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Indigenous language project shares stories of loss and resilience

April 26, 2017 - 4:52pm

How would an attempt to wipe out your language affect you? How would it affect your children, and future generations?

For Indigenous peoples of Canada, this question is no abstract thought experiment, but a living reality—one of the most harmful and far-reaching impacts of the Indian residential schools, many of which were run by the Anglican Church of Canada. In the aftermath of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called an act of “cultural genocide”, survivors faced the challenge of preserving their traditional languages and ensuring the survival of their cultures.

The question of how families coped with language loss and worked to keep their languages alive is the focus of a new project spearheaded by the EagleSpeaker Community Connection Society in Calgary, Alta. Indigenous Language—Strengths and Struggles seeks to create a “free, graphic novel-inspired, educational, multimedia resource” that explores language restoration as an intergenerational impact of the residential school system, based on interviews with more than 200 survivors and their families from the Blackfoot Confederacy.

As part of its focus on language restoration, the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation recently donated $10,725 to support the project.

“There aren’t a lot of language resources out there, especially [for] Indigenous languages,” project director Jason EagleSpeaker said. “Now that we’re getting into 2017, they’re coming about—there are apps and all that. But one thing I didn’t feel was really being addressed was why Indigenous language thrives in some families, but not in other families.”

Currently one-third of the way through his initial research, EagleSpeaker is now storyboarding the illustrated version of individual and family language stories for the resource, which will present the stories in a comic book-style format.

A website scheduled to launch in September will feature all the language stories alphabetized according to name, with links to biographies of participants and illustrated versions of the stories if available. An e-book version will also be available for download as a PDF file, which can be printed or sent through email. The project is an ongoing initiative, and new language stories will continually be incorporated.

Strengths and Struggles emerged from a previous project EagleSpeaker conducted on the impact of the residential school system. While conducting interviews with survivors, he found a common theme of language loss being one of the biggest obstacles people were trying to overcome.

That theme struck a personal chord for EagleSpeaker as a survivor of intergenerational trauma. His own parents and all nine of his mother’s siblings attended St. Paul’s Anglican Residential School near Cardston, Alta., where they were forbidden from speaking their native Blackfoot language.

“My mother came out, I guess you could say, with the best attitude from the whole residential school experience, and she was able to shield that [trauma] from me,” EagleSpeaker said. “But the rest of my family, and my uncles and my aunts, they suffered immensely.

“None of us know our language. I wanted to learn my language as a child. I wanted to speak it, and it wasn’t possible because it was stripped from us. We didn’t have a language champion in our family.”

The concept of a “language champion” is a common factor EagleSpeaker discovered in the course of his research for Strengths and Struggles among families that had managed to continue speaking their traditional languages. These champions made clear to their families the importance of preserving their language and ensured that every family member followed suit.

“If … [the language] does stay alive and it does survive that residential school era, it really almost comes down to a few individuals in the family that have kept it going … and also have fluency in their language,” EagleSpeaker said.

EagleSpeaker first began talking to residential school survivors and their families in the traditional lands of his own Blackfoot community, which span virtually all of southern Alberta and a large part of northern Montana. He often gets responses and language stories from other First Nations far beyond Alberta, and plans to expand the scope of the project over time.

The goal of the project is to provide a resource for all audiences who will be able to use it as they see fit—from educators looking for accessible learning resources, to elders and residential school survivors seeking acknowledgement of their experiences, to students and youth wanting a convenient and interactive way to learn about language restoration and the legacy of the residential schools.

The Anglican Healing Fund grant has played a vital role in research thus far by helping cover the cost of honoraria, meals, travel, and accommodation. The capacity of researchers to speak to individuals within their comfort zones—by meeting them in their homes, at community events, over a meal—enables them to hear language stories in an organic and effective manner.

“Something like the Healing Fund allows for those sort of things to happen, because a lot of the other funding opportunities … are so focused in on certain expenditures and them being done in a certain way that it would limit a project like this,” EagleSpeaker said.

“It would limit the grassroots engagement, and it has … Any other types of grants that we’d try to fit into there would impact the integrity of the end result. So thank goodness for the Healing Fund, man. Thank goodness.”

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Earth Day message from Anglican and Lutheran leaders

April 19, 2017 - 2:00pm

April 19, 2017

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. —John 12:24

In recognition of Earth Day on April 22, 2017, we invite you to join us in praying for the humility and discipline to use Earth’s resources wisely and responsibly.

Through our Lenten Journey to Easter we have been reminded once again that Jesus offered his whole life and death for the love of the world; and the story was completed with his resurrection. As we celebrate this great mystery we recall how he helped us understand death and resurrection using the image of a seed planted and coming out of the earth as a new growth—budding, bursting, blooming, bearing beautiful fruit.

As followers of Christ, we are also challenged to offer our lives for the love of the world. What do we have to offer and to plant? What in us needs to die so that we can bear much fruit? What happens when we touch the earth with faith?

Our churches are committed to responsible stewardship of the earth. As we celebrate Earth Day, we re-commit to our care for creation and commend the efforts of our congregations across the country to live out this call. We recommend that you or your congregation get involved with the Faith Commuter Challenge, a creative way to reduce your carbon footprint and raise awareness of the impact of our actions. Visit greeningsacredspaces.net/what-we-do/commuter-challenge/ to learn more about how you can participate.

On Earth Day let us pray together:

Creator, we give you thanks for the intricate balance of relationships that sustains life. Bless us with the humility and discipline to use Earth’s resources wisely and responsibly.

Crucified and Risen Christ, we give you thanks for forgiveness, life and salvation that is the source of our hope for true community and abundant life. Help us, guide us and transform us so that we may walk in your ways of justice, equity and peace.

Holy Spirit, we give you thanks for fresh winds of renewal, that open our hearts to new possibilities and deeper insights. Grant us courage to act in diverse, creative and generous ways.

Creator, Christ and Spirit One: call us together for the love of the world, and send us to proclaim your gift of hope. Amen.

Yours in the spirit of Full Communion,

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

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

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Anglican Indigenous Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada

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The cross of Christ and the power of his resurrection

April 13, 2017 - 12:30pm

In many places the large rough wooden cross carried into the Good Friday liturgy remains in place throughout the first few weeks of Easter. But now bunches of spring flowers surround its foot and a good length of white linen is draped over its arms. Once a cruel instrument of torture and death, it has become for us a wondrous sign of hope and glory in Christ.

When that cross on a hill outside the city wall looked to the world like a “tree of defeat” for the mission of Christ, an end to the kingdom he was proclaiming, God made of it a “tree of victory”. Now its limbs point the gospel in all directions, to the very ends of the earth.

In his dying “Christ was reconciling the world to God, not counting our trespasses against us and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us”. (2 Corinthians 5:19, 20). Through his rising that magnificent work continues in the world. Christ breaks down the barriers we are so prone to erect, and he gives us the grace to make of all the debris the very paths on which we can walk reconciled and renewed in our love and respect for one another as children of God.

We live in a time when the world is in desperate need of reconciliation. In headline after headline, and image after image, we are confronted with so many atrocities committed in the name of religious extremism or political clout. If we are to be about the healing needed within and among the nations, there needs to be a renewed effort for global dialogue, in the search for common commitments and an unwavering resolve in abiding by them. There needs to be a renewed trust in the power of God working through all of us, to bring about the transformation for which we long.

In their joint Easter Message the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem have said, “It is our prayer that the hope established through our Risen Lord will enlighten the leaders and nations of the whole world to see this light, and to perceive new opportunities to work and strive for the common good and recognise all as created equal before God. This light of Christ draws the whole human family toward justice, reconciliation and peace and to pursue it diligently. It draws us all to be unified and to be at harmony with one another. The power and resonance of the Resurrection permeates all suffering, injustice and alienation, bringing forth hope, light, and life to all.”

Well rooted in Saint Paul’s deep desire “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10) these Church Leaders are speaking a word of hope in troubled times.

With them I pray that we may know afresh the power of Christ’s Resurrection; that we who are signed with his Cross in baptism may embrace the newness of life to which he leads us and all the world.

With blessings for Easter,

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

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Drought and famine relief embodies spirit of Lent

April 12, 2017 - 5:48pm

For one small congregation in the Anglican Diocese of Saskatchewan, the spirit of the Lenten season found palpable expression at a March 12 Sunday service in response to the threat of drought and famine in East Africa.

The week prior to the service, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien declared to the Security Council that 20 million people were in danger of starving to death in what he called “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN,” a crisis exacerbated by war and drought.

Speaking to the ecumenical congregation at Turtle River Parish in the village of Mervin, where the local church has hosted a shared Anglican-United ministry for 47 years, Bishop Michael Hawkins—who regularly preaches at the church—read aloud his letter to congregations across the diocese asking for a special offering to be taken up on March 26 for emergency response in East Africa and elsewhere.

