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Edmonton Equally Anglican group raises banner for LGBTQ-affirming ministry

June 22, 2018 - 1:30pm

On the last Sunday of every month, the evening Eucharist at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton takes on a distinctly rainbow-coloured hue.

The monthly worship service is the focal point for area members and friends of Equally Anglican, an LGBTQ-affirming ministry. Although the ministry first took shape in the Diocese of Toronto preceding the first vote on amendments to Canon XXI on Marriage in the Church at General Synod 2016,  Equally Anglican has taken on a life of its own in other parts of the country.

At Holy Trinity, the Eucharist is organized by the Equally Anglican group and welcomes, and includes, LGBTQ people in the worship as intercessors and as guest preachers. Intercessions and sermons at the service have a particular focus on LGBTQ concerns, but all centre around what co-organizer and lay reader Matthew Mercer Deadman calls “the radical love-for-all as taught to us by God.”

“From my layman’s perspective, it’s a reaffirmation that the Good News applies and is about everyone,” Mercer-Deadman said. “I think particularly now in the LGBTQ community, a lot of the focus quite rightly is shifting to the needs of the trans community, and I feel that it’s important that we remind ourselves and we remind our neighbours that we are all made in God’s image…”

“Being made in God’s image encompasses everyone, regardless of race or sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression. It’s just so much bigger than that, and the sacrificial and redemptive love of Jesus is part of that incomprehensible largeness.”

In dioceses from Ottawa to New Westminster, many congregations have adopted the symbols of Equally Anglican in a show of support for the LGBTQ community, particularly during Pride Month—using its distinctive logo on banners outside their churches or during Pride parades.

For Edmonton Pride this year, Equally Anglican had a presence at both the Pride Parade and Pride in the Park, with co-organizer Imai Welch attending along with other “clergy-allies” from the diocese wearing their clerical clothing. Supporters also planned to attend the local LGBTQ-organized social evenings known as Fruit Loop, engaging with the local community and helping to reinvest proceeds into the local LGBTQ community.

In Toronto, supporters of Equally Anglican are participating in Pride activities such as the annual Church on Tap event on June 22 at Christ Church Deer Park, a fully inclusive celebration of the Eucharist with Bishop Kevin Robertson presiding—Canada’s first openly gay bishop—as well as live music, words from local queer activists, and an evening “Gospel Drag” show.

Equally Anglican origins

Equally Anglican began in 2016 as the brainchild of the Rev. Philip Josselyn-Hamilton, assistant curate at Trinity Chuch in Aurora, Ont.

“I think that in so many ways, the church has not traditionally been a place that LGBT people feel like they can have a voice or have a meaningful contribution into the life of the church,” Josselyn-Hamilton said.

Vestments bearing the Equally Anglican logo. Photo via Facebook

“Equally Anglican was almost sort of reminding the church that we’ve always been here, and that you can’t get through most Sundays without singing a hymn written by one of us, or directed by an [out] choir director/organist who is L, G, B, or T. I thought it was time for us to say to the rest of the Anglican Church that the way that the vote went in 2016 actually mattered to their friends and their parishioners and their clergy, even.”

In the lead-up to the vote on same-sex marriage at General Synod, Josselyn-Hamilton led local Anglicans and members of the LGBTQ community in producing three videos depicting gay or lesbian couples active in the Anglican Church of Canada, whether as clergy or lay people. Each video received tens of thousands of views on Facebook.

“My hope was just that we would get even just a few people to see these videos, feel humanized about the issue, and then maybe vote more gently at the synod,” Josselyn-Hamilton recalled. “Even if they were maybe conservative on the issue of same-sex marriage, at least maybe in their working groups, they would have a bit of a context for people who are already in their neighbourhoods [and communities].”

The extension of Equally Anglican to Edmonton began when the rector of Holy Trinity asked anyone elected to a second term in the vestry to pick a ministry focus. One vestry member chose the LGBTQ community as an outreach ministry. Having heard of Equally Anglican in Toronto, the members asked permission to use the name before spinning it off and making it their own (“Toronto-inspired, but not Toronto-directed”).

Mercer-Deadman described the monthly Eucharist service as “sort of a halfway point to reintroduce not just LGBTQ people back to the Anglican Church, but to reintroduce the Anglican Church back to LGBTQ people.”

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s not meant to be a separate-but-equal congregation,” he noted. “It’s just seen as another Sunday night service for the parish of Holy Trinity, but is more outwardly and specifically affirming for the LGBTQ community.” At Holy Trinity, Equally Anglican is looking towards more community outreach, possible fundraising, and coordinating with other LGBTQ faith groups in the city.

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Mission to Seafarers a welcoming haven for isolated mariners

June 14, 2018 - 1:30pm

June 25 marks the International Day of the Seafarer, an annual occasion designated by the International Maritime Organization to recognize the contributions of seafarers who operate the cargo ships that provide many of the goods and materials we use every day. Since 1856, Anglicans have helped promote the well-being of seafarers and their families through the global outreach ministry Mission to Seafarers. Its Canadian region, Mission to Seafarers: Canada, operates in ten centres across the country stationed by full-time and part-time chaplains.

As the International Day of the Seafarer approaches, many Mission to Seafarers centres across Canada are planning special events to mark the occasion. In Halifax, Mission to Seafarers will be inviting the public to an open house and holding its annual luncheon with the local Filipino community, joined by the mayor and other dignitaries.

In Thunder Bay, the local Mission to Seafarers is hosting the annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony featuring a pipe band and short service with prayers, a memorial for all those who have died at sea, and a blessing of vessels on the water.

“Seafarers play a vital role in our economy,” said the Rev. Canon Ed Swayze, a naval chaplain with the Anglican Military Ordinariate and part-time chaplain at Mission to Seafarers Thunder Bay.

“Here in Thunder Bay, we ship eight million tons of grain a year,” he said. “Well, that’s grain that’s grown in the Prairies, and so the seafarers are a link in that chain back to the farmer. If you look at sea containers, right now NAFTA’s talking about percentage of all the parts in cars; well, the parts that come from offshore come in a sea container, and they’re brought here by seafarers.

“In Eastern Canada, most of our gasoline and petroleum products comes from the refinery in Saint John. Well, the ship brings the oil to the refinery at Saint John […] When you drive your car, the gasoline you’ve got at some point in its life was transported on a ship.”

For chaplains, the work of ministry with seafarers begins with visiting merchant ships that come into port and speaking with crew members, striking up conversation and asking whether there are any issues onboard.

The Rev. Maggie Whittingham-Lamont, regional director of Mission to Seafarers Canada, greets crew members on a ship docked at the Port of Halifax. Submitted photo

“Most seafarers don’t have a lot of people in their work life that they can [put their] trust in,” the Rev. Maggie Whittingham-Lamont, chaplain for Mission to Seafarers Halifax and regional director for Mission to Seafarers Canada.

“They know that when they see the flying angel logo, they’ve found someone who they can confide in, they can trust in, and anything they tell us will be dealt with to the best of our ability without endangering their position onboard ship or endangering their future employment, which is always an issue.”

Inquiring into the welfare of those onboard, chaplains will sometimes discover issues such as unpaid wages or insufficient food. Many seafarers come from nations such as the Philippines, India, or countries in Eastern Europe where average wages are much lower to start with.

To help assist with any needs that are raised, chaplains will orient crew members to services offered by Seafarers’ Centres located near the ports.

These centres offer conveniences such as small shops to buy toiletries and souvenirs, and stockpiles of used clothing to keep warm, since many seafarers find the cold Canadian weather a chilly surprise. All centres have a van used to transport seafarers, operating as a free service while accepting donations. Chaplains will often use the vans to take seafarers ashore to do shopping or even sightseeing.

Because many seafarers have little access to shore leave—often as little as two days per month—Mission to Seafarers also help them get in contact with loved ones by connecting them to Wi-Fi, selling SIM cards, and helping them to wire money back home.

“We’re not the only way they can do that, but we have a role in helping them communicate with their family, and I think for everybody, family support is important,” Swayze said. “It’s a primary support in our lives.”

Over the last few decades, the nature of ministry to seafarers has gradually changed. Where in the 1960s, it was common for a ship to be in port for two weeks, today a typical duration is between five to eight hours.

With advances in communications technology, chaplains often stay in contact with seafarers even after the latter have left harbour.

“I just spent my whole lunch break talking via Messenger to a seafarer that’s heading into New Zealand tomorrow, but they have a problem onboard and so he’d message me to talk about it, and to see if there’s anything I can do about it,” Whittingham-Lamont said.

“So it’s not just locally—with computers and the Internet, we’ve sort of become cyber-chaplains as well as on-the-ground chaplains.”

Mission to Seafarers offers Seafarers’ Centres with full-time chaplains in Halifax and Vancouver. Centres with part-time chaplains operate in Toronto, Hamilton, Oshawa, Thunder Bay, and Saint John. All Canadian missions are locally funded.

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Canadian Anglicans attend Brazilian Episcopal Church General Synod

June 12, 2018 - 1:30pm

Representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada deepened ties with their Brazilian counterparts this month as international guests at the 34th General Synod of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (IEAB), or the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Diocese of Huron and Global Relations Director Andrea Mann travelled to Brasilia to attend the Brazilian church’s latest General Synod, which took place from May 31-June 3. Due to scheduling conflicts as a result of his presence at the Council of General Synod, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, selected Bishop Nicholls to attend as the Primate’s designate.

The two Canadian Anglicans were among a handful of international guests that included the Primus of Scotland Mark Strange, Primate-elect Julip Murray of the province of Central America, Oklahoma Bishop Edward Konieczny―representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church―and representatives of the United Society Partners in the Gospel from England.

“We are in a conversation with the province to discern renewal of partnership between ourselves and the Brazilian church,” Mann said. “Attending their synod was a good opportunity to reconnect with leaders of the church and to listen to reports and have conversations both with the leadership and synod delegates, but also with the Brazilian church’s other international partners.”

A small but growing Anglican province

The IEAB is a relatively new province of the Anglican Communion, having officially joined in 1965 as its 19th ecclesiastical province. With a membership of approximately 120,000 in a country whose population exceeds 200 million people, the IEAB is a small but growing church that has a reputation for inclusivity.

Total attendance at the IEAB General Synod was estimated at 65 people representing 10 dioceses, each of which has three laity, three clergy, and one bishop. Reflecting the relative newness of the province itself, much of the conversation at the Synod involved efforts to establish new canons, clarify working relationships, and find financial stability for dioceses and as a provincial synod.

As a representative of the Primate and her own Diocese of Huron, which has a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Amazonia in Brazil, Bishop Nicholls described an atmosphere of camaraderie and solidarity at the synod.

“It’s a real privilege to sit and watch another church at work in its life,” the bishop said. “There was an informality to the provincial synod that our General Synod [in Canada] would find curious. There isn’t the same strictness about rules of order, but there’s a wonderful spirit of joyful participation and passion about what they’re doing, and that was good to see.”

Same-sex marriage resolution

Aside from the election of a new Primate, Bishop Naudal Alves Gomes, one of the most significant developments at the Brazilian General Synod was the passing of a resolution permitting same-sex marriages in the church.

The resolution has obvious parallels to the debate facing the Anglican Church of Canada as it heads into General Synod 2019 in Vancouver, where members will vote on the second reading of a similar amendment to their own marriage canon.

