconditional outlook on the part of those who give.

“Talking with these people needs to be visionary, values-driven, narrative and accountable,” Mitchell said. “These last two are about creating a picture of the future and being trusted to carry it out.”

In “Lessons from a Capital Campaign”, Executive Archdeacon Alan Perry offered lessons form a recent campaign in the Diocese of Edmonton.

“I think the key things that we learned were that, although it’s a frightening thing to ask people for large amounts of money, if you do your homework and you’re well-prepared, you can do it and you can do it successfully,” Perry said.

“People are generous and will contribute to a cause which they find compelling.”

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Spare the rod: Responding to TRC call #6 for child protection and reconciliation

November 3, 2017 - 5:48pm

All Christians must work together to end corporal punishment of children, beginning with the repeal of a Canadian federal law permitting it.

That was the key message coming out of a free public lecture, The Road to Reconciliation and the Protection of Children, held on Oct. 20 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Bringing together speakers from the religion and public health fields, the event focused on Call to Action No. 6 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which calls for the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada—a section that legally defends the use of physical punishment by adults to correct a child’s behaviour.

In exploring the theology of childhood, the lecture linked ending corporal punishment of children with reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada.

One of the featured speakers was National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, who spoke on the role of the church in the residential school system and the road to reconciliation. Physical abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children was a recurring issue at residential schools, many of which were run by the government and churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada.

“Section 43 of the Criminal Code is a living and dangerous remnant of the system that caused such damage to Indigenous Peoples,” Bishop MacDonald said. “Its repeal not only addresses the damage of the past, it safeguards the future of Indigenous children by removing the justification for the use of force in the discipline of children.”

Honouring the dignity of children

The idea to host the public lecture arose out of discussions at Queen’s University within the School of Religion and Department of Public Health Sciences.

The Rev. Dr. Valerie Michaelson, post-doctoral fellow and a researcher in both fields, had long been aware of evidence outlining the negative effects of hitting children in terms of their mental and physical health. She was also aware that many of the most fervent supporters of corporal punishment in Canada based their views on a general interpretation of the Old Testament.

Examining the TRC Calls to Action shortly after their publication, Michaelson realized that corporal punishment of children was at once a theological, Indigenous, and public health issue.

“I think what the TRC has shown us is that for centuries now in Canada, the church has often been on the wrong side of protecting children, the wrong side of history,” she said. “And I don’t want to say that lightly, because the church has actually made some wonderful contributions to child well-being as well.”

“We’re now having a chance to be part of reconciliation,” she added. “And we’re hoping that through this, we can invite the church to join a conversation about what a different theological message would look like that would really honour the full dignity of children.”

Rationale for repeal

Dr. Joan Durrant, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba whose research focuses on the physical maltreatment of children, said that Section 43 gives “a green light to parents to hit their children, and we know that that only brings negative things with it.”

For decades, researchers have known that corporal punishment of children predicts a wide variety of detrimental outcomes later in life, such as higher levels of aggression and anti-social behaviour, poorer mental health, more negative relationships with parents, and slower cognitive ability.

By contrast, Durrant said, there is “literally no evidence—none” for any long-term benefits associated with physically punishing children.

“There’s never, ever been any study that’s found a long-term positive outcome,” she noted. “The only thing that parents might consider positive is that the child might comply in the seconds following being smacked. But even that is unreliable, because a lot of times, children are hit for things they can’t actually control,” such as not being able to sit still.

Though hitting children may cause them to correct their behaviour in the very short term, Durrant said, in the long term it leads to a loss of trust as children avoid the parents who are causing them pain. Many experience greater trepidation towards touching and exploring their environments, which in turn leads to slower brain development.

In the most tragic cases, parents resorting to physical punishment have inadvertently killed their children.

“It’s these very common, everyday kinds of situations, where parents think that hitting is going to help, that lead so tragically to horrendous kinds of outcomes that they’re never anticipated, never wanted,” Durrant said. “But once you start hitting, you’ve raised the stakes, because anybody who’s hit will either strike back in self-defence or withdraw and run away, and not do what the person hitting them wants them to do.”

The challenge of biblical interpretation

Another featured speaker at the Queen’s lecture was Dr. Marcia Bunge, professor of religion and Bernhardson Distinguished Chair of Lutheran Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, who spoke on the paradoxical nature of biblically-based theologies of childhood. The Rev. Dr. William Morrow, an Old Testament scholar in the School of Religion at Queen’s, also touched on similar topics during a subsequent panel discussion.

From the perspective of religious scholarship, corporal punishment strikes right to the heart of how Christians should interpret Scripture. Though the oft-quoted phrase “Spare the rod, spoil the child” never actually appears in the Bible, Morrow acknowledged that “that sentiment is certainly conveyed in the Book of Proverbs.”

“There are a number of passages in the Book of Proverbs that advise, or some people would say, even require parents to use corporal punishment against their children,” Morrow said.

He contends that no one passage in the Bible outright forbids the use of physical punishment against children. In the Book of Proverbs, children have essentially the same status of slaves, being subordinate to parents rather than masters.

Morrow drew a comparison with slavery as the “classic example” of an issue where Christians have been compelled to modify their interpretations of the Bible by finding larger “redemptive paradigms”.

“Gradually over time, Christian communities have come to accept that there are redemptive forces in the Scriptures, which suggest that owning slaves and being faithful to the gospels is not really in keeping with what Jesus and in fact the entire biblical canon’s redemptive paradigms were really trying to suggest or point to or vindicate,” Morrow said.

“The question that emerges for the church [regarding corporal punishment of children] is twofold, I think,” he added. “First it is how to genuinely stand up for the child in our society, and the second is … how to respond in a responsible way, in a pastoral way, to the calls for reconciliation from the TRC.

“I think that with respect to the Scriptures, you’re going to have a span of attitudes towards that, because although the church owns the Scripture as an authority, it has to balance that authority against other authorities.”

Towards a new theology of childhood

Organizers of the Queen’s event hope to spark a wider conversation about how to safeguard children and promote reconciliation through a new theology of childhood.

Beyond calling on the government to repeal Section 43, a theological statement that emerged from the event calls on Christians to work together to promote healthy and non-violent approaches to disciplining children; to address the disproportionate harm experienced by Indigenous children and youth; to increase awareness of the impact of violence; to be active in the protection of children; and to endorse the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth.

Numerous Anglican leaders have endorsed the theological statement, including Bishop MacDonald, General Secretary Michael Thompson, and Bishop Riscylla Shaw of the Diocese of Toronto, along with representatives of the United, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches.

“I hope that we will start a conversation in the Canadian church … Call to Action 6 is not one that’s marked for the church, and so we would like to see that become part of our reconciliation story,” Michaelson said.