By the following Wednesday, the Mervin congregation had sent a $3,500 cheque to the Diocese of Saskatchewan payable to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), and another cheque for $1,500 to Mission and Service, the umbrella development and relief organization for the United Church of Canada.

“That was just one congregation—I think the attendance that Sunday was 22 people,” Bishop Hawkins said. “So it was miraculous and remarkable.

“You worry that people’s financial resources are exhausted, and that their sympathy and compassion has been exhausted in these times, and that’s certainly not the case in that congregation. I was moved to tears.”

Highlighting the presence of both Anglican and United church members, which he said underscored the value parishioners placed on “the unity of the human family and the Christian family”, the bishop drew a connection between Lent and the gift of the Mervin congregation.

“Obviously something connected with them,” he said. “It’s a generous and happy congregation in Mervin. But one of the traditional things in Lent is extending yourself in some way and caring for the poor and the needy and the neglected, whether that’s people actually doing works or the old tradition of coin boxes and the like.

“It has been always a time for works and acts of mercy … I suspect, as this crisis grows to be as big as some are fearing, that there’ll be a lot more tension and there may be more work.”

The Diocese of Saskatchewan continues to collect donations from across the diocese payable to PWRDF, which has been at the front lines of the Canadian Anglican response to the hunger crisis in East Africa.

Working with its partner organizations, the agency has donated $50,000 to the ACT Alliance appeal for South Sudan and Kenya, $20,000 to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency for famine relief in South Sudan, and $30,000 to the ACT Alliance appeal to address the drought emergency in Somalia.

A concerted PWRDF campaign to provide famine relief, running until May 31, is currently underway. The agency continues to accept donations for South Sudan and Kenya.

Make a donation to support famine relief in East Africa.

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Atrocities and Innocents: A call to prayer by the Primate

April 10, 2017 - 6:51pm

In our time in history, terrible crimes against humanity are claiming more and more innocent victims.

Last week, the world witnessed horrific images of Syrian children foaming at the mouth, convulsing and dying in the arms of their sobbing mothers and fathers. Their deaths were brought on by yet another round of the use of chemical weapons in the long and bloody conflict that has savaged Syria for six years, claiming the lives of some 400,000 people.

Last night, the world witnessed the aftermath of bomb blasts in two Coptic Christian Churches in Egypt, St. George’s Church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Forty-four people were killed and scores of others injured. Their blood was splattered over the white washed walls and floors of their beautiful churches, where the faithful in Christ have worshipped for centuries.

All of this carnage and chaos marked the beginning of liturgies remembering The Lord’s Passion and Death. This will be a very difficult Holy Week for Coptic Christians, not only in Egypt where there will be multiple funerals, but throughout the world as they mourn the dead and pray for those wounded and traumatized by this vicious attack.

With them I ask your prayers for Pope Tawadros II and all the clergy and faithful of his flock and for the leaders of other Churches in Egypt as well, including Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the Primate of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. Pray for their friendship in Christ and for their efforts to bear a common witness to the faith they share.

I ask your prayers for the departed that they be received into the arms of Christ’s mercy.

I ask your prayers for all who grieve, and all who are in spiritual turmoil at this time, that they may find consolation in the sufferings of Christ and hope in his triumph over the forces of evil and death.

In his reflection on “The Holy Innocents” of Herod’s fury and rage, Stephen Reynolds writes, “we live in an age of atrocities, in a time infamous for the slaughter of innocent bystanders who never chose the causes for which they have been made to die.” In remembering them, Reynolds says “we perform an office for them and all other victims of massacre. We become their voice and cry out for God to remember the slaughtered – and to remember them for the sake of Christ, himself the great Innocent who was crucified by the ‘rulers of this age’” (p. 46, For All the Saints).


The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

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‘Undone, only to be renewed’

April 7, 2017 - 5:19pm

As we make our way through Holy Week – that time of such wondrous love, when for my sake and that of all the world Christ gave himself to death, there are two moments when I am invariably ‘undone’.

One of those moments is on Maundy Thursday. We will have recalled the Last Supper and the conversation in that Upper Room of long ago. We will have received the Blessed Sacrament with those immortal words, “The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you.” We will have no sooner given thanks for this holy mystery when we behold the very altar around which we celebrated being stripped and laid bare.

Reminded that “when they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26) we too “Go to dark Gethsemane”. We recall our Lord’s agony and arrest, his prayer and his passion. We remember too how “all of them (disciples) deserted him and fled”. (Mark 14:50) In the chaos of that moment we are left to consider how we too forsake and flee from him – when his teaching is too hard to embrace, his gospel too hard to embody in the manner of our living. We leave the church in silence. For those of a truly humble and contrite heart, it can be a rather restless night.

The other moment is on Good Friday. We will have read The Passion of the Lord and sung a hymn calling to remembrance his wounds for our redemption. As the prophet said of The Suffering Servant of God, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

We will have been drawn into The Solemn Intercession, praying for ourselves, for the Church and for the whole world. And just when we think that liturgy is coming to its conclusion, there is a procession. It may be but one person – perhaps the priest, perhaps the deacon, perhaps someone else representing the community of the baptized – bearing a cross, its arms across their shoulder, its foot dragged behind. Given the proportions of the cross, its height and its weight, this procession may be the loving labour of a band of men and women, young and old.

The cross that is borne may be one reserved for use on this day only. It may be finished and lacquered, or it may be rough and rugged. In some places it is made from the trunks of the trees that adorned the sanctuary as we celebrated The Nativity of the Lord, now bound together as we remember His Passion and Death. In yet other places it may be limbs of trees broken and fallen through the storms of winter tied together in a form that is so utterly stark.

Once the cross has been raised in the sight of all the people, the celebrant says “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world” and the people respond, “Come let us worship”. What follows is a deep and prolonged silence.

And then it starts – a procession, like no other. All one can hear is the sound of footsteps over a floor of wood or stone. Some are quick, some are slower, some are a shuffle. While many come on their own, some come with the support of another’s arm. All are coming to venerate the Cross, each in their own way. Some stand before it. Others kneel as they are able. Some reach out to touch it and then trace its sign over their bodies. Others lean forward to kiss it.

Some remain before the Cross for a few minutes. Others linger just a little longer. For some it may be a time of deeply personal prayer for forgiveness for some sin that has weighed them down for years, some sin they need to lay down and leave at the foot of the Cross. For some it may be a prayer for reconciliation with someone from whom they have been estranged. For others it may be a prayer for reconciliation within families, between peoples, among the nations. For others it may be a prayer for the Church itself that it be reformed and renewed and graced afresh in all the values and wonders of the Gospel it proclaims.

While many come forward for this act of devotion, a few because of infirmity, or reasons unknown to any of us, join it from their places. Their devotion is no less sincere than anyone else’s. For however we keep this moment, we enter into it inspired by St. Paul’s teaching, “For some the message about the cross is foolishness, to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

When the Veneration of the Cross is completed, the people join in singing a hymn extolling its glory. Like Isaac Watts’ “When I survey the wondrous cross”, it may call each one to a renewed consecration of their life in the love of The Crucified. Like Venantius Fortunatus “Sing my tongue, the glorious battle”, it may draw the entire community into a renewal of its song and service in the name of The Crucified.

This liturgy concludes with the anthem the Church has sung for centuries,

“We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because of your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

Thanks be to God.

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Yukon bishop’s ministry of presence brings him back to parish life

April 6, 2017 - 6:59pm

Making crafts with children is not the first activity one typically thinks of when considering Episcopal ministry. But for Bishop Larry Robertson, it’s all part of the job in his new role as rector of the Church of the Northern Apostles in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Since last summer, Bishop Robertson has been serving a hybrid role as both parish rector and diocesan bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Yukon. The move is part of an effort to meet the ministry needs of the community with limited resources in a diocese that has just three stipendiary priests. The bishop and the diocesan executive have developed a new ministry of presence, calling the bishop to engage in parish ministry for a three-year period. This will be in addition to Bishop Robertson’s Episcopal ministry.

On March 24 at the Church of the Northern Apostles in Whitehorse, Yukon, a Lenten event was held to prepare for Easter. Participants—including elders and young people—gathered for teaching and children’s ministry, a longtime focus for Robertson since before his ordination to the priesthood. Approximately 18 people attended the event, which also included a potluck, craft-making, and learning new songs for Easter.

Crafts consisted of making butterflies out of tissue paper and cellophane, as well as creating family prayer beads, which the bishop saw as a helpful way to teach children to pray.

“This is the first time we’ve had [the Lenten event], to see how it went, and it went very, very well … I thought it was a good time,” Robertson said.