Bishop Nicholls noted that Brazilian Anglicans have gained an identity among the wider churches of Brazil as “a church that has claimed very strongly the principle of inclusivity and justice … There were a number of LGBTQ people, both lay and clergy, that are part of the church, and that intense commitment to inclusivity was a strong factor in this―but not exclusively, because there certainly were rural dioceses that expressed concern over this.”

In the end, the resolution to permit same-sex marriage passed overwhelmingly, with 57 voting in favour and three against.

Despite the disparity in votes, Bishop Nicholls described a relationship among those in attendance based on a clear sense of mutual respect.

“It was a very strong vote, and I think the reason was that the people who were opposed felt that there had been space created for them by allowing it to be at the discretion of the bishop, which gave them a place where if their bishop was not in favour, they didn’t feel they would be forced into anything,” Bishop Nicholls said.

“I was moved by the fact that when the vote happened, and there was great joy amongst those who had been working towards this for some time, those who were opposed kept a gracious silence,” she added. “They weren’t angry, they weren’t upset, they didn’t stomp out of the room, they didn’t make it clear that they were unhappy. They just quietly sat and let the others who felt strongly about this have that moment. And that was different than some of what I saw at our last General Synod.”

Deepening relationship

As the new Brazilian Primate prepares to take on his new responsibilities, the IEAB and the Canadian church continue to make plans to strengthen their national and international commitments to social and ecological justice―priorities highlighted by Bishop Gomes’ predecessor, Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, in his 2016 presentation to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Following a request by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby for regional consultations of all Primates before the Lambeth 2020 conference, Archbishop Fred Hiltz volunteered to host a meeting of Primates from the Americas in Ontario this November. Though logistics remain to be worked out, Mann expressed hope that Primate Gomes would be able to attend the gathering.

“My impression about the relationship between our two churches is that there is certainly a spirit of friendship and mutual interest, and respect in the other’s ministries and contexts for church development and church ministry. […] There is an interest in seeing where we might go further and more substantially from here.”

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Shamattawa First Nation parish seeks to rebuild after fire destroys church

June 8, 2018 - 12:23am

The Rev. Mary Anne Miles lives a considerable distance from St. John’s Anglican Church in Shamattawa First Nation, the northern Manitoba parish in the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh where she serves as priest.

As a result, it was through a telephone call that she first learned about the blaze on April 18 that burned the community’s only Anglican church to the ground.

“I had a call that the church was burning,” Miles recalled. “I’m not really sure what the first person was who saw it.”

“It was very sad when I heard that it was burning, because I have everything in there and I lost everything through the fire,” she added. “All my registry books, whatever I do, my recordings for the services—I lost everything, even my licenses for being a reverend. I lost everything in that fire.”

According to an RCMP spokesperson, investigators traced the origins of the fire to a furnace within the church that had recently been malfunctioning.

In the wake of the destruction of St. John’s, Miles and her congregation responded with a fierce determination to rebuild their church.

“While the fire was on, I had thought to myself, whatever it takes—that I will do what I can do to help have the church [back] as soon as possible; that I can find ways to have the church rebuilt again,” Miles said.

An isolated community with an official population of 1,016, Shamattawa relies on winter and ice roads for taking in supplies, including any materials that would be necessary to rebuild St. John’s.

Mindful of the amount of time it would take for supplies to come in, Miles wished to begin efforts to rebuild as soon as possible. She spoke to local residents who helped set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $50,000. At the time of writing, the campaign had raised a total of $750.

At the same time, the parish has received a wave of support from various dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces of the Anglican Church of Canada. Among the first to respond was the Diocese of Central Newfoundland, which pledged to gift materials including Bibles, prayer books, a chalice, and paten. Bishop John Watton invited members of his diocese to pray and make a donation through their own local churches.

Shortly thereafter, the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land took up a collection at its provincial synod in early May, with all proceeds going to support the congregation of St. John’s. The synod ultimately raised almost $1,000.

Archbishop and Metropolitan Greg Kerr-Wilson called the offering “an expression of our solidarity and our love for our brothers and sisters” in Shamattawa First Nation, while noting that other churches had been stepping up to donate materials such as extra vestments.

“First and foremost, there’s the tragedy of losing the building, but there’s also of course the psychological trauma of losing their place of worship, which is very dear in many smaller communities especially,” Archbishop Kerr-Wilson said.

“There’s a real important place for the churches, and so understanding [those] signs of support and love from the rest of the church are really, I think, crucial for helping people move through the thing and begin to rebuild their life together as a church.”

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald described St. John’s as one of the Anglican Church of Canada’s most remote congregations. Through the ministry of Miles, he said, “St. John’s provides the primary pastoral and social care for a community that faces many challenges.”

“The response of the Anglican Church of Canada to their needs is an indication of our sensitivity to our fellow church members in a time of grave crisis and need,” Bishop MacDonald said.

“The response so far, especially the pledge of the Diocese of Central Newfoundland, is promising. We hope that many others will join them and that all of our churches will pray for this community in crisis.”

Donate to support rebuilding efforts for St. John’s.

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Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 3, 2018

June 4, 2018 - 1:52am

View a PDF version of Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 3, 2018.

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

Orders of the Day

The Rev. Dr. Karen Egan, co-chair of the Planning and Agenda Team, read out the Orders of the Day.

General Synod Planning Committee

The Very Rev. Peter Wall, chair of the General Synod Planning Committee (GSPC), presented a report to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) on the work of the committee in preparation for General Synod 2019 in Vancouver. He began with a video showcasing the proposed theme for the gathering, “I Have Called You By Name”. The theme refers to a passage from the Book of Isaiah:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)

The video presented logo ideas for the theme, as well as examples of the logo on various items such as pens and T-shirts.

Describing it as an “enormous privilege” to have been involved in the planning of eight General Synods, Dean Wall noted that while each General Synod is identical in the sense of bringing together Anglicans and partners to do work as one body, each General Synod is distinct in terms of having its own themes and tasks to perform.

Moving into the particulars of General Synod 2019, he expressed the recommendation of the GSPC that electronic voting be used in Vancouver only at elections—those of the Prolocutor, Deputy Prolocutor, and Primate. He described the hotel that will host General Synod, the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, as a good site that will cover all the needs of members in attendance. The Sheraton Vancouver is only three blocks away from Christ Church Cathedral, where the bulk of worship will take place. Parish visits are also planned throughout the lower mainland on Sunday, July 14.

The GSPC been able to confirm the attendance of Dr. Martin Brokenleg, who will work with Archbishop Melissa Skelton to prepare members of General Synod for their tasks at the meeting. Both have experience in how groups make decisions and people work together, and will spend some intentional time offering orientation to members to do their work in ways that are healthy and life-giving, so that the church can come out of General Synod as an intact body of love and discipleship.

Table groups took six minutes to answer a pair of questions posed by Dean Wall:

  1. What would you say to the GSPC is your hope for the tone of these discussions, and suggestions as to how that tone might be achieved?
  2. Two major items on the agenda are continuing the journey to a self-determining Indigenous church, and our church’s response to human trafficking. As a table, offer two ways that GS might engage in these important discussions.

Notes from each table were sent into Wall, to be passed on to the rest of the GSPC.

Continuing his report, Wall said that the GSPC had received a draft communications plan at its last meeting. Having tried tablets and an app for the first time at General Synod 2016 to ensure the convening circular was in the hands of all members, the GSPC had decided to do the same thing at General Synod 2019—albeit without tablets, having concluded that distribution of tablets to members was not necessary. The forthcoming General Synod will have a well-developed app, and those in attendance will be asked to bring their own electronic devices, though additional laptops and smartphones will be available for those without devices to bring. The General Synod 2019 app is currently in development and will likely not be ready until early next year.

Finally, sponsorship and displays at the upcoming General Synod were “well in hand”. The presence of sponsors is an important part of the budget, and dioceses and individuals can be sponsors. Those in charge of displays are interested in expanding beyond purely church-related displays and trying to broaden the net, such as by reaching out to artisans and craftspeople from the city and surrounding region.

Wall concluded by putting forward a motion to the council formally proposing the theme for General Synod 2019, which was carried by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod, meeting in Mississauga in June 2018, approve the theme “I Have Called You By Name” for the 42nd General Synod, taking place in the Diocese of New Westminster from July 10-16, 2019.

Partner Moments

Mrs. Pat Lovell, partner to CoGS from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner, partner to the ELCIC through CoGS, took to the podium to provide an update on the relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and its full communion partner.

Haines-Turner called it “a joy and a privilege” to serve with the ELCIC and to have Lovell with the council. Both recently attended a meeting of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission, which provided context for the cooperation and shared ministry that takes place across Canada between Anglicans and Lutherans. Lovell noted that the ELCIC National Church Council had met in Winnipeg earlier in the year, working on its strategic plan from 2017 to 2022. Their four priorities going forward are Courageous Innovation, Reconciled Relationships, One Body Working Together—particularly significant for the history of the ELCIC due to a split over issues of human sexuality—and Empowered Disciples. The Prolocutor praised the ELCIC’s revision of its inclusive language guidelines at the meeting, which were brought before the Anglican representation for approval.

Though General Synod 2019 was originally planned to be a Joint Assembly with the ELCIC, Haines-Turner pointed out that the two churches will still be meeting during the same time. The next ELCIC National Convention will take place in Saskatoon from July 11-13, 2018, coinciding with General Synod, and based around the theme “To Journey Together in the Ministry of Reconciliation”. Lovell detailed numerous upcoming examples of national gatherings bringing Anglicans and Lutherans together, such as the National Worship Conference in Victoria, B.C. and the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Throughout the presentation, the close bonds between the two churches were underscored by Lovell and Haines-Turner referring to each other as “sisters”. Describing a recent visit by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald to her parish in Newmarket, Ont. to speak about the journey toward reconciliation—a subject of particular interest to the ELCIC global justice team—Lovell recalled how people came from all over Newmarket and as far as Oshawa and Kitchener to participate in the workshop. She called the visit another example of how the full communion partnership between the Anglican and Lutheran churches continues to grow and flourish.

“We love our relationship, we are sisters, but we feel very much a part of your meetings as well,” Lovell said. Reflecting words from ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, she added, “We continue to walk with you as you go through any decisions you have to make. And whatever the outcome, we pray for you, we love you, and we will continue to work with you.”

The second partner moment came from Canon Noreen Duncan, representative of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to CoGS, and the Rev. Canon David Burrows, partner to TEC through CoGS, who reported on the latest developments in the relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church of the United States.

Canon Duncan related her visit to Havana, Cuba in March 2018 as the only TEC representative attending the 109th Synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba. Feeling alone, she was enthralled when Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio and her clergy came in singing with joy—and experienced a further burst of happiness when she saw Primate Fred Hiltz, General Secretary Michael Thompson, Global Relations Director Andrea Mann, and Treasurer and CFO Hanna Goschy. In her time representing TEC on CoGS, Duncan said, she had grown to love the Canadians she had met. She thanked the Anglican Church of Canada for its unwavering support for their brothers and sisters in Cuba over the years, praising “your ongoing struggling to hear your own heartbeat in the pulse of others … I think that relationship with Cuba is an illustration of that.”

Acknowledging that such struggling has not always been the case in the history of the church, Canon Duncan applauded the efforts of the Canadian church to atone for its sins in the centuries after first contact with Indigenous Peoples, and to recognize the Doctrine of Discovery as the source of so much suffering. As the Anglican Church of Canada treads new paths and walks its own “road to warm springs”, walking shoulder to shoulder with Indigenous people towards self-determination, walking with LGBTQ people who lovingly share their lives with partners, fighting human traffickers, ensuring churches are safe and socially responsible environments, Duncan said that Canadian Anglicans should know TEC is with them, walking shoulder to shoulder. Though uncertain whether she would be able to attend the next meeting of CoGS due to an upcoming election for the representative position for TEC, she planned to work on being re-elected.

