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Praying for an end to racial violence

August 18, 2017 - 12:30pm

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia and the very real threat of more activities on the part of white supremacy movements have been a painful reminder that racialized violence is a sad reality of our time, not only in the United States, but in our own country too. The escalation of racial tension and turmoil leaves many anxious about peace in their own neighbourhoods and throughout their communities.

Racialized violence inflicts havoc in the streets and heartache in our homes. It leaves people injured – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Tragically, it leaves some families to mourn the death of their loved ones.

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, many governors, senators and mayors across the United States have called on the President to be unequivocally clear in denouncing the principles and activities of white supremacy. Many world leaders have also called him to exercise strong leadership in this regard.

People of good will of every political stripe and every faith tradition are praying for a peaceful resolution to the crisis at hand. Let us join them in holding before God all those who govern, and negotiate an end to this violence; and all who serve and protect the public as police and emergency health services personnel. In many respects their job is none other than what the prophet said of those who would rebuild the cities laid waste by violence in his day, “You shall be the repairers of the breach, the restorer of the streets”. (Isaiah 58:12).

Let us pray too for the Church’s witness in the midst of this growing crisis. May we be united, courageous and unwavering in denouncing racialized violence of every kind and in proclaiming the God-given dignity with which “…every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”. (Ephesians 3:15)

Yours in Christ,

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

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A prayer for Barcelona

August 17, 2017 - 8:42pm

Today the world has witnessed yet another terrorist attack on innocent people. This time it was a van crashing through hundreds of people along the beautiful Las Ramblas Boulevard in Barcelona, Spain. Breaking news reported at least thirteen fatalities and more than eighty injured.

As we remember the dead, we pray for those who grieve their tragic deaths. As we remember the injured, we pray for those who will sit at their bedsides and the medical teams who will tend them. As we remember all those traumatized by this atrocity, we pray for all who minister to them.

So long as we pray for them, let us be bold in praying for those who with such malicious intent inflict such horrific suffering on others. Let us pray that they be turned from their malice, their hearts be moved and their plans thwarted.

With people of all faith traditions who condemn the terrorism that stalks our world, we gather in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, in our homes and in our public squares, turning with one voice and one heart to God.

May our world be turned from violence to compassion, from malice to mercy, from fear to freedom.

Amen.

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

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Diocese of Fredericton donates $80,000 return to Anglican Healing Fund

August 17, 2017 - 4:44pm

Giving back to support community healing projects addressing the intergenerational impact of residential schools, the Diocese of Fredericton has donated its return from the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation to the Anglican Healing Fund.

Bishop David Edwards sent a letter in July to Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz enclosed with a cheque for $80,013.27, made out to the Anglican Healing Fund to use as they see fit. That amount represents the entirety of the return the diocese received from its payment to the Residential Schools Fund, less the portion due back to contributing parishes.

“I think it’s important [to offer support] because the Healing Fund does tremendous work in bringing about healing and reconciliation with a part of our population that we, as the Anglican Church, have been a part of causing great pain and suffering [to],” Bishop Edwards said. “So it’s actually our responsibility as the Anglican Church to do something to put that right.”

The decision to use their return to support the Anglican Healing Fund was made by the Diocesan Council at its June meeting. Council members believed it to be the most appropriate use for the money, given that the original payment was made out to help those impacted by the residential school system.

“The diocesan council felt that we’d given [the money] for a reason and this was part of the reason, so let’s give it back,” Bishop Edwards said.

“One of the reasons why we’ve been able to do this is that we’ve received some generous gifts recently,” he added. “God has been good to us and blessed us with some generous gifts, and our parishes have over the last few years met their diocesan shared ministry budget … We as a diocese have been blessed by God, and this gives us an opportunity to share that blessing.”

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has set out a goal in 2017 to replenish the Anglican Healing Fund for the next five years by raising $1 million.

Give to support the Anglican Healing Fund.

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Deacons’ conference shines light on marginalized communities

August 10, 2017 - 4:24pm

The Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada (AADC) held their triennial conference from July 27-30 in Victoria, B.C. Two overarching themes dominated the conference. The first was the plight of marginalized peoples in communities and their struggles with poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental health, and food security. The second theme, reconciliation, included some overlap with the first and brought the experience and concerns of First Nations people to the fore.

In grappling with these challenges first-hand, deacons gained a renewed sense of their own mission. The Rev. Michael Shapcott from the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto, attending the AADC conference for the first time, came away struck by the scope of Anglican diaconal ministry.

“I was amazed at the diversity amongst the ministries of deacons, and the many important ways that the permanent diaconate has woven itself into the life of our church,” Shapcott said.

“Deacons are advancing the work of reconciliation. They are forging greater interfaith and ecumenical understanding. They are caring for those forced onto the social and economic margins while also advocating for social and economic justice. And as we were reminded on Sunday morning [at the closing Eucharist] … deacons have a powerful liturgical role in the worshiping life of the church.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness

A welcome and keynote address by federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May set the tone for the event with a reflection based around Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem.

Referring to a verse featured in promotion for the conference—“Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”—May challenged the church to consider the tension between the cracks and brokenness of the human condition and God’s perfect creation, and how we might reconcile the two.

Friday saw prolonged reflection on the brokenness of the world and the role of deacons in helping to alleviate it. The morning featured a panel of speakers who had experienced homelessness—an issue that Christ Church Cathedral faced firsthand during its prolonged experience with a “tent city” of homeless residents who lived outside the church from fall 2015 to summer 2016.

The Rev. Lisa Chisholm-Smith, AADC vice-president and children and youth ministry coordinator at St. James Anglican Church in Kingston, Ont., appreciated the “candour and courage” of the panel speakers and found a slide presentation on the experience of the tent city “very moving”.

“I have been at other gatherings where the voices of people with “lived experience’ are ignored by so-called policy experts,” Chisholm-Smith said. “These panelists acknowledged that they were uncomfortable addressing a gathering of church people and in turn they challenged us to move out of our comfort zones.”

For the Rev. Cheryl Kukurudz, executive assistant to the bishop and dean in the Diocese of Brandon, listening to panelists discuss their experiences with residential school, drug addiction, poverty, and sex work “hit me hard”.

“They shared their innate wisdom that only a life of experience could bring,” she recalled. “They urged us to go to meetings and speak up for the homeless and outcast, to use our voices as deacons to stand up and change policy: to make people more important than buildings, to get housing for people without first requiring they be detoxed, to hold the government accountable in protecting the most vulnerable of our country.  We can help heal with dignity.”

“That was the panel that had me want to shout from a soapbox,” Kukurudz added. “It took such strength and courage for them to share their life stories, to a room of people who, in many ways, represents to them the trauma they have lived through.”

Moving forward on reconciliation

On the subject of reconciliation with Indigenous people, a common refrain at the gathering was the need to take concrete steps towards reconciliation. Dallas Smith, former president of the Nanwakolas Council who recently ran as a candidate for the B.C. Liberals in the provincial legislature, spoke on the need to accept apologies and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to move forward together.

Bishop Logan McMenamie of the Diocese of British Columbia detailed his 470-kilometre journey from Alert Bay to Victoria, throughout which he asked elders in local First Nations for permission to re-enter the land. Melanie Delva, reconciliation animator for the Anglican Church of Canada, described her own journey and recovery from ideas of white privilege.

The Iona Report

Part of a presentation on Friday afternoon included discussion of The Iona Report on the diaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada, published in October 2016. Conversing in table groups, delegates shared their experiences of what dioceses had done with the report since the last General Synod.

The Rev. Canon Nancy Ford, incoming president of AADC, introduces forum speakers. Photo courtesy of Christ Church Cathedral via Facebook

In reflecting on competencies for diaconal ministry, outlined in the report, the delegates acknowledged the diversity of contexts and opinions from diocese to diocese. They also considered the possibility of continuing education funds for deacons.

“That was a huge topic for many people,” The Rev. Canon Nancy Ford said of the latter. “Some dioceses have [continuing education funds] for their deacons. Others don’t, and that’s a shame, because when you’re working at the margins on the edges of things, you do need educational support and other kinds of support …

“In terms of academic education, there needs to be support because the cost is not always something that the church supports, and it could be a stumbling block for someone who’s called into the diaconate … We need to look at how we fund education.”

Ford, who was elected president of the AADC board at the conference, characterized the overall reaction to the Iona Report as positive, with many delegates finding it useful as a means for their dioceses and bishops to assess spiritual growth and development.

“The whole process of looking at how we assess and form deacons—a lot more people felt that this was a very useful document to feed into that,” Ford said.

Building a ‘national community among deacons’

A highlight of the conference for many delegates was the chance to network with other deacons from across the country, and to continue building closer national ties.

Morris pointed to the election of new directors to the AADC board as a positive step in that direction.

“There are some very good voices I think that are on the board now, who will help to galvanize the association and bring it some new life and some new ways of looking at issues for the church—not just pertaining to deacons, but pertaining to the overall mission of the church and the role of the diaconal community nationally in that,” he said.

Organizers of the conference, such as the Rev. Wally Eamer, are now awaiting responses to evaluation forms on the event that were sent out to delegates. Any decisions based on the feedback will likely be made by the AADC board in September.

“I think what’s going to come out of it is a much greater sense of the need for national community among deacons,” Eamer said.

“We tend to be rather split up into dioceses, and even there, we have different ministries and we’re scattered geographically. In Toronto, it’s relatively easy to meet with each other; in a large part of the country it’s not … I think for many of [the deacons], they had a real sense [at the conference] of being part of the national community, and I think what will be important is that is supported and enlarged.”

An estimated 70 registered delegates attended the conference, which took place at a downtown Victoria hotel and included opening events and a closing Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral.

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Anglican Healing Fund supports residential school survivors at reconciliation workshops

August 4, 2017 - 3:34pm

The long journey towards healing and reconciliation can be even more arduous for residential school survivors living in remote northern communities.

Where survivors in urban centres can more easily find information, resources and support online, or by travelling to their local friendship centre or band office, such options do not always exist for survivors in northern and rural areas, where computer access and high-speed Internet is often limited or lacking.

Responding to a call from Health Canada for a project to provide emotional support to survivors, Ontario Indian Residential School Support Services (OIRSSS) earlier this summer organized “Reconciliation Begins With Me”, a series of workshops that took place from June 13-30 in communities that included Sault Ste. Marie, Fort Albany, Moose Factory, Moosonee, Attawapiskat, Peawanuck, and Kashechewan.

The Anglican Healing Fund provided a $15,000 grant to OIRSSS in support of the workshops—a continuation of the annual grants that the Fund has donated for more than a decade to OIRSSS, formerly known as the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.

“We really appreciate what the Anglican Church has done,” said special projects resolution health support worker/cultural support worker Claudette Chevrier, who helped coordinate the workshops. “We’re really, very, very appreciative of the small amount of funds that are set aside specifically for healing, and our view is to try to reach out to as many survivors as we can so that we can come to that place of healing.”

She added, “We want everyone to be educated with the correct version of what happened throughout the years [in the residential schools], and how to equip them with the knowledge and understanding that as long as we’re alive … it’s never going to happen again.”

Resolution health support workers Andrew Reuben and June Black facilitated the workshops, which brought together approximately 90 participants in total, including residential school survivors, elders, and intergenerational school survivors.

Each workshop lasted between two and three hours, beginning with a traditional smudging ceremony. Most of the sessions were held in Cree, the native language of many participants, with English used as a secondary language.

The meaning of reconciliation

Sitting in a circle, participants introduced themselves, shared their stories related to the residential school experience, and what reconciliation meant to them.

“All of the workshops, of course, were difficult,” said Reuben, himself a residential school survivor. “There were still strong feelings about not forgiving and really having a hard time trying to deal with their own issues even today, after the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] hearings and after sharing their stuff.”

Many survivors described feeling as if they had been unable to describe everything they wanted to talk about at the hearings. Some pointed to difficulty in being able to share their experiences even with their own children, who are often worried that asking about their parents’ residential school experiences will dredge up painful memories.

The meaning of reconciliation was itself the subject of debate at the workshops. Reuben described a common sentiment among survivors: “Why should we reconcile [when] we didn’t do anything? … The people who did the wrong should be reconciling—to not only us, but our parents, our grandparents, all our relations.” Some participants, he added, even used the sardonic term “wreck-onciliation”—as in, “they wrecked everything”.

Yet many also described reconciliation as entailing forgiveness, and wanting to move forward with a positive goal in mind. In this respect, one goal stood out above all others: the recovery and revitalization of Indigenous languages.

“If we can utilize our language more, speak our language more, share in our language more, that brings back our identity,” Reuben said. “It brings back the things that our parents and our grandparents talked about way before the residential schools … about importance of identity, importance of man and woman, importance of sharing and helping in the community, and all those things that [Indigenous] people utilized” prior to colonization.

Call for a gathering of survivors

The most common need expressed by participants was for a conference or gathering that would bring together all survivors from the Mushkegowuk area of northern Ontario to talk about the future, get youth involved, and talk about how to move forward with reconciliation.

Though OIRSSS is currently analyzing feedback from the workshops, they plan to eventually organize more visits or the suggested gathering.

“I think all in all, people found it useful to share a little bit and ask about what’s possible in the future, and continue to try and move on with their lives and talk to their children and share with their children,” Reuben said.

“There’s still a long way to go, still a lot of issues I think they have that they need to consider and heal from themselves … The gathering would help, I think, a lot more in getting the word out that we need to all work together to heal ourselves.”

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Human trafficking discernment group seeks input from Anglicans

August 1, 2017 - 12:30pm

The June 2017 meeting of the Council of General Synod saw council members officially endorse Resolution 15.10, the resolution against human trafficking passed in 2012 by the Anglican Consultative Council. Shortly thereafter, the Anglican Church of Canada established a new human trafficking web hub, collecting information and resources to raise awareness of the issue within the church and beyond.