“We’d also like to see a much more dynamic and multidimensional and theologically rigorous conversation about children emerge. We’d like to do something that’s actually protective and helpful for all children in Canada, including Indigenous children, but including all children … Our hope is that our work on this makes the church [and] makes Canada a better place for children to grow up strong and whole.”

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B.C. parishes grapple with wildfire aftermath

October 19, 2017 - 7:45pm

The following is the conclusion of a two-part story detailing the experience and aftermath of the B.C. summer wildfires from an Anglican perspective. Read Part 1.

Though the height of the summer wildfire season in British Columbia may have passed, the efforts of communities to rebuild in its wake remain ongoing.

Anglicans residing within the Territory of the People have been on the front lines of devastation caused by the fires. Driving out to St. Luke’s Anglican Church in the Chilcoten area, the Rev. Kris Dobyns witnessed the scope of the damage firsthand.

“It was awful driving out there,” Dobyns said. “You could just see the burned trees on both sides … You could see maybe a chimney and a fire place, and the whole house just burned to ashes.

“We saw a place where there were six or seven cars just completely burned out … just devastating. It’s going to take years to recover.”

All residents in the area were affected by the large amounts of smoke that billowed into the air over a protracted period. The poor air quality could reach dangerous levels for weeks at a time, putting at particular risk those with respiratory health issues.

Meanwhile, the effect on livestock threatened the livelihood of ranchers, with many of the 35,000 cattle in fire-affected regions remaining unaccounted for.

“A lot of our folks who are ranchers are of course devastated,” episcopal commissary Ken Gray said.

“They’ve lost fencing, they’ve lost animals, they’ve lost grazing land, they’ve lost forest cover … In terms of the area the territory covers … the effect on ranchers and the effect on the forest industry is huge.

“That’s going to affect local economies, and it’s going to affect parish fiscal stability as well.”

In Kamloops, where Gray serves as dean of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, the city has experienced a significant increase in homelessness. Many have been displaced from their home communities, and Anglicans active in shelter ministry are expecting an increase in demand. Some workers have opted not to return, prompting a labour shortage in communities such as Williams Lake and Cache Creek.

The economic repercussions of the fires are prominent in the mind of the Rev. Jim White, a retired Anglican priest and non-Indigenous pastoral elder who sometimes provides ministry to the First Nations community in Lytton, as well as at an ecumenical parish in Logan Lake.

“My biggest concern right now is the number of small businesses that are going to survive the next year,” White said. He offered the example of Cache Creek Golf Course, which recently closed because not enough people could reach the golf course to provide the necessary revenue for it to stay in business.

“I am somewhat pessimistic that the businesses that are in existence today will be here a year from now,” he added.

In response, local Anglicans are making a push for residents to “buy local” in order to support small businesses in the area.

Community solidarity

At the peak of the fire, residents worked together to help each other out wherever they could. During the month of July, White’s son putting in 1,300 hours of volunteer hours as a volunteer firefighter along with his crew.

At another point, when the town of Ashcroft lost utilities, including electricity and phone service, his neighbour used a portable generator and extension cord to help people recharge their mobile phones.

“It’s things you don’t think of,” White said.

The Rev. Clara Plamondon brings prayer shawls from the Diocese of British Columbia during a visit to St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops, B.C. Photo by Rae Long

In the wake of the fire, affected communities have worked together to rebuild and persevere. The decreasing level of wildfires since summer has in its own way helped restore a greater sense of normalcy for residents.

“Anxiety levels are significantly reduced,” Gray said. “Air quality has significantly improved. Really, especially in the smaller communities, folks are getting back on their feet.”

Nevertheless, the emotional toll has affected many residents and prompted the creation of mutual support groups. In Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, Dobyns and her husband Keith have attended meetings as part of the 2017 Wildfire Recovery Mental Health Working Group, with pastors’ fellowships in both towns working to address mental health issues amidst the recovery.

Anglicans in other parts of the country have also come together in a variety of ways to provide aid for communities impacted by the wildfires. Gray said the Territory of the People has received donations totalling more than $35,000 from individuals and organizations such as the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, with the money being sent to clergy for use in their discretionary funds to help individuals resettle and rebuild.

A moving symbolic gesture came when Dobyns attended the recent provincial synod executive council as a delegate and saw more than 70 prayer shawls brought by a priest from Vancouver Island, whose parish had decided to make the shawls to help support the Territory of the People during the fires.

Taking six of the prayer shawls back to the cathedral, Dobyns distributed them at a joint annual worship service and potluck for the 100 Mile House and Williams Lake parishes. The shawls were received so enthusiastically that she planned to return and pick up more.

“People were so moved to receive those … It is so comforting to know that people have been praying for you, and to wrap yourself in what feels like a blanket of prayers,” Dobyns said.

‘New normal’

With the continued exacerbation of wildfire seasons due to climate change, B.C. communities are pondering how they might minimize further wildfire damage in the years to come.

Later this fall, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops will host a meeting of community leaders and care providers to examine lessons from this year’s fires and how they might incorporate them moving forward.

“Something like this is going to be the new normal, and we’re wondering what we can do now to ensure an effective and appropriate response next year,” Gray said.

“Both in Prince George and Kamloops, I think the community response was extremely good,” he added. “Folks mobilized very quickly and very effectively. But we’re going to have to organize not just for this year, but … for the foreseeable future. I think that’s worth noting.”

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‘A holy time, a very hopeful time’: National consultation bolsters emerging Indigenous church

October 18, 2017 - 5:02pm

The Road to Warm Springs, the National Consultation on Indigenous Self-Determination that took place from Sept. 15-17 in Pinawa, Manitoba, was another historic milestone in the journey towards a truly Indigenous church as part of the Anglican Church of Canada.

For Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, the consultation was the latest step in an ongoing, decades-long process—the gradual emergence of a self-determining Indigenous church.

“I think when history is written, people will look back on this consultation as having been a holy time, and a time of renewed hope in the commitment of the whole church to really affirm the desire for a self-determining Indigenous church, and to celebrate its continual emerging,” the Primate said.

That ongoing development has been marked by events of national significance, such as the appointment of Bishop Mark MacDonald as the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, the adoption of Canon XXII, the national Indigenous Ministries, and the enshrining of Sacred Circle and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) within the structures of the church, as well as more local expressions of self-determination.

Even so, The Road to Warm Springs marked a new level of commitment by Anglicans to make the goal of an Indigenous church a reality.

“This is a gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people agreeing that self-determination is an urgent priority for the church,” Bishop MacDonald said. “That’s a very significant event.”