Since the last meeting of CoGS, Canon Burrows said, he had met with the executive council of TEC twice, once in Baltimore, Md. and once in Austin, Texas. Coming from Newfoundland and Labrador, Burrows arrived in the “spirit of a nomad” to the meeting, travelling thousands of kilometres to further the building of community and continuing the work of Jesus Christ. Arriving at the ancestral lands of three nomadic peoples, he was mindful in remembering the Indigenous people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the life and ministry the U.S Episcopalians have shared with him, Burrows said that TEC has “act, means, and purpose”, revealing the redemptive love of their community of faith that breathes the Holy Spirit in its daily expression. He highlighted the diversity of dialogue among TEC members, and their ability to hold conversations with respect for one another despite differences. “No one walks away from the vote,” he observed. TEC lays great emphasis on mission and the sharing of the gospel, with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry travelling to places such as Honduras in his recent ministry. Burrows highlighted the focus of TEC on care and responsibility for the entire body of Christ, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who are in positions of responsibility.

Declaring that “We are nomads no longer, now we are God’s people,” Canon Burrows concluded by singing a well-known folk song that he had sang with members of TEC, “The Water is Wide”, illustrating the view that “We are in this boat together. We row together, and we row with God.” 

General Secretary’s Report

In his report, General Secretary Michael Thompson said that it continues to be a privilege to undertake his ministry as part of the life of the church. “My work is about the work of others,” Thompson said, and he expressed his appreciation for the gifts and skills of the staff members at General Synod.

The General Secretary praised Global Relations director Andrea Mann for maintaining close relationships with the church’s partners around the world; Faith, Worship, and Ministry director Eileen Scully, who has managed the successful transition of FWM from an unwieldy large committee taking on all kinds of tasks to a smaller coordinating committee seeking to network; Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice lead animator Ryan Weston, for his role in the church’s response to the scourge of human trafficking; Resources for Mission director Deborah Barretto, a recent addition to the staff who believes RfM can find new resources for the church to do new things; Communications and Information Resources director Meghan Kilty, “who has the almost unmanageable responsibility of holding together a team of really strong-willed people whose strong-willedness is actually their great gift”; and Treasurer and CFO Hanna Goschy, whom Thompson said “has transformed the ministry of finance at General Synod and given it such a human face.”

The General Secretary became emotional as he highlighted the role of Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz—“the best supervisor I have ever had, and who loves this church in a way and at a depth that inspires us,” whose skill and determination have helped the Anglican Church of Canada maintain its unity over a difficult journey in its life. Though CoGS members had not met the new manager of Human Resources, Scott Hilborn, Thompson said they would at the next meeting, and that they would discover someone who sees human resources as a way to strengthen the ministry of Church House and ensure it is effective and humane.

Moving on from General Synod, Thompson thanked the people who had appeared in front of the council over the previous days. Members had heard from Canon Ian Alexander, a journalist and member of the Anglican Journal and Communications and Information Resources Committee working group who brought with him “astonishing gifts and clarity”; Dean Shane Parker, who had helped members imagine what it would be like for the whole church to listen to its heartbeat; and Bishop Riscylla Shaw, whose clarity and sense of conviction about Indigenous justice and the Doctrine of Discovery offer concrete steps the church might take to move to a new place in the relationships between its Indigenous and non-Indigeneous members. Bishop Shaw is part of a team of Indigenous leaders that includes Bishop Sidney Black, the Rev. Vincent Solomon, Ginny Doctor, Bishop Mark MacDonald, and—though unable to attend the present meeting—Canon Grace Delaney and Ms. Caroline Chum. “We have an extraordinary gift in our church in these Indigenous leaders, who speak of great wrongs, but also of great hopes,” Thompson said.

CoGS, he continued, had benefitted from the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Karen Egan and the Very Rev. Peter Wall, co-chairs of the Planning and Agenda Team. It had heard Mr. Will Postma, executive director of the Primate’s Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), and the Rev. Gillian Hoyer, PWRDF board member, speak about work that changes people’s lives. It had heard Archbishop Colin Johnson and Mr. Rob Saffrey, chair of the Financial Management Committee, help members understand the financial life of the church. It had heard from its partners in the ELCIC and TEC. It had heard the members of the CoGS Working Group on the Marriage Canon, who helped the council understand the process of addressing the marriage canon ahead of the vote at General Synod 2019. Sharing his appreciation at the aforementioned team of people, Thompson described it the gift of individuals who weaved themselves together and became the gifts of the community.

The General Secretary then recounted a story about attending a concert featuring renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. As one piece of music came to an end, there was a moment when Ma’s bow was poised above his cello, with one more note to come. The entire hall was leaning into anticipation of this note, experiencing the reality that much of the beauty of music lies in the gap between the notes, and the anticipation and pleasure when that note is struck. Just then, one audience member’s cellphone went off. The air went out of the room, replaced by a sense of disturbance and even hostility. Yo-Yo Ma played the last note—and then picked out the ring tone on his cello. The room filled with joy, Thompson said, because “the cello defeated the cellphone, and did so by joining into a flaw, to something that had gone wrong, and lifting it into a thing of beauty and responsiveness.”

He drew a comparison between this story and the church. “We aren’t always a community that always gets it right, or that we don’t hurt each other,” Thompson said. There is always a proverbial “person with a cellphone” causing embarrassment, but there is also always someone waiting to pluck the ringtone on their cello and restore us to joy. “I’m grateful that in this community, we have the kind of space in which ways we can disappoint each other are outweighed by ways we love and support one another.”

Thompson prayed that the church would be attentive to that gift going into General Synod 2019 and as members go back into their communities, allowing the broken moments of their lives to be redeemed and turned into relationships and new life. Reiterating his remarks the previous day about the centrality of self-determination and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada, Thompson believed that if there is something the church will be known for in 50 years, it will not be its attitude towards same-sex marriage, but rather the way it had addressed a deep wound across the church and across the country and moved towards healing.

The General Secretary concluded by describing Savona, B.C., a small town with an official population of 650, founded in 1844 as a stagecoach post and place where the ferry crossed the river. Savona, he said, is the smallest community in the history of the Anglican Church of Canada to have provided two members to the governing body of the church: Ms. Dale Drozda and Ms. Melissa Green, who were each present at the current meeting. “I think it says a lot about our church that a little community that many of you will be hearing about for the first time provides the leadership of two strong, wise young women. […] Our church finds the inner bigness in small things.”

The Primate thanked Thompson for his insight, wisdom, and service and said that Anglicans were blessed to have him in the role of General Secretary, especially at this time in the life of the church.

Key Messages / Word to the Church

Concluding the morning session, council members brainstormed key messages for the church coming of the latest CoGS meeting. These key messages included:

  • We have a Jubilee Commission!
  • We are concerned with those being enslaved and trafficked.
  • The Heartbeat of the Church
  • Courage and forbearance in walking together with Indigenous peoples.
  • August 6-11: Sacred Circle will take place with a new council to be elected, and based around the theme “Making Disciples, Being Disciples”.
  • New theme for General Synod 2019: “I Have Called You By Name”.
  • Concerned about and monitoring future of Anglican Journal—Anglicans want a communications tool.
  • Marriage canon is out for consultation to provinces and dioceses.
  • Sidney Black and Noreen Duncan
  • Keep working on Safe Church.
  • Previous concern re: finances à Happy with changes and figures
  • Working hard to be faithful to the Mission of God
  • Respectful listening à Gentle hopefulness
  • Resources re: responsible investing

Members took a break from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Closing Eucharist

The Rev. Dr. Karen Egan presided at the closing Eucharist, with Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz preaching.

Members broke for lunch from noon until 1:15 p.m.

Dismantling Racism: Blanket Exercise

As the final segment of the meeting, reconciliation animator Melanie Delva and Healing Fund coordinator Esther Wesley facilitated members as they took part in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. In light of the passing of a resolution establishing the Jubilee Commission, the facilitators offered background on the biblical origins of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, which reflected the blanket exercise’s focus on land and the displacement of peoples. As detailed in Leviticus, the jubilee referred to a period of emancipation every 50 years, provided for by Hebrew law, which was marked by the freeing of slaves, restoration of lands to their former owners, and—rather than cultivating the fields—eating the produce from the land.

An interactive learning experience to teach the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada through colonization and the resulting loss of land, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise involves participants standing on a large number of blankets which are gradually removed, allowing them less and less space to stand on. Throughout the exercise, participants read texts that take them through the experience of pre-contact, the making and breaking of treaties by European settlers, colonization, development of reserves, the residential school system, and ongoing Indigenous resistance.

Following the blanket exercise, council members gathered again in a circle and opened up for discussion. Many related personal life experiences sparked by their participation in the blanket exercise. Some non-Indigenous members expressed feelings of shame at their descent from settlers who had gained from the historical subjugation of Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, some Indigenous council members recalled the pain that they felt due to racism and the intergenerational trauma rooted in colonial policies such as the residential school system.

The discussion touched on social ills that disproportionately affect Indigenous communities, such as poverty and disproportionately high levels of incarceration. There was a sense of loss for what might have been, had Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples walked together in a good way from the beginning. Throughout, a common sentiment was the desperate need for healing.

Closing the discussion, Archbishop Hiltz expressed thanks to Wesley and Delva for facilitating the blanket exercise and for their work in advancing healing and reconciliation, noting they had developed into a strong team. In recognition that the present CoGS meeting may be the last for Bishop Sidney Black, representing the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Primate asked Bishop Black to bless the council before its members’ departure.

Adjournment

The meeting concluded with Peter Wall leading the council in singing and humming the hymn “Ubi caratas”. As members continued to hum the melody, the Primate recited once more the verses of John 15:12-17 that underpin the Heartbeat of the Church initiative: “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you…”

Bishop Black blessed the members of council, sending them on their way as they began the journey home.

The meeting adjourned at 3 p.m.

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 3, 2018 appeared first on The Anglican Church of Canada.

Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 2, 2018

June 3, 2018 - 2:51pm

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

Morning Eucharist, Orders of the Day

Deputy Prolocutor and Executive Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton presided over the morning Eucharist service, with Ms. Melissa Green providing the homily.

Dean Peter Wall read out the Orders of the Day.

CoGS Progress Report

Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner and the Deputy Prolocutor gave a brief presentation on the progress of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) thus far over the course of the 2016-2019 triennium, relating them to the responsibilities of CoGS as outlined in the Constitution of the General Synod. In terms of providing overall strategic vision and planning within the mandate of the General Synod, they highlighted the decision of CoGS to extend Vision 2019 to 2022, while the Heartbeat of the Church initiative will help inform a new plan going forward.

In terms of coordinating the work of all committees, councils, boards, commissions and divisions of the General Synod, CoGS had received regular reports from standing and co-ordinating committees and enhanced coordination through the presence of the Prolocutor and Deputy Prolocutor. Haines-Turner and McNaughton also spoke about CoGS carrying on the work of the General Synod between sessions, through actions such as moving forward with the Anglican-United Church Dialogue and the establishment of the Responsible Investment Task Force. CoGS has also created a process for discussion of the marriage canon, continued work around reconciliation and motions around Canon XXII related to National Indigenous Ministry, and facilitated preparations for General Synod 2019 in Vancouver.