Now, the church is taking another step forward in its fight against human trafficking and modern slavery with the formation of a discernment group led by General Synod Global Relations and Public Witness teams—the members of which will meet this September at Church House in Toronto to assess the current scope of Anglican work in this ministry, identify priorities in this work, and to plot out a detailed plan going forward.

Crucial to this process will be identifying Anglicans involved in work against human trafficking. As a result, the discernment group is calling on all individuals and organizations engaged in this work or aware of initiatives by others to contact group members Andrea Mann or Ryan Weston.

“The data gathering process is a way of beginning to better understand the nature, the incidence, the existence of trafficking and slavery in Canada, how the church is responding to those realities within local communities, and how other people can become involved,” Mann said.

“It’s data that identifies people, ministry, cities and towns, and rural and remote areas in the church where people are thinking about this and responding.”

The discernment group is also interested in hearing from Anglicans who are involved in working ecumenically and in interfaith collaborations, as well as in partnerships with government and civil society.

Hoping to make their work against human trafficking a full communion initiative, members have been conducting discussions with the Rev. Paul Gehrs, assistant to the bishop for synodical relations at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, about potential Lutheran involvement. “Human Beings—Not For Sale” is one of the subthemes of the Lutherans’ commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

With the ongoing accumulation of data before and after the September meeting, one goal for the web hub is to feature a map pointing to the locations of initiatives against human trafficking by Anglicans across Canada, providing a useful visual resource that encourages people to connect with one another.

One example of work against human trafficking comes from a member of the discernment group, Caitlin Beck, who also serves as missioner for children, youth, and families in the Diocese of New Westminster.

In the first week of March, Beck helped organize a delegation of teens and young adults from New Westminster and the Diocese of Niagara to the sixty-first session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW61), where human trafficking is often a recurring theme. Many panels and events discussed the need to protect the rights of sex workers and migrant workers and involve them in conversations related to human trafficking.

With the increased focus on trafficking by the church, Beck is currently helping write a letter to the Primate’s office describing some of what the delegation learned at the United Nations.

“I’m actually excited to be able to share some of that as a part of the new discernment group that they’re putting together for this issue,” Beck said.

“I think that’s a really great step that the national church has taken to ensure that we do this work in the right way—in a way that includes the voices of people who are caused the most harm by human trafficking, and that we learn from their experiences and don’t base our actions on assumptions when we don’t have the direct experience. I think that’s a good thing for us to be careful about.”

In terms of working towards the eradication of human trafficking and slavery, Barbara Gosse, chief executive officer of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking and a parishioner at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church in Toronto, said that churches often have a reach that other activist groups or police may not have.

“There’s no question that the Anglican Church has a substantial reach across the country, and that faith communities can play a very important part in educating the public, on bringing people together to really look at grassroots efforts that could combat human trafficking,” Gosse said.

“Also, I think faith communities are very respected as being cohesive and organized and caring and positive on some of these socioeconomic issues. So when you have the opportunity to speak to your policy makers and lawmakers and political representatives, I think it brings with it a lot of clout and a lot of credibility.”

Are you active in or aware of work by Canadian Anglicans related to the fight against human trafficking? Email Andrea Mann or Ryan Weston to share your story.

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Living the life of the sisters: Companions reflect on monastic experience

July 25, 2017 - 9:29pm

More than 10 months after a group of young women began living with members of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine (SSJD), the inaugural Companions on the Way program is drawing to a close—an experience that left a major impact on sisters and companions alike.

The sisters officially commissioned five companions in September 2016: Christine Stoll, Sarah Moesker, Amanda Avery, Hanné Becker, and Alisa Samuel, though the latter three were unable to stay for the entire duration of the program. During their time at the SSJD’s Toronto-based convent, the companions joined in living the monastic lifestyle of the sisters, devoting their days to work, study, prayer, and spiritual contemplation.

A typical day for the companions began at 6 a.m. with two hours of personal prayer. After eating breakfast, they attended morning prayer in the chapel before devoting time to various work projects.

Afternoons were filled with study and rest. The companions each took part in two courses at Wycliffe College during the fall and winter, and also pursued independent studies. Occasionally companions would contribute to a blog documenting their experiences. Dinner and cleanup preceded evening prayer and rest time.

Work of the companions

Reflecting their diverse backgrounds, each of the companions had a unique experience at the convent.

For Stoll—previously a teaching assistant in mathematics at Douglas College in Port Coquitlam, B.C.—work experience included gardening and carrying out tasks in the chapel, such as filing papers and refilling the oil lamp.

“I think living here, for me, it’s been good and healing,” Stoll said.

“In terms of discernment, I wasn’t expecting to have everything all figured out at the end of this year,” she added. “But I think I have a clearer sense of what it is I need to do.”

Having spent recent weeks debating what to do after the program ends, she is leaning towards returning to her work as a teaching assistant.

“Maybe the thing that surprised me about myself is that leaving here, one of the things that I’m thinking of is that I would like to live in a community, which for me is not something that I was expecting,” Stoll said. “I’m not planning to live as a sister … but to live in some kind of community.”

Moesker, a student at Canadian Mennonite University, described her time at the convent as “good, but hard”, noting the amount of work that is required of participants. At the same time, she added, “Working hard isn’t a bad thing. It’s really satisfying and fulfilling.”

During the first half of her stay at the convent, Moesker spent much of her time working in the kitchen. The latter half saw her providing pastoral care at nearby Sunnybrook Hospital, visiting patients and gaining a sense of their varied spiritual needs, as well as taking care of simple tasks such as delivering newspapers and watering plants.

Art in the SSJD convent. Photo by Matt Gardner

She described her time at the convent as “stabilizing” and clarifying her post-graduation plans. As she concludes the program, Moesker takes away a renewed sense of spiritual discipline, appreciation for the value of closing her day with prayer, and improved skills in navigating relationships with others.

“I think being here and sort of being forced to interact with the same people constantly—somehow it makes it a safe place to figure out healthy boundaries, to figure out communication,” she said.

Convent life was particularly impactful for Amanda Avery, director of the Ready-Set-Go program for low-income children in Halifax and an Atlantic School of Theology student who is seeking to become an Anglican priest. She described her time in the program as “exciting, stressful … yet joyful”.

“It has been a roller coaster of a ride … The experience has changed me and has given me new insights and new ways to look at not just God, but myself and my community and the people that are in my community,” Avery said.

The majority of Avery’s time was spent at St. John’s Rehab with the sisters and the Rev. Joanne Davies, who serves as chaplain to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. During this time Avery visited patients and took part in the hospital’s therapy program.

She said the experience tailored her to look at a different kind of ministry than that of a parish priest.

“Something I really haven’t thought of was chaplaincy,” Avery said. “The time I spent at the hospital with the sisters and with Rev. Joanne has changed my thinking of faith in the hospitals, and so I’m definitely looking in that direction … It gave me insights to looking at the broader view of ministry.”

Reflections from the sisters

For the sisters, the experience of living alongside the companions was a positive one.

“I think it brought us a lot of good energy, living with younger women, and opening us up to living with younger people,” Sister Elizabeth Ann Eckert said.

Eckert believed that the companions gained an appreciation for the nature of “a life faithfully lived, and the transformation that happens when you’re in one place or in one vocation for this many years.”

“I think it was a good experience,” Sister Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas said. “Even though all of them didn’t stay and some of them had some difficulties, it added greatly to our choir. It was so lovely to have some younger people to relate to. We still have a lot to learn about how best to help them. But I enjoyed their energy, and each of them helped us in different ways.”

The degree to which the companions integrated surprised even the sisters. Though the companions were originally allotted time each morning to hold a conference amongst themselves, they ultimately chose to join the sisters at that time—an arrangement that “worked much better,” Rolfe-Thomas said.

“It was a little different from what we had in mind,” Sister Wilma Grazier said. “The idea was that they would form their own community within a community. But as it was presented, it didn’t work out that way from their point of view.”

Highlights for the sisters included the evening prayers put together and formatted by the companions, as well as an Agape supper chiefly organized by Avery but in which all the companions helped out.

“They all took part in [the supper], and it was a wonderfully profound experience,” Rolfe-Thomas said. “They put so much effort into it.”

Future of the Companions program

With the successful completion of the first Companions on the Way program, the SSJD now plans to take time to evaluate the experience. The sisters meet in chapter annually, and Companions on the Way is slated to be a major topic at their August chapter meeting.

For the 2017-2018 season, Companions on the Way will be folded into a similar SSJD program, Alongsiders: Living in God’s Rhythm.

“We feel we need a year to evaluate the [Companions on the Way] program and see if there are changes we want to make in it, rather than just flowing from one to the next,” Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert said.

Nevertheless, Rolfe-Thomas said, the Companions program will “go ahead in some form”.

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Ecumenical spirit permeates ELCIC National Convention as Anglicans and Lutherans mark 500th anniversary of Reformation

July 20, 2017 - 8:20pm

Ecumenical partnerships were a major focus at the 16th Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), as Anglicans joined their Lutheran full communion partners in commemorating 500 years since the onset of the Protestant Reformation.

Members of the Anglican Church of Canada who attended the National Convention, which took place in Winnipeg from July 6-8, included Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz as well as Cynthia Haines-Turner, Anglican representative on the ELCIC National Church Council (NCC).

“It was amazing … Everybody left feeling really great,” Haines-Turner said, noting the many ecumenical guests and general outward focus that reflected the vision of the Lutherans to be a church “in mission for others”.

“The whole convention was just that focus, being in mission for others … It was really a spirit-filled convention, and that seemed to be everybody’s response as they were leaving.”

Pastor Susan Climo of the Church of the Holy Spirit of Peace, an Anglican-Lutheran congregation in Mississauga, Ont., said the gathering was “very uplifting, very encouraging, perhaps even more so this time than in some conventions past … There was a very hopeful feeling about the event.”

In a statement ripe with parallels to ongoing debate in the Anglican Church of Canada over proposed changes to the marriage canon, Climo added, “I think that having gone through some fairly difficult gatherings where we were dealing with some hard issues relating to human sexuality … and come through that—still not necessarily all agreeing, but recognizing that there’s far more that unites us—we were able to sort of turn a page and start to look towards other important issues that face the church and the wider community.”

Ecumenical panel

One of the convention highlights was an ecumenical panel speaking on the significance of the Reformation commemoration.

In addition to the Primate, speakers included:

  • Moderator Jordan Cantwell from the United Church of Canada;
  • Kathryn Johnson, director of ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
  • Executive Director Willard Metzger of the Mennonite Church Canada;
  • Moderator Peter Bush of the Presbyterian Church in Canada;
  • Archbishop Richard Gagnon from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; and
  • Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, an Anglican who attended the convention in her capacity as president of the Canadian Council of Churches.

“The Lutherans had decided some years ago internationally that they would make that [anniversary of the Reformation] an ecumenical commemoration—that they didn’t want it be sort of Lutheran triumphalism, ‘rah rah Martin Luther’, but rather recognized that this was an event that affected the whole church,” Barnett-Cowan said.

During the panel, speakers touched on the fact that many Christian denominations, such as those in the Orthodox tradition, do not talk of a “Reformation”, but rather a process of “renewal”, and of the need for all churches to be renewed by the work of the spirit.

“Just by having this particular commemoration in this way, it invited everyone to be part of thinking about what the church needs to be to be whole and well and in a good place,” Barnett-Cowan said.

Pastor Jeffrey Smith of All Saints Lutheran Anglican Church—a newly merged congregation in Guelph, Ont. that unites the former St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and St. David and St. Patrick’s Anglican Church—called the ecumenical panel “exceptional”.

“In all the years I’ve been in ministry, I don’t remember a panel to that extent,” said Smith.

“Just to gain their insights—wow,” he added. “I was blown away.”

Primate’s greetings

The most visible moment for Anglicans at the convention was the address by Archbishop Fred Hiltz offering greetings on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Since the Waterloo Declaration in 2001 established the full communion relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC, Archbishop Hiltz said, that partnership has “borne fruit beyond our imagining, both nationally and locally.”

The Primate emphasized the “strong and steadfast of leadership” of ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson and the collegial relationship between the two church leaders. “Not only is Susan a treasure within your own church,” he said, “but she is held in high regard within ours.”

Archbishop Hiltz praised the ELCIC for its work at the convention towards establishing guidelines for interfaith dialogue—particularly its resolution for the ELCIC to reach out to Muslims—and its gestures of reconciliation towards Indigenous peoples, reflecting the 94 Calls to Action made by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He thanked the ELCIC and United Church of Canada for their presence throughout the Anglican Church of Canada’s difficult deliberations over a proposed amendment to change the marriage canon allowing for same-sex marriage—reminding Anglicans, he said, that “there is life beyond this debate”.

Reiterating the “difficult” decision to postpone the joint assembly between the Anglican and Lutheran churches that was originally scheduled for 2019 in Vancouver, the Primate said that he and Bishop Johnson were glad to call for a joint assembly in 2022.

“Though that decision to postpone was hard and disappointing and I think disheartening for some, I do believe that the capacity to even engage such a conversation is a sign of the maturity of our relationship as churches in full communion, and our respect for the very nature of full communion.”

Full communion partnership—and friendships

In his address, Archbishop Hiltz pointed to All Saints Church in Guelph as an example of the merged Anglican-Lutheran parishes that have become increasingly prevalent, praising the work of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission in establishing a working group to examine the polity of each church with respect to such joint parishes.