Renewal of the Covenant

In all, 68 people attended the consultation in Pinawa, a number that included 39 Indigenous and 29 non-Indigenous participants. Those in attendance included bishops, clergy, laity, and General Synod staff support. Co-chairs Dr. Randall Fairey (non-Indigenous) and the Rev. Norm Wesley (Indigenous) took the lead in organizing the event.

Perhaps the most symbolic element of the occasion was the renewal of the 1994 Covenant, as expressed in the Call to the Church document that emerged from the consultation.

“The 1994 Covenant was kind of the start of the journey of spiritual renewal, as it’s known in the national Indigenous circles,” Fairey said. “And this was a result of momentum over many years, the desire for which was to see if we could determine … what a self-determining Indigenous church would look like, and how it could be formed, and most important, [how it] would remain within the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Many who signed the Call to the Church had been present 23 years earlier for the signing of the Covenant. That historic connection did not go unnoticed by those attending the consultation, including Archbishop Hiltz.

“It was very moving at the closing Eucharist to see people who had signed the 1994 Covenant in that room and coming forward with tears in their eyes to sign this call to renew our commitment to the covenant, to get on with this without hesitation or further delay—the church to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples’ desire to be self-determining,” the Primate said.

“A very profound, emotional time for them … I think they felt like they were finally being heard, and I think that was a good thing.”

Indigenous spirituality and a new apology

A major highlight of the consultation was a presentation by well-known counselor Dr. Martin Brokenleg, an Anglican Divinity School graduate and retired Vancouver School of Theology professor, who discussed the complex nature of Indigenous spirituality as defined by the intersection between traditional and Christian beliefs.

Using the example of the Lakota people, Brokenleg described a “multiplicity” of spiritualities among Indigenous people, ranging from those who exclusively practice traditional Indigenous beliefs (a very small proportion of the total, approximating one per cent), to those who practice a mixture of traditional and Christian influences, to those—often elders—who want nothing to do with the old ways and who practice a type of fundamentalist Christianity.

“Part of the problem was that they were taught that the old ways were evil, were pagan, were wrong, from the missionaries,” Fairey said. “I think the healing that’s going to be needed in the church is particularly helping the elders understand that we now believe the missionaries were wrong. And where that goes, it will be up to Fred.”

His reference to the Primate pertains to a point raised by the Rev. Norm Wesley about the confusion faced by many Indigenous communities whose elders were once taught by missionaries that they could not practice their traditional spirituality—but who now encounter a contemporary Anglican Church of Canada that has endorsed the pairing of traditional Indigenous teachings with Christian teachings, along with the use of pipes, smudging, drumming, and dancing in worship.

Wesley called for some kind of apology on the part of the church, acknowledging wrongdoing in teaching Indigenous people that their spirituality and sacred ceremonies were “evil”, and expressing sorrow for the demand that artifacts associated with traditional ceremonies be destroyed.

In his closing remarks, Archbishop Hiltz made clear that that call did not go unheard—and that he was fully prepared to make such an apology on behalf of the church.

“I don’t have any hesitation in doing that,” the Primate said. “I think it’s entirely appropriate.”

Onward to General Synod 2019

In the wake of the gathering in Pinawa, planning team members are hard at work preparing a full report on the consultation.

Participants pray together at the National Consultation on Indigenous Self-Determination. Photo by Anglican Video

The experience of The Road to Warm Springs will be a major topic of discussion at upcoming meetings of the House of Bishops, ACIP, and at the next meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) in November. Following the next Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle, a small joint working group representing Sacred Circle and CoGS is expected to prepare a report and motion that will go before General Synod in 2019.

Archbishop Hiltz noted that 2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Covenant—an anniversary that he hopes the church will honour in an impactful way.

“That synod could be quite a moment,” the Primate said. “Twenty-five years after the Covenant, what is it that we’re going to be affirming and celebrating? My hope, as I said at the end of the consultation, is that a truly Indigenous church will be celebrated by the whole church. And I think that there’s every possibility that by 2019, we’ll have the major pieces in place to be able to celebrate that.

“The building of a truly Indigenous church is not unlike the building of the church through time,” he added. “There’s never a moment when you can say ‘It’s done’ … because the church in many respects is not of our own doing. The church is ultimately built and takes shape as we allow ourselves to be shaped in the name of God.”

The Road to Warm Springs web page continues to be populated with videos and foundational documents from the gathering for all members of the Church.

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Recalling summer’s wildfire exodus in the Territory of the People

October 17, 2017 - 3:54pm

The following is the first instalment of a two-part story detailing the experience and aftermath of the B.C. summer wildfires from an Anglican perspective. Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website later this week for the conclusion.

This summer’s wildfire season was the worst-ever recorded in British Columbia’s history. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes, hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and much of the province’s livestock was put at risk. As of Sept. 28, more than 100 wildfires were still burning across the province.

Much of the devastation impacted Anglicans residing within the Territory of the People. For some, the threat of the encroaching fires forced the evacuation of friends and neighbours, while others were made to flee and leave their own homes. At the height of the evacuations, many Anglican clergy and lay people provided assistance and pastoral care to evacuees.

“One way or another, every single parish in our territory was affected,” said the Very Rev. Ken Gray, currently serving as episcopal commissary during the sabbatical of Bishop Barbara Andrews.

Experience of evacuated parishes

In certain parishes, particularly 100 Mile House, Alexis Creek, and Williams Lake, residents were evacuated as the fire threatened buildings and parishioners’ homes. Meanwhile, major centres such as Kamloops and Prince George took in large numbers of evacuees.

The Revs. Kris and Keith Dobyns—who share positions serving St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in 100 Mile House and St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Williams Lake, as well as St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Alexis Creek—were among those those evacuated in July. Days after the fires began near their home in 100 Mile House, Kris received a warning from fire volunteers going door-to-door that she might have to leave.

“About 45 minutes before the evacuation, all of this black smoke started billowing in … I live downtown, and it looked pretty ominous,” she recalled. “My neighbours were out and they all decided to leave. They had ash falling in their backyards.”

Making the decision to evacuate, Dobyns packed and left a note with her name and phone number on her front door. She stayed with parishioners just outside the evacuation zone on a Sunday night before leaving early Monday morning. After meeting up with Keith, who had been away visiting their grandson in Ontario, they drove to stay with their son and his family in Abbotsford, B.C.

Two weeks later, officials re-opened 100 Mile for residents to return, and the couple returned home. But when fire threatened the surrounding areas of Elephant Hill and Canim Lake, Kris ended up leaving for Abbotsford for a few more days on the advice of Bishop Andrews.

“It was just so smoky and there had been more evacuations on both sides of us,” Dobyns said. “Our bishop was visiting to provide pastoral care and all these other evacuations had happened, and she looked at me and said, ‘You need a break.’”