Following their presentation, a motion was put forward in support of the Heartbeat of the Church initiative outlined in the Primate’s report. The motion was carried by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that this Council of General Synod fully support the Primate’s call to the church to engage with the project entitled “The Heartbeat of the Church” beginning in the Fall of 2018.

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

Audited Financial Statements / Budget Scenarios

Mr. Robert Saffrey, chair of the Financial Management Committee, introduced the committee’s report on the church’s audited financial statements, while Archbishop Colin Johnson presented much of the report. Overall revenue for the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada was $11.9 million, a decrease of $400,000 over the previous year, while overall expenses were $11.4 million, or $1.2 million lower than last year. The resulting surplus of core revenues over expenses was $521,214.

After presenting the Financial Management Committee’s report, five motions were put forward and carried by consensus.

Resolution

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, 2017.

Resolution

That the Council of General Synod approve the audited financial statements of the Anglican Church of Canada Consolidated Trust Fund for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017.

Resolution

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, 2017.

Resolution

That the Council of General Synod approve the changes to the Statement of Investment Policy as recommended by the Investment Committee and Financial Management Committee.

Resolution

That the Council of General Synod approve the appointment of Grant Thornton LLP as auditor for General Synod for fiscal year 2018, at a fee determined by the Audit Committee.

After the resolutions were passed, General Secretary Michael Thompson spoke briefly on the previous day’s discussion following the report from the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice.

Thompson said it was increasingly clear that the mind of the council, as a representational group reflecting the mind of the church, believes that justice, reconciliation, and self-determination are emerging priorities for the life of the whole church, and therefore for CoGS in its use of resources. As a result, the council must take seriously questions it had heard about the planned Jubilee Commission: How it can account not just for past practices, but for current resources and future decisions in a way that pays more than lip service to those priorities?

The General Secretary said he was “delighted” the previous day to see the ways that council could commission the church’s attentiveness to its use of resources. He expressed hope as the church moves forward to act with more conviction in its journey toward reconciliation and self-determination. He looked forward to the planned video documentary on the Doctrine of Discovery becoming a resource in the hands of those who wish to create change in this country. Finally, Thompson expressed his gratitude to National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and others in the church who have reminded us that there is a moral content in the investments of the Anglican Church of Canada — a moral content that Thompson believed was the work of the Holy Spirit acting to sustain the church in its service to God’s mission.

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 studied and reflected on John 15:12-17, the same reading from the previous day’s study and a major thematic component of the Heartbeat of the Church initiative.

Indigenous Ministries

Before the report from Indigenous Ministries, General Secretary Thompson led council members in a prayer. Members sang the hymn “Many and Great O God Are Your Works” led by Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor playing the drum. The Rev. Vincent Solomon read out a gospel passage, Mark 11:27-33, in which the authority of Jesus is questioned by chief priests, scribes, and elders after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and cleansing of the temple.

Because of events over the previous year, Doctor said, Indigenous Ministries had decided that its presentation at CoGS must be prefaced with a history providing context to where the church has been in its journey towards reconciliation and Indigenous self-determination. In contrast to Canadian textbooks that reinforce negative stereotypes of Indigenous people, she said, it was time for Indigenous people to reclaim their history, to be proud of it, and to share it with the whole church. The video, an update of the 2008 Anglican Video production Pitching Our Tent, would serve as a start.

Narrated by Canon Laverne Jacobs, the video begins in 1969, the year that the Anglican Church of Canada ended its relationship with the residential schools. The decision followed the publication of sociologist Charles Hendry’s influential book Beyond Traplines: Does the Church Really Care? Towards an Assessment of the Work of the Anglican Church of Canada with Canada’s Native Peoples, which called for a new relationship between the church and Indigenous people based on solidarity, equality, and mutual respect.

Since that turning point, the Anglican Church of Canada has slowly grown into a solidarity role by supporting Indigenous goals towards self-determination, treaty and land rights, and protecting the earth. In the ensuing decades, the presence of Indigenous leaders and clergy have steadily increased in the church. Since 1989, 12 Indigenous bishops have been elected, of which eight were First Nations, three Inuk, and one Métis. Of those 12 bishops, six are now retired.

The 1990s saw the emergence of national convocations in which Indigenous Anglicans reclaimed their identity and began to share and heal their pain from residential schools, followed by their acceptance of the apology from Primate Michael Peers in 1993. The adoption of the 1994 Covenant by General Synod coincided with the first Sacred Circle gatherings, focused on healing, self-determination, finding Indigenous voices, and establishing a true partnership with the wider church.

In 2003, Anglican leaders across Canada ratified an agreement detailing the payment of compensation to victims who endured abuse at Anglican-run residential schools. In 2005, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) began its search for a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, ultimately selecting Bishop Mark MacDonald, who started his ministry in spring 2007 and was officially installed at General Synod 2007 in Winnipeg.

Later developments included additional Indigenous bishops; the adoption of Canon XXII at General Synod 2010 in Halifax, establishing a National Indigenous Ministry; the creation of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh; the adoption by the Indigenous House of Bishops of the statement Where We Are Today: Twenty Years after the Covenant; the decision at the eighth Sacred Circle in 2016 to move forward with self-determination by endorsing a fifth province or equivalent within the church; and the Road to Warm Springs gathering the following year in Pinawa, Man.

After the video, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop expressed his thanks to Anglican Video for the work they have done with Indigenous Ministries from the beginning, “helping us to tell our story.”

Bishop Sidney Black spoke about his experience at the Council of Native Ministries, a 1988 gathering that took place during his first year studying for ordained ministry at the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad in Saskatoon. The experience of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit coming together was a profound one for the young Sidney Black: “We came to a place where it was safe for us to begin to speak from the heart,” he recalled. “And out of that was the beginning of that litany of telling our stories of our experiences in the schools.” The experience would help influence his path towards taking on a leadership role within the Anglican Church of Canada in relation to Indigenous ministries.

Doctor initiated a table group discussion based on the passage from the Gospel of Mark read out by Solomon that prefaced the report. She asked council members, having seen the video and heard the gospel reading, to reflect on what stood out to them. After discussion, Bishop MacDonald read out the passage again and asked council members what they thought God was saying to them in the video and in the gospel reading. Ten more minutes of discussion were followed by a third reading of the passage and plenary discussion.

Reflecting on the gospel reading, table groups highlighted the lack of trust and fear of the unknown; the question “By whose authority are you doing this?” asked of Jesus, which brought to mind the many times when Indigenous people have been asked to justify their own existence, and how “Jesus was able to shut that down”; and the relationship of church members to authority and having credentials.

Picking up his guitar, Bishop MacDonald concluded the segment by leading council members in the singing of the hymn “How Great Thou Art”, accompanied by Doctor on the drum.

Members broke for coffee from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Two motions were put forward after the break, one related to Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice, and the other to the Responsible Investment Task Force. Both were carried by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approve the updated Terms of Reference for the Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice Coordinating Committee, as amended by the Coordinating Committee at their meeting of March 12, 2018.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod:

  • Endorse the recommendations in the report of the Responsible Investment Task Force;
  • Recommend that the Investment Committee, other bodies and relevant staff of the General Synod collaborate to ensure implementation of these recommendations with respect to funds held by General Synod;
  • Forward these recommendations to the Pension Committee and strongly encourage their serious consideration;
  • Forward these recommendations to dioceses, ecclesiastical provinces, and other Anglican-affiliated entities and strongly encourage their serious consideration.

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Mr. Will Postma, executive director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), and the Rev. Gillian Hoyer, a member of the PWRDF Board of Directors, opened their report on PWRDF by acknowledging good conversations about emergency response that followed their last presentation at CoGS. Over the last year, PWRDF had raised its budget for emergency response and deepened its involvement in that area.

As PWRDF looks ahead to its 60th anniversary, which it will begin commemorating in the fall of 2018, the church agency finds itself working in more than 25 countries with 45 different partners. Across Canada, there are 30 diocesan representatives for PWRDF, and nine youth council members. To mark its upcoming anniversary, PWRDF has chosen to look back and reflect. Part of that reflection involves a case study from South Africa, which Postma and Hoyer presented to council members as an illustration of PWRDF’s work, alongside references to another case study in El Salvador of teenagers who established an organization to fight HIV/AIDS stigma and gender-based violence.

In the past year, PWRDF conducted an evaluation of two of its partners in South Africa, who are no longer receiving funds from PWRDF but are still in operation: the John Wesley Community Center (JWCC) and Temba Community Development Services, which began work in the 2000s as the number of new HIV infections was increasing across Africa. Both the JWCC and Temba saw the need to reduce the spread of the AIDS epidemic, decrease the high rate of transmission, reduce the number of deaths and orphans left behind, and to facilitate access to basic services by lessening the stigma and discrimination surrounding those with HIV or AIDS. Their initial work focused on helping HIV-positive individuals to die with dignity.

From 2004 to 2015, PWRDF provided funding to the JWCC and Temba as part of its Partnership for Life campaign. Three years after the end of funding, both partners were happy to serve as the focus of an evaluation by PWRDF to highlight lessons learned for future projects. Among those lessons:

  1. Small investments, combined with long-term commitment and relevant supports, yield lasting results. Go slow with the timeframe, support administrative costs, and ask how we can part of the partner’s agenda.
  2. Invest in learning. “Without training there would not be any advance. No one can take learning away.” Take the time to do a proper needs assessment and baseline.
  3. Partnership is important. It can be messy, but it works and is impactful. Flexibility helps, as does the capacity to connect on a personal level.
  4. Do what we can to tell the partner’s story from their perspective. Advocate for the partner, use our social media, and tell the story to national governments and other donors, since success stories often lead to more support.
  5. Volunteers, including youth, want a meaningful experience. Volunteers with lived experience (e.g. those with HIV/AIDS who volunteered at the JWCC and Temba) can offer great help.
  6. Gender is important in program work, but also how we partner. For example, attention to gender has important implications in HIV/AIDS, as women are especially vulnerable to being infected by their husbands or other men, and can spread HIV to their children when pregnant. In the El Salvador case study, workshops run in communities help men work against culture of machismo that has caused violence against women and the gay community.
  7. Faith-based organizations are important entry points to civil society engagement, for being proactive on issues of rights and dignity, and for working with government and other organizations for referrals, exchange, etc.

Postma and Hoyer posed questions to council members for a small group discussion, asking them to consider events or activities where PWRDF’s 60th anniversary might be shared, and any insights or suggestions they might offer going forward into Year 61 based on the South African case study. CoGS members offered few responses and suggested that they trusted in the skill and insight of the PWRDF leadership.

The session concluded with a two-minute video in which the executive director of Temba House and others thanked PWRDF and the Anglican Church of Canada for making such a difference in South Africa, and especially in Temba.

The council prayed together before adjourning for dinner.

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

Marriage Canon

Beginning the evening session, Deputy Prolocutor Lynne McNaughton introduced the members of the CoGS Working Group on the Marriage Canon—one for each ecclesiastical province, as well as a member representing the Anglican Military Ordinariate.

McNaughton reminded CoGS that its members have three more meetings to continue working on how General Synod will have its conversation on proposed changes to the marriage canon. The job of CoGS is to investigate issues arising from council members’ own conversations, rather than to resolve them. The resolution from General Synod 2016 must go forward as is to General Synod 2019, and cannot be amended before that by CoGS. A draft resolution to mitigate consequences or clarify diversity could be prepared in advance of General Synod 2019, but cannot be presented and voted on until after the vote on the second reading occurs.