The deepening bonds between the two churches were visible throughout the convention, from the affectionate description of Archbishop Hiltz by ELCIC members as “our Fred” to friendships between Anglicans and Lutherans at all levels.

“It was good again to renew the friendship and the work and bonds that we have together … and just to talk about our two traditions,” said Pastor Smith of All Saints, who sat with Anglican representative Haines-Turner as fellow members of the NCC.

For her part, Haines-Turner—who introduced a motion on interfaith relationships with NCC member Marc Jerry—exemplified the sense of unity that prevails among many Anglicans and Lutherans.

“So much of the time when I’m with the Lutherans, I don’t feel like I’m ‘the Anglican’. I feel like this is my church too … I think it’s a sign of the richness and the naturalness of the relationship between the two churches that when I’m here, I just feel like one of the crowd.”

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General Synod appoints animator for ecumenical and interfaith relations

July 18, 2017 - 2:26pm
The Rev. Dr. Scott Sharman

The Rev. Dr. Scott Sharman (B.Th., M.Rel., Ph.D) will begin new work with General Synod as Animator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. Working closely with the Primate’s Office, and as part of the Faith, Worship and Ministry Team, Dr. Sharman will work out of Edmonton. He is a priest in the Diocese of Edmonton who understands the heart of his vocation as “that of a bridge builder across division and difference”.

The Rev. Dr. Sharman completed his graduate and doctoral studies through Wycliffe College and the University of St. Michael’s College at the Toronto School of Theology, where he specialized in theologies of Church as they relate to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.

For the past five years, Scott has served as Interfaith Chaplain to the University of Alberta, and Ecumenical Officer in the Diocese of Edmonton. This has led him into active involvement in a wide variety of ecumenical and interfaith initiatives and organizations. He is also a member of the faculty at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, where he teaches in the areas of Church History and Anglican Studies.

As someone who has ecumenical and interfaith expertise and experience in the academic, activist, local, and national contexts, he hopes this position as Animator of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations will enable him “to serve as a coordinating link between what is happening at the grassroots in these areas across the country with the priorities and plans of the Anglican Church of Canada at the national and international levels”.

Dr. Sharman will take up his new role on September 1, 2017.

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St. Catharines priest appointed Canadian representative to Ecumenical Women at UN

July 7, 2017 - 6:40pm

In the wake of her serving as the Primate’s appointee to the Anglican Communion delegation at the recent United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 61, the Rev. Laura Marie Piotrowicz has been appointed as a Canadian representative to the Ecumenical Women coalition at the United Nations by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Piotrowicz, rector at St. John’s Anglican Church, Port Dalhousie in St. Catharines, Ont. in the Diocese of Niagara, is an executive member of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, where much of her work revolves around issues of gender justice. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Canada.

A network of church denominations and ecumenical organizations accredited by the UN’s Economic and Social Council, Ecumenical Women seeks to promote gender equality at the UN and to help women of faith, particularly those attending the CSW. The worldwide Anglican Communion is one of 20 member organizations that together constitute Ecumenical Women.

Members of Ecumenical Women each appoint representatives to different working groups. As a representative to Ecumenical Women, Piotrowicz will attend monthly phone meetings and take part in one of four working groups respectively dealing with advocacy, orientation of members at the CSW, worship at the CSW, and communications.

Piotrowicz described her reaction to her appointment as “a combination of incredibly humbled and incredibly excited.”

Appointments to Ecumenical Women are typically open-ended and based on who member organizations choose to continue to represent them.

In a letter to Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, appointing Piotrowicz to UNCSW61, Archbishop Hiltz praised her as an ideal representative and “wonderful communicator.”

The work of Piotrowicz as a parish priest and her involvement in PWRDF, he added, have “allowed her to gain familiarity with the economic conditions and needs of women and girls not only in our province, but also in other parts of the Anglican Communion.”

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Onondaga language program building ‘critical mass’ of new speakers

July 6, 2017 - 5:34pm

An estimated 26,000 people are members of the Six Nations of the Grand River, with approximately 14,000 living on reserve. The Onondaga are one of six Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations that make up the Ontario community, the largest First Nations reserve in Canada. However, the demographic prominence of the Onondaga in Six Nations is not reflected in the number of native speakers of the Onondaga language.

Karen Sandy, coordinator of the Six Nations Language Commission (SNLC), estimated that there are fewer than 10 people who speak Onondaga as their first language. “That really is a major challenge for us,” she said.

The Anglican Healing Fund recently donated $10,755 to support the SNLC’s Onondaga Language Adult Immersion Program. In addition to furniture, the grant includes funds for audio-visual equipment, computers, and software that serve vital functions such as recording songs or stories from elders.

Now in its tenth year of operation, the SNLC seeks to revitalize all Haudenosaunee languages in the territory and currently offers instruction programs for the Cayuga, Mohawk, and Onondaga languages. Though there are six different languages spoken in Six Nations, the SNLC can only afford revitalization efforts for the aforementioned three.

Compared to Cayuga and Mohawk, the Onondaga language is at somewhat of a disadvantage. In addition to having far fewer native speakers, unlike the other two languages Onondaga is not offered in the public school system.

Furthermore, the small number of native Onondaga speakers has not always translated into effective teaching.

“Just because a person is a fluent speaker, they’re not always a teacher, so that’s the challenge we had there,” Sandy said. “What we focused on in the last few years was building up second-language speakers to become teachers.”

In recent years, the SNLC has taken on new instructors for its language programs. Students are primarily young adults, who are often part-time or supply teachers themselves outside the language courses. Classes run for seven hours each day from Monday to Friday, taking place in the heart of downtown Oshweken.

Sandy described the goal of the Onondaga Language Adult Immersion Program as the creation of a “critical mass” of speakers who will then use the language in their daily lives, leading to more people in the community speaking Onondaga.

“Basically, it’s our identity—I mean, that’s the key there,” Sandy said. “If we don’t have a language, we might as well just be a municipality … There’s not only just the language, but there’s so much more that has evolved with it, like the transfer of Indigenous knowledge … We have to be able to carry the language on, tell our children who they are.”

“Our vision is that in the future, all our Haudenosaunee languages will be living languages, and chosen as the ordinary mean of communication for everyday use,” she added.

There are currently several students participating in the Onondaga immersion program. One challenge for many of the students is being able to take time off work for language study while still covering their living expenses. “It’s almost like they have to take a vow of poverty just to preserve our languages,” Sandy said.

As a result, any additional funding is welcome. While the grant from the Anglican Healing Fund has gone primarily to technology to help facilitate language instruction, a potential future goal for the SNLC is a small stipend that might help cover the expenses of language students.

“We really appreciate the support that the Anglican Church is able to provide,” Sandy said. “As our aging population of first-language speakers is declining, we’ve got to really put a lot of effort into creating this critical mass of second-language speakers.”

Support language revitalization efforts, such as the Onondaga Language Adult Immersion Program, through the Anglican Healing Fund.

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Anglican bishops in dialogue look to Lambeth 2020

June 30, 2017 - 2:26pm

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue initially grew out of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, prompted by recognition of the need for conversation in light of disagreements over issues such as same-sex marriage. As the next Lambeth gathering approaches, it is only fitting that bishops at the latest consultation found themselves increasingly focused on plans for Lambeth 2020 and beyond.

Now in its eighth year, the most recent Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue took place from June 14-18 in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of this year’s consultation was haraambe, a word originating in Kenya that means, “to pull up together”, or joining hands to build and work for the common good. The consultation itself pulled together bishops and archbishops from Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, England, Canada, and the United States.

“I think it was an outstanding gathering,” said Bishop Michael Bird of the Diocese of Niagara. “We had wonderful discussion. There were a few new bishops involved, and it was a great opportunity to reconnect with people that we have gathered with over the years.”

The gathering, he said, served as an opportunity to plan out what future dialogue would discuss over the next two meetings in preparation for Lambeth 2020. As is customary, the bishops have released a testimony summarizing the fruits of their consultation: A Testimony of Mutual Commitment and Pulling Together—Haraambe.

“What happened this year was really taking a compass reading of where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and what the next two years will look like,” Bishop Bird said.

Growing friendships

Several representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada attended this year’s consultation. The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, Africa Relations Coordinator, has coordinated and attended all eight meetings since 2010.

Looking back on the consultations thus far, he believed they had seen the bishops “coming to an understanding that they must continue to be partners in mission, in spite of their differences.”

“Certainly the acrimony, name-calling and demonization of a decade ago has gone,” Canon Mukasa said. “These men and women are building a strong relationship among themselves, characterized by friendship and deep affection.

“They still disagree on some issues, but have now built enough trust to be able to talk honestly and forthrightly to one another without acrimony. There is also a greater awareness of the different mission fields in which they have been called and the demands thereof.”

Both Bishop Bird and Bishop John Chapman of the Diocese of Ottawa have attended all eight consultations, and describe them as highlights of their episcopal ministry.

Early on, Bishop Chapman said, there were many misconceptions between African bishops and those from North America and England.

“From the Canadian point of view, we tended to paint Africa with one brush, and there’s as much diversity of viewpoint in Africa as there is here,” the Ottawa bishop recalled. “They were believing propaganda about us … I think it would be reasonably fair to say they were thinking of us as not particularly faithful—that the gospel is disposable, really, if need be.

“Even in that very first meeting, you could see the propaganda that existed on both sides about each other was already beginning to dissipate. It was really quite fascinating.”

‘A renewed faithfulness to the communion’

Since then, the bishops have only developed a deeper understanding for the context in which their foreign counterparts carry out ministry. The latest consultation saw the bishops talk about issues ranging from colonialism to human sexuality, from pastoral issues to climate change and the threat of drought.

Above all, in the course of their growing friendships and mutual understanding, the bishops have come to a deeper appreciation for the ongoing value of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“This time, more than any of the others, we were hearing from each other a renewed faithfulness to the communion … This one was different in that it was a given, right from the beginning, that this communion is valuable and it has to be preserved … not just preserved, but it has to be nurtured and supported,” Bishop Chapman said.

Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Diocese of Huron—one of two Canadian bishops attending for the first time, along with Bishop Robert Hardwick of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle—appreciated the chance to engage in cultural exchange with other bishops. During the consultation, Bishop Nicholls discussed how the Diocese of Huron is working to reverse declining congregation sizes and sense of mission.

“The opportunity, particularly in small one-on-one conversations or at meals, to go deeper into differences [of] culture and theology—that is invaluable,” she said.

Lessons for Lambeth and beyond

Global Relations Director Andrea Mann said that the meeting in Nairobi sought to look at ways in which the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue might configure itself past the 2020 Lambeth Conference—both to optimize what it has learned in the last decade, and to “find new structures that are in sync with the kind of organic growth that this conversation has experienced.”

That growth has seen the consultation evolve from 12 people attending what Mann described as a “fringe event” in its early days to a total of 49 bishops that have attended over the years.

The main result of the latest consultation, Canon Mukasa said, was “a greater awareness of the considerable data these meetings have accumulated over the last eight years, and the opportunity now to reflect on all of that and leveraging it toward greater healing in the communion.”

“As the only informal group coming out of Lambeth 2008 that has been able to meet regularly and consistently for almost a decade now, the group came out of this meeting committed to sharing their experience and learning to the wider communion.”

Read A Testimony of Mutual Commitment and Pulling Together—Haraambe.

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General Synod appoints youth animator

June 28, 2017 - 7:41pm

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has appointed Sheilagh McGlynn as its youth animator, signifying a new stage in the church’s ongoing commitment to youth and young adult ministry.

McGlynn is currently the justgeneration.ca facilitator for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, and has a long history in youth ministry. She previously served as the national coordinator for the Student Christian Movement of Canada, an ecumenical campus ministry program focused on issues of social justice, and spent five years in Colorado actively engaged in youth and campus ministry.

As youth animator, McGlynn will work closely with youth leaders from the Anglican Church of Canada, and in some cases the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Her responsibilities include gathering youth leaders together for the annual event Stronger Together, as well as serving as staff support for the biennial Canadian Lutheran-Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering.

“I’m really excited to be able to put my energy and work into seeing what this position can create for young people in Canada,” McGlynn said.

“This isn’t new work [for the church], it’s just that our commitment to it is different at this point,” she added. “So I’m really excited to be able to take on that work and connect with people across Canada and encourage them in the work they’re already doing, and to encourage them to try new things within youth ministry.”

McGlynn noted that many of the people engaged in youth ministry are volunteers, even at the diocesan level. She plans to work closely with then to help make the most out of their available resources.

“I really look forward to working with the youth leaders,” McGlynn said. “They’re, I think, some of the most amazing frontline staff out there, working with young people and helping equip them with the tools they need and the support they need to be able to do their work … I look forward to working with the places that don’t have youth ministry yet, and want to start and try to figure out with them what will best meet the needs in their context.”

The role of youth animator is a permanent part-time position.

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Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 25, 2017

June 26, 2017 - 4:57pm

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 25, 2017.

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

Orders of the Day

Karen Egan began the Sunday session of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) by reading through the Orders of the Day.

Election Results/Election

Egan presented results from the elections for positions at the 2019 Anglican Consultative Council. Bishop Riscylla Shaw was elected as bishop alternate, Ann Bourke as lay delegate, and Melanie Delva as lay alternate.

The vote for clergy alternate, however, ended in a tie. As a result, council members held a new election for the position. Nominees for clergy alternate were David Burrows and Lynne McNaughton.

Rules of the Supreme Court of Appeal for the Anglican Church of Canada

Chancellor David Jones next put forward a resolution on rules for the Supreme Court of Appeal for the Anglican Church of Canada, clarifying the rules of how information sharing happens should the court be called to meet. The rules were clarified and written in contemporary language. The Supreme Court of Appeal does not meet very often, having last met in 1989 to discuss the Book of Alternative Services. Canon XX provides that there may be rules for the Supreme Court of the church and that when no members of the Supreme Court have been appointed, CoGS may make rules with respect to the duties of the court. The Chancellor explained to members that this was one of the housekeeping items passed on to him by the former Chancellor in 2010.