During that time, members of the Canim Lake Band were themselves evacuated following a lightning strike and ended up in 100 Mile.

Partnering with the Stemete7uw’I Friendship Centre—which is located next to St. Timothy’s—to help care for evacuees, Anglicans joined band members for a potluck attended by Bishop Andrews, during which they brought food and other items such as clothing.

“We have a free store at our church that can be opened at any point,” Dobyns said. “So we opened that up for people who needed clothing or blankets, because they had just had to leave in the middle of the night with no warning.”

Providing care to evacuees

In larger urban centres where many of those evacuated ended up, Anglican clergy were on the frontlines of helping evacuees.

The Rev. Isabel Healy-Morrow, regional dean for Kamloop-South Rivers, spent time at two areas set up by authorities to receive people evacuated from their homes in communities such as 100 Mile House, Clinton, Ashcroft, and Cache Creek. One was the Kamloops Powwow Grounds, where a cluster of tents and travel trailers had sprung up.

“I would go down and sit and visit with families, drink coffee with them, play with the children, and give them someone to vent their anxieties to,” Healy-Morrow said. “Those in the ranching industry were consumed with anxiety about their livestock.”

With a background in farming and ranching, Healy-Morrow was able to converse with fleeing ranchers about the evacuation of cattle and other livestock. Many horses were evacuated and taken to the Kamloops Exhibition Grounds and nearby farms.

For the evacuated people themselves, many had left quickly and been compelled to leave behind essentials such as prescriptions and clean clothing. At a second, indoor reception area, the Interior Community Savings Arena, hundreds of cots were set up, while provincial Emergency Social Services provided food, clothing, toiletries, and other benefits.

At the arena, Healy-Morrow encountered a group of First Nations elders from the coastal community of Bella Coola, who were unable to home after a Vancouver conference due to the Hanceville wildfire blocking the road from Williams Lake.

“There was no indication as to when it might be safe to travel,” she recalled. “I was able to provide a pastoral presence, hug people, [and] hand out water and snacks and pamphlets showing the location of St. Paul’s Cathedral, where evacuees were welcome to drop in and rest, pray, or talk.”

Healy-Morrow also visited evacuees who had been admitted to the emergency room at Royal Inland Hospital after experiencing cardiac and breathing issues, due to the cumulative effects of stress and poor air quality resulting from smoke, ash, and particulate matter—a particular health risk for those suffering from conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“They were glad of a smile, a hug, someone to sit by their bed and talk, pray if requested, and bring them coffee and snacks,” she said.

“The pastoral presence of the clergy was appreciated by the evacuees, and it was clear that a smile and a hug went a long way to those who were frantic with anxiety over the possible loss of their homes and assets.”

Though the wildfires have subsided since their summer peak, residents in affected communities now find themselves dealing with the aftermath of the destruction.

To be continued.

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‘Rebuild My Church’: A Reflection by Archbishop Fred Hiltz on Primates’ Meeting 2017

October 12, 2017 - 7:03pm

Upon arriving in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom for the Meeting of the Primates from October 2 to 6, 2017, I was immediately struck by the massive amount of staging encasing the towers on opposite sides of The Great West Door and extending over the entire length of the Nave Roof.  The Cathedral is in the midst of a five-year £60 million restoration. Known as Cathedral Journey, it will also include the repair and restoration of the ancient Christ Church Gate and the refurbishing of several buildings on the streetscape to become a Welcome Center.  All around the grounds are a series of wonderful panels telling the story of the Cathedral’s history and treasures, ministries and music, martyrs and pilgrims.

The seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury since 597 AD, this great Cathedral is the mother church of our beloved worldwide Anglican Communion.  At the very heart of its daily life are the rhythm of Morning Prayer and Evensong in the Quire and a celebration of the Eucharist in the Crypt.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lectionary speaks a word into our day.  The Old Testament Readings for Morning Prayer last week chronicled the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, its dedication, and Solomon’s prayer that the eyes of the Lord be always open to this place and his ears to the prayers of the people. (2 Chronicles)  At one of the morning Eucharist’s we heard the story of the disciples commenting on the massiveness of the Temple – “what large stones and what large buildings”; and then Jesus’ word concerning its destruction. “Not one stone will be left upon another, all will be thrown down”. (Mark 13)  They knew nothing of the nature of the Temple he himself would raise up through his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

As we kept the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4), the presider called to our minds how as Francis was kneeling before a crucifix in the Chapel of San Damiano, he heard the Lord speak to him saying, “Go and rebuild my Church”.  The work to which Francis was being called was a spiritual renewal of the Church, a re-building “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2: 20-21).

As I did my early morning walks around the Cathedral and throughout its ancient cloister, I thought time and again of Paul’s teaching. I thought too of Peter’s counsel.

Come to him that living stone, rejected by mortals but chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, be built up into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, making offerings acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2: 4-5)

While this text has always reminded me of the several dimensions of our calling in the Lord, it resonated with me in a very powerful way in this meeting of the Primates.

The first dimension is deeply personal.

“Come to him, that living stone…”

Peter’s call that we come to Christ would be echoed time and again throughout the history of the Church. Centuries later, Augustine of Hippo wrote, “My soul is like a house small for you to enter, O Lord, but I pray you to enter it.  It is in ruins but I ask you to re-make it.”

As Francis heard the call to rebuild the Church, he knew that unless he himself was re-made, he would not be able to take on such a venture. Likewise the Primates confessed that, if we are to offer spirited leadership in the Church, we must be renewed in our own personal relationship with Christ.

Accordingly we welcomed a conversation about evangelism.  We were glad to hear of the call for a Season of Intentional Discipleship across the Communion (2016-2025).  And we readily accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to join him in praying between The Day of The Ascension and The Day of Pentecost (May 10-20, 2018) that “many more people come to know Jesus Christ”. Known as “Thy Kingdom Come”, this initiative though Anglican in origin and now ecumenical in appeal, has reached thousands of people in the United Kingdom and in some eighty-five other countries around the world.  Many, many people have come to faith for the first time in their lives, many others have matured in their faith, and many more have renewed their commitment to follow the way of Jesus, recognizing that it touches every aspect of their living.

As the first dimension of our calling in the Lord is deeply personal, the second is a strong reminder that to be called into a relationship with Christ is to be called into community.

“And like living stones, be yourselves built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.”

Here Peter gives us a vision of our life together in Christ as local Churches, and as Sister Churches in our worldwide Communion.  His vision calls us to recognize the many different contexts – religious, political, economic, social and cultural – in which the Churches find themselves.  It calls us to acknowledge the diversity of theological perspective within and among our Churches.  It calls us even in the midst of deep differences of conviction over any number of matters, to remain in communion with one another.