“I [felt] rather awkward, because I just started [at the parish]—I haven’t been in a parish in … almost 15 years I guess, now,” he laughed. “So I’m sort of re-learning again, and the parish is just beginning to gel together.”

Officially, Bishop Robertson is only present at the parish half-time. Lay leaders and other community members support outreach, lead Bible studies, and produce bulletins and schedules for daily readers.

Along with his focus on Anglicans already attending the parish, Bishop Robertson is mindful of new outreach opportunities. He noted that construction is currently underway on a new Whitehorse suburb known as Whistle Bend, located just south of the parish.

“We’ve been very blessed with a congregation that wants to grow … We’re going to have to look at how we reach out to this whole new sort of subdivision which is just opening up,” he said. “They’re talking about 8,000-10,000 people being in there in the next few years … We have to be prepared and be ready for them.”

While the idea of a bishop taking on a parish role may be relatively new, it reflects the unique conditions that many bishops face in some northern dioceses, where parishes are often remote and isolated from each other and stipendiary clergy are a rare commodity.

“Our work compared to southern city bishops is different,” Robertson said. “Our ministries are different. I find we’re much more pastoral in the sense of hands-on [activity]. Many of our parishes don’t have clergy, and so we find ourselves doing services. We find ourselves doing AGMs. I did the AGM for St. Christopher’s [Anglican Church] in Haines Junction this year, simply because there’s no minister there now this year.”

Though he has received queries from other bishops asking about his ministry of presence and the experience of taking on a parish, there is as of yet no sign that other dioceses are considering similar proposals.

With the experiment still only in its first year, the diocese will need time to evaluate the program and decide on how it plans to proceed after the conclusion of Bishop Robertson’s three-year parish tenure.

For now, the bishop is content to enjoy the experience of returning to ministry to a parish community.

“It’s refreshing,” he said. “Oftentimes [bishops] don’t get a chance to be there, and to be with children and to be with parish things. These are the sort of happy, joyful times in a parish where you see them gathering and growing together, and for me, that’s exciting … I’m enjoying it tremendously.”

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General Synod appoints reconciliation animator

April 3, 2017 - 8:25pm

Taking another step towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has appointed Ms. Melanie Delva as its reconciliation animator, effective June 1, 2017.

Ms. Delva currently serves as Archivist for the Diocese of New Westminster and the Provincial Synod of B.C. and Yukon, a position she has held for 12 years. During this time, she was part of the pilot project for document collection as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and spent eight years working with survivors of the residential school system.

Melanie Delva. Photo by Wayne Chose

Identifying as a first-generation settler of Belgian descent living on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, Delva grew up on Treaty 4 territory of the Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation and the Métis Nation.

She first became heavily involved with reconciliation initiatives during her time with the TRC pilot project, and has presented papers on the TRC, reconciliation, the Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in Canada, the United States, and Europe, as well as preaching in parishes in both Canada and the U.S.

As a result of her work with the TRC, in 2015 Delva was spiritually adopted into the Grizzly Clan of the Lytton Band of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation. She learned much from hearing the experience of her adoptive father Coyote Terry Aleck, the first residential school survivor to take legal action against the Anglican Church of Canada, whom she later accompanied to the TRC closing ceremonies in Ottawa.

“The TRC and my new family in the Grizzly clan have shaped so much of my learning around Indigenous culture, around systems that are perpetuated post-residential school closures, and show me in really painfully obvious ways how these systems still work against Indigenous people,” Delva said.

In her new role as reconciliation animator, Delva will be responsible for forming and equipping a national team to “encourage and sustain engagement in the work of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous persona and communities, both within the Anglican Church of Canada and in Canadian society”.

Specifically, she will guide the overall strategy of the Anglican Church of Canada for implementing the TRC Calls to Action, incorporating the UNDRIP into the life of the church, responding to calls for justice from Indigenous leadership both inside and outside the church, and recognizing and acting on opportunities to act in support of reconciliation at the local, diocesan, and national levels.

Delva describes her guiding principle as “reconciliation as a spiritual practice” that must be “built into who we are”, similar to the incorporation of prayer and study into daily life.

“I believe that reconciliation needs to become a spiritual practice, so that it’s no longer this thing that we do in initiatives or at a march—it can manifest that way, and probably would—but that it becomes part of our day-to-day thinking and the way that we approach everything that we do in our work and in our social time,” Delva said.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said Delva’s view of reconciliation as a spiritual practice rooted in the gospel was “very encouraging”.

The Primate said that Delva would work well within the church while helping build bridges with other organizations equally committed to reconciliation arising from the legacy of the residential schools, such as the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the National Métis Council.

“If our church is going to get on with responding with integrity to the Calls to Action from the TRC, and we’re going to get on with, as I said last year, letting our ‘yes’ be yes when it comes to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, then we need this kind of a position,” Archbishop Hiltz said. “And I think it’s a movement of the spirit that we actually have felt called to create and provide the funding for this ministry.”

As reconciliation animator, Delva will work from Vancouver, spending at least five days per month in Toronto.

Her initial plans include reviewing the Calls to Action and the UN Declaration, “seeing where we’re at right now, what’s happening on the ground and what’s happening at different levels of the church—and then listening a lot to Indigenous people in Canada about where they see gaps, where we can do better, and going from there.”

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Cree Language Healing Project restores cultural identity

March 27, 2017 - 12:30pm

Raised by his grandparents in northern Saskatchewan, the Rev. Samuel Halkett never attended a residential school.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” said Halkett, who grew up speaking Cree and worked as a Cree language instructor before becoming an Anglican priest. “That’s the only language I knew,” he added. “And it’s the culture I lived through with my grandparents.”

Tragically, the ability to speak one’s own language was a right denied to many survivors of the Indian residential school system, a number of which were run by the Anglican Church of Canada until 1969.

The Anglican Healing Fund recently granted $10,530 to support the Cree Language Healing Project in which Halkett serves as the main language instructor. Based out of the Cathedral Church of St. Alban’s the Martyr in Prince Albert, Sask., the project—initiated by former rector Ken Davis and now in its third year—provides weekly Cree language instruction and is available to all members of the community.

Participants come from a diverse range of backgrounds, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous—including Cree, Dene, and Métis. But the project is mainly geared to are those who lost their language while attending the residential schools and the generations who have since been impacted—a group that includes many young parents.

Reflecting the intergenerational trauma of the residential school system, many parents were unable to pass on knowledge of traditional language and culture to their own children.

“It hurts the children that are denied … their language, and they’re denied the ways of our elders in the past,” Halkett said. “And I think it’s important to know where we come from in order for us to know where we’re heading.”

The Cree Language Healing Project teaches the y dialect of the Plains Cree, the most prevalent Cree dialect in the Prince Albert area. Numerous Cree dialects exist, with Halkett himself originally speaking the th dialect of the northern Woods Cree.

Each weekly meeting starts with an evening meal before language instruction proper.

For Halkett, language and culture cannot be separated, and he considers hands-on cultural activities the “most powerful” way that he teaches Cree. Music is an important teaching tool, with the instructor regularly breaking out a guitar and leading participants in Cree-language songs.

Other cultural forms such as puppet shows find particular appeal for young children in the class.

“The exciting part [for] children is when they come out there and they see these puppets talking Cree,” Halkett said with a chuckle.

The Cree Language Healing Project saw an estimated 87 people take Cree language instruction in its first year, Halkett said. Current average weekly attendance is approximately 20 students.

Chris Lyons, treasurer at St. Alban’s, said informal feedback from parish members suggested that the language project “has done what it was intended to do” by encouraging language and having “people feel connected and welcome in the Anglican Church”.

The Anglican Healing Fund grant application from St. Alban’s provided a stated completion date of March 31, 2017, but the cathedral is optimistic that the project will remain an ongoing endeavour.

“We’re hoping to continue with it,” Lyons said. “Much of the funding for the program itself has come as a result of the grant from the Anglican Church [through] the [Healing and] Reconciliation Fund … We’ve had some preliminary discussions about self-financing the program, because we do see it certainly as significant outreach for our parish into the larger community, plus providing a service [and] bringing people into our parish.”

The pride that flows from being able to speak in one’s own language may be the most significant and long-lasting benefit, as native Cree speaker Halkett can attest.

“For me to carry something like that with me in all my days of my life, I feel so proud of that,” Halkett said.

“When there’s that identity that comes in, there’s pride that comes with it, with the language. And that’s what I’m really focusing on [now], especially young families.”