The goal for General Synod, McNaughton stressed, is conviviality and not homogeneity, living well together as a church after the meeting. Taking such an approach, members of the Working Group on the Marriage Canon have asked themselves how the church will mitigate the consequences and emotions of the vote, how to deal with the “power mind set” of winners and losers, and how to move to a mindset of “discerning the best way forward for the whole church”.

Introducing the first section of discussion, the Working Group put forward three questions for council members, which they were to answer individually on paper:

  1. What is my relationship to the outcome to the marriage canon resolution? In other words, what do I have invested in the outcome of the vote?
  2. What is my hope regarding the resolution?
  3. What are my fears?

After five minutes to write out their responses, members spent 10 minutes in pairs discussing their answers with each other. Responses were then brought before the whole council in a plenary discussion, with the major points written down. Among the stated concerns of council members:

  • “No one wants to relive General Synod 2016”
  • Hope: After the debate and vote, everyone feels heard and supported
  • Hope: Synod will set tone for behaviour. Fear: That chair will have to “referee”.
  • Investment: If canon passes as is, I may be out of sync with doctrine of the church (fear).
  • We have to have a vote; fear that it will not be fair. Can we make it simple? Suspend the rules of order? (answer: no)
  • Hope: Invest in outcome where there is viable unity for mission.
  • Hope: That there will be pastoral care for everyone at General Synod and care before, during, after, and that it be felt.
  • Fear: That if the resolution is defeated, I cannot stay in the church.
  • That the church remains together and moves forward together.
  • Hope: An amendment to accommodate self-determination.
  • Investment/fear: Parish will split over the decision.
  • Hope: At the end of the day, we remember we are part of one family. Fear: That we won’t.

In the second section, council members were asked to respond to a new set of questions individually on paper:

  1. If the vote agrees with your perspective, how do you express empathy for those who are disappointed by the outcome of the vote? How do you express empathy with those who have a sense of well-being with the outcome of the vote?
  2. If the vote does not agree with your perspective, how do you have empathy for those who are disappointed by the outcome of the vote? How do you have empathy with those who have a sense of well-being with the outcome of the vote?

As before, members then joined into pairs and discussed their responses with each other for 10 minutes before reporting back in plenary. Suggestions for creating empathy included:

  • Listening with love and a promise to walk together, encouraging one another, and remembering that the vote is one day in the life of the church.
  • The job of staff members is to put personal feelings aside. The hope is for the reaction of General Synod members to be the same, with no celebration. Everyone stays in the room and expresses feelings together.
  • No applause. Join together to eat and pray. Build coalitions with those we disagree with on other issues.
  • Avoid the words “win” and “lose”. There is a need to minister to the broken. We don’t have to agree to be part of the same family. Pray, pray, and pray some more.
  • Very good questions have been put forward in the present exercise. Could we invite or require members of General Synod to engage with them before synod? We need a process at General Synod to ensure that members are speaking to the resolution itself and not other issues.

Responding to the second section of discussion, Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz expressed his agreement that members of General Synod needed to engage with these questions in some kind of forum before they arrive. He thought it would be very helpful if—between what members do in committee and their dealing with the resolution itself—the same questions and discussion CoGS was currently grappling with were placed before the General Synod.

In this way, all members would experience the same struggle before the actual debate and will have seriously thought about these questions as members of the synod. “We could get some really good mileage, I think, out of these questions, in the hopes of a good conversation at synod and a good way to live with the outcome,” the Primate said.

In the third and final section of the discussion, the working group put forward two more questions to the council in plenary:

  1. Considering the responses, you have heard about people’s fears, how could the process be shaped to mitigate those fears?
  2. What changes do you think would be helpful to meet your concerns?

The subsequent plenary discussion yielded the following suggestions for mitigating fears:

  • Have mentors work with the same questions/process.
  • We need to be visible in including the both/and, such as an amendment to uphold “tradition”. Without breaking from the doctrine of the church, such efforts would be a way to include both views and show that all are welcome.
  • Process has “boxed us in”. We need to figure out a way to use the process to make it more “appropriate” and make a resolution that leaves everyone’s integrity and theology intact.
  • Concern that the wording of the resolution ties the church definition of marriage to the legal one, i.e. concern over setting the definition of marriage to that of the “law of the land”.
  • Concern for new clergy, Indigenous peoples, and the remainder of the church. Invite a bishop to counsel people individually at General Synod.

To wrap up the discussion, council members sang the hymn “Guide My Feet”, a song about discernment that many felt appropriate to the occasion. For the final verse, members changed the lyrics to “guide our feet”, reflecting the sense of community and solidarity they hoped would endure through the coming General Synod.

Chancellor David Jones closed the marriage canon session by walking members through the process of the vote at General Synod. He highly recommended that they read and re-read the preface to Canon XXI, which talks in great detail about the history and the traditional view of marriage, as well as changes or variations. Jones described the preface as “a very thoughtful document that I think frames a great deal of what we’re talking about.”

He detailed the background running up to the marriage canon vote, beginning with Resolution C003 at General Synod 2013; carefully parsed the language of Canon XXI itself; and went through each aspect of amending a canon. The Chancellor reiterated that any amendment to canon dealing with doctrine must be passed by a two-thirds majority of each order in voting, at two successive General Synods. He also directed the attention of council members to two memoranda, one on Oaths and Declarations and possible amendment to Canon XXI, and the other on steps at General Synod 2019 in dealing with the second reading of the resolution to amend the marriage canon. In a subsequent discussion, Jones answered questions from members on different aspects of procedure.

The Primate thanked Chancellor Jones for providing clarification on details of the General Synod Handbook, Declaration of Principles, and constitutional matters. He also thanked the working group on the marriage canon, and said that conversations at CoGS would be very helpful in how the General Synod Planning Committee makes plans for carrying out the conversation at General Synod in 2019.

Holden Evening Prayer

Council closed out the Saturday agenda with night prayer in the chapel.

Members adjourned for the evening at 9 p.m.

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 2, 2018 appeared first on The Anglican Church of Canada.

Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 1, 2018

June 2, 2018 - 1:37pm

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

Opening Eucharist

Dean Peter Wall, co-chair of the Planning Team, provided a homily during the opening Eucharist. Invoking Justin, Martyr at Rome, Dean Wall discussed martyrdom as a form of sacrifice and self-giving, setting aside things that might be important to us personally and taking up things that are important to all. This concept of martyrdom, he said, was also part the “crucible of leadership” to which members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) were called at the present meeting as they prepared to pray, discern, and decide.

Welcome, Opening Formalities, Orders of the Day

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, welcomed everyone to the meeting. He listed regrets and introduced a number of council members, partners, and staff members from General Synod.

Peter Wall read out the Orders of the Day. Council members carried a motion to approve the minutes from the last CoGS meeting in November 2017. The Primate led a prayer before moving into the main agenda items of the day, starting with his own report.

Primate’s Report

In his report, Archbishop Hiltz recounted how five months ago, he took the time to read the presidential address from every General Synod since its establishment in 1893. Quoting from different addresses over the years, the Primate charted evolving attitudes towards the institution of General Synod within the Anglican Church of Canada.

At the inaugural session, Archbishop Robert Machray talked about the need for strength and harmony, calling for those attending the first General Synod “to throw themselves into this great venture”. At the third and fourth sessions in 1908 and 1911, Archbishop Samuel Matheson wrote that Anglicans had laid good foundations for a national church. In 1931, Archbishop Clarendon Worrell called for a constitution that would more exactly outline the roles and responsibilities of General Synod.

In 1943, the approach of the 50th anniversary of General Synod saw Archbishop Derwyn Owen argue that the national decision-making body of the church had proved itself to the older units of administration, dioceses and ecclesiastical provinces. Whatever the controversial issues of the day, Owen said, “I view with horror any signs of widening divisiveness among us” at a time when the foundations of faith were crumbling in other areas of society. His later successor, Archbishop Edward Scott, presented an image of the church moving into the complexities of the world and sustaining individuals from all different backgrounds and walks of life in his “I have a vision” speech. By 1992, in anticipation of the centennial anniversary of General Synod, Archbishop Michael Peers could speak of how General Synod had come together to form a structure that would strengthen national unity as well as forming a common mission for dioceses.

With 2018 marking the 125th anniversary of General Synod, Archbishop Hiltz announced that to celebrate this milestone, he was inviting the Anglican Church of Canada to “listen to its heartbeat” through a new initiative encouraging people to hold conversation circles in their homes and churches about their relationship to God, Jesus, and the church.

The Primate outlined different steps for this Heartbeat of the Church initiative. As designed by Dean Shane Parker to help guide the conversations, these steps would include:

  1. Drawing people together and leading off with a memorable prayer;
  2. Inviting participants to speak from the heart; to consider when and how we pray; and to describe times when prayer came deeply to our hearts, when we felt God was very close to them, and when we felt very close to Jesus;
  3. Reading and reflecting on a conversation from John’s gospel that Jesus brings followers into in every generation: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…”; linking it to times when the church made our hearts glad, when it made our hearts ache, and went it gave us hope;
  4. Asking participants to ponder what our own heartfelt prayer to the church might be.

Trial runs of the Heartbeat program in the Diocese of Ottawa have garnered positive feedback from participants, who said the format allowed for meaningful conversation, enabled people to share stories, and made for some sacred moments. In the context of the present meeting of CoGS, the Primate said council members would have the opportunity to try out the Heartbeat conversational model in marketplace discussions, Bible studies, and hopefully table group discussions. Within the coming month, he hoped to write a letter inviting people to participate in the Heartbeat initiative between September 2018 and May 2019.

Alongside the 125th anniversary of General Synod that Heartbeat of the Church aims to commemorate, the Primate pointed to an array of other anniversaries the church will be celebrating in 2018:

  • The 55th anniversary of the first Anglican Congress in Toronto, which Archbishop Hiltz called a “watershed moment for the Anglican Communion”. Archbishop Howard Clark hosted the 1963 conference, declaring at the outset: “If there is to be a rebirth of the Anglican Communion, it must be a rebirth of loving service to the world.”
  • The 45th anniversary of the church appointing the Primate’s Council on the North, which later became the Council of the North. The Primate highlighted the support of Anglican Church Women (ACW) across the country for the Council of the North, noting that ACW in Huron earlier that week had donated $50,000 to help support the council.
  • The 25th anniversary of the Anglican Healing Fund, which saw a large influx of donations last year reflecting concerted fundraising efforts. The Primate thanked Healing Fund coordinator Esther Wesley for her “incredible work” over many years.
  • The 25th anniversary of the apology of then-Primate Michael Peers for the church’s role in the Indian residential school system. Archbishop Hiltz noted that the anniversary on Aug. 6 coincides with the upcoming meeting of Sacred Circle in Prince George, B.C., and said that he would be working with National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald to find the best ways to commemorate the anniversary.