In this meeting we heard from the Primus of The Scottish Episcopal Church with respect to amendments to its Marriage Canon making provision for same sex marriage.  The following are excerpts from the Canon as amended:

“In the light of the fact that there are different understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of the Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. …No cleric shall solemnize a marriage between persons of the same sex unless said cleric shall have been nominated on behalf of the Church to the Registrar General for Scotland.”

Having heard from the Primus, there was then a re-visiting of “the consequences” for The Episcopal Church having amended its Canon in 2015, that is, that for a period of three years members of The Episcopal Church “would no longer represent the Communion in ecumenical and inter-faith bodies; should not be appointed or elected to internal standing committees and that, while participating in the internal bodies of The Anglican Communion, they would not take part in decision making on any matters of doctrine or polity”.  The Archbishop of Canterbury was convinced that the Scottish Episcopal Church now live with the same consequences, as were the majority of Primates.

With respect to these “relational consequences” many are already wondering what happens as we approach the end of those three-year periods.  What then?

A few of the Primates, including me, continue to struggle with these kinds of consequences.  I sometimes wonder if The Meeting of the Primates has in fact moved definitively beyond what Archbishop Donald Coggan intended it to be – a gathering for “leisurely thought, prayer, and deep consultation”; an occasion for the Primates to act “as channels through which the voice of the member churches are heard, and real interchange of heart can take place” (Lambeth Conference 1978).

Has the meeting already seized “the enhanced authority” called for by some throughout the Communion, and are we in fact already acting on it?  Does such action as we have taken regarding “relational consequences” reflect what was envisioned as the role of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in dispute resolution as outlined in Section IV of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, the one section that has been most problematic for the majority of the Churches of the Communion in their consideration of the Covenant?

Notwithstanding these questions, I want to say unequivocally that conversations in this meeting of the Primates were characterized by a measure of respect and grace that was most encouraging.

We reaffirmed our commitment to remaining in communion, one with another.

We reaffirmed our concerns over the intent and impact of cross border interventions and vowed to honour the principles that forbid them dating back to The Council of Nicaea and reiterated time and again throughout history.

We rallied around “courtesy” and “collaboration” as principles in walking together even in the midst of tensions within the Communion.

The Primates heard a progress report from the Task Group appointed at the request of our last meeting in 2016.  Its mandate was to help us find ways to “maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationships, the re-building of trust, the healing of the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ”.  In the spirit of that mandate, the Task Group has recommended a Season of Repentance and Renewal leading into Lambeth 2020.  That call was heartily embraced by all the Primates present.

We readily took up a suggestion that next year there be meetings of the Primates in each of the regions of the Communion – Africa; Southeast Asia and Oceania; Europe; Middle East and West Asia; Central, North, South Americas and the Caribbean.  These meetings are intended to strengthen our ties with one another, and our commitments to mutual support and encouragement in the exercise of primacy.  They will be an occasion to speak about mission across our Regions and to take counsel together in helping to shape the Lambeth Conference in 2020.  I am pleased to announce that I will host the meeting for the Americas in November 2018.

This second dimension of our calling in the Lord is all about our relationships, one with another.  In so far as they reflect the companionship of which Jesus speaks, the partnership of which Paul speaks and the communion of which Peter speaks, we will be graced and more able in responding to the third dimension of our calling in the Lord.

“Making offerings acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The Primates were generally delighted that the agenda for our meeting was shaped by our commitment to the Marks of Mission.  As our focus on Intentional Discipleship was grounded in Marks of Mission 1 and 2, so our conversations concerning the most pressing issues facing the entire human family and our common home, were grounded in Marks of Mission 3, 4, and 5.

We came to realise that Food Security is a major concern in the majority of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.  The major factors are long-term drought, natural disasters, and corrupt regimes that starve their own people.  The poor are always at highest risk with respect to security in feeding their children.

The Anglican Alliance is doing very good work in addressing this crisis.  As a member of that Alliance, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) continues to do outstanding work by way of education and advocacy for the full realization of the internationally accepted definition of food security.  It is “the state in which all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life.” (Adopted by The World Food Summit, 1996)

We were overwhelmed by the statistics associated with the global refugee crisis.  They are staggering. Sixty five million people displaced by conflict in their homelands, and 20 million by natural disasters. In the midst of much despair the Churches of our Communion are caring for those in camps making provision for the most basic of human needs.  Many are receiving refugees through Sponsorship Agreements with national governments.  They are accompanying them as they settle into a life free of the oppression they have fled. Canada is recognized as one of the most welcoming of nations and I am proud to note our own Church’s commitment to this Matthew 25 ministry.

We were confronted by the plight of millions of migrant workers throughout the world.  In recent days there has been front page coverage in a couple of our own national newspapers about the ugly truth that many migrant workers enter Canada with a work permit restricted to one employer only.  Sadly some of those employers exploit their employees, some to the point of slavery in the service of the drive for profit and gain.

We were reminded of the Church’s role in speaking up for those whose dignity and rights are violated.  Our obligation to do so is grounded in that great text from Isaiah that speaks of freedom for the captive and liberty for the oppressed (Chapter 61), the very text Jesus took as a mantra for his ministry.

We were horrified by the reports concerning the trafficking of girls and women (and boys and men too) for the world’s $32 billion sex trade.  Lured into promises of opportunity and prosperity, those who are trafficked become enslaved in nothing less than a living hell.  Their handlers and users see them as commodities to be bought and sold time and again.

It is a well documented fact that the average annual profit of a woman trafficked for sex is $280,000.  No country is exempt from this crime against humanity.  Some are known as source countries, some as transfer and some destination.  Some are all three.  Canada is one of them.   In all countries women and girls who are poor are at highest risk of being trafficked.  In Canada it is Indigenous girls.

We were encouraged by the resolved of our Communion to rid the world of this evil.  Incredible work is being done through the Anglican Family Network, the International Anglican Women’s Network and the Mother’s Union. I am pleased to see that our own Church has taken strong initiative to educate and equip us to shine a light into this deep darkness in which so many are enslaved.  In this work we are partnering with others, namely the Canadian Centre for Ending Human Trafficking, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Canadian Council of Churches, KAIROS, and the afore mentioned agencies of the Anglican Communion.

This work is grounded in our baptismal vow to respect and protect the dignity of every human being.  That vow compels us to work relentlessly in eradicating this crime against humanity.

One of the most moving of presentations at our meeting was an accounting of the number of the Churches in the Communion engaged in the work of reconciliation in the midst of civil war and schemes for systematic ethnic cleansing.  We pledged solidarity in fervent prayer for those engaged in this sacrificial and all so often life-costing ministry.