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‘A tribute to a dear friend in Christ’

March 21, 2017 - 5:16pm

It is with great sadness that our Church mourns the death of one of its most widely and highly respected leaders, Terence Edward Finlay. In the course of his ordained ministry which spanned almost fifty-six years, he was known as Father, Archdeacon, Bishop, Archbishop, The Primate’s Envoy for Residential Schools, Co-Chair of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, Liaison Bishop to the Mission to Seafarers Canada, and Chaplain to the National House of Bishops. No matter the order of ministry to which he was called, the office he held, or the title he bore, the most distinguishing mark of his ministry was friendship, that friendship into which Jesus called his disciples in The Upper Room on the Eve of His Passion, Death and Resurrection, that friendship into which he calls his followers in every age.

Terry was one of those bishops in whom as Rowan Williams would say, you could see “The Gathering Christ”…“someone around whom it is possible so see what the Church is”, the Body of Christ, each and every one of us, members one of another. Terry enjoyed gathering the Church for worship and fellowship, for dialogue and discernment of the Spirit’s work in our midst. Across differences in theological perspective he gathered people and enabled them to speak and listen to each other with respect. Throughout his entire ministry he upheld the wonders of diversity in unity. He worked hard to help us live by St. Paul’s counsel that we be “forbearing in love”, and “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Indeed he embodied that long cherished principle among Anglicans of holding one another in “bonds of affection” in Christ.

None of us will ever forget his broad smile and his hearty laugh. None of us will forget those moments when his eyes danced with delight over someone’s happiness or great accomplishment. Nor will we forget those moments when his eyes welled up with tears over the great pain or grief someone was bearing. None of us will ever forget seeing his head lifted up in song – he loved to sing! Nor will we forget seeing his head bowed in shame and contrition for the suffering inflicted upon hundreds and hundreds of children through the Indian Residential Schools. None of us will forget how he gently raised his hands in presiding at the Eucharist and how he extended his hands in celebrating the peace into which Christ calls us. Terry had a handshake and an embrace in which we all experienced something of the fullness of Christ’s love for us all.

None of us will ever forget how much he enjoyed a good story nor how much he enjoyed telling one of his own – and he had plenty!

I know I am but one among so many who can say Terry was one of my dearest friends. I admired him. I learned much from him. I was encouraged by him. I was challenged by him. I appreciated his wisdom borne of many years in ministry. I was grateful for his counsel. And I always had the sense that when he said “I hold you in my prayers daily” he really did. There was about him a genuineness, a modesty, and a holiness that enriched my life and so many others too.

While we all mourn him we know what great trust he had in the promises of Christ. What great confidence he had in the Communion of Saints, what great joy he had in the very thought of being a guest in heaven.

As we remember, our dear friend in Christ, we pray for Alice Jean (“AJ”), and for their daughters Sara Jane and Rebecca and their grandchildren whom he loved dearly.

In remembering the manner of Terry’s living and dying, a prayer written many years ago by Theodore Parker Ferris comes to mind.

“Teach me, O Lord, not to hold on to life too tightly. Teach me to hold it lightly; not carelessly, but lightly, easily. Teach me to take it as a gift, to enjoy and cherish while I have it, and to let it go gracefully and thankfully when the time comes. The gift is great, but the Giver is greater still. Thou, O God, art the Giver and in thee is the Life that never dies. Amen.”

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There was nothing good: An open letter to Canadian Senator Lynn Beyak

March 20, 2017 - 2:59pm

Dear Senator Beyak:

Not only in the Red Chamber on Parliament Hill, but across the country, many people – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – were dismayed by your remarks. You said “I was disappointed in the TRC’s Report and that it didn’t focus on the good,” associated with Residential Schools. Had you, Senator, made these remarks within a discussion of the TRC’s Report, your comments might have been less shocking.

Senator Beyak, you are quite right in saying that for a small minority of survivors, their personal experiences of Residential School were “good”.  But in much greater numbers, the personal experiences of children who were housed in those schools were “bad” – very bad in fact. One only needs to have attended a local, regional or national event hosted by Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission to know this. The Commissioners listened to the personal stories of thousands of students – of survivors – all of which bore witness to the horrific experience they had.

There are hundreds of students who went to Residential Schools administered by the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). They have told their stories at our church’s National Native Convocation and at Sacred Circle Gatherings. We have been rendered speechless by what we heard. We have hung our heads in shame and raised them with remorse over the pain our church inflicted upon those children.

There was nothing good about a federal government policy of forcibly removing children “from their evil surroundings”, housing them in schools with the intent of “killing the Indian in the child…and turning them into a civilized adult”. It was an attempt at cultural genocide, an attempt whose failure bears witness to the courage and resilience of those children and their communities. As elder Barney Williams of the Survivors’ Society has so often said, “We were all brave children.”

There was nothing good about practices of taking away children, removing their traditional dress, cutting their hair, taking away their name, confiscating their personal effects and giving them a number.

There was nothing good about forbidding children to speak their own language, to sing and dance in a powwow, to practice their own spirituality. It was a denial of their dignity and human rights.

There was nothing good about experimenting with children’s diet to monitor the impact on their dental hygiene or their digestive systems. There was nothing good about pressing children into forced labour. It was state-sanctioned cruelty.

There was nothing good about denying a child a celebration of his or her birthday, about separating siblings one from another, not allowing them to be home for Christmas, or to enjoy summer holiday.

There was nothing good about child abuse – and it was rampant in Residential Schools – physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Such abuses were nothing less than crimes against humanity.

There was nothing good about children going missing and no report being filed. There was nothing good about burying children in unmarked graves far from their ancestral homes. It heaped cruelty upon cruelty for the child taken and the parent left behind.

There is nothing good about a lingering and sordid legacy of intergenerational trauma reflected in poor health, the struggle to enjoy healthy relationships, addictions, domestic violence, astonishingly high rates of incarceration and communal dysfunction.

There is nothing good about Indigenous people treated as “second class”, the blatant evidence of which persists in lower funding for health care, education, policing, and emergency health services. It is a travesty.

All these atrocities associated with the Indian Residential Schools have been documented through the work of TRC Commissioners Murray Sinclair, Marie Wilson, and Wilton Littlechild. The several volumes of their report attest to this dark chapter in the history of Canada. We encourage you to review them. The ninety-four Calls to Action that complement their report are a “roadmap”, as they put it, for journeying toward healing and reconciliation. It will take years to address these Calls to Action fully, but in our commitment as a country to do so, we must be unwavering. We implore you to share in that commitment.

It is true that there were some glimpses of good, well-intentioned teachers, nurses and staff in those schools. We know a number of them personally and we know something of their own internal turmoil and agree that their stories have to be heard. It is true that some Residential School survivors can speak of a personal positive experience. We do not deny that their stories need to be heard too. But we are compelled to say that while there are those glimpses of good in the history of the Residential Schools, the overall view is grim. It is shadowed and dark; it is sad and shameful.

Senator Beyak, you hold up colonial historic accounts of church-run schools across Manitoba (the Pas, Grand Rapids), northern Ontario (Fort Frances, Fort Albany), and Athabasca. The accounts emphasize the good work of missionaries and the churches’ role in positively influencing the life of Indigenous peoples in these places. While there is no doubt that some good things happened, that is so clearly not the whole story that it demands a response.

What your story doesn’t tell us is of the cramped and unsanitary conditions in schools run by the Church Missionary Society of the Church of England, (the Anglican Church of Canada), in the Pas and Dauphin Manitoba; Lac La Ronge and Onion Lake, Saskatchewan; and Wabasca, Alberta. Conditions in these schools led to fires, to outbreaks of diphtheria, to gas leaks. Children died. We cannot speak about the Residential Schools without acknowledging these truths.  To do so would once more silence the witness of thousands of children – some of whom never returned home. It is Indigenous people who have the authority to tell the story. It is our duty to receive that story and allow it to change us.

Our church has offered apologies and will continue to do so. We have supported community-based programmes for healing, through the Anglican Healing Fund, and we will continue that work both as it seeks to foster healing in the lives of persons and families, and to support the recovery of language, culture and spiritual practices consistent with Indigenous identities and traditions. We recognize that this work of healing and reconciliation will take many, many years and we pledge our very best efforts in being steadfast in that work. We ask for a similar expression of commitment from you, and as a member of the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee.

We say this as leaders in a church that ran a number of these Schools. We say this as leaders in a church that has members who are Indigenous and non-Indigenous, survivors and staff, settlers and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. In 1993, Archbishop Michael Peers made an apology to Residential School Survivors on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada. Among his expressions of remorse for what had happened to so many innocent children he said “I am sorry that we tried to remake you in our image…We failed you. We failed ourselves. We failed God.”

We pray to God that our Church and our country remain firm in its resolve to support healing and reconciliation.

We pray that all the people of Canada – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and all others who through waves of immigration have come to settle here may with goodwill forge a new future together.

We pray that future will be marked by a profound respect for the dignity with which the Creator has endowed all peoples, and by that harmony with which the Creator would have us live – in relations that are good and right and just for all.