In addition, the church would be marking two more significant anniversaries in 2019:

  • The 25th anniversary of the 1994 covenant in which Indigenous Anglicans embarked on a journey of spiritual renewal and extended a hand to the rest of church to join them. In the years since, the church has witnessed the installation of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, establishment of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, and the creation of numerous Indigenous bishop positions including two more in Manitoba and Ontario;
  • The 25th anniversary of the consecration of the church’s first female bishop. Today, Archbishop Hiltz said, 10 out of the 42 bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada are women, including eight diocesan bishops. “What a blessing it has been to have women in episcopal ministry in our beloved church,” the Primate added, and highlighted the recent election of Melissa Skelton as the church’s first female archbishop and metropolitan.
  • The 10th anniversary of efforts to deepen the church’s relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, with General Synod staff members making multiple visits to Israel-Palestine and repeatedly welcoming Archbishop Suheil Dawani to Canada. The Primate thanked Canadian Anglicans for supporting the Diocese of Jerusalem in its ministries such as the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza—support that was particularly important in the wake of recent protests on the Gaza Strip that saw more than 100 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and thousands of others wounded.

2019 will also likely mark the end of the Anglican Church of Canada’s 50-year relationship with the Episcopal Church of Cuba, as the latter seeks reintegration with The Episcopal Church in the United States. That history together saw the Canadian church spearhead numerous projects in conjunction the development office supported by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). “Cubans never, ever forget that in some of the hardest times of the last 50 years, the Anglican Church of Canada, as they put it, was there for them,” the Primate said, praising the Cuban church for its exemplary living out of the Marks of Mission.

Two other entities related to the work of the church national are also marking anniversaries within a short timeframe. In 2017, the Anglican Foundation commemorated its 60th anniversary, while PWRDF is set to celebrate its own 60th anniversary in the fall of 2018.

All of the aforementioned anniversaries have, for the Primate, created what he called “a time of great gratitude” for all these accomplishments through the ministries of the church, and gratitude for those who have helped in these ministries. He expressed his hope that this anniversary period would also be a time of prayer for the kind of rebirth that Archbishop Clark described.

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

Anglican Journal & Communication and Information Resources Committee Working Group

After the break, Canon Ian Alexander gave a presentation on the work of the Anglican Journal and Communications and Information Resources Committee Working Group. He recounted the background that prompted the church to explore current and future trends in diocesan newspaper distribution, and their potential impact on distribution of the Anglican Journal.

Thus far, the working group has made initial presentations to CoGS laying out its work plan and seeking initial input. It has undertaken quantitative opinion surveys as well as a qualitative study, and compared media strategies of other churches both inside and outside Canada.

One of the clear conclusions emerging from surveys is that Canadian Anglicans value their church publications very highly. More than three-quarters of respondents said it was “somewhat” or “very” important that “a national publication of interest to the members of the Anglican Church of Canada continues to exist in some form”, as well as for a “diocesan publication of interest”. One representative sample quote called the Anglican Journal “a unifying factor in the life of Canadian Anglicans.”

According to the survey results, most Canadian Anglicans currently read their church publications in print, but a significant amount are open to alternative forms of distribution. General expectations are that Canadian Anglicans will see a “long, slow transition from print to digital distribution.” On the subject of editorial independence, Alexander said that the most important issue for many respondents was that the church offer diverse voices in its publications.

During a short discussion period, table groups talked about how the conclusions reached by the working group might influence two key issues: the future of print distribution, and the mandate and governance of the Anglican Journal. Alexander said that following discussions at the present meeting, the advisory committee would be meeting again in October, and would hopefully return to the November meeting of CoGS with a more concrete set of recommendations in mind.

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

Bible Study

After lunch, council members engaged in Bible study based around the passage highlighted in Heartbeat of the Church from the Gospel According to John.

Responsible Investing Task Force 

Mr. Ryan Weston, General Synod staff to the Responsible Investing Task Force (RITF), began a presentation about the recent work of the task force. Since its establishment by CoGS in November 2016, the RITF has held two in-person meetings, in January 2017 and March 2018, and surveyed Anglican and Anglican-affiliated funds related to responsible investment practices. Its 17 respondents thus far include dioceses, theological schools, and foundations. Currently, its three main areas of work are theological reflection; examining current investment practices and the context of Anglican investment; and crafting a communications strategy.

Fellow RITF member Bob Boeckner outlined the four primary approaches to investing explored by the group: 1) integration of environmental, social, and governance factors; 2) active ownership, i.e. trying to influence change from within companies as shareholders; 3) impact investing, or making specific investments with social goals in mind; and 4) investment exclusions, or divestment. These approaches, Boeckner said, are more likely to be used in combination rather than taking only one approach. In each case, the goal is for earnings to be used in the mission of the body making the investment.

RITF members are currently prepared to complete a resource for use by the wider church, with members also willing to engage key stakeholders such as bishops and diocesan financial officers to raise awareness of the resource. An RITF report provided to CoGS included a discussion of theological foundations, highlights of current investing practices, and recommendations for increased engagement and updated practices by the General Synod Consolidated Trust Fund, General Synod Pension Plan, and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Two motions were put forward. Members adopted the first by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod receive with gratitude and appreciation this report of the Responsible Investing Task Force.

Debate over the wording of a second motion related to recommendations in the report led to the motion being returned to the Resolutions Committee. The committee intended to review the motion and bring it back before council members later at the present meeting.

Pension Committee

Presenting again for the Pension Committee, Boeckner put forward three motions related to General Synod benefit plans administration and expenses regulation, regulation of Canon XII for the Continuing Education Plan (CEP), and long-term disability plan regulations.

Council members passed each motion by consensus.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to make the following amendments to Regulations 1 and 2 of General Synod Benefit Plans Administration and Expenses Regulation made pursuant to Section 4 of Canon VIII effective January 1, 2018.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to a three-year plan to double the CEP contribution to $900 per year beginning at:

  • $600 (effective January 2, 2019)
  • $750 (effective January 1, 2020)
  • $900 (effective January 1, 2010)

and also make the following amendment to Regulation 1 of the Regulations of Canon XII effective January 1, 2019, January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2021 respectively.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod approves the recommendation of the Pension Committee to make the following amendments to Regulations A.5, C.3 and the Benefit Schedule of LTD Regulations effective January 1, 2019.

Members broke for coffee from 2:55 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice

Ms. Ginny Doctor, Indigenous Ministries coordinator, introduced the presentation by the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice. Having served as staff liaison to the Primate’s Commission since its inception, Doctor said she would soon be retiring and relinquishing that role to Ms. Melanie Delva, national reconciliation animator.

In working with the commission, Doctor said, the idea of producing a video documentary on the Doctrine of Discovery had come to the fore. The documentary would be for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences as a way to understand the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery on Indigenous and settler peoples alike.

Ms. Lisa Barry, senior producer for Anglican Video, offered additional context on the process leading up to the production of the documentary. Since her first involvement 25 years ago in a video sharing the story of a residential school survivor, Barry had come to recognize the Doctrine of Discovery as the source of the intergenerational trauma and destruction that followed the first contact between European settlers and Indigenous peoples. She presented a short promo video for council members to give an idea of their work and what the documentary would look like.

Council members watched the short video, which began with footage of the ocean and captions discussing the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Prior to contact with Europeans, the Indigenous population of the Americas was estimated at more than 100 million people across 800 different nations. Food was shared, disease was minimal, and there were extensive and well-established trade networks. The Spanish fleet was initially well-received by Indigenous peoples.

Within 25 years, the settlers had exterminated the entire population of Hispaniola, the island where Columbus had landed. Within 100 years, ravaged by violence, disease, and slavery, the entire Indigenous population in the New World had declined to 10 million. The video explicitly linked this demographic displacement with the Doctrine of Discovery. Interviews featured figures such as Murray Sinclair, Dr. Martin Brokenleg, and Ginny Doctor discussing the loss of land, culture, and self-esteem rooted in the doctrine.

After the video, Mr. Andrew Wesley, co-chair of the Primate’s Commission, described their last meeting on Walpole Island First Nation in Ontario. The gathering saw a presentation from a local chief on their journey to self-determination, as well as discussion on the various working relationships between the commission and the Vision Keepers Council, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), and reconciliation animator Melanie Delva. They also touched on plans for Sacred Circle in August.

Bishop Riscylla Shaw, co-chair, expressed excitement from the commission about the potential for the Doctrine of Discovery video as an educational tool, supplemented with study guides for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. She noted that the meeting in Walpole included lengthy, focused discussion on the commission’s priorities and assigning responsibility to wrap up its work by the next General Synod.

Part of that discussion involved how to keep the work of the commission going after General Synod. In addition to a proposed Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation Coordinating Committee of the General Synod, which would serve as a permanent working group with links to ACIP and the Vision Keepers Council, the commission was looking to form a Jubilee Commission, tasked with auditing how money had been invested by the church in Indigenous Ministries in the past and present, and how it might be invested in the future.

A motion was put forward laying out the framework for the Jubilee Commission. During a vote on the motion, two CoGS members indicated the need for further discussion. Members who supported the motion explained their belief that it would better help the church move forward towards funding a self-determining Indigenous church. In response to concerns over the speed of the process, Doctor also noted that Anglicans in Indigenous ministry had been referring to self-determination back in 1969. Other members from the floor pointed to the high number of young people in Indigenous communities, underscoring that the concerns of the Jubilee Committee would relate not just to the past of the church, but to its future.

Reassured by the responses of fellow council members, the two previously hesitant members of CoGS expressed their support for the motion, which was carried by consensus.

Resolution

That CoGS appoint a Jubilee Commission to propose a just, sustainable and equitable funding base for the self-determining Indigenous Anglican church.

The Commission would:

  • have a three-year term, potentially renewable
  • consist of 6 members
  • report to the Council of General Synod
  • include significant representation from the current Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice.

The Commission would be charged with examining historic and current funds made available for Indigenous ministry at various levels of the Church’s structure, assessing current funds designated to Indigenous programming, and assessing broader property questions. Topics for consideration might include current salary levels of Indigenous clergy and strategies to move towards parity, possible redistribution of portions of property sales on a principled basis, and increasing alignment between funds for Indigenous ministry and Indigenous oversight of these funds.

The passing of the resolution by consensus prompted Archbishop Hiltz to describe the decision as “a very important moment in the life of this council. It’s a really important moment in the life of our church”—one that evoked the spirit of the 1994 covenant and served as a practical follow-up to discussions at the Road to Warm Springs gathering.

Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada

Reflecting a constitutional requirement in Canon VII, members of CoGS voted to adjourn and reconstituted themselves as the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada to discuss and approve the financial statements of the latter.

Two motions were carried by consensus, after which members officially terminated their meeting as the Board of Management of the Missionary Society, and resumed their meeting as CoGS.

Resolution

Be it resolved that the Board of Management approves the Financial Statements of the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 and that any two Officers are authorized to sign the statements on the Board’s behalf.

Resolution

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

Human Trafficking

Mr. Ryan Weston, General Synod lead staff (along with Global Relations Director Andrea Mann) for regional consultations on the fight to eradicate human trafficking, gave a presentation detailing the background to the consultations.

Weston described human trafficking as a global crime, human rights violation, and an ongoing issue related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In 2015, Anglican Consultative Council Resolution 15.10—The trafficking of persons requested that provinces of the Anglican Communion commit themselves to the fight to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery. A CoGS resolution in June 2017 established a reference group, which first gathered in September to begin hearing details on the scope of trafficking worldwide and in Canada.

Regional consultations were planned to further educate members of the Anglican Church of Canada on human trafficking and strategies to fight it, with one consultation for each ecclesiastical province. A consultation for the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario took place from April 10-13 in Pickering, Ont., followed by a consultation for the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada from April 15-18 in St. John’s, Nfld. Bishops in each province were invited to suggest people to attend the consultations, which were funded by parish and diocesan apportionment to General Synod as well as grants from the Anglican Foundation and the Diocese of Niagara.