From a Canadian perspective, I raised the plight of Indigenous Peoples, subject as they have been for centuries, to government policies of forced assimilation associated with colonial expansion and empire building.  I reported that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) grounded its Report and 94 Calls to Action in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  I encouraged all the Primates to lead their Churches in following through on a call from ACC-14 to encourage all the Churches of the Communion to press the governments in their lands to endorse that Declaration.

We were humbled by the truth that throughout the world it is women who in large measure are on the frontlines of Ministries of Reconciliation. We were reminded of their critical role in spotting rising tensions, striving to de-escalate conflict, and caring for those suffering through its aftermath.  With great courage they carry the Song of Mary in their hearts, singing it not only in word, but also in deed.  And if we have ears to hear, we will all be drawn into that magnificent chorus that “casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly”(Luke 1:52).

As in meetings of the Primates in the last ten years, so in this one there was considerable attention to Climate Change and its impact from a melting Ice Cap in the North to rising sea levels in the South.  We discussed The Paris Accord and the extent to which the signatories are absolutely committed.  With regret we noted the regressive steps of the current administration in the United States of America.

With delight we noted the emergence of Justice Camps focussed on Climate Change.  With a renewed diligence we committed our Churches to the 5th Mark of Mission rooted in the sacredness of creation and the marvellous array of ecological balances with which it came into being.  Accordingly we welcomed the announcement of a “Letters for Creation project” for Creationtide in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In so far as the Primates wrestled with all these pressing issues, we recognized people of other faith traditions also share the gravest of our concerns.  We marked the launch of the Anglican Interfaith Network and pledged to encourage interfaith dialogue and collaboration in our respective contexts.

All these concerns for the human family and our common home are very much in keeping with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s renowned public commitment to ensuring “that in international for a the Anglican voice is heard”.

Conclusion

I pray this reflection offers you in some measure a sense of the very spirit, reach and hope of this meeting of the Primates and Moderators of the Churches of our beloved Communion.   From our morning in quiet in the Crypt to the final Eucharist there was a momentum, not of our making, but of the Lord’s.  He was drawing us closer to Him, closer to one another, and closer to the world.

All of us were so heartened to hear that the theme for the Lambeth Conference 2020 is “God’s Church for God’s World”.  This conference is being planned mindful of the centenary of the great Lambeth Conference of 1920.  It was a time in which the world had come through much turmoil.  That conference set out numerous initiatives for the healing of the world.  Archbishop Welby has already declared his hope that the Lambeth Conference 2020 “be a strategic meeting, setting the direction of the Anglican Communion for the coming century.”

In closing may I take you back to that sight of the towers of the west end of Canterbury Cathedral encased in staging, for restoration and renewal.  Within that maze of pipe and plastic, the stonemasons go about their work, for the most part unseen.  Their labour requires skill and precision, patience and perseverance.  For them it is inspired by a vision larger than the pile of stones with which they are working on any given day.  It is the vision of a great Cathedral, a house of prayer for all people.

As they diligently work to restore the Mother Church of our Communion, so too do a host of other people work diligently in renewing the Communion’s commitment to God’s Mission in the World.  I think particularly of those who work with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, those who work in and out of the Anglican Communion Office, and all who serve on the Standing Committees, Commissions and Networks of the Communion.  And finally, I think of the Community of St. Anselm and its work of prayer for the Church and our fidelity in Christ.  For them all I give thanks to God.

As the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ in Canterbury is restored with such skilled and loving care, may we persevere in rebuilding the spiritual life of the Church in each and every place where we serve as bishops, clergy and all those signed in baptism with the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To Him be glory now and ever.

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CAPA trip alters preconceptions of Canadian church

October 11, 2017 - 4:36pm

Two representatives from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), general secretary Canon Grace Kaiso and communications and finance director Elizabeth Wanjiku Gichovi, spent the latter half of September on a multi-city tour meeting members of the Anglican Church of Canada. Their two-week trip took them to the dioceses of Niagara, Edmonton, Qu’appelle, Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.

On Sept. 28, the pair visited the office of the General Synod to meet with the Primate and General Synod staff members, and to worship together with the Primate presiding and Canon Kaiso preaching. Both in his homily and at a subsequent “lunch-and-learn”, Kaiso said that meeting Anglicans across Canada had challenged many preconceived notions held by some Anglicans in Africa about the life of the Canadian church.

“The trip has been very informative,” Canon Kaiso said. “It has helped us to change a perception that is predominant in Africa that the church here [in Canada] is dying.

“We have experienced initiatives by the [Canadian] congregations and churches and dioceses that have sought to address and connect with the communities,” he said. “The beauty of this has been to see how the church has chosen to go out and meet where people are, not wait for them … We think that is a good approach.”

Elizabeth Wanjiku Gichovi, communications and finance director of CAPA, listens as Canon Kaiso speaks to General Synod staff members at Church House. Photo by Matt Gardner

One of the ways Kaiso saw the Anglican Church of Canada carrying out its ministry was through partnerships between the church and government, such as dioceses working closely with municipalities to address issues such as housing and accommodation of refugees.

In many African nations, government corruption can make such partnerships more difficult, he reflected. The question of how to translate desired changes into public policy remains an ongoing struggle for Anglicans in Africa, who are grappling with social issues arising from urbanization and political instability.

“It is becoming very difficult to engage and to contribute to nation-building, because the processes that we would use, like parliament, is biased, is not serving the common good, is a tool for serving a regime instead of serving the well-being of the people,” Kaiso said.

“They are compromised, so this is generating a culture of violence,” he added. “How does the church respond to a culture of violence, and transform it into a culture of peace? Those are the areas of challenge that we are facing.”

‘The zeal for discipleship’

Kaiso praised what he called the “zeal for discipleship” among Canadian Anglicans, noting the use of the Alpha course by many congregations to deepen Christian fellowship and the growing numbers of parishioners volunteering in lay ministry.

“We were in Edmonton and the bishop was presiding over the commissioning of almost 70 lay ministers—lay readers, we call them—which is great, which means that people who have diverse skills will now be available to the church to connect it in different areas of need around the communities.”

Deepening the faith of Anglicans in their own communities is a major priority for the church in Africa, Kaiso said, suggesting that quantity of parishioners must be matched by the quality of Christian discipleship.

“Yes, we have large congregations, but are they healthy congregations?” he asked. Encouraging Bible study and working with members of their congregations, Kaiso said, aims to help them “become effective ambassadors of Christ wherever they are—in their places of work, wherever in their communities, so that they become agents of transformation inspired by gospel values.”

Reciprocal engagement

Another area where Kaiso found himself encouraged was in the response of the Anglican Church of Canada to injustices faced by Indigenous people in Canada..