Members voted by consensus to adopt the new rules.

Giving with Grace and the Anglican Healing Fund

General Secretary Michael Thompson introduced Esther Wesley, Coordinator of the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation, for a presentation on Giving With Grace and the Anglican Healing Fund. Wesley, he said, had taught him much about the nature of racism—that racism from a “white” perspective is experienced as a matter of intention, but that in Indigenous and racialized communities it is experienced in terms of its effect. He thanked his “courageous and delightful colleague” for her work with the Healing Fund.

Giving With Grace and the Anglican Healing Fund have seen an increase in programs focused on supporting community-based language revitalization projects. Wesley spoke about the 60-65 different Indigenous languages across Canada, noting that there were 10 distinct language families. Each of these language families, in turn, has many dialects. She described the importance of language as a foundation of cultural and personal identity, presenting direct quotes from language learners who lamented that language transmission did not occur because their parents or grandparents went to residential school, and that learning a language is about more than the language itself, but interweaves culture, ancestry, geography, history, and identity.

The Anglican Healing Fund has provided funds for 705 projects from 1992 to 2017 totalling more than $8 million. Wesley provided examples of different projects supported by the Healing Fund. One was Revitalizing Indigenous Living Languages: A Gift to Future Generations, a mentor-apprentice language immersion program supported by Aboriginal Neighbours in British Columbia. There are currently 12 master-apprentice teams in different parts of the province, with elders serving as “mentors” to apprentices by spending time together while speaking their traditional language.

Another B.C.-based program is Healing Hearts from Homelessness to Helpfulness, which seeks to help the most vulnerable Indigenous people who are living on the streets and often face drug addictions. Many of these issues represent the intergenerational impact of residential schools. The project makes available healing tools for people on street to help them cope, living with the violence of streets.

As of June 22—the day after this year’s #22Days project culminated on the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer—funds directly designated to the Anglican Healing Fund stood at $26,183, while designated funds for Giving With Grace were $248,603, representing a total of $274,786 in fundraising. “Anglicans are doing very well in this work—amazing work,” Wesley said. She also highlighted ongoing work in anti-racism initiatives, pointing to the progress that had been made since the turn of the millennium in being able to talk more openly about racism.

Reflections on Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples Presentation in Preparation for Consultation

General Secretary Michael Thompson invited council members to reflect on the presentation they had heard the previous day from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). Table groups broke into discussion about the likes, concerns and hopes that had emerged for them out of the presentations yesterday, but also out of material circulated in the docket before the meeting. Members then wrote out the responses as described by table group representatives.

Likes included:

  • Progress begins with relationships
  • Regarding the Confederacy model, members liked having ACIP at the centre and its ability to represent nations and communities across the country
  • Carefully moving forward
  • Things are doable
  • Created with an eye to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
  • Intentionality of suicide prevention programs
  • Insights: Letter from David Jones to Bishop Mark MacDonald: action and form
  • Focus: moving vagueness to clarity
  • Steps to preserve and recover languages
  • Room to work on governance structures

Concerns were:

  • Will Indigenous peoples remain within the Anglican Church of Canada or will they go outside?
  • Have received several vision plans—how do we turn plan into reality?
  • Are the finances presented sustainable?
  • Don’t want undue delay
  • Not being paralyzed by enormity of the task or finances required
  • Need bravery and courage, and that we should not be fearful
  • Complexity of the structures proposed
  • Finance/structure: Where do we find them, how do we put them into reality—it would take a lot of work, structure, and people to make them successful
  • New legal structure brings its own issues
  • Budget costs projected to be high, significantly higher than other General Synod costs. Who’s going to cover cost?
  • Healing mostly on West Coast—how to give attention to other places with voices not as strong

Finally, members expressed hopes:

  • More clear definition and implementation plan
  • That Indigenous Anglicans remain within the Anglican Church of Canada
  • No undo delay—successful process
  • Approach finances without fear
  • Approach through a lens of reconciliation
  • Reconciliation not be limited by resources
  • That it is not a project that “comes to an end” once the first phase is complete
  • Languages do not die (Indigenous languages)
  • That it comes to fruition sooner rather than later
  • That it truly benefits communities
  • That people trained in ministry may help, particularly regarding the suicide crisis
  • Fill in the gaps—filling in all the places that need attention, taking it in phases and that it will be energizing for the church
  • That we will journey together
  • That God will lead us to the promised land where peace and justice reign

The General Secretary thanked members for their contributions.

Members broke for coffee from 10:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Eucharist

Council gathered together in the M. Smith Room after the break to celebrate the closing Eucharist, with Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz presiding. During the service, the Primate officially commissioned Melanie Delva as reconciliation animator for the Anglican Church of Canada.

Prior to dismissal, council members paid tribute to Archbishop Hiltz as he marked his 10-year anniversary as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, having been elected to the position in June 2007. CoGS chaplain, Dean Peter Elliott, said a prayer for the Primate, and Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner presented Archbishop Hiltz with a certificate commemorating the anniversary. She recalled her feeling a decade earlier of “rejoicing” that God had given the church a good servant, and indicated that the last 10 years had confirmed that initial feeling.

The Primate expressed his gratitude to God, noting that every day, he is lifted up in prayer by bishops, clergy, and church members across the country. He said it was a privilege to serve the church in all its diversity, and voiced his appreciation for his wife Lynne for her support through the years.

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

Partner Moments

Prolocutor Haines-Turner resumed the session after lunch with an introduction of representatives of church partners. She recounted reporting to the National Church Council (NCC) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) the cares and concerns that are weighing on the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as the celebrations that we have—knowing that the ELCIC uphold us in prayer as full communion partners, having received plenty of messages offering prayers and support from NCC members during General Synod. By the same token, Haines-Turner aimed to report back to our church what had taken place at the NCC so Anglicans too can uphold Lutherans in prayer and concern.

Pat Lovell, partner to CoGS from the ELCIC, said that Haines-Turner was very much a part of the NCC group, noting, “We view her as one of us.” In July, the ELCIC will hold its next national convention in Winnipeg. The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation will be a major focus of the convention, which has the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace”. Lovell highlighted one of the sub-themes, “Human Beings—Not for Sale” and its similarity to discussions at CoGS on fighting human trafficking. Offering an update on targets for the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, she noted that Canadian Lutherans had thus far sponsored 536 refugees, beating their target of 500. Continuing the challenge, they remain focused on providing 500 scholarships for students in schools of the Evangelical Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, contributing $500,000 for the Lutheran World Federation Endowment Fund, and planting 500,000 trees.

Lovell hearkened back to themes discussed the previous day of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. The Anglican theme of the last General Synod and the 2016-2019 triennium, “You Are My Witnesses”, spoke to the theme of freedom from want and fear, in light of continuing terrorism around the world and the previous night’s presentation on human trafficking. The video on human trafficking and the personal account of a CoGS member, Lovell said, were the most moving examples of what it means to stand up against modern slavery and how churches must work together to defeat trafficking.

Canon Noreen Duncan, representative of The Episcopal Church to CoGS, offered a perspective from her work in the national executive and from her Diocese of New Jersey. She admitted to still reeling after the human trafficking presentation and that it too “hurt her heart”. She expressed her gratitude for the video on human trafficking and list of resources, which she planned to adopt into her own ministry on world mission and international justice issues. As a representative for her church at CoGS, Canon Duncan said she was grateful to be part of the Canadian part of what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church calls “the Jesus movement”, and to see different ways of doing Anglicanism and Christianity.

The Anglican Church of Canada, she said, is embracing appreciation of Indigenous people both in CoGS and elsewhere, while the Episcopal Church has comparatively little Indigenous presence. Duncan thanked Bishop Mark MacDonald, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor, and all of CoGS for showing her the path to reconciliation. She also noted that while Canada is a new nation of immigrants and settlers, she did not see that same diversity in the leadership and governance of the Canadian church, asking where the Asian, African, Latin, and Caribbean members were in the church’s leading bodies, particularly after having seen such diversity at General Synod 2016 in Richmond Hill, ON.. However, Canon Duncan stressed that her critique was meant as a relative and not meant to be hurtful. More than a political imperative, she said, reconciliation is a spiritual practice.

David Burrows, a parish priest currently serving in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, then provided his reflections on spending three weeks in Puerto Rico with the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society—staff members of The Episcopal Church who serve the church worldwide and seek partnerships for mission.

General Secretary’s Report

In his own report, General Secretary Michael Thompson noted that where his written report is customarily provided to CoGS before meetings and speaks more about the general state of the church, his spoken report taking place near the end of CoGS has tended towards an evaluation of the latest meeting and its implications for the church.

Directing members to his written report, Thompson said those reading it would find “an enormous regard for the work and imagination and creativity and collaboration of the Church House team” and specific examples of how that work is carried out. He laid praise on those staff members at Church House as a truly “gifted group of people”, led by an extraordinary leader in the Primate.

As he reflected on the latest CoGS meeting, the General Secretary said that the account from one CoGS member the previous day of her encounter with human trafficking offered a sobering moment that reminded council of the immediate impact and the human face of great harm and great suffering.

Thompson drew parallels to the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black youth who was viciously beaten, murdered, and mutilated during the segregation era in the Southern United States, and whose mother insisted on an open casket at his funeral to dramatize the injustice of racism and Jim Crow. Our church, Thompson said, has similar stories it must grapple with—of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, of human trafficking, the legacy of the residential schools, and the ongoing legacy of racism. He thanked Canon Duncan for pointing out that racism in Canada had not only been directed against Indigenous people, but also at wave after wave of immigrants.

Our church sign, Thompson said, signifies that we are not afraid to look at harm and violence, not afraid to speak about it, to own the parts of it that belong to us, and to seek healing and forgiveness for places where we as a church have broken God’s heart—but also to bear witness to wider Canadian reality.

Drawing on the metaphor of a broken heart, he said that when a heart breaks open, it creates a space where other broken hearts may be safe. The General Secretary acknowledged that the Indigenous people of our church and Canada had somehow allowed their hearts to be broken in a way that has not sent shards flying out to harm others. For that gift, which he found “astonishing”, the General Secretary believed that we could offer thanks on our church sign and treasure that hospitality.

He referred to a novel he was reading at the moment, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Portuguese writer José Saramago, which features a scene in which Jesus leaves home at the age of 13. As part of his coming into adulthood, the young Jesus visits Bethlehem and the tomb of 25 children who 13 years prior had been executed by King Herod’s troops. The General Secretary said the scene provided a “powerful image”, not just around the graves of children, but one that spoke to their experience and the relationship of our church to Indigenous children and all children—to those who will not have enough food today, for those who are victims of war, for those warehoused in refugee camps, for those who cannot even make it to refugee camps. To remember the importance of children in the life of the church and world, Thompson said, is another way of letting our hearts be broken.

On a related note, the General Secretary acknowledged an initiative that Bishop Mark MacDonald is participating in that focuses on repealing the section of the Criminal Code of Canada that allows corporal punishment of children by parents and teachers. A group at Queen’s University is currently working on a theological statement that would help the church ground its opposition to violence against children.

The General Secretary concluded his report by thanking the members of CoGS for their witness.

Faith, Worship, and Ministry Resolution

Prolocutor Haines-Turner put forward a resolution from Faith, Worship, and Ministry that prompted some discussion among the council members. After amending the resolution, members passed the motion by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod (CoGS) approve for trial use the prayers of Thanksgiving over the Water presented in Appendix #1 of the Faith, Worship, and Ministry (FWM) Report to CoGS, June 2017, and request the texts be posted with the other liturgical texts for trial use on the website of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Report on Decision-Making

The Prolocutor suggested to council that members refer the question of decision-making to the Governance Working Group, in order to get some initial thoughts and ideas that the group could present to council. At that point, when presented with material to start a conversation, CoGS might be able to form a group to assess the viability of consensus decision-making or other forms of procedure.

Council members approved her suggested course of action with no objections.

Final Report on Elections

The Rev. Clara Plamondon presented the final results of the elections, reporting that David Burrows had been elected clergy alternate for the 2019 Anglican Consultative Council.

Full election results were as follows:

  • General Synod Planning: Siobhan Bennett
  • Anglican Consultative Council
    • Bishop Alternate: Bishop Riscylla Shaw
    • Clergy Alternate: David Burrows
    • Lay Delegate: Ann Bourke
    • Lay Alternate: Melanie Delva

Plamondon put forward a motion to destroy the ballots, which council passed unanimously.

Key Messages/Word to the Church

As is customary, CoGS members ended the meeting by brainstorming key messages that they wished to present to the church coming out of the council. Suggestions were written down on a large sheet of paper.

Key messages put forward by members included:

  • CoGS is encouraging the church to move forward with the nature and extent of Indigenous ministry, including questions of self determination
  • How profound the need for work against human trafficking. Wake-up call for the wider church
  • Need to encourage Indigenous languages and support language recovery and preservation
  • Inspired by the presentation around PWRDF and water projects. Call to the wider church and our nation to “get our act together”
  • Expression of thanksgiving for Bishop Mark MacDonald and the Primate’s ministries and work
  • How easy it is for the average person to plug into the work of the Anglican Foundation and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. We are all members.
  • As we gather, we are steeped in prayer, worship, and Bible study
  • We are pursuing a model of consensus building, using silence, reflection and dialogue
    • We hope that other communities will use these models and that God’s spirit is guiding us to our conclusions
  • Responsible investment Task Force is alive and well. Give an update on the work that they are doing
  • Thankful for new ministry of the reconciliation animator
  • Impressed with thoughtful work around a national communications strategy
  • How much CoGS appreciates the pastoral support of the Planning and Agenda team and our chaplain
  • We are so lucky to have clean water, and we need to thank God
  • We need to pray about people who need clean water
  • We complain about so much…when we should be so thankful

As members prepared to leave, Peter Wall offered some final announcements regarding departure and what lay ahead before the next meeting of CoGS in November 2017.