At each consultation, participants heard stories from survivors of trafficking and exploitation. Weston said that work against human trafficking needed to be guided by the experience of survivors who understand these situations best and recognize needs for the work. The consultations also featured speakers from church organizations such as the Anglican Alliance and KAIROS Canada—the latter of which focused on the exploitation of migrant workers—non-profits such as the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking; and community groups such as the Coalition Against the Sexual Exploitation of Youth, based in St. John’s. A member of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Ontario also provided an Indigenous perspective at the Pickering event.

Following Weston’s presentation, council members took part in a table group activity. Each table group received a story of someone caught up in trafficking-like conditions. At three key junctures in the story, they were asked to reflect on the needs of the person at the centre of the story, how their local church might respond to those needs, and what opportunities might exist for collaboration.

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

Market Place

Council members broke into two groups after dinner for a pair of marketplace discussions.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Dean Shane Parker facilitated one discussion on the Heartbeat of the Church initiative. Meanwhile, the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully and LCdr the Rev. Beverly Kean-Newhook facilitated a separate discussion on the subject of Safe Church and Sanctuary.

Evening Prayer

Members closed out the Friday agenda with night prayer in the chapel.

An evening social took place from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m.

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Companions of the Worship Arts announced for 2018

May 30, 2018 - 5:04pm

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACofC) have announced the 2018 recipients of the Companion of the Worship Arts (CWA).

The honour of Companion of the Worship Arts—a highly reputable recognition—highlights the immense gifts and offerings of a particular individual to the worship life of each church at the local and national level. The CWA has roots in the ELCIC and was first presently jointly in 2014. It is presented every two years to one Lutheran and one Anglican at the National Worship Conference, which this year will be held from July 16-19, 2018 in Victoria, B.C.

This year’s Lutheran recipient is Rev. Eric Dyck. Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Montreal, and currently teaching liturgy and supervising seminarians with the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, Rev. Dyck lectures on eucharistic development and history, oversees workshops on presiding, text delivery, movement in the liturgy, and offers extensive consulting on adapting appropriate liturgies into various settings.

His contributions to the worship life of his church, in all of its expressions, are well known and extend beyond his own Lutheran tradition. He has contributed to the worship life of the church in the local, synodical, national and even international levels.

Rev. Dyck’s list of contributions to the worship life of the ELCIC stretch exceptionally far. He served as a Sacristan and Worship Committee Member, Liturgical Director, and a General Consultant for The Lutheran World Federation from 1993-2004.  He held the seat of Co-Chair for Worship within the ELCIC for the 2013 Joint Assembly (ELCIC and ACofC in Ottawa), the Worship Design Team Chairperson for the 2005 and 2007 ELCIC National Conventions, Chair of the ELCIC Program Committee for Worship, as well as various roles within the National Worship Conference (Lutheran Co-Chairperson, Hospitality Suite, Liturgical Director, Sacristan, Chair, Local Committee Member).

Rev. Eric Dyck has had numerous pieces of his work published within the ELCIC. He was a valuable contributor to the Renewing Worship Project, which saw the development of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

He is currently working with Earth-World Collaborative in their liturgical products which design electro-acoustic music for liturgies while using the classic ordo, texts, rubrics, as well as sound-mapping and other new technology for the more traditional areas of the ordinarium. Rev. Dyck is also constructing and re-casting liturgies for international pilgrimages, based on the traditional/medieval liturgies, but focusing on contemporary situations.

This year’s Anglican recipient is Blanche Kate Gates. A longtime member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Nanaimo, B.C., where she is considered an Elder of the parish, Gates played a vital role in the development of contemporary liturgy in the Anglican Church of Canada as part of the task force that developed the Book of Alternative Services (BAS).

As a member of the national Doctrine and Worship Committee in the early 1980s, Gates interpreted the work of the committee to prepare for the publication of the BAS. During this period, she read many liturgical texts and commentaries—including experimental liturgical texts developed in the 1960s and ’70s, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer published in the Untied States, and the Roman Missal as revised by Pope Paul VI—to expand her knowledge and facilitate the work of the task force. Instrumental in creating the BAS and specifically its revised funeral liturgy, Gates spoke about the BAS to the House of Bishops and, as a delegate to General Synod, seconded the motion by which the Anglican Church of Canada officially adopted the BAS in 1985.

During her tenure as President of the Anglican Church Women for the Diocese of British Columbia, Gates left a considerable impact on her counterparts from other dioceses at national meetings. As a member of the Altar Guild and talented seamstress, she has consistently offered valuable assistance with linens, vestments, and parish and diocesan fabric banners that today enhance the worship space of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria and various parishes.

Reflecting her passion for quilting, Gates created the “Tree of Life” quilt for St. Paul’s, and sewed a stole and chasuble based on the same theme for the congregation. As she prepares to mark her 100th birthday, her contributions to worship and liturgy at the national level continue to influence the way Anglicans across the country interpret and practice their faith.

The CWA awards are to be presented at the 2018 National Lutheran & Anglican Worship Conference, Responding to Disaster: Prayer, Song, Presence, taking place from July 16-19 in British Columbia.

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After the Brandon fire: Diocese, Indigenous partners, and donors offer week at camp to kids

May 28, 2018 - 3:56pm

In the wake of a massive fire, the Diocese of Brandon is inviting every child affected by the fire to attend its Anglican Memorial Camp this summer free of charge. The fire tore through downtown Brandon over the May long weekend, destroying three commercial buildings and causing severe damage to a multi-floor apartment complex.

The diocese had received a generous donation earlier that same weekend to support the camp. In a conversation with the donor, Bishop William Cliff suggested using the gift to fund bursaries to send children impacted by the fire to camp. The donor offered enthusiastic approval.

“This is really what the church is about,” Bishop Cliff said. “We want to reach out and offer what we have in ways that we can to these people who’ve been affected so horribly by this fire.

“There’s a lot of trauma, young children being taken out of their homes, and we don’t know when people will be back in the building. […] The smoke and the water damage is extensive in the apartments that weren’t damaged by the fire, and then the upper floors have been damaged by the fire, so it’s going to be a longer process. […] I thought, well, why don’t we offer the kids a chance to go to camp as a way of getting away from the trauma?”

The Diocese of Brandon offers four different camp experiences in July at its Anglican Memorial Camp located in Riding Mountain National Park. Its three full-week camps are divided by age group, with children 8-10 attending junior camp, youth 10-12 attending intermediate camp, and those 13 or older attending teen camp. An additional family camp is available for parents or grandparents to attend with their children or grandchildren for up to three days.

Typical activities include canoeing, swimming, games, and conversations about a topic of the week, with a chapel located onsite. The camp is run by volunteers such as the Rev. Cheryl Kukurudz, executive assistant to the bishop and dean and camp registrar, who helped lead the teen camp for many years.

“Out of this tragic event, it’s nice to be able to open ourselves up as we’re supposed to do in the mission of the church and invite people to come,” Kukurudz said.

To help organize efforts to invite children from the Massey Manor apartment complex damaged in the fire to attend camp, the diocese is working with the Bear Clan Patrol, a volunteer social service organization that supports Indigenous communities in Brandon and Winnipeg.

Partnering with the Bear Clan Patrol

Members of the Bear Clan patrol downtown areas and provide help to marginalized people they encounter, offering food and items such as coats and blankets in winter or socks and bottled water in the summer. The organization is primarily run by a group of local Indigenous women.

Dean Don Bernhardt, himself a Bear Clan member, is serving as a liaison between the church and Bear Clan as the latter head up efforts to speak with families and determine who might be interested in attending the camp.

He noted that the Bear Clan has an existing relationship with residents of Massey Manor. Many of the women who lead the Bear Clan work in social service jobs and know some of the residents through their own work, while others might encounter them during their regular patrols.

“The Bear Clan has a lot of that in-depth knowledge of who’s who at Massey, so that’s the reason that they got involved in it,” Bernhardt said. “Plus they’re seen as a very non-threatening group of people that aren’t looking to evangelize or anything like that. They’re just there to help.”

He hoped that children who choose to attend the Anglican Memorial Camp enjoy the chance to “have fun, decompress a little bit, and recognize that there are people in this community that care about them.”

“They’ve already had some of that, because the outpouring of support that they’ve had since this fire has been phenomenal,” Bernhardt said. “But I want them to understand, and I think the community wants them to understand, that we want to provide support—not just a one-time [gesture of sympathy], but [that] we’re all in this together, and we want everyone to flourish as much as possible.”

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Using CLAY as a framework for youth ministry

May 24, 2018 - 1:30pm

A slam poetry homily. Drumming at worship. An Advent project centred on the right to water.

These are just some of the visible signs of the impact the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering has had on the life of the church in the Parish of St. James Manotick, located in the Diocese of Ottawa. Over the last eight years, parish youth have regularly attended the biennial event, a national gathering of young Christians, which this year will be taking place from August 15-19 in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Returning from CLAY to their home parishes, participants bring with them a range of ideas that—in cases such as the Parish of St. James Manotick—have provided a major boost to youth ministry and new approaches to worship.

“CLAY is an incredible experience for our young people. It’s a mountaintop experience,” said Donna Rourke, coordinator of youth ministries for the parish as well as the diocesan Youth Internship Program.

“Our youth come back exhausted, but pumped—pumped about their faith, pumped that they’re in an environment where it’s cool to be Christian. … [T]hat doesn’t happen to them very often … Because of that, it is easier as a youth leader to incorporate things that youth learned at CLAY into the programs that we develop.”

Leslie Giddings, child, youth, and adult learning facilitator for the Diocese of Ottawa, said that Anglican participation in CLAY has increased over the last several years, particularly among members of her own diocese.

“We sent a really large group last time, the largest we’ve ever sent,” Giddings said. “And part of our ability to mobilize people was explaining that actually, CLAY could be used as the foundation for their youth ministry for the next two years, until the next CLAY came along.”

Experience of St. James Manotick

Worship is a major area where young parishioners incorporate their experiences from CLAY. Every two years upon returning from the event, the congregation would hold a service where youth could showcase what they had learned.

Examples include incorporating Godly Play into the gospel reading, or performing on drums and bringing new songs into worship. The slam poetry homily was the creation of one talented youth who wrote and performed an original poem, inspired by the similar use of poetry at CLAY.

Members of the St. James contingent attend CLAY 2016 in Charlottetown.

The experience of CLAY has also affected initiatives outside of worship. Over the last four years, youth programming at St. James Manotick has incorporated the theme of Right to Water, the focus of the National Youth Project from 2012-2016 which sought to highlight water rights in Indigenous communities across Canada.

Two years ago, the parish’s annual Advent project focused on encouraging youth to be mindful of all the water they used during the Advent season by giving each participant a bag of jellybeans and a jar.

“Each time they used water—to brush their teeth, to go to the washroom, to wash their hands, to have a shower, whatever—they would take a jellybean from the bag and put it in the jar,” Rourke said. “And every time they filled up the jar, they went to talk to their folks about donating some money to the National Youth Project.”

“We ended up raising like $200 for that,” she added. “We would talk about how we use water without even thinking, and [that] we have people still in Canada that don’t have water.”

To help raise money to attend CLAY, youth also organized fundraisers, such as a car wash during the summer and a pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday. One-quarter of the cost for youth to attend CLAY is subsidized by the parish.