He highlighted efforts to “model what it means to relate with those that have been aggrieved because of injustices, taking steps to seek forgiveness and creating avenues for the self-determination of the people of the First Nations”, and acknowledged that African nations similarly continue to deal with the legacy of colonization.

Detailing the work of CAPA during their presentation at Church House, Kaiso and Gichovi outlined various ongoing projects, such as mobilizing communities to provide milk coolers for farmers and supporting hydroponic farming to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

They also answered questions from General Synod staff members about the situation African churches face regarding Christian-Muslim relations, refugees in countries such as Uganda, the role of CAPA in establishing South Sudan as a new province of the Anglican Communion, and issues of gender justice.

Canon Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, who has visited CAPA several times along with Global Relations Director Andrea Mann, said the the trip by Kaiso and Gichovi provided a chance for reciprocal engagement between the Canadian and African churches.

“After spending time with these two … I’ve really come to a much greater appreciation of the scope of their responsibility, and just amazed by how many people they touch with their work,” Mukasa said.

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Human Trafficking Reference Group gathers preliminary information

September 29, 2017 - 4:15pm

A meeting of a national Human Trafficking Reference Group took place on Sept. 25-26 at the offices of the General Synod in Toronto, deepening the commitment and action of the Anglican Church of Canada to support the eradication of human trafficking.

Seven Anglicans made up the reference group, which included representatives for each of the four ecclesiastical provinces. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and General Secretary Michael Thompson, along with co-chairs Andrea Mann and Ryan Weston invited members based on their involvement with vulnerable communities affected by issues such as sex trafficking and migrant justice.

Both the Primate and General Secretary attended the Human Trafficking Reference Group meeting, along with National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and three representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada active in work for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation built around the subtheme Human Beings—Not for Sale.

Those present at the meeting shared a wealth of information laying out the scope of human trafficking and how Anglicans across Canada are working to help end it.

“I think the group discerned that this was an important and serious concern, whose moment … for further church leadership and involvement had arrived,” co-chair Andrea Mann said.

“There was a sense that we as a church, or perhaps even beyond that as a Canadian society, were in a kairos moment—which is to say that the hand or the voice of the Spirit of God was breaking into the awareness of the church to learn about this egregious human rights violation in Canada, which very few people seem to know about, and to raise awareness to support both church and community-based initiatives … [towards] eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery, not only in Canada, but globally.”

Group members learned about myriad forms of trafficking detailed by speakers that included staff members from the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking.

“We realized that it’s a widespread issue and there are many forms of human trafficking, and that we are not positioned to respond to all of them,” co-chair Ryan Weston said. “So we tried to identify particular pieces that we could specifically engage in.”

Areas for potentially increased church engagement included confronting forced sexual exploitation as well as labour trafficking, which ties into the plight of migrant workers and individuals without legal status.

The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was a major focus; many Anglicans are currently participating in Sisters in Spirit vigils along with other community organizations. Group members also discussed the plight of Indigenous boys and men who, Weston said, “have been lost to their communities who are waiting and praying for them to come home.”

Ongoing Anglican responses to trafficking include participation in direct outreach programs to serve marginalized people vulnerable to or currently involved in trafficking, and education initiatives such as the Ragdoll Project, discussed by assistant parish priest John VanStone at the June meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS).

Canadian Anglicans are also active in groups such as the International Anglican Women’s Network and Ecumenical Women—who continue to travel every March to discuss gender-based violence and trafficking at annual hearings from the UN Council on the Status of Women—as well as ecumenical organizations such as KAIROS and the Canadian Council of Churches.

“I think part of the outcome [of the meeting] is a commitment to helping to spread that work, to spread the awareness of what’s happening in order to spur responsive action in communities that are impacted,” Weston said. “And all communities are impacted by it.”

Looking ahead, members of the Human Trafficking Reference Group will now summarize their two days of discussion in a report to be sent to CoGS in advance of its November meeting—after which they will consider their next steps, Mann said.

“It could be that when we begin to sort of see the emergence of a work plan framework, there’ll be some folks from the reference group either wanting to help us flesh out that work plan, or on the ground to help us get that work underway locally.”

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A Message to the Bishops, Clergy and People of the Diocese of Toronto

September 26, 2017 - 7:41pm

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

This afternoon I have informed the members of Diocesan Council that, after many months of prayerful discernment, I am asking Diocesan Synod to concur with my request for the election of a Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese in the middle of next year. I will step down from my role as the Metropolitan of Ontario at the next Provincial Synod in October 2018 and concurrently as Bishop of Moosonee. More importantly for our Diocese, I plan to retire as Bishop of Toronto at the end of December 2018. The Bishop of Ottawa, who is the next senior bishop of the Province, is now in receipt of my letter of resignation. A Coadjutor Bishop is elected by Synod to assist the Diocesan Bishop prior to his retirement and to succeed the Diocesan Bishop immediately on the Diocesan’s retirement.

I have now served the Diocese of Toronto for over 40 years of ordained ministry. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life, and it has not been an easy or quick decision to bring it to a conclusion. By the time I retire, I will have passed my 66th birthday and have served as bishop for over 15 years, with an additional 12 years in the Bishop’s Office as the Executive Assistant and Archdeacon to my esteemed mentor and predecessor, Archbishop Terence Finlay. In each of the three parishes I served before that I have learned more and more from the people of God, how to be a faithful pastor and priest. There is so much that I am thankful to God for in this great Diocese: the tremendous richness of our diversity, the remarkably gifted clergy and strong faithfulness of our laity, the breadth of the resources we have been given, the new opportunities we are afforded to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Over the past decade and a half, we have done some remarkable things: developed a growing team of high capacity diocesan volunteers to work as coaches and facilitators with parishes, completed a very successful Our Faith-Our Hope: Re-imagine Church campaign to resource our ministry, intentionally focused on being missional as a diocese, increased our commitment to intercultural ministry, and renewed our witness to social justice both in our advocacy work and our direct compassionate service. There have been many changes that we have faced together, including declining numbers and closing churches. But we have also named and faced our challenges squarely in the context of our Christian faith. We have a new strategic plan, aptly named Growing in Christ, to direct us in the next few years.

I am enormously grateful to God for the privilege of serving and leading this Diocese, and especially for the opportunity to work and minister with such gifted and generous people as you. I am not retired yet. There is still much to do and I look forward to continuing to work faithfully over the next year to reach our goals.

May I ask for your prayers for our diocese, and especially for Ellen and me, as we prepare for this transition.

May God bless and keep you in his love,

The Most Reverend Colin R. Johnson
Archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of Ontario

Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
September 21, 2017

View a PDF version of this letter.