The Primate closed out the meeting by recalling his predecessor Archbishop Michael Peers, who had led the church in significant directions in the spirit of gospel and the reign of God. He also described his “enormous respect” for Peers’s own predecessor as Primate, Archbishop Ted Scott, whose Primacy was marked by a focus on mission. Archbishop Hiltz concluded with a prayer written by Ted Scott in 1978 during a nation-wide mission focused initiative, remembering him with affection and respect.

Council members stood and said grace before departing for the journey home.

Members adjourned the meeting at 3 p.m.

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 25, 2017 appeared first on Anglican Church of Canada.

Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 24, 2017

June 25, 2017 - 7:06pm

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 24, 2017.

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

Eucharist

LCdr The Rev. Beverly Kean-Newhook presided at the morning Eucharist, which featured a reflection from Bishop Sidney Black.

Orders of the Day

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, thanked LCdr Kean-Newhook and Bishop Black for their contributions. He also welcomed National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald to the meeting.

Peter Wall presented the Orders of the Day. Lynne McNaughton, chair of Nominations Committee, offered an update on nominations for different positions.

CoGS Working Group on the Marriage Canon

McNaughton then detailed some of the work performed by the Council of General Synod (CoGS) Working Group on the Marriage Canon since the last council meeting in November.

Thus far members of the working group have held two teleconferences, in April and May. At the November CoGS meeting, the working group had been given a mandate asking for translations of This Holy Estate to be provided to Indigenous Anglican communities; for referrals and resources to be available for dioceses and provinces; and for CoGS members to invite their dioceses to indicate their need for resources or share resources used, and to return said information to the Office of the General Secretary by March 15, 2017. Of the latter resolution, McNaughton said that only a couple of dioceses had sent anything to the General Secretary. Meanwhile, the working group was compiling a list of resources to add to those already online for provinces and dioceses to access in their conversations about the Marriage Canon.

On the matter of translation, McNaughton said the working group had had many conversations about the subject, consulted with Bishop Mark MacDonald, the Rev. Ginny Doctor, and others but had been given indication that translation of documents into Indigenous languages would not be helpful at this point in time. At the same time, it was aware of the need to communicate this to wider church, since such translations were called for at the last General Synod. The matter would return back to the working group for further discussion and action.

At the November 2017 meeting of CoGS, the working group plans to lead plan to lead CoGS through a listening process to promote respectful and generous conversation, with the desired outcome of each member being able to articulate the opinion of the other. Afterwards they would, on behalf of CoGS, draft a letter to provincial synods discussing the value of understanding different positions, and sharing the CoGS listening experience.

Provincial synods will be invited to draw on these lessons as they each develop their own process for conversations about amendments to the marriage canon as they see fit, leading up to the second reading of the proposed amendment at General Synod 2019. The working group will also continue to explore ways to have conversations with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) around the marriage canon changes.

Bishop Sidney Black, co-chair of ACIP and a member of the working group, spoke further on the question of translating This Holy Estate. He noted that there had been discussions within ACIP about translating the document, and he had also had discussions with National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor on the issue of translations. The prevalent feeling was that considering the necessary time, use of resources, and deciding which of the many different Indigenous languages the text was to be translated into—and because of comprehensiveness of document—that might be a difficult thing to do. While deciding not to purse translation at the moment, they plan to keep the conversation regarding translation going within ACIP.

The Primate inquired whether there had been any discussion of translating only the executive summary of This Holy Estate into Indigenous languages. General Secretary Michael Thompson noted that a separate meeting had been held between Bishop MacDonald, the Rev. Doctor, Communications Director Meghan Kilty, and himself. Those present had received “strong advice” that translations of the executive summary would not be useful, and that it would be more productive to find other means of engagement—especially for communities that would not have opportunity to read this in our own language—through face-to-face conversations with elders.

Archbishop Hiltz expressed some anxiety that the position taken on translations may be received with dismay on the part of some members of General Synod, including Indigenous members, who were asking for translation work to be done. While fully aware that translating This Holy Estate in its entirety would be a monumental task, the Primate highlighted the need to be mindful of the request that had been made by General Synod, but said there was some “real work to be done” in terms of face-to-face engagement.

During the discussion, one Indigenous CoGS member asked why some dioceses were already marrying same-sex couples, which her people did not understand given that the church was currently debating passing an amendment to the marriage canon to change the rules. Reconciliation animator Melanie Delvia, meanwhile, said that in many Indigenous communities there was still a longing for basic resources such as Bibles and prayer books to be translated into Indigenous languages, and asked how the church would prioritize translation of different materials.

The Primate said that the church is being guided in these questions by the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and ACIP, and agreed that the translation of such materials into Indigenous languages was a huge priority that had been highlighted in the General Secretary’s report. He thanked McNaughton for her report on the working group.

Living Wage and Church House Staff

General Secretary Michael Thompson delivered a brief presentation on the topic of a living wage and salaries for staff at Church House in Toronto. He thanked treasurer and CFO Hanna Goschy for her research that underpinned the report.

A living wage, Thompson said, is typically defined in terms of what two full-time working adults would need to earn in order to support themselves and two dependent children—an amount that will be different in different communities, depending on the cost of food and housing. An internal assessment had determined that all salaried employees of General Synod are currently receiving a salary that exceeds the living wage. However, it had also discovered that a small amount of part-time casual contracts in the past had been paid less than the living wage, though more than the provincial minimum wage. As a result, General Synod had adjusted the base rate for casual workers at Church House to meet the standard of a living wage.

In response to a question about the difficulty of paying a living wage for clergy, lay ministers, and church employees in northern regions and/or Indigenous communities where the cost of living is higher, the General Secretary acknowledged that there were deep concerns about justice for non-stipendiary ministries, and said that the church had been attempting to figure out a solution for 20 years. He noted that General Synod has no authority over the employment practices of dioceses, though it has the ability to foster discussion. Thompson and Archbishop Hiltz both suggested it would be beneficial for CoGS to have a conversation on the issue before communicating with the House of Bishops.

The Primate wondered aloud whether it might be helpful if CoGS were to support an initiative, on behalf of himself and the General Secretary, to perhaps invite three members of CoGS to work with them on beginning to address that conversation. A majority of council members voted in support of the measure. Bishop Black encouraged the council to put an Indigenous member on any such working group.

Members broke for coffee from 10:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Yours, Mine, Ours

Reconciliation Animator Melanie Delva resumed the day’s session after the break with a presentation on work related to her new position. An animator, she explained, is someone who leads and encourages participation in a particular activity, especially in cultural and artistic activity. After touching on her own background, Delvia described the role of reconciliation animator as helping building a network of reconciliation teams, contacts, and initiatives; mentoring of the response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and helping provide ongoing responses to calls for justice from Indigenous communities.

Since coming on board as reconciliation animator on June 1, Delva had reaching out to diocesan representatives tasked with reconciliation, and was meeting people at Church House whose work overlaps with reconciliation, such as Anglican Healing Fund Coordinator Esther Wesley. She next planned to move on to discussions with ecumenical partners such as KAIROS Canada to gauge what are they doing and how the Anglican Church of Canada can work together to be inspiring to them. From there, she will connect with representatives of national Indigenous groups, such as the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to see what, if anything, the church might do to help build partnerships.

Delva reiterated her view that reconciliation is a spiritual practice, both individual and corporate. This belief, she said, was borne out of her own spiritual practice in this area as well as from the gospel itself, describing stories such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son as narratives about reconciliation. “Undoing system of oppression,” Delva added, “requires constant and active listening to the voices of those who are being oppressed.”

A planned discussion responding to reconciliation animation was moved to later in the day to accommodate a presentation by ACIP members who were present.

Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples

National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald and Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor led a presentation on ACIP and three related documents.

The first document was a pastoral letter to CoGS from the Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, which offered an update since the last Sacred Circle on progress towards self-determination for Indigenous people within the Anglican Church of Canada. In August 2015, Sacred Circle had asked the church to move forward with Indigenous self-determination, endorsing the concept of a “fifth province” or equivalent.

A focus group had been formed to coordinate work, consisting of co-chairs Larry Beardy and Donna Bomberry as well as Sidney Black, Sol Sanderson, Vincent Solomon, Ginny Doctor, Lydia Mamakwa, Mark MacDonald, Adam Halkett and Annie Ittoshat. After numerous consultations, the focus group had came up with the idea of forming a Confederacy of Indigenous Ministries, with the word “confederacy” carrying a certain weight due to its associations with Indigenous history such as the Iroquois Confederacy. The task of the Confederacy would be to incorporate various Indigenous congregations, jurisdictions, and so on into a national Indigenous ministry.

One prevailing idea at the moment is a type of “dual citizenship”, in which an individual church could have a type of dual citizenship in the geographic diocese, but also as a part of the Sacred Circle. Just as General Synod has empowered two provinces (B.C. Yukon and Ontario) to be self-determining, in the same way General Synod would have to empower this body to make its own rules and to govern itself. Congregations, clergy, and others would develop a relationship with the Sacred Circle at some level; some would come under the jurisdiction of Sacred Circle, while others would remain under dual affiliation.

Doctor, Bomberry, and Solomon have been assigned to “flesh out” some of the ideas that emerged from the focus group. The trio have met twice at Six Nations in recent months over corn soup, and the content of each meeting had been submitted to CoGS in the form of two reports documenting the “corn soup meetings”. A key theme Doctor highlighted was the need to preserve traditional Indigenous values with Christian values underscoring their similarity, or in some cases congruence.

Major areas ACIP wishes to promote include its Indigenous catechist training program, which Doctor said had “achieved a level of success beyond my imagination,” suicide prevention, healing circles, and elders and youth circles. The report on the second corn soup meeting also included a projected budget for the National Office coordinating efforts towards the proposed Confederacy. The National Office will remain based in Toronto, but will require additional resources.

Following the ACIP presentation, Archbishop Hiltz spoke about the 10-year anniversary of Bishop MacDonald’s appointment as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, fondly recalling the “great celebration” that was had that day. He spoke of MacDonald’s time as the Bishop of Alaska, his musical talents and frequent gospel jams that had led many to dub him the “rock ‘n’ roll bishop”, and his aptitude as a scholar. The Primate presented Bishop MacDonald with a certificate from ACIP celebrating his 10 years as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, as well as a gift. Archbishop Hiltz and Bishop Sidney Black then led a prayer for Bishop MacDonald.

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

Bible Study

The afternoon session began with a Bible study in which council members read Mark 6:17-29, discussing the passage among their table groups.

Audited Financial Statements

Bishop Fraser Lawton, supported by General Synod treasurer and CFO Hanna Goschy, next presented the report of the Financial Management Committee, presenting audited financial statements for the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation, the Anglican Church of Canada Consolidated Trust Fund, and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. Each statement concerned the finances for the respective organization as of Dec. 31, 2016.

After some engagement and an opportunity to ask questions, CoGS received four resolutions. Representatives of the Financial Management Committee put forward the resolutions before the council, all four of which were adopted.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approve the audited financial statements of the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2016.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approve the audited financial statements of the Consolidated Trust Fund for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2016.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approve the audited financial statements of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2016.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approve the appointment of Grant Thornton LLP as auditor for General Synod for fiscal year 2017, at a fee determined by the Audit Committee.

Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice

Before presenting an update from the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, Canon Andrew Wesley and Bishop Riscylla Walsh Shaw reminded council that the last time the Commission reported to CoGS, the report had been delivered by “our dear friend” Archbishop Terry Finlay, the former co-chair of the commission who died earlier this year. CoGS members subsequently took a moment to remember Archbishop Finlay.

Canon Wesley began an account of the last meeting of the Primate’s Commission, which took place in Winnipeg at the Hampton Inn from May 11-14, 2017. The meeting opened on a Thursday with a smudging ceremony, prayers to the Four Directions, and a blessing of the sacred space using tobacco. Commission members moved into a sharing circle, and after catching up on their individual activities since the last meeting, moved into various agenda items requiring attention. During an afternoon break, many members visited the local Human Rights Museum.

On Friday, the commission heard presentations from Melanie Delva, reconciliation animator, and Ryan Weston lead animator for Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice. They also heard reports from Bishop Donald Phillips and Vincent Solomon, urban Indigenous ministry developer, both from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Members looked at the report of recommendations made to General Synod in 2016, then took time set aside to remember Archbishop Finlay.

Bishop Shaw then moved into the events of Saturday, May 13, which saw a presentation by Bishop Mark MacDonald on “reclaiming responsibility”, discussion of First Nations treaties in today’s context, and calling governments to accountability. Members agreed unanimously that Delva would serve as an advisor to the commission. They had a conversation on Indigenous self-determination within the Anglican Church of Canada, looking at the TRC Calls to Action—particularly #48, which pertains to how churches would comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Recognition of traditional territories in all church and diocesan events across Canada, as well as education in Indigenous history, came up. The commission talked about how member Jennifer Henry, also director of Kairos, would work on collaborating to create a “reconciliation map” with all stakeholders. Among other items, they talked about how each commission member might communicate with their MPs to support Bill C-262, which would require the laws of Canada to be in compliance with UNDRIP.

The Primate thanked the members for coming out, and prayed that God would continue to bless the good work the commission has done. He noted that this work touches on many other aspects of our life as the church national.