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church of Canada The Right Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Indigenous Anglican Bishop
The Anglican Church of Canada Michael Thompson
General Secretary
The Anglican Church of Canada

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Congregational development: Mission and organizational health

March 8, 2017 - 2:00pm

The following is part of an ongoing series on congregational development, which features reflections from Anglicans on how they are responding to the challenges facing churches today.

A longtime trainer at the Diocesan School for Parish Development in Vancouver, B.C., Tasha Carrothers is familiar with a wide range of models for congregational development.

Currently ministry resource associate for the Diocese of New Westminster, Carrothers describes congregational development as “finding a fit between the component parts in a congregation” through collaboration between clergy and laypeople.

“It’s about mission, but it’s about more than that,” Carrothers said. “It’s about organizational health.”

“When we talk about there being a fit, what we mean is, yeah, you have a mission,” she added. “But your mission is a good fit with the people who are in your parish, the people who are around in the neighbourhood, with your financial means, with your buildings. You can have a mission that is just disconnected from reality, or doesn’t stretch you enough.”

Carrothers was initially hired at the diocesan synod office to resource a specific program around parish revitalization and reorganization. The program was designed to facilitate conversations between parishes in the face of declining church attendance and the need for repairs on many buildings—two common challenges facing churches across Canada.

In her experience as a layperson, Carrothers has encountered many parishes and congregations that have worked on strengthening different aspects of their organization, which in turn improves their ability to carry out their ministry.

As an example of where the process might start, she recalled a small rural congregation in which the priest had identified a lack of connection and engagement with the surrounding neighbourhood.

“They’re starting with something that the priest has identified as a need, based on her understanding of what it is that a parish church should be doing … So you could say that that’s about clarifying their mission.”

In identifying the most pressing needs faced by a congregation, one area of focus will often lead directly into others. Carrothers pointed to a frequent instance of clergy approaching her and suggesting that their congregation needs to work on visioning—creating a compelling vision of goals and objectives to help guide it.

“After interviewing them for a while, it turns out it isn’t really visioning for the whole system that they need to work on,” she said. “It’s more that the leaders don’t understand their roles. The wardens don’t really know what they’re supposed to be doing, or there’s this jockeying back and forth between the authority of the priest and the role of the laypeople.

“So we could work on that, just developing clearer boundaries [and] clearer understandings around decision-making that’s going to make things go more smoothly. Then the place will be happier, and then visitors might stick around. It can be that basic.”

Following a series of town hall meetings to identify mission priorities in the next five years for St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Vancouver, Carrothers ran a workshop with members of the congregation to clarify the role of parish councils, which had not been clearly articulated canonically.

To help improve the effectiveness of parish councils at St. Paul’s, she asked council members as individuals to reflect on why they chose to serve on council. Rather than out of a sense of obligation, Carrothers indicated that serving on parish councils should represent a form of participation in Christian service.

Along with reflection at the individual level, the workshop also asked council members to reflect on their goals as a council.

“That intervention is going to make council more effective,” Carrothers said. “It’s going to make the church experience more fulfilling for those individuals, and that’s congregational development … It helps strengthen the mission, but it’s one of the building blocks.”

Key to successful congregational development, however, is maintaining a sense of proportion regarding the long-term success of implementing different plans and ideas.

“It’s not where I go in one Saturday and run a workshop … and everybody feels good at the end of the workshop, but then nobody’s actually able to do it, or the opportunities don’t arise, and so there’s no membership growth,” Carrothers cautioned. “Let’s just be realistic about what the outcomes are going to be as well.”

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Rupert’s Land Urban Indigenous Ministry promotes traditional and Christian healing practices

March 2, 2017 - 2:00pm

As urban Indigenous ministry developer for the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, the Rev. Vincent Solomon plays the lead role in ongoing work to bolster Indigenous Anglican ministry in the city of Winnipeg—work that has three major components.

Responsible for growing and ministering to a new worshipping community, Solomon was installed as Incumbent at the opening service of Epiphany Anglican Indigenous Church on Feb. 12. The Rt. Rev. Donald Phillips, bishop of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land presided and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald preached at the ceremony.

To deepen healing and reconciliation within the diocese, local events are currently being planned to bring members of the community together—as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, as Anglicans—for joint worship services, feasts, and conversation.

Perhaps the most critical component, in Solomon’s view, is a focus on healing by providing a safe place for Indigenous people who have endured trauma. Primary among the sources of this suffering is experiences in Indian residential schools—many of which were run by the Anglican Church of Canada—and the resulting intergenerational trauma.

Since September 2016, Solomon has provided pastoral care at St. Francis Mission Centre in north Winnipeg to those who have asked for it, providing a forum for people to talk through painful experiences within the context of traditional Indigenous and Christian forms of healing.

Clinical counselors, pastoral care workers, and elders, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are now in place and ready to hold regular talking and healing circles as more people in the Winnipeg community hear about the ministry being offered.

“The elders will be teaching on our traditional cultures, traditional values,” Solomon said. “That’s part of the healing process, I believe, for Indigenous people.

“We need a lot more of that, because it’s been taken away, and it had been taken away by the church, and so we need to replace that … in order for Indigenous people to get back to where we were before, which was a place of health and wellness.”

Bishop Don Phillips described the Indigenous ministry work spearheaded by Solomon as the “bringing to fruition” of work that has been going on in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land for decades.

The bishop said that the vision of a flourishing Indigenous worship community was first realized in the 1980s and 1990s, but gradually subsided as financial support dried up. It found new life about 10 years ago when the Rupert’s Land Indigenous Council and its program arm “Wechetowin” (Cree for “people helping people”) launched a full-time Indigenous Mission Developer position, until funding once again ran out three years later.

“The launch of Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church provides a secure foundation from which Indigenous-led programs (in partnership with non-indigenous Anglicans) can flourish and help persons find healing and wholeness appropriate to their own journey,” Bishop Phillips said.

“An important part of accomplishing the spiritual restoration that must take place is the opportunity to experience mutual learning and reconciliation with non-Indigenous persons, and the talking and healing circles provide for this. Because this is a ministry immersed in the middle of our diocesan community, our whole diocesan family will be affected by its presence and invited to grow and learn from the wisdom and healing that emerges.”

Solomon’s efforts to promote urban Indigenous ministry in Winnipeg recently received a boost in the form of two $10,000 grants from the Anglican Foundation.

One grant will pay for items such as office furniture, computers, and a baptismal fount at Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church. The other will cover the cost of honorariums and gas money for the counselors, educator training in traditional Indigenous and Christian forms of healing, pastoral care workers, and elders who often travel long distances to take part in the healing circles.

An Indigenous-led group called Rising Above recently provided training to the six counselors, pastoral care workers, and elders, half of whom are Indigenous and the other half non-Indigenous.

The session focused on the background of residential school experiences and the trauma that must be dealt with in terms of healing and counselling, which Solomon noted includes sexual, physical, and emotional abuse that took place within the residential schools.

“You compound that [abuse] with being stripped of your culture and your language, at the same time being told that you’re a worthless Indian … the trauma of having your culture taken away from you and your language taken away from you … [Being] taken away from the home of your parents and from learning about your heritage, and those kinds of things that people also need healing from.”

With the last residential school in Canada only closing in 1996, and the persistence of intergenerational trauma, demographics of people who have attended the healing circles will encompass a wide age range, from youth to seniors.

Solomon described the reception of the healing program within the Winnipeg community as “very positive” thus far.

“There is an interest out there for the services and the ministry that we will be providing and are providing … But it will be a very positive thing for the people who do come and talk through their own trauma,” Solomon said.

“Of course, it’s not all positive,” he added. “They’re in pain and they need to work this stuff through, and so the positive part of that is that they are willing and needing and asking for help, which is hopefully what we are giving them.”

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Remember the Refugees and Migrants

March 1, 2017 - 7:12pm

Remember the Refugees and Migrants: An Ash Wednesday message from the ACC, ELCIC, TEC and ELCA

Ash Wednesday, 2017

On this day many people will participate in a liturgy including the Imposition of Ashes.  Some presiders blot these ashes upon our foreheads and we are reminded that we are but dust and to dust shall we return.  Others trace them upon our forehead in the sign of the cross, a reminder of the place to where the Lenten journey takes us.  Even at the outset of this holy season we are reminded that while for some the cross is a stumbling block and for others mere foolishness, it is for those who are being called, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23).  Remembering Christ crucified we are mindful not only of our personal need for repentance and renewal in doing the work of God, but indeed of the need of all humanity to repent of our indifference to the brokenness of our relationships, to the suffering of millions of people worldwide who are starving, oppressed, enslaved, or seeking sanctuary even if it be in a place far from their homeland.