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Youth Secretariat charts new way forward

September 19, 2017 - 7:16pm

The appointment of Sheilagh McGlynn as youth animator for the Anglican Church of Canada marks a new chapter in the church’s future in youth ministry—the earliest effects of which may be felt in the national Youth Secretariat.

Established at the 2010 General Synod in Halifax, the Youth Secretariat brings together a group of representatives from across the church to promote discussion and training in the area of youth ministry, create support networks for related projects, and encourage gatherings of young people and youth leaders. Members meet in person when required and communicate via teleconference every two months.

Core projects of the Secretariat since its creation have included Stronger Together, an annual gathering of Anglican and Lutheran youth ministers from the diocesan/synod level; the biennial Canadian Lutheran-Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering; Trailblazing, an online theological formation resource for youth ministry; and blogging on related topics through platforms such as justgeneration.ca and The Community.

Youth animator Sheilagh McGlynn

Formerly serving as justgeneration.ca facilitator, McGlynn’s current role as youth animator provides an opportunity for the Secretariat to reassess its priorities and approach to youth ministry. Reflecting that transitional stage, the Secretariat opted not to hold a Stronger Together gathering in 2017.

“We took a break for this year … It was decided that it would actually be better to spend that time with [Sheilagh] and figure out where we’re going in terms of the Secretariat,” interim chair Su McLeod said.

“Sheilagh’s coming at the ministry from a very different place,” she added. “She already has a lot of networks within the [Anglican Church of Canada] and in some places where we haven’t been able to make those connections before … What we’re hoping is that Sheilagh will help us to build some of those bridges, and to have a greater representation of the [Church] involved in national youth ministry initiatives.”

For McGlynn, whose role on the committee includes both administrative and visioning tasks, the position of youth animator offers a means to help facilitate the work of the Secretariat.

“Structurally, [members of the Secretariat] haven’t had consistent support, so I want to offer the consistent support to make that a very functional committee,” McGlynn said.

Current membership and outlook

The present Youth Secretariat are members of each ecclesiastical province.. Members include McLeod (Ontario), Mark Dunwoody (Canada), Caitlin Reilley Beck (B.C. and Yukon), and McGlynn, as well as Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund youth council representative Jessica Steele. The member’s position from Rupert’s Land is currently vacant.

Beck described the Secretariat as in a “period of transition and new development in terms of how the national church is going to support and be involved in youth ministry”, which has been accompanied by growing awareness of the need to coordinate youth ministry at a national level.

“There’s an increased energy around the various ways that youth ministry is already working in different places, and how we can share knowledge and resources and experience,” Beck said.

“That’s always been a thing that the Youth Secretariat has done, but there are always new things happening across the country … In Ottawa, there’s a really great Youth Internship Program that people are looking at. There’s interest in how we can be involved in our full communion relationship with the Lutheran church more.”

Dunwoody said the priority for the Secretariat remained serving as a forum for discussion of the state of youth ministry across Canada, connecting with diocesan representatives and bringing their stories to the wider church.

“With the change of leadership, we’re really going to be working with Sheilagh to try and form policy to try and help her, because youth ministry’s changing so quickly [in] the church of Canada in terms of how people are doing it, why they’re doing it, where they’re doing it,” he said.

One such change has been an increasing age range for the young people engaged in ministry.

“Youth ministry used to be you were certainly just working with high school[-aged youth],” Dunwoody said. “Now we’re finding people working with young adults to young children in the same area, in the same church.”

Priorities on the horizon

As they prepare for their next meeting in October, members of the Secretariat are reflecting on their biggest priorities moving forward and how to best support youth ministry across Canada.

McLeod suggested that one near-term focus might be building a greater awareness of the National Youth Project. In the past, the National Youth Project has been announced through CLAY, but the Secretariat may be considering ways to make the project “more of a national thing for people who are not involved in CLAY to still be a part of.”

The Secretariat is also exploring ideas for training that connects youth ministry with mental health. One upcoming example, in partnership with Huron College, is a conference on theology and mental health that will take place in May 2018 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

Another likely focus, Dunwoody said, will be exploring “what it means to fully integrate the Indigenous ministries, especially around young people,” and to include Indigenous peoples more in the rhythms of the church while enabling non-Indigenous Anglicans to learn from their Indigenous counterparts.

“I don’t know if they have been really represented in the past, and that’s going to be an interesting area of work of how we enable that to happen in dioceses and parishes … I think that’s going to be an area of work that Sheilagh’s going to really help us with because of her experience, especially with communities in the north and so on.”

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A Call to the Church from The National Consultation on Indigenous Self-Determination

September 17, 2017 - 8:04pm

A Call from Warm Springs

As brothers and sisters in The Lord gathered in Pinawa, MB for The National Consultation on Indigenous Self-Determination, we have grounded our work in the story of The Road to Emmaus. In an Indigenous version of the New Testament it is known as The Road to Warm Springs. Like the disciples on that road we have experienced the presence of Creator Sets Free (Jesus) among us.

On the first day we felt Him drawing alongside us in our conversations concerning the call from The Covenant of 1994 to build a truly Indigenous Anglican Church. We gave thanks for how far He has taken us on this journey and we rejoice in many significant steps along the way. We acknowledged that we still face many challenges and we pray for courage and wisdom to address them without hesitation or further delay. We were humbled by an invitation to ponder the reconciliation necessary to move forward. We were enriched by those among us who spoke from the heart of how reconciliation had transformed their lives and how they believe it could transform the life of our Church.

On the second day, like the disciples on the road to Warm Springs (Emmaus), we asked Creator Sets Free (Jesus) to stay with us. We considered a way for moving forward with self-determination for Indigenous Peoples within The Anglican Church of Canada and felt a growing unity in that way. We heard a number of stories of local indigenous ministries, some longstanding and some emerging. Our hearts burned within us as we heard how deeply rooted in the scriptures these stories are. We felt extraordinarily blessed by the presence of the Rev. Dr. Martin Brokenleg. He taught us about who Indigenous People are as Spiritual People, and he engaged us in a deeper awareness of the importance of Traditional and Christian Teaching in self-determination. We all learned much and were very grateful.

On the third day we knew Creator Sets Free (Jesus) in the opening of the scriptures and in the breaking of bread. In that sacred feast He gave himself to each of us. We also believe He gave each of us some work to do.

With eyes wide open we are looking to the future with great hope and we hereby renew our ‎commitment to The Covenant of 1994 and the vision of a truly Indigenous Anglican Church. We commit ourselves to all the work necessary to bring this vision to its full flowering.

In the spirit of our Church’s endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples we call all our bishops, clergy and all the baptized to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in their quest for self-determination.

We call our entire Church to pray that Creator‎ Sets Free (Jesus) will continue to draw near, bless us on our way and guide us in our work.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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