Members broke for coffee from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Communications and Information Resources Coordinating Committee and Anglican Journal Coordinating Committee Reports

Karen Egan, representative of the Communications and Information Resources Coordinating Committee, next reported on a joint project with the Anglican Journal Coordinating Committee.

The initiative grew out of a meeting in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, which had decided they would no longer distribute a print edition of their own diocesan newspaper. The diocese may still provide an online paper, and make PDFs available so individuals and groups could print out their own copies. The diocese chose this course of action for two reasons: In part, members wished to focus their resources on online communication, but they also believed going electronic would dovetail with their own diocesan mission to become more green and environmentally friendly.

Offering additional context, Egan said that such a decision was by no means exceptional, and that many dioceses are reviewing their communications strategy. In the general media world, print editions are under continuous pressure as costs increase and consumer demand for online communication continues to rise. The request of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, and its potential impacts, mean that we can no longer ignore the issue, Egan said.

The formation of a working group was a joint effort by the two coordinating committees, and its makeup includes two co-chairs (Bishop William Cliff and Egan), two other members (Ian Alexander and another member to be determined), and two staff members (Meghan Kilty, director of communications, and Tess Sison, editor of the Anglican Journal). In their initial meetings, the group found that the question of print and online media was very complex, due to the interrelated issues of finances, structures, and strategy, where change in one area can precipitate unexpected changes in other areas.

Numerous questions arose: Could we save money by not printing the paper, and directing our readers to online equivalents? Does an online news source deliver the same experience as a newspaper? Do we reach more people when we publish online? Do we need to increase our engagement with Anglicans across the country, and could an online community achieve that?

Taken together, these questions pointed to the need for a Coherent Communications Strategy, which would answer the issues of how and with whom the church communicates, the nature of our communication objectives, the best use of our resources, and where the Anglican Journal would fit into this strategy.

The mandate of the working group was based on the aforementioned concerns and covered three main areas:

  1. Responding to the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, which continues to wait as General Synod works out what to do with their “genuine, whole-hearted” request. The group hopes to produce an interim response soon.
  2. Research and consultation that will begin to develop options for future distribution models for the Anglican Journal, and its connection with web resources that the Communications and Information Resources department currently produces
  3. Strategy for future directions.

The Primate thanked Egan for her presentation and said the CoGS could expect a more substantial report at its next meeting in November.

Yours, Mine, Ours (continued)

Reconciliation Animator Melanie Delva then returned to the podium to pose the discussion questions for the council based on her presentation earlier in the day, the discussion having been moved to accommodate other agenda items. Questions included:

  • What needs to be undone within you, personally, in order to foster reconciliation?
  • What needs to be undone in your context or community?
  • What is one tangible thing you can do to facilitate that undoing?
  • What if anything can the Reconciliation Animator do to assist?

Responses from table groups often spoke to members’ personal experiences. Some wondered how to respond to frustration and anger they felt about colonialism, frustration with the process of reconciliation thus far, and feelings of anger and shame about being complicit in the oppression and subjugation of Indigenous peoples. They declared the need for honesty in taking the next steps forward with courage and hopefulness, accepting the “painful reality” that the privilege of many was based on the non-privilege of others.

Delva thanked the members for their contributions and their willingness to engage each other with difficult questions that can often evoke feelings of vulnerability and fear. Yet she expressed a confidence in progress towards reconciliation, noting, “I know that this is possible, because I’ve seen it in my own life … I know it’s possible because Christ told us that it is. It’s his mission, and his kingdom come.” 

Elections

Bishop Lawton then provided updates on election results. Martha Tatarnic was elected by acclamation to serve on the General Synod Planning Committee, having previously served in the same position in 2016. Similarly, Melissa Green from the Province of B.C. Yukon and Bishop John Chapman from the Province of Ontario were both elected by acclamation to the Anglican Award of Merit Committee.

Council members then voted for the positions of bishop (alternate), lay delegate, and alternate to attend the Anglican Consultative Council in 2019. Four bishops were nominated for the first position, including William Cliff, Greg Kerr-Wilson, Larry Robertson, and Riscylla Walsh Shaw.

Meanwhile, six candidates were put forward for lay delegate and alternate, with the winners having the most and second-most votes, respectively. Candidates included Ian Alexander, Ann Bourke, Melanie Delva, Rob Dixon, Tara Munn, and John Rye.

Members broke for hospitality from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and supper from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Human Trafficking Workplan

Archbishop Hiltz thanked the Planning and Agenda Team for freeing up time for the council so that it could concentrate on the matter of human trafficking for the duration of the evening.

Global Relations Director Andrea Mann began the evening session on human trafficking, directing the attention of CoGS to a report from the Partners in Mission Committee, which included a resolution council members would later vote on, and a new web hub for human trafficking on the national Anglican Church of Canada website that would go online after the conclusion of the present CoGS meeting.

After the Primate led a prayer for all those affected by human trafficking, members watched a video on human trafficking that underscored the massive scope of the “industry”. Ninety-three per cent of human trafficking victims in Canada come from within its borders. The biggest risk factor for falling victim to human trafficking in Canada is simply being a girl. With the rise of live streaming sex acts with children over the Internet, the Philippines is currently the global epicentre of human trafficking, but Canadians are a major part of the demand. The majority of children being trafficked in Canada are Indigenous. While there is often talk of human trafficking victims, there is comparatively little discussion of the perpetrators who fuel and sustain this industry.

Following the video, the Primate led another prayer for all those enslaved by the sex trade. Mann then spoke about Anglican efforts to combat human trafficking.

Following the Anglican Consultative Council’s 2012 resolution, the result of years of work by the International Anglican Women’s Network and International Anglican Family Network, many initiatives have emerged to fight human trafficking. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has repeatedly pledged to lead the Anglican Communion in the struggle against human trafficking, and participated with Pope Francis in the Rome launch of the Global Freedom of Network in 2014 to combat human trafficking. In February 2017, Welby pledged with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to fight human trafficking.

The Anglican Alliance, meanwhile, has been working to turn these high-level statements and commitments into action. Besides encouraging parishes to take part in Freedom Sunday—an annual day of prayer, worship, and action to stop human trafficking—the Alliance had produced a draft strategic framework for a response to end modern slavery and human trafficking. Though the draft framework offered numerous concrete details, the broad categories of its approach included:

  • Effective policy to provide a legislative framework to prosecute, prevent, and protect;
  • Effective prosecution methods to reduce demand;
  • Effective prevention methods to reduce demand and supply;
  • Effective protection methods to support survivors and reduce supply (re-trafficking);
  • Effective partnerships to prosecute, prevent, and protect; and
  • Effective participation by local churches and communities

Ryan Weston, lead animator for Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice, then discussed some of those groups most at risk for human trafficking in Canada, which include any girl anywhere in the country, particularly Indigenous; poor young men and women on the streets, youth in care; and people are being exploited in the sex trade and for domestic labour, agricultural labour, and in manufacturing, restaurants, and hotels.

Many Anglicans are already working on this issue, Weston noted. Some of the ways Anglicans are doing this is direct work with people involved in human trafficking, such as outreach and ministry to victims of sex trafficking and agricultural workers, and offering pastoral support to families who have lost track of their own family members.

Anglicans are also engaged in the work of advocacy. Many parishes, dioceses, and staff and ministries of General Synod were and are very active in calling for a government inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, one of the TRC Calls to Action. During the #22Days project in 2015, Anglican churches across the country rang their bells to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Many Anglicans are involved in pushing for a federal strategy on human trafficking, which currently does not exist; even getting remotely accurate numbers in Canada on human trafficking is difficult. General Synod staff members plan to have a map on the human trafficking web hub soon, where people will be able to connect to work going on across the country.

John VanStone, an assistant parish priest at St. Paul’s in Kingston, Ont., and part-time civilian chaplain at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, spoke next to share his own experience in the fight against human trafficking. He reiterated different ways that Anglicans could help combat human trafficking by raising awareness, lobbying for policy change, taking front-line action through outreach to both victims and perpetrators, intercessory prayer, and generosity to support the above.

VanStone also discussed the Ragdoll Prayer Project, an initiative begun by Anglican Renewal Ministries that uses the creation, display, and distribution of ragdolls to raise awareness of human trafficking and encourage intercessory prayer and action. Anyone can take part in the Ragdoll Prayer Project by gathering people who enjoy sewing, distributing fabric and patterns for sewing, hosting workshops that mix sewing ragdolls, prayer, and sharing information on human trafficking; and creating a display showcasing the ragdolls.

It was then that one CoGS member approached the microphone to offer an emotional account of her own encounter with human trafficking. Months after she began working at a hotel in Niagara Falls at the age of 20, the member recalled, a woman came in with a young girl who looked no older than 14. The two looked similar enough to be mother and daughter—though they were not—and stayed at the hotel for two weeks, during which the woman would come and speak to the CoGS member regularly. At the end of two weeks, a pair of undercover police offers came to the hotel declaring that they suspected human trafficking was taking place in the hotel. It turned out to be that same woman, whom they placed under arrest.

The CoGS member tearfully related feeling “horrible” for talking to the woman and unwittingly accepting tips without knowing that she was interacting with a perpetrator of human trafficking. After the woman was arrested, police combed through her hotel room and found needles and drug paraphernalia everywhere. The CoGS member expressed her anguish over the fact that she had seen the young girl at the front desk and had not said anything, not knowing the girl was a victim of trafficking: “I just wish that I could have known…”

Her story left a powerful impact on the rest of the council, which remained silent until the Primate thanked the member for her courage in sharing her story and reminding CoGs of how close to home the issue of human trafficking is. The Primate hoped that having shared the story, she would know the love, support, and prayers of the council.

Members then voted on the resolution related to human trafficking, adopting it unanimously.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod endorse Resolution 15:10 The Trafficking of Persons of the Anglican Consultative Council 2012, urging Provinces to:

  • Learn about and raise awareness of their own country’s or countries’ involvement in trafficking;
  • Identify resources available and activities already being undertaken nationally in addressing the elimination of trafficking;
  • Report findings to provincial and diocesan synods or conventions with a view to evaluating how churches can engage prophetically and develop local and regional strategies in response to trafficking; and
  • Promote and disseminate new and existing liturgical and theological materials relating to trafficking in persons as a resource for local churches.

After the resolution passed, Archbishop Hiltz thanked the speakers for their presentation, and the CoGS member who had shared her story for bearing witness. With a lit candle in hand, the Primate led other council members bearing icons and candles in a silent procession to the chapel for evening prayer.

Holden Evening Prayer

Evening prayer took place in the chapel of the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre.

Members adjourned the meeting for the day at 9 p.m. and subsequently enjoyed an evening social until 11 p.m.

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 24, 2017 appeared first on Anglican Church of Canada.

Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 23, 2017

June 24, 2017 - 2:46am

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 23, 2017.

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

Opening Eucharist

Bishop Larry Robertson presided at the Eucharist that opened the council meeting.

Welcome and Opening Formalities

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, welcomed members to the second meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) for the 2016-2019 triennium. He acknowledged two changes since the last meeting of the council: the election of Archdeacon Sidney Black as the first Indigenous bishop for Treaty 7 territory, dedicated to Indigenous ministry in the Diocese of Calgary, as well as the appointment of Melanie Delva as reconciliation animator at the General Synod.

The Primate introduced numerous members of the council, as well as representatives of partners such as The Episcopal Church (TEC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). He also listed regrets from members unable to attend.

Council members approved the minutes from the last meeting of CoGS in November 2016 before approving the agenda for the present meeting.

Primate’s Report

The Primate began his report to the council with an excerpt from “A Good Pentecost” by Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne in England, from the book A Good Year edited by Canon Mark Oakley, and noted the significance of the season of Pentecost. The Primate discussed his thoughts on church signage, suggesting that churches might consider numbering weeks of the year on church signs in accordance with the calendar year (e.g. Week 3, Week 11) as opposed to terms such as “Ninth Sunday after Trinity” which might confuse outsiders. How do we welcome those who are not part of our community? Who are we? What is our witness?

Archbishop Hiltz turned to the theme of the triennium and the current council, “You Are My Witnesses”, and said that the church had honoured this theme to varying degrees of success. Discussing the role of evangelism in the Anglican tradition, he recalled how the most recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia had called the worldwide Anglican Communion into a period of focused discipleship. The Marks of Mission and our vows of baptism, the Primate said, reflect the fullness of the gospel and remind us that our following of Jesus impacts every area of our lives.

The Primate noted that the 8th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue recently took place in Nairobi, Kenya, and included numerous representatives from the Anglican Church of Canada. He noted the growing numbers of participants from different countries over the years. The theme of this year’s gathering was Haraambe, which means, “to pull together”. With the testimony from the consultation set to be published after the present CoGS meeting, the Primate underscored the significance of a large group of bishops from such diverse contexts being able to release a testimony reflecting the spirit of Haraambe. Another recent meeting the Primate highlighted was the gathering of the House of Bishops, which coincided with a joint meeting of Anglican and Lutheran bishops.

Archbishop Hiltz drew attention to the Canada 150 symposium hosted by Bishop John Chapman in the Diocese of Ottawa, which the Primate had planned to co-host but was unable to attend due to illness. One highlight of the meeting was the address by former Senator Hugh Segal, who described the two most significant freedoms in the world as “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want”. Segal observed that the Anglican Communion has a presence on the frontlines of many global and domestic challenges, and that clergy and lay congregants could see the pathology of poverty every day. Our witness matters. Our voice matters. For the church to truly bear witness, the Primate said, would require consistent engagement on these issues.