This Lent we call our Churches to be continually mindful of the global refugee and migration crises, and the injustices and conflicts that have swelled the statistics to a number greater than ever in the history of the world.  We acknowledge the good work done by so many of our synods and dioceses and parishes in sponsoring refugees, welcoming them, accompanying them and advocating for them as they settle in our countries.  Similarly, we commend the compassionate work of our partner churches in other lands and intergovernmental bodies caring for migrants and refugees. We call on our Churches not to weary of this good work in the name of God.

Given the current political climate in the United States, it is important to say that while both our countries recognize the need for measures ensuring homeland security, we also stand up for the long established policies that welcome migrants and refugees.  That is not to say any of them are not beyond reform.  But it is to say that fair and generous policies strengthen the economy of our nations and enriches the economic, fabric of our countries – a fabric woven by both the First Peoples of these lands and all those who have settled here through numerous waves of migration throughout our histories.

Fair and generous action and deliberations are from our perspective, deeply grounded in the Law of Moses, in the teaching of the Prophets and in the Gospel of Jesus.  For some two millennia millions of people have found consolation in the suffering of Jesus upon the cross and in his holy name they have prayed for the compassion and justice of God in the midst of the terrible circumstances of their lives – circumstances that compel them to flee their homelands, making their way over dangerous treks of land. Sometimes they find refuge in new nations and frequently they make their way to ports where they can board vessels and make what are often treacherous voyages in the hope of reaching a land free of the oppression they have known.  Some make it.  Many don’t.

May this Season of Lent be especially marked by our prayers and advocacy for refugees and migrants – on the run, in United Nations camps, in waiting, in our communities… And let it be marked by a continuing resolve in welcoming the stranger in our midst, for such hospitality is in keeping with the faith we proclaim. (Matthew 25:31-40)

In Christ,

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop
Episcopal Church (United States)

Download this message in PDF format

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How Anglicans and partners are confronting human trafficking

February 28, 2017 - 2:00pm

A renewed focus across the worldwide Anglican Communion to tackle human trafficking kicked into high gear in 2012 when the Anglican Consultative Council passed Resolution 15:10 on the Trafficking of Persons. The resolution urged provinces in the Anglican Communion to learn about and raise awareness of trafficking in their respective countries and to work towards its elimination.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s contributions to the fight against human trafficking have taken a variety of forms. General Synod’s Director of Global Relations, Dr. Andrea Mann, is currently coordinating the church’s work in combating human trafficking. Mann said that Resolution 15:10 gave a “green light” for work in this area by providing a framework for Canadian Anglicans to tackle the issue.

“I can say with confidence that it’s something that the church has worked on for some time,” Mann said.

“Certainly locally, people who are maybe not in paid accountable church ministry as clergy, but [are] certainly church members—as social workers, as teachers, as front-line workers, in urban ministry—are working with traffic-vulnerable or traffic-rescued people in the programs that they have in shelters and food kitchens and places like that.”

Church initiatives against human trafficking encompass dioceses, religious orders, Mission to Seafarers, the Anglican Military Ordinariate, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, and the General Synod.

At the national level, Anglicans work through ecumenical organizations such as KAIROS and the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) to coordinate their efforts with other denominations.

Part of the CCC Commission on Justice and Peace is the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada, formerly known as the Working Group on Human Trafficking in Canada. The working group brings together representatives of different churches to share information and identify areas each church is currently working on, as well as areas where they might further collaborate.

At the moment, the working group is focused on four key areas: advocacy, education, theological reflection, and worship resources.

Where advocacy is concerned, the CCC working group is committed to a focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women and children. Members have written letters to federal ministers asking them to take women and children who have been ensnared in the sex trade into consideration as they move forward with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The working group also continues to engage with Bill C-36, which was passed under the last Conservative government and amended the Criminal Code regarding sex work in Canada.

“There have been rumblings that maybe the Liberal government will re-evaluate this law,” said Jennifer Lucking, working group chair and coordinator of human trafficking outreach for the Reformed Church in America. “So we’re keeping our eye on that.”

A major resource released by the working group is Human Trafficking in Canada: A Leadership and Learning Kit for Churches. Members are currently working on updating the resource and providing further worship resources for theological reflection.

Since 2013, the Rev. Carolyn Seabrook, regional dean for Carleton and incumbent at the Parish of Kars-Osgoode in the Diocese of Ottawa, has served as the Anglican representative on the CCC working group. She first became active in combating human trafficking through her involvement with the International Anglican Women’s Network.

“It has been somewhat challenging to fully participate in the work of this group, given that our Anglican Church is not quite as far along as many of them are on this issue,” Seabrook said.

“We have not yet had a broad conversation that might lead us to be able to make statements on behalf of our church on this topic. Therefore we participate in discussions, but are not always able to sign on to the letters that get forwarded.”

Many Anglicans are taking action at the parish and diocesan levels. In Ottawa, working with the group Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking (PACT), Anglicans have worked with local women’s organizations to take grassroots action to raise awareness of human trafficking.

One project to raise awareness involved volunteers creating rag dolls for an art display in order “to show how easily women’s lives are discarded through trafficking,” Seabrook explained.

“That art installation then would lead to an opportunity to provide education and resources and whatnot, just to raise awareness.”

To effectively coordinate Anglican responses across Canada, Seabrook points to the need to map out what individuals, parishes, and dioceses are doing in the fight against trafficking.

“It would be great to gather this information so that it can be shared,” she said. “No doubt there are Anglicans who are engaged and feel strongly about these issues and some have started taking action but we don’t currently have a handle on it in any comprehensive way.

“We need to pull people together from across the church to have some conversations about human trafficking from a theological perspective,” Seabrook added. “We would do well to include related issues such as prostitution, for example, because there is a range of opinion, with some considering it sexual exploitation while others consider it to be legitimate work.

“We know there is a range of opinion on these issues, and it would be a very good thing if we could gather around a table and talk about these issues from a faith perspective.”

View a list of resources related to human trafficking.

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Ontario diocese boosts ministry in Mohawk territory

February 23, 2017 - 2:00pm

Deepening its ties with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the Anglican Diocese of Ontario has allocated funds from its Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation (ACCRC) return to support local First Nations art and culture as well as ministry in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

Drawing upon its approximately $115,000 return to promote ministry among the Mohawk population was a natural move for the Diocese of Ontario. This decision stems from the diocese’s commitment to healing and reconciliation and its proximity to and connection with the Tyendinaga territory.

The Anglican Parish of Tyendinaga includes All Saints’ Church and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal of the Mohawk.

“We have a long… heritage [and relationship] with the [Mohawk] people here, so for us, that’s a natural focus,” diocesan executive officer Alex Pierson said.

Supporting arts and culture

Reflecting the importance of the thriving cultural and art practices in Tyendinaga—and spurred by an individual affiliated with the church who works with the territory’s annual art festival—local First Nations art and artists were an important and obvious area to support financially.

“The [diocese recognizes] that by bringing [financial support] forward, we are supporting the community that was harmed [by the Indian residential school system], and we’re also bringing that to the fore for our people to understand.”

Jonathan Maracle, a Mohawk musician from Tyendinaga, performs at the most recent Ontario diocesan synod. Submitted photo by Mark Hauser

The diocese recently became one of the principal sponsors of the annual arts festival held on the territory, which brings together Indigenous artists in a variety of media, ranging from sketches and paintings to woodcarvings.

Helping to promote the musical element of the festival, the diocese sponsored a music competition in which participants wrote songs in either of two categories—a traditional hymn or anthem, and a children’s song or campfire song—and received a fair number of entries. At the next diocesan synod, Anglicans heard the two winning entries, which included a performance by well-known composer Jonathan Maracle.

Healing and reconciliation was a major focus at the synod, which also included participation in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an activity that uses blankets to teach how colonialism has effected Canada’s Indigenous people and their relationship with the land.

“The song that was written [by Maracle] talked about residential school … There were a lot of tears as that was performed,” Pierson said. “It helped bring that [history] to light and to understanding.”

Return to full-time ministry

Along with the arts, the diocese also used funds from its ACCRC return to bring back full-time ministry in the Tyendinaga territory.

Following the departure of its previous incumbent in October 2015, the Parish of Tyendinaga found itself in a position where it could no longer afford full-time ministry.

“We felt that there was still a strong opportunity to grow the ministry there, and also to grow the congregation,” Pierson said. “At that point, we had again what we believed to be the Spirit moving.”

Enter the Rev. Canon Rod BrantFrancis and the Rev. Lisa BrantFrancis. The married couple had both been ordained at All Saints’ Church, while Lisa had grown up on the Tyendinaga territory. After they applied for the vacant position, the diocese hired Rod as the new incumbent and Lisa as priest associate for the parish.