On the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer, June 21, the Primate issued his statement “Beyond #Canada150”, which drew attention to clear direction for the federal government, citizens, and churches to honour the 94 Calls to Action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In his role as Primate, Archbishop Hiltz said he had a responsibility to continue to hold those Calls to Action before the church as a focus for the reconciling work of God and Christ, and that the Anglican Church of Canada could be proactive in responding to those calls.

The Primate shared how delighted he is by the church’s commitment to engage on a full-time basis with an animator for reconciliation, the newly appointed Melanie Delva. What stood out during Delva’s interview for the position, he noted, was her commitment to “reconciliation as a spiritual practice”. In her role as reconciliation animator—for which she would be officially commissioned at CoGS during the Sunday Eucharist—Delva will travel the country extensively working with dioceses, parishes, and schools to help respond to the Calls to Action.

Drawing the attention of members to the topic of Indigenous self-determination, Archbishop Hiltz recalled his experience attending national TRC events at which the commissioners expressed their interest in movements within the Anglican Church of Canada towards self-determination, a foundational principle of the TRC and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That interest dated back to the church’s 2007 appointment—at the request of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP)—of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop.

As the Primate highlighted in his National Indigenous Peoples’ Day statement, the church has also set aside certain rules and procedures in order to elect bishops in accord with Indigenous and local customs. The church had subsequently seen the election of Bishop Lydia Mamakwa in the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. We have also seen signs growth toward a truly Indigenous expression within the Anglican Church of Canada with the election of Bishop Adam Halkett in the Diocese of Saskatchewan, Bishop Riscylla Shaw in the Diocese of Toronto, and Bishop Sidney Black in Treaty 7 territory. Archbishop Hiltz also praised “incredible work” by Bishop Barbara Andrews in the Territory of the People, particularly with elders. He noted that work by the leadership of the House of Bishops, ACIP, and the Sacred Circle was increasingly focused on the issue of self-determination.

Self-determination, he added, must not be merely an Indigenous conversation, but a conversation for the whole church, which had made a commitment to self-determination in its 1994 covenant that extended the hand of partnership.

Moving onto another key issue, Archbishop Hiltz said that council members at the present meeting would be receiving an important presentation on human trafficking. He described the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery in stark terms: “This ugly, filthy crime stalks the earth. No country is beyond its reach,” the Primate said, noting that Canada is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.

In the face of this crime, and in the spirit of the Marks of Mission—particularly the fifth mark—the Primate said the churches of the Anglican Communion were joining together to combat this evil, and that other Christian denominations had launched similar efforts. Lutherans have proclaimed “Human Beings—Not for Sale” as one of the sub-themes of their commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had joined with Pope Francis and other faith leaders in 2014 to establish the Global Freedom Network, aiming for the eradication of modern slavery throughout the world.

The Primate urged men and women in the Anglican Church of Canada to rise up in defiance, to defeat this “crime against humanity”, and to support young people who are most vulnerable to the “living hell” of enslavement through trafficking. Evoking the words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple, Archbishop Hiltz said that the church cannot be so preoccupied with its own domestic life that it loses sight or hearing of those who look to it in great hope of Christ’s mercy and compassion, and of the release and freedom promised in the gospel.

Archbishop Hiltz concluded his report by inviting the council to join him in singing a hymn, “The Church of Christ in Every Age”.

Members broke for coffee from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Consensus Decision-Making

Table groups after the break took part in a discussion regarding members’ experience of consensus decision-making, and its potential as an alternative method for the council to reach decisions.

Following the discussion, members of table groups identified various positive aspects of consensus decision-making (everyone gets to talk, people can register their level of comfort or discomfort, creating space for respectful listening), concerns (imprecise way to vote, doesn’t respect conscientious and deeply held reservations) and wishes (using consensus decision-making at General Synod in the future).

CoGS chaplain, Dean Peter Elliott facilitated the discussion, and described consensus decision-making as a “gift” from many sources including Indigenous Anglicans, one that offered an alternative to parliamentary forms of procedure and was increasingly favoured in the world of law as a means to more likely achieve a “win-win” scenario. Consensus decision-making, he added, was also used by the World Council of Churches throughout its 2006 meeting, and Elliott noted the traditional breath of Anglicanism which has tended to accommodate a wide range of views.

The Primate expressed his hope that the present council would begin to look at what an alternative decision-making model might look like.

General Synod Planning Committee Terms of Reference

Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner next took the podium to draw members’ attention to the need to appoint certain members of the General Synod Planning Committee.

In a consensus decision, council voted for the Deputy Prolocutor to henceforth become a member of the General Synod Planning Committee.

Nominating Committee Announcement

Lynne McNaughton, chair of the Nominating Committee, announced that elections would take place on Saturday morning, with nominations closing Friday night. Besides members of the General Synod Planning Committee, elections were being held for an alternative bishop to attend the 2019 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

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

Bible Study

The meeting resumed in the afternoon with a Bible study, centred on Luke 1:1-56. Council members read and contemplated the passage before engaging in discussion with their table groups.

Marketplace Discussion #1

Council members dispersed into separate rooms to join “marketplace” discussions on one of three topics: the Anglican Foundation of Canada, government relations as a ministry, and the Pikangikum water project. Each group engaged in a table group conversation, facilitated by individuals familiar with each topic.

Members broke for coffee from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Marketplace Session #2

Council members each had the opportunity to attend discussions in a second marketplace session after the break.

Plenary Report Back

Karen Egan facilitated a subsequent discussion in which table groups were invited to discuss two questions regarding their experience of the marketplace sessions:

  • What did you hear that you found encouraging, or that you wish everyone could have heard?
  • What are some of the things that you might take home to your province and your diocese?

Table groups discussed each question for 15 minutes, after which representatives from different groups then shared some of the responses.

Some members who attended the government affairs and water project sessions were impressed that people were “doing things that were having real results”. Others noted the interconnected nature of each of the three marketplace topics. In answer to the second question, one group suggested that members returning from CoGS would bring their abilities as bridge-builders to help involve their own dioceses and provinces in each area of ministry.

Responsible Investing Task Force

After an introduction by the Primate explaining the mandate of the Responsible Investment Task Force, Pension Committee trustee Robert Boeckner offered a brief update on the task force’s progress. Bockner said the task force would not be proposing any policy changes that night, given the complexity of the issues involved, But he noted that task force members had met for the first time in January and had held regular conference calls since then. He highlighted the diversity of the task force itself, which included members from disparate locations and from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds.

To illustrate the complexity of tackling responsible investment, Boeckner pointed to some notable contradictions in various areas the task force had examined in their research. He offered as an example Total, the French oil giant that is also the biggest investor of renewable energy in Europe. Closer to home, the Canadian oil sands are the largest source of carbon emissions in Canada and often have a negative impact on Indigenous communities—yet the industry is also the biggest employer of Indigenous people in Canada. Boeckner indicated that progress in responsible investment would require dealing with such nuanced situations.

Boeckner described three main areas of work the task force is engaged in:

  • Providing a theological framework by connecting fiscal practices to scriptural traditions, considering investment through the lenses of stewardship and justice, and reflecting the fourth and fifth Marks of Mission;
  • Assessing current realities, practices, and potential gaps for Anglican investment by examining the church’s portfolio, exploring responsible investing, and providing guidance for those investing the funds; and
  • Building communications to share the work being done in the national church and other funds, inform diocesan groups on responsible investing principles, and assisting dioceses and other funds to build capacity.

In terms of potential next steps, the task force proposed continued exploration to determine investment of funds across the country, to be followed by a final report, guidelines and policy recommendations, and development of materials for diocesan use.

Following the presentation, council members broke into groups and discussed three questions the task force posed to them:

  • In general, how do you respond to the info presented in this presentation and the associated documents?
  • Do you invite us to move forward with the information gathering process that the Task Force has recommended, including the letter and questionnaire that has been distributed for your review?
  • What are your thoughts on the Task Force’s recommendation to add a ‘Communications’ mandate to its work for the purposes of informing and adding capacity to the broader church community at national, diocesan, and in some cases individual, levels?

Representatives of different groups summarized the content of the conversations that followed. One group thought it would be helpful to send investment groups the same update that CoGS members had received with the questionnaire. Many responses themselves included additional questions, such as how to bring the conversation into the whole church and provide options for investment.

Towards 2022

Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner facilitated the last agenda item of the day, revolving around ministry action for the Anglican Church of Canada following Vision 2019 that would take the church towards 2022.

The Prolocutor began by outlining two key sections from Vision 2019: priorities for the church living into God’s mission, and practices for the church ready for God’s mission. In providing a follow-up document leading into 2022, she said, four “dimensions” would need to feed into any plan: dioceses, provinces, the church national (General Synod, ACIP, Sacred Circle, CoGS), and the Anglican Communion.

She put forward two questions for discussion:

  • Which existing directions/strategies/initiatives are helping us now and which new directions/strategies/initiatives would help us grow as people of God and as the church?
  • What new things are happening in your area that we should pay attention to, that can inform our ministry beyond 2022?

After 10 minutes of discussion, representatives from each group again came to the microphone to share their responses.

They highlighted the importance of maintaining the church’s commitment to walk with Indigenous partners, and building bridges with other communities and churches. The group suggested greater transparency as one area the church could improve in. Among their concerns for 2022 and beyond, they asked how church members would be one church with breadths of expression. Some expressed their hopes that one day our church would see its diversity as an its greatest asset, rather than a point of contention. Others wondered how the church could continue addressing ecological issues and political injustices within the Canadian context.

Another said that everything Haines-Turner had outlined from Vision 2019 remained valid and essential to the church’s identity, and that the church should continue in the same direction. Other groups asked what true Indigenous self-determination would look like and how robust the church’s public ecumenism and interfaith dialogue would be, while reiterating the importance of reaching different age groups in everything the church does.

Prayers for End of the Day

The day ended with evening prayers and a liturgy from the Iona community.

Council members adjourned for the day at 9 p.m.

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The present and future of locally trained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada

June 22, 2017 - 3:05pm

The following is the second instalment of a two-part article on locally trained ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada. Read Part 1.

Different models for locally trained ministry apply in different dioceses and communities of the Anglican Church of Canada. In general, local training involves a regionally-based program that candidates for ministry can participate in on a part-time basis over an extended period of time.

As opposed to seminary training, regionally provided ministry schools will often have intensive courses that meet for a certain period, such as one week, each season. Candidates for local training feel a deep commitment to carry out ministry, but one that typically must be balanced with other responsibilities.

“People who tend to become locally trained priests are commonly people who had a sense of being called to priestly ministry—but who aren’t going to leave their day jobs or whatever aspect of their lives in order to take this on as a paid career, or lifelong full-time commitment,” Archdeacon William Harrison said.

“Instead, there’s a sense that these are people for whom that’s a ministry to which they’re called and a contribution that they can make to the life of their parishes.”

Before taking on his current position as director of mission and ministry for the Diocese of Huron, Archdeacon Harrison served as ministry development officer for the Diocese of Kootenay, a largely rural diocese that developed local clergy to work in non-stipendiary support positions—still its primary use for locally trained clergy.

“What we’ve seen there [in Kootenay] is a real push to sustain and grow the church in areas where it would be impossible to provide paid seminary-trained clergy to offer real week-to-week leadership,” he said.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Travis O’Brian teaches an Ethics course for the Kootenay School of Ministry that took place in June 2016 in Kelowna, B.C. Photo by Anne Privett

The Kootenay School of Ministry, where Harrison served as principal from 2011 to 2014, evolved out of preparations for locally trained priests and deacons in the diocese. Besides forming priests and deacons, the school also trains licensed lay ministers to take leadership roles in parishes.

In the Territory of the People, locally ordained priests Martina Duncan and Angus Muir attended courses in the Diocese of New Westminster and the Kootenay School of Ministry alongside local and online training. Bishop Barbara Andrews laid out requirements for the candidates to have knowledge in certain areas such as biblical studies, theology, pastoral care, and parish administration.

Once the candidates had met those competencies, the bishop felt prepared to ordain them.

“Because they’re locally trained, they’re also non-stipendiary, so I put a condition on the parish that they will provide a certain amount of funds for them to continue their studies,” Bishop Andrews said.

“It’s lifelong learning, which we say for all priests, but most of us go to seminary and then we don’t continue studying after that in the same intentional way.”

Supporting locally trained ministry

Archdeacon Harrison saw the February consultation in Niagara Falls, Equipping the Saints: A National Gathering on Local Initiatives in Theological Education for Priestly Ministry—which focused on alternative diocesan training as well as seminary training—as an important part of the response by the Anglican Church of Canada to the increased role of locally trained ministry.

He believed the future of locally trained ministry would be an ongoing discussion with the Committee for Faith, Worship, and Ministry and the national church.

“My sense is that in many ways, the most important facilitating role that the church national can play is by enabling all of the kinds of preparation for ordination to continue in a conversation and in mutual support,” he said.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald suggested that the Anglican Church of Canada might support locally trained ministry by recognizing the growing number of clergy in this condition, and adopting measures to reflect the unique conditions under which they carry out their (generally non-paid) ministry.

Such measures might include supplementing their work by providing resources for ongoing training, providing subsidies for the elderly who do not have pensions, or enabling them to take some much-needed vacation.

“Very few of them get time off,” Bishop MacDonald said. “If the church started a program to allow clergy to cover for these clergy while they went off and had some time off, that would be a great help … There are a lot of ways in which the church could help out to support locally raised, locally trained clergy in the very challenging circumstances that they do their work.”

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Beyond #Canada150: A Statement from the Primate on National Aboriginal Day 2017

June 20, 2017 - 4:20pm

Like many other Canadians, I am mindful that within just a couple of weeks of observing National Aboriginal Day on June 21, we will be commemorating 150 years of Confederation on July 1. For many this will be a great celebration complete with flag raisings and fly passes, parades and concerts, races and regattas, feasts and fire works. For many, this will be a time of national thanksgiving, and rightly so, for among other things the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the benefits we enjoy as Canadians. It will be a time for reflection on our place in the family of nations committed to peace and freedom for all peoples in the world.

Yet for many #Canada150 will pass with much less of an air of celebration given the history of relationships between the First Peoples of this land and the Settler Peoples. For some, #Canada150 is now #Resistance150, as #Canada150 is a reminder that this country’s founding is inextricably linked to this relationship. This relationship is marked by an imperial arrogance that became enshrined in a Federal Government Policy of Assimilation of the First Peoples into the culture, social structures and governance established by colonial powers.

Enforced by the establishing of the Indian Residential Schools, generations of Indigenous Peoples lost much of their language, culture, identity and spirituality. Through “the child taken and the parent left behind” there were so many years of lost love resulting in a devastating impact on people’s dignity and self-worth.

The legacy of those schools lives on. It lives on even after the Government of Canada finally issued an Apology in the House of Commons on June 11, 2008 in Ottawa. It lives on after a number of the churches which ran the schools on behalf of the government – including our own – made formal apologies. None of us will ever forget the words of Archbishop Michael Peers, “…I am sorry that we tried to remake you in our image…We failed you. We failed God. We failed ourselves…”. (August 6, 1993, Minaki, Ontario)

TRC Calls to Action

As Canadians and as Anglicans, particularly those who followed the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the time between National Aboriginal Day and Canada Day is a time to re-read the 94 Calls to Action that accompanied the final report of the TRC Commissioners, released in December 2015. Counting myself in that company, I feel bound to draw the attention of all Canadians to a number of those Calls, to our deepen understanding of them, to recommit ourselves to the work they call for, and to pray in hope for the healing and reconciliation to which they aspire.

#53 calls for the establishing of a National Council for Reconciliation that would “monitor, evaluate, and report annually to Parliament and the Peoples of Canada on the Government of Canada’s post apology progress on reconciliation”.

#78 calls “The Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 Million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation…”. This Centre is already in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, Provincial Education Ministers and numerous community based organizations, producing resources that will educate all Canadians on the history of the Residential Schools (#62, #63, #64 & #65).

#81 and #82 – call for the erection of a “Residential Schools Monument” in the nation’s capital and in each provincial capital “to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities”.

#68 calls on “the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation”.

#45 calls for a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, renewing or establishing Treaty relationships, and taking steps “to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation”.

#79 calls for a national heritage plan that will include ways to mark the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

#80 calls for the establishing of “…a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation…”.

The legacy of the Residential Schools

A number of the Calls to Action speak to the need for much more attention to “the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools…” (#21); the vulnerability of Aboriginal women and girls to violence through human trafficking (#41); and the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal peoples and to “eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system” (#35).

So numerous are the concerns for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples, that Call to Action #56 calls on the Prime Minister to issue an “annual ‘State of Aboriginal Peoples’ report”.

Language, culture, and spirituality

Many of you will know that several of the Calls to Action speak to the revitalization of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, including the enactment of an Aboriginal Languages Act and the appointment of a Commissioner to oversee its work (#14 & #15).

Another Call issues a challenge for the churches to provide permanent funding for community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects, culture and language revitalization projects, and education and relationship building projects. (#61)

I am pleased to say that long before such a Call, our Church was supporting and continues to support projects for recovery of language, culture and spirituality through the Anglican Healing Fund. As the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of the work of this Fund, we are committed to rebuilding its base by raising $1 million this year to ensure at least $200,000 is available for each of the next five years for continuing this good work. We have spent 22 Days from May 31 to National Aboriginal Day to deepen our commitment to this work.

As Esther Wesley, the Coordinator of the Anglican Healing Fund has said, “Recovery of language is about recovery of one’s identity, dignity and delight in being an Indigenous person”. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Esther for her outstanding work, not only with the Healing Fund, but also as our lead staff person for anti racism training programs throughout the whole Church. We are blessed by her passion, patience and perseverance in this work.

Animator for Reconciliation

It is important that I continue to hold these Calls to Action before the Church so that as responsible citizens and as people whose faith is absolutely centred in the reconciling work of God in Christ, we can be proactive in speaking of the Calls and in supporting them.

I am ever grateful for the ongoing work of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice and the direction in which it points our Church. I am also delighted by our Church’s commitment to engage, on a full-time basis, someone who will serve as Animator for Reconciliation. Melanie Delva has begun her work. Her mantra for this ministry is that reconciliation is a spiritual practise. Melanie will be travelling the country extensively and working with bishops, synods, regions and parishes, colleges and schools, with elders and youth, in supporting their commitments in responding to the Calls to Action.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The TRC Commissioners declared the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be the framework for reconciliation in Canada. They called on the churches among others in Canadian society to endorse the declaration and put in place plans for adhering to it.

I am pleased that in 2010 our General Synod endorsed the declaration. In 2016 I issued a public statement “Let our ‘yes’ be yes” outlining a number of ways in which we as a church might honour and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

They included the appointing of a Council of Indigenous Elders and Youth to hold our Church accountable for its public endorsement of the UN declaration. That Council was commissioned for its work at General Synod in 2016 and held its first face-to-face meeting last month. Co-chaired by Judith Moses and Leigh Kern, the members have appropriately renamed themselves “The Vision Keepers”.

Indigenous self-determination in the Anglican Church of Canada

In relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action, I was always taken by the interest of the Commissioners in the Anglican Church of Canada’s commitment to self-determination for Indigenous Peoples within our church. And I mean real, practical on-the-ground commitment.

I mean responding to the call for the appointment of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. The Right Reverend Mark L. MacDonald was commissioned for his ministry ten years ago at General Synod in 2007.

I mean the setting aside of rules and procedures common to our processes for the election of bishops, so as to create space for electing Indigenous bishops in accord with Indigenous customs.

I think of Bishop Lydia Mamakwa’s election and the subsequent emerging of Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. I think of the election of Adam Halkett to be the Indigenous Bishop for the Diocese of Saskatchewan. I think of Bishop Barbara Andrews work in the newly proclaimed Territory of the People. I think of Bishop Riscylla Walsh Shaw, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. And I think of, the Right Reverend Sidney Black, the newly consecrated Indigenous Bishop for Treaty 7 Territory in the Diocese of Calgary.

I think of the work of the Indigenous House of Bishops Leadership Circle, the Anglican Council of Indigenous People and the Sacred Circle. The work of each of those circles is almost entirely focussed on self-determination and what that might look like.

The vision of a truly Indigenous Church within The Anglican Church of Canada is enshrined in the 1994 Covenant – A Journey of Spiritual Renewal. In 1995, General Synod accepted the hand of partnership extended by Indigenous leaders in the hope of that vision. In 2016, the whole Church took account of a statement from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples “Where we are: Twenty Years after the Covenant”. That statement spoke of a ministry plan for Indigenous ministry across our Church.

This summer, we are planning a consultation to be held in Pinawa, Manitoba in mid-September (14-17). Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from throughout the Church, all of whom have a demonstrated commitment to the vision of a truly indigenous expression of the Church, will gather. Over the course of three days, we will take stock of where we have come in “The Journey of Spiritual Renewal”.

We will celebrate great moments that have inspired us to continue the journey. We will name issues that cause us from time to time to hesitate or lack the courage of our conviction with respect to self-determination. We will take some time to learn more about the nature and substance of self-determination.

We will be blessed to have Dr. Martin Brokenleg, a highly respected Indigenous scholar, elder and priest as our keynote speaker and animator for this conversation. We will conclude our time with some engagement in a report from a focus group convened by Bishop Mark MacDonald with respect to a model for self-determination with a fair degree of flexibility within it. For now it bears the image of an “Indigenous Confederacy” within The Anglican Church of Canada. The consultation promises to be a challenging but fascinating conversation marked I trust, by much grace and hope.

Throughout our time we will be immersed in the story of The Road to Emmaus (Day 1 – on the road, Day 2 – at the inn, and Day 3 – on the road again). The name of the story in an Indigenous translation of the Gospel of Luke is “The Road to Warm Springs”. That is the theme for our time together. I ask your prayers for Bishop Mark and me as we host this gathering and for the Planning Team co-chaired by the Rev. Norm Wesley and Dr. Randall Fairey.

The Fundamental Principle 

I conclude with an excerpt from the closing comments that accompany the Ten Principles the Commission identified as underlying their 94 Calls to Action. It reads in part…

“Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practise reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.

For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and their nations in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems. For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation. For churches, demonstrating long-term commitment requires atoning for actions within the residential schools, respecting Indigenous spirituality, and supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles for justice and equity. …For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.”

Pray with me that this principle be etched on the very soul of our Church and our commitment to healing, reconciliation and new life.

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

 

*updated June 21, 2017

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Locally trained ministry a rising force in rural and northern dioceses

June 16, 2017 - 8:24pm

The following is the first instalment of a two-part article on locally trained ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada. Read Part 2.

On March 17 the Territory of the People, formerly known as the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, ordained its first two locally trained priests. Having each previously served for one year as deacons and undertaken all their studies locally, Martina Duncan and Angus Muir were set to join the team at St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Ashcroft, B.C. following their ordination to the priesthood.

The increased role of locally trained ministry—in which leaders and candidates for clerical positions receive all their studies and training from within their own local community—is a growing trend across the Anglican Church of Canada. But it is in rural and northern dioceses that locally trained ministry is making its greatest leaps and bounds as a vital part of wider Anglican ministry.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald said that locally trained clergy, mostly non-stipendiary, are particularly common in areas such as northern Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. He recalled that almost all clergy in the Diocese of Alaska during his tenure as bishop there were locally trained.

“It’s very, very common in a number of contexts, and it’s growing,” Bishop MacDonald said. “We’re seeing more and more of this type of ministry.”

In the Diocese of Brandon, Bishop William Cliff is currently putting together a program to identify leaders in parishes and provide them with education to take their ministry to the next level.

“We are a Council of the North diocese without a great deal of resources, and we are spread over a very large area, and many of our parishes are small due to rural depopulation,” Bishop Cliff said. “So locally raised clergy are going to be the way some of our rural parishes survive.”

In the Territory of the People, Bishop Barbara Andrews said that while the trend is based partly on population shifts and economic pressures, it also represents an embrace of the belief in a “ministry of all the baptized” that all Christians are called to—and that “within the community, all the necessary gifts are there for leadership already.”

“We recognize who the natural spiritual leaders are of a community,” Bishop Andrews said. “In a sense you might say that it’s more of an Indigenous peoples’ way of looking at spiritual leadership in the community … We call forth the spiritual leaders, and then we’re committed to helping them get the necessary training they need.”

‘A more flexible church’

Far beyond forming the majority of clergy in many areas, Bishop MacDonald said that locally trained clergy have become “in many places, the only way that you’re going to have any kind of ministry at all”.

“The capacity for ministry in the old model is gone all over the place,” Bishop MacDonald said. “And that’s increasing rapidly, so that you’re finding it’s not just Indigenous congregations on remote reserves, but also communities in rural areas, and even in some cases in suburban areas.”

Archdeacon William Harrison, currently director for mission and ministry in the Diocese of Huron, said that the addition of locally trained ministers to parishes and working with licensed lay readers and ministers has resulted in a greater emphasis on teams able to respond to a variety of tasks.

In doing so, Harrison said, “It creates a more flexible church.”

“The model that we’ve been working with of parish churches, each of which has at least one sort of full-time priest and a building … that model is rapidly failing,” he said.

“Many of those do continue and will continue. But as a uniform model for the whole church, that one’s coming apart … What we’re looking at is the flexibility of ministry to meet a flexibility of Christian communities, and I think our faith communities, our congregations, are starting to look somewhat different.”

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Preparing for the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer

June 14, 2017 - 12:30pm

Since May 31, the Anglican Church of Canada has been engaged in 22 Days of Healing and Reconciliation, deepening learning, prayer and action focused on the Anglican Healing Fund. The church across Canada has focused on the Fund’s commitment to healing and support for community-based Indigenous language recovery projects, a period that will culminate with the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer on June 21.

Anglican parishes and communities across the country are preparing to mark the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer in different ways. In the Diocese of Ottawa, for example, Christ Church Cathedral is hosting a prayer walk for healing and Indigenous language revitalization through an outdoor labyrinth.

The event will begin with a reading of the names of all existing and endangered Indigenous languages in Canada. Live speakers and ethnographic recordings of different languages, past and present, will offer those present an opportunity to experience the rich diversity of Indigenous languages—“absorbing and being exposed to and internalizing the fact of Indigenous languages, and also the loss of that,” Dean Shane Parker said.

Indigenous Ministries has been actively involved in many local initiatives. For his part, National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald will observe National Aboriginal Day this year while visiting the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.

“There is a growing effort to observe [National] Aboriginal Day across the Church,” Bishop MacDonald said.

“I am encouraged by the number of requests we receive to be involved with local efforts … I wish everyone the best for a beautiful day.”

Multiple resources exist to help Anglicans observe the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer. Propers for the BAS Calendar of Memorials and Commemorations are available as PDF files in English, French, Inuktitut, and Western Cree.

Other resources include the Litany for the Healing and Restoration of our Church, from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, and Honouring the Four Directions, a prayer resource based on the colours of the medicine wheel.

A Ceremony of Solidarity for the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer, 2016 also remains available, which presents sections of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People interspersed with the Ten Principles guiding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, along with prayers.

How will you be marking the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer? Share with us on Facebook or on Twitter, and consider making a gift to the Anglican Healing Fund.

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