“We’re actually building specific [outcomes] for our ministry or our objectives that we want to achieve in supplementing the ministry on the Tyendinaga territory,” Pierson said.

“Because of the way Rod and Lisa work, it basically brings you two priests working to grow the ministry there and to minister the people, and to the people that aren’t Anglicans or aren’t regularly attending.”

Tyendinaga has a very active parish community and includes a number of notable worship and learning events each year, from Evensong to the attendance of the bishop at the annual Mohawk landing, which celebrates the original arrival of the Mohawk from the United States during the American Revolution.

Moving forward

Additional funds still remain in the diocese’s ACCRC return, with a myriad of possible uses all dedicated to healing and reconciliation locally. One possible focus revolves around how it might better support Indigenous people from northern communities who come through Kingston to obtain medical services.

As it plans to move into a new synod office, the diocese will be commissioning an artist from the Bay of Quinte Mohawks to produce a piece of art that will serve as a centrepiece display in the new office focusing on truth and reconciliation.

“It’s not a one-time shot,” Pierson said of the diocese’s careful management of its return, adding, “Our intention is that that will go on for some number of years.”

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The Book of Common Prayer in worship today

February 21, 2017 - 6:57pm

Despite being supplanted in many churches by the Book of Alternative Services, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) remains the definitive prayer book for a great number of Canadian Anglicans.

Far from being a mere textual reference for prayer and liturgy, the BCP, according to Trinity College assistant divinity professor Dr. Jesse Billett, represents a “total system of Christian life”.

“If you treat it as a resource book for worship, you’ll find it very dissatisfying,” Billett said. “It requires you to go all-in.”

The scholar described the BCP as assuming a discipline of private prayer and meditation as well as participation in the daily office, Holy Communion on Sundays, major feast days, and life milestones such as baptism and marriage.

While language in the prayer book can be difficult for some 21st century readers, Billet believed that parishes that use the BCP as the basis for their community life provide compelling counter-examples.

“Just by using the prayer book as it’s meant to be used, you can enter right into it, and it ceases to be anything foreign,” Billett said.

“If you’re in a parish that uses the prayer book very naturally—where people know what page you’re on, or rather, don’t need to look at the page anymore—you can experience it as a natural, flowing, perfectly harmonious way of worshipping.”

A timeless work

The Rev. Jonathan Turtle, assistant curate at the Church of St. Mary and St. Martha in Toronto, concurred on the benefits of increasing familiarity with the BCP.

“The BCP is a bit like a pair of good leather boots,” Turtle said. “At first it can be uncomfortable and even cause you a measure of pain. But once broken in it becomes like a second skin and gives voice to prayers and petitions that one didn’t even know they had.”

He sees the BCP as being “more relevant than ever” in part due to its timeless, unchanging nature.

“Consider the prayer that comes at the end of Compline that asks for God’s presence and protection through the night, ‘so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness.’

“The world is changing and fleeting. The BCP isn’t, and is thus uniquely situated to address our weariness.”

For the Rev. Daniel Bowyer, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Stratford, Ont. in the Diocese of Huron, liturgies from the prayer book constitute his earliest memories of worship, connecting him with God at an early age and continuing to shape his Christian life and ministry today.

“The liturgies within the Book of Common Prayer,” Bowyer said, “have a timelessness in connecting Christians to the living God, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, deepening their faith and sending them into the world to carry out ministry in Christ’s name.”

Mother Melissa Frankland, an Anglican priest serving as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Steinbach, Man., described the BCP as an important part of Anglican identity, noting that it contains the XXXIX Articles defining Anglican doctrine and practices, as well as the Catechism.

“The poetic prose, biblical content, and its monastic rhythm of daily prayer, I believe, contain the tools necessary to help us live as disciples of our Lord,” Frankland said. “It is very convenient that it is all in this one spot.”

She contends that the continuing importance of the BCP in daily worship flows from its “biblically solid” nature—the majority of the prayer book draws directly from Scripture—and the ageless qualities of the text itself.

“Unlike the more modern liturgies and Eucharistic prayers which, I believe for the most part, are created to satisfy a ‘trend,’ the language and poetic prose of the BCP, combined with a theology which is deeply rooted in Christian tradition, make it a worship tool that helps to draw us outside of ourselves, and points us to our Heavenly Father, the very one in whom we are created to worship and glorify.”

Indigenous perspectives

The prayer book retains a special appeal for many Indigenous Anglicans.

“The BCP has much relevance in First Nation communities,” Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor said.

One of the churches in her own community of Six Nations, Ont. uses the BCP for Sunday worship, while the current Indigenous Catechist Training Manual contains the 1962 Catechist found in the BCP. Translations of the BCP exist in Mohawk and Oji-Cree—though each was translated prior to the 1962 edition authorized by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, Doctor used the 1928 version of the prayer book published by the church in the United States.

“I have good memories of that time and that BCP, which is similar to the 1962 BCP,” Doctor said. “I love the language, although that may seem strange since it is ‘old English’ and I am a Mohawk woman!”

“It’s the memories that make it meaningful to me,” she added, recalling one time when she was asked to provide overnight hospice care to an elder while working as a missionary in Alaska.

“He asked me if I would do morning prayer with him,” Doctor remembered. “The next night I went with my 1979 BCP in hand. When I started, he said, ‘No, not that one, the old one.’”

“I immediately knew what he meant and told him if he would be okay, I’d go and get the old one. I did and as I began reading, he began reciting with a big smile on his face.

“When we were done, he said, ‘I saw so many memories.’ And so did I.”

Using the prayer book

Today, Doctor uses both the 1928 and 1962 editions of the BCP in her morning devotions, carrying each version of the prayer book on her Kindle.

Dr. Paul Dyck, English professor at Canadian Mennonite University and a lay reader and preacher at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, begins each day with an abbreviated BCP morning prayer.

“These words of encounter set the conditions for the rest of the day,” said Dyck, who also finds himself drawn to the Coverdale psalter with its “strikingly tangible character” and “strangely concrete and dramatic” words.

Having become an Anglican through the Church of England, Billett uses the 1662 prayer book for his daily office. Like the BCP itself, the daily office was historically one of the unique hallmarks of Anglican identity.

“I would love to see more places use [the BCP] and rediscover it with its own integrity,” Billett said. “If a parish is interested in restoring the daily office, I hope they’d have a look at the prayer book and at least learn how to use that before deciding whether or not to use it moving further.”

“I think that seminaries like here at Trinity College are going to have a lot to do with that,” he added, noting that students at the college alternate every six weeks between the BCP and the Book of Alternative Services.

For his part, Turtle exclusively uses the BCP in his own devotional life, drawing strength from the daily office and psalter and praying variations of Compline with his two young daughters each night before bedtime.

Referring to the preface in the Canadian prayer book—which reads in part, “The Book of Common Prayer is a priceless possession of our church”—he noted, “We would do well to recover the sense of its pricelessness, that we may become more truly that which we already are, the People of God.”

Learn more about the historical roots of the Book of Common Prayer.

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The historic heritage of the Book of Common Prayer

February 14, 2017 - 9:41pm

To fully appreciate the impact of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) on Anglican thought and worship, one must first understand the sixteenth century world from which it emerged.

For Anglican scholars and academics, careful study of the origins and evolution of the BCP reveal a text that evoked early Christian worship and drew upon medieval Catholic doctrine, while embracing aspects of doctrinal change that characterized the Protestant Reformation and paved the way for modern evangelical approaches.

Dr. Jesse Billett, assistant professor in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, teaches a course on the BCP that highlights the many ways in which the prayer book straddled divisions not only between Catholicism and Protestantism, but also within the Anglican tradition itself.

“The old joke is that Anglicanism is evangelical software trying to run on Catholic hardware, which is why we get so many system crashes,” Billett said. “You can see that operating in the prayer book itself, because the prayer book retains a lot of the medieval Catholic hardware.”

First published in 1549, with subsequent revisions leading up to the 1662 edition, (that today remains the official prayer book of the Church of England), the BCP retained structures of Catholicism, including the ancient orders of bishop, priest, and deacon—to the dismay of groups such as the Puritans, who desired a more “thoroughgoing” Reformation more reflective of the ideas of John Calvin, with an undifferentiated order of pastors.

Though it recognizes two sacraments of the gospel, baptism and Holy Communion, the BCP also preserved rites equivalent to the medieval seven sacraments. The other five are: confirmation, marriage, visitation of the sick, the sacrament of order, and provision for private confession to a priest with absolution.

The retention practices from the medieval age, albeit with less specific language, embodies what Billett considers “the key to understanding the BCP.”

“It retains as much of the tradition as possible that is agreeable to Scripture,” Billett said. “But it will only say about those rites what Scripture actually says, and this can lead to a certain amount of ambiguity [for some]. It can also lead to a lot of misunderstanding of the book today, because people are not nearly as scripturally literate as they were in former generations.”

Language of the prayer book

If the language of the BCP can sometimes appear perplexing to modern readers, for early English-speaking audiences it represented a marvel of clarity—the first time in which the entire liturgy of the church had been written in the English language.

“It is the moment when the English language acquires a liturgy,” Billett said. “I like to think of it almost as a missionary moment, because we see the same thing happening much earlier, for instance, with Saints Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized the Slavic peoples.”

Equally crucial to the prayer book’s success was the quality of its language.

“I think that the beauty of its language and the seriousness of its theology is in part what can account for its longevity and influence,” the Rev. Jonathan Turtle, assistant curate at the Church of St. Mary and St. Martha in the Diocese of Toronto, said of the BCP.

“The language is clearly English, but it is an unfamiliar English. You wouldn’t speak this way with your friends down at the pub, and that’s precisely the beauty of it. What we have here is a prayer language, holy language reserved for the worship of a holy God. Moreover, it is theologically serious and deep.

“It is thoroughly steeped in Scripture and it takes seriously things like the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our salvation. In its lectionary, it challenges us to take in more Scripture than we thought we could manage. In these ways and more, it honours the ‘Reformed Catholic’ identity at the core of Anglicanism.”

Dr. Paul Dyck, professor of English at Canadian Mennonite University and a lay reader and preacher at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, noted that the language of the BCP is almost never simply metaphorical or symbolic, but rather grounded in the real conditions of bodily existence.

He characterized the sixteenth century as attuned to verbal and rhetorical effects in the same way that we are attuned to visual effects today.

“The gripping strangeness and beauty of the language is not simply because it is old and that we are not used to it, but because it is a product of a very highly accomplished verbal artfulness,” Dyck said. “People went to Shakespeare to be dazzled by speech, not spectacle, and they would stand for an hour outside at Paul’s Cross to listen to a sermon.

“When we read the BCP now, with some sympathy for what it is doing, allowing it to work upon us, we enter into the art of worship in a unique way. It does not seek to settle us, but to unsettle us and move us toward God. It doesn’t begin from a place of righteous consensus, the way some modern liturgy does, but from a place of encounter, in which the very act of worship, the very possibility of holy language, is entirely conditional upon the present gift of God.”

Canadian editions

The 1662 version of the prayer book, which altered its biblical quotations to reflect the King James Bible, served as the standard edition for Canadian Anglicans until 1922, when the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada authorized a new version with minor clarifications and corrections.

A more substantial revision emerged in 1959 that significantly modernized the language of the BCP. Reflecting the diversity of opinion among Anglicans in Canada, the revision committee included two key figures—Ramsay Armitage, principal of Wycliffe College, and Father Roland Palmer, superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist—respectively representing the evangelical “low church” and Anglo-Catholic “high church” traditions.

“They wanted a really strong evangelical and a strong Anglo-Catholic, because at the time, those were the polarizations in the church, whereas now it would be more liberal versus conservative, I think,” Billett said.

While representing a particular historical moment in scholarship and attitudes to worship, the 1959 revision of the BCP—which received final authorization from General Synod in 1962—managed to balance different perspectives in the Anglican spiritual tradition. Armitage and Palmer exemplified the spirit of dialogue that prevailed, consulting with each other before meetings to iron out points of discussion and sitting together throughout the revision process.

“The book as it was revised was really acceptable to people across the whole spectrum of churchmanship in Canada, which was quite a remarkable thing,” Billett said.

“Things have become much more adversarial in how change proceeds, and I think we can really look to the example of that time as fairly encouraging.”

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A message from National Bishop Susan Johnson and Primate Fred Hiltz

February 2, 2017 - 4:00pm
To Members of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

As you may know, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) Council of General Synod (CoGS) passed resolutions in support of a Joint Assembly of our two governing bodies—the ELCIC National Convention and the ACC General Synod—in 2019. Building on our 2013 Joint Assembly, we have been looking forward to another opportunity to be together as two churches living out our Full Communion relationship.

Our staff teams have been working hard to realize this intention. Early on, a decision was made to plan the Joint Assembly in Vancouver, and at its 2016 General Synod, the Anglican Church of Canada announced the Diocese of New Westminster as the host of General Synod 2019.

One of the realizations that has come to light is the challenge around aligning our two gatherings in a way that feels meaningful and in the best spirit of Full Communion. Part of this is simply the mass of work before our two national bodies in the governance of each of our churches. There are also logistical concerns—finding venues that work for both our churches simultaneously has proven to be a real challenge. And then attention must be made towards ensuring that all of this works within the financial constraints of the ELCIC and the time restraints of the ACC.

The prospect of a Joint Assembly where we are each hurrying through agenda and scrambling on and off buses to commute to one another’s venue in order to accommodate time together was not a prospect that we welcomed. We are both very mindful of the need of both our churches to have adequate time to do the work they must do. Both of us would also want the maximum amount of time together in Joint Assembly.

In light of this, we proposed to NCC and CoGs that Joint Assembly be rescheduled for 2022, in a venue that will accommodate the national bodies of both our groups together, as well as providing separate meeting places for the work unique to each of our churches and that planning for such a gathering begin immediately. Both bodies affirmed this proposal by a majority of their members in a ballot conducted by e-mail.

We believe a Joint Assembly in 2022 will be a really fine celebration marking more than twenty years of Full Communion. In the meantime, we continue to give thanks to God for all who are at work in hundreds of places across our two churches to realize the Full Communion relationship that has been written so deeply on our hearts.

Yours faithfully,


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

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

 

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Volunteers and the future of prison ministry

February 1, 2017 - 6:43pm

The following is the fifth and final instalment of a multi-part series detailing the work of Anglicans involved in prison ministry. Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

In the face of budget cuts to the federal correctional system, many chaplains increasingly work on a volunteer basis. The Rev. Tim Smart, for instance, a prison chaplain at Cowansville Institution in Quebec, is paid for four hours per week, and volunteers equal unpaid time.

The Rev. Peter Huish (deacon) did not renew his contract this past April after 18 years of chaplaincy, but received permission from Correctional Services Canada to continue his work with federal inmates on a voluntary basis. Twice a month, Huish visits correctional institutions “with a band of volunteers, the way I always have, simply because the willingness is there to do it, as part of my life and the life of the volunteers that go with me.

“It’s also something that the guys who we go [visit] at that particular institution are keen to have continue,” he added.

Volunteer help is a major asset to all prison chaplains. On Monday chapel evenings at Cowansville, Smart brings in volunteers from various churches and denominations to meet with prison inmates, sing and pray together, socialize, and engage in Bible study and discussion.

On Friday mornings, volunteers help him with English and French literacy programs for inmates.

“The guys are so appreciative of the volunteers who come in,” Smart said. “They kind of expect paid chaplains to be there, but when somebody comes of their…own volition to spend their Thanksgiving Monday at chapel to talk to [them], to pray with them, to sing with them—this really means a lot.

“Especially for many of the men who no longer have family visiting them because they’ve been cut off…or who have few visits…it means a lot…that they’re not forgotten and…can be treated with some kind of care and interest. That’s all part of the rehabilitative process.”

With the institutional relationship of the church to prison chaplaincy now less direct—a private contractor, Bridges of Canada, currently oversees the hiring and pay of chaplains, while in the past, Anglican dioceses held direct contracts with Correctional Services Canada—volunteers serve as a vital pillar enabling the work of chaplains to continue.

Even so, Huish said that Anglicans tend to be underrepresented among volunteers he works with. As founder of the restorative justice group Communitas, Huish reports every month on activities involving 50 to 60 volunteers working with past and present inmates in the greater Montreal area. Of these volunteers, about six or seven are Anglican.

“It’s not an easy or particularly attractive pursuit for your average pew-sitting Anglican, I think,” Huish said.

Ongoing service and budget cuts, however, mean that the need for volunteers in prison ministry will continue to grow.

Smart encouraged Anglicans to support prison ministry by supporting Anglican chaplains who are part of the national chaplaincy network, and by encouraging volunteers to become involved in the prison system.

“We’ve got prisons in every large and medium-sized town across the country,” Smart said. “Find out who those chaplains are. See if you feel called to be a part of their activities.”

Huish highlighted the need for church members at all levels—up to and including councils and bishops—to learn more about prison ministry to gain a greater appreciation of the work of chaplains. He praised Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz as “a very great example of someone who has a heart for that kind of ministry.”

“When we choose our ministers and our leaders,” he added, “I think we need to discern the people who have the right kind of heart, to ensure that the [forms of] ministry that are less popular and less attractive do not get neglected.”

Learn more about how to volunteer in support of prison chaplains.

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