‘Something to rally around’

Giddings said that the Diocese of Ottawa decided this year to invest more in increasing its participation in CLAY, rather than organizing diocesan events that could compete for focus and participation.

“It’s so valuable to get people together in church to do something, but we have to think about all the ways we can connect to them before they come and connect with them after they’re there, because that’s where the payoff and the connections and the growth happen,” Giddings said.

“Getting people together is important and it’s one of our core pieces of Christian community … that fellowship in coming together. But if we don’t think about all the ways that could also be a learning opportunity or an opportunity for service, then we’re missing the depths of how we can connect.”

Sheilagh McGlynn, national youth animator for the Anglican Church of Canada, said she believed that using CLAY as a model for youth ministry had potential to be used in other areas of the country.

“I think it is a great way to answer the question of ‘We don’t know what to do with our young people,’ because I think there are a lot of people out there who care about young people and want to offer something for them,” McGlynn said. “They just don’t have the skills or the expertise, [or] they don’t have any training in youth ministry. […] This offers something to rally around and to have a theme.”

Registration is still open for CLAY 2018 in Thunder Bay. The upcoming gathering is based around the theme Threads and will feature the Rev. Steve Greene as its official Storyweaver.

Register now for CLAY 2018.

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Bishop of Qu’Appelle begins cross-Canada cycling journey for unity and reconciliation

May 22, 2018 - 3:32pm

Dipping his bicycle tires into the Pacific Ocean on the morning of Saturday, May 19, Bishop Rob Hardwick of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle officially began a cross-country pilgrimage to the Atlantic coast to promote unity, healing, and reconciliation within the Anglican Church of Canada.

Over the course of a planned 62 days, the 7,877-kilometre cycling journey will take Bishop Hardwick from Victoria, B.C. to St. John’s, Newfoundland, during which he will meet and pray with thousands of people in hundreds of congregations.

“I’m hoping to gather people’s comments, what they understand those three words [unity, healing, and reconciliation] to mean in their own lives,” the bishop said.

“Obviously in our church, we are fairly conflicted in some issues. So what does it mean to be a church of unity? What does it mean to be a church of healing and reconciliation as well?”

Though his main focus is prayer and meeting people, Bishop Hardwick is also hoping to raise $2 million from individuals and dioceses he encounters in his travels.

Should that goal be reached, approximately $1.2 million would go towards funding a medical centre in Muyinga, Burundi, a Habitat for Humanity build in Regina, Sask., a diocesan theological school, and ministries focused on children, youth, and First Nations. The remaining $800,000 would be earmarked for the Anglican Healing Fund.

Preparing for his journey on Thursday en route to Victoria, the bishop was in good spirits. “I really do feel ready for this,” he said. “Looking forward to the adventure.”

The idea for the cross-Canada pilgrimage goes back to a mission action plan that Bishop Hardwick wrote for the Diocese of Qu’Appelle in 2014 calling for a “healthy leadership” model.

At the time, the bishop had recently undergone heart surgery and weighed 310 pounds. In an effort to better embody that concept of healthy leadership, he resolved to improve both his spiritual and physical fitness.

Bishop Hardwick trained extensively in preparation for cycling across Canada. Photo by Lorraine Hardwick

“I’d reached the time where I was reaching for a bag of chips rather than praying,” he recalled. “And so this has all been a kind of target for me to get fit, physically and spiritually.”

Avidly taking up cycling, Bishop Hardwick subsequently lost more than 100 pounds and saw vast improvements in his health and fitness. The idea of a cross-Canada pilgrimage via bicycle began to take shape in his mind, and in preparation, he embarked on two pilgrimages across Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund.

“The [cross-Canada] pilgrimage helps my personal walk with the Lord, if you like,” he said. “It’s also an opportunity to have extended times of prayer—praying for people, and praying for situations in the diocese and the wider church and world.”

On May 18, 2018, one day before he officially began cycling across Canada, Bishop Hardwick was welcomed to the land by the Songhees First Nation located around Victoria. An evening prayer gathering was set for later the same day.

The first day of cycling on May 19 saw the bishop ride to Nanaimo. On the second day, he planned to visit St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church in West Vancouver, celebrating and preaching at their Pentecost Sunday service.

Asked what he hoped would be the result of his pilgrimage, Bishop Hardwick reiterated the main themes of his journey and hoped that Anglicans would pray for safety, but also for unity, healing, and reconciliation for the church.

“I’m hoping that we will see something of the hand of God at work at our next General Synod,” he said. “For me, it’s laying a foundation of prayer in preparation for our prayers for a self-determining [Indigenous] church … prayers for unity as we look at things like the marriage canon. It’s my way of preparing.

“I hope through this that other people will be really encouraged to pray for some major things that are going on in our church today.”

Regular updates on Bishop Hardwick’s journey will be posted on the Living the Mission – Bishop’s Ride Facebook page. Donations supporting the ride and mission can be made online.

Support Living the Mission—Bishop Hardwick’s Ride.

Background information for this article was provided in the May 2018 issue of the Saskatchewan Anglican.

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Two new suffragan bishop positions created for northern Manitoba and Ontario

May 14, 2018 - 4:30pm

In the Diocese of Brandon, files in the office of Bishop William Cliff dating back to 1965 note discussions and requests for an Indigenous bishop who could provide spiritual leadership for residents of northern Manitoba.

Forty years later at the 2005 Sacred Circle in Pinawa, Man., elders called not only for a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop—a position later filled by Bishop Mark MacDonald—but for 15 Indigenous bishops in areas with significant Indigenous ministries.

That dream of the elders took another stride forward in May 2018, when the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land voted at its provincial synod to create two new suffragan bishop positions, one each for northern Manitoba and northern Ontario. The installation of the two new bishops will bring the total number of active Indigenous Anglican bishops to eight.

“I think it shows a lot of faith in our ministry, in that it’s about self-determination, and that we are capable of providing leadership to take care of our own folks in our diocese and to build a ministry that God is calling us to do,” Indigenous Ministries coordinator Ginny Doctor said. “And I think people are finally beginning to realize that we can take it on, so that’s significant.”

“We’ve actually come a long way and [are] beginning to make good progress towards the 15 that the elders called for,” she added. “But I think the elders had the wisdom to see that Indigenous bishops can minister to Indigenous people, and that says a lot, I think, about who we are as a people in our call to self-determination.”

Both suffragan bishops will be considered part of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweseh. However, the bishop for northern Manitoba will also have responsibilities related to the northern part of the Diocese of Brandon—particularly the Deanery of The Pas—and likely parts of the Diocese of Saskatchewan.

The Diocese of Brandon has committed $56,000 over the next four years to help Mishamikoweesh finance the new bishop position.

“Mishamikoweesh and Brandon share northern Manitoba, but those boundaries are really colonial holdovers,” Bishop Cliff said. “They’re diocesan boundaries from old days, and [for] the folks in the north of Manitoba, especially the Cree folks, those boundaries don’t mean a lot.”

The idea for Indigenous area bishops serving northern Manitoba and Ontario was documented at a gathering of elders near The Pas in 2011, by Anglican Video in the short feature Pitching Our Tents.

Meeting at the Church of the Redeemer in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the elders resolved to begin the process of selecting and ordaining an area bishop. Momentum slowed in the following years, but gained renewed strength after the 2017 Road to Warm Springs consultation in Pinawa.

Archbishop Greg Kerr-Wilson, Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land, said the recent push to create the two new bishop positions reflected wider changes in the church regarding attitudes towards Indigenous self-determination.

“I think in this case, the right factors came into play, the right people in the right context, and … heightened awareness amongst the broader province of the importance and significance of Indigenous self-determination in the life of the church, and the ability to have a self-determining church within the Anglican Church of Canada,” the archbishop said.

“A big piece of that is to be able to provide that kind of episcopal leadership that can take the actions needed to create leadership in local communities, and to take care of the pastoral concerns that need to be looked after.”

Benefits for Indigenous communities

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald called the creation of the new bishop positions “a huge shot in the arm, in multiple ways” for Indigenous ministry within the church and self-determination, noting that it would provide Indigenous bishops with a higher profile in the national House of Bishops as well as a stronger voice in the various councils of the church.

One of its most important impacts will be the ability of the Indigenous bishops to communicate in the local language of the people. Bishop MacDonald said that the bishop for northern Manitoba will “undoubtedly” speak one of the region’s three main dialects of Cree, while the bishop for northern Ontario will be able to speak Oji-Cree.

“We still have elders who are are not comfortable speaking in English, and it is also a very important thing to reinforce the language learning of young people,” he said. “This will help a great deal on both of those levels.”

Another benefit of the suffragan bishops will be their ability to provide direct pastoral care to remote communities and to preside over ceremonies such as baptisms, confirmations, and weddings—providing valuable support to area clergy, many of whom are non-stipendiary.

Many congregations in northern communities are growing due to a high birth rate, but available resources for ministry are often stretched thin. A significant number of communities do not have any clergy at all.

“When events come up in communities, either celebrations or tragedies, the presence and involvement of a local bishop is absolutely essential,” Bishop MacDonald said.

He hoped that the new bishops would address the encroaching threat of what he called “a crisis in terms of the development of leadership” by becoming “directly involved with people who are in some stages of leadership development, and who might be encouraged to move forward in the life of the church.”

Doctor, meanwhile, saw potential for a general growth in ministry and in specific areas such as stewardship.

“That’s kind of a hard call right now,” she said. “But just from what I’ve seen in the past happen, in communities that have their own ministers, it’s really had a positive effect on that ministry.”

Praying for the right candidates

Following the provincial synod, a working group met to discuss the details of filling the new bishop positions.

In the case of northern Manitoba, the working group hopes to assemble a group of elders as soon as possible—ideally within the next month— to act as a search committee for finding suitable candidates. A tentative date has been set in early September for the election and consecration of the new bishop, but could change depending on how the process unfolds.

A key concern going forward will be making sure that the new bishops are financially sustainable. Though a budget has been set for the next four years, funding will require an increase in contributions from local congregations. Bishop MacDonald, however, said that “there is quite a bit of confidence that [congregations] will respond generously to the increasing pastoral care that this position will allow.”

Despite all the challenges, Archbishop Kerr-Wilson—who with Bishop MacDonald will be overseeing the election and consecration of the bishops—expressed excitement over the progress being made, and for those who have long championed the cause of installing area bishops in the north.

“I’m very pleased that after all these years they’ve been able to get to this place,” he said. “And I would ask for the church broadly to be praying for the support and the strength of the Spirit as they move forward in this new ministry.”

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Parishes join in prayer from coast to coast for Thy Kingdom Come

May 9, 2018 - 4:03pm

Anglicans across Canada will join Christians around the world in prayer from May 10 to 20, 2018 to mark Thy Kingdom Come, a global prayer movement spearheaded by the worldwide Anglican Communion that seeks to empower people through prayer to serve as witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Thy Kingdom Come began in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England, and has run each year since from Ascension to Pentecost. Fueled by social media and digital communication, participation in the time of prayer has expanded into a global and ecumenical movement with churches holding events and highlighting the power of prayer together.

The movement has caught on in Canada, and an increasing number of Anglican parishes and congregations are taking part in this year’s call to prayer, with local events organized for Thy Kingdom Come.

Eastern Canada

In the Diocese of Fredericton, the Parish of Richmond is hosting events at each of its three churches: St Mark’s Church in Jackson Falls N.B, St. John’s Church in Richmond Corner N.B., and Holy Trinity Church in Hartland, N.B.

A family picnic at the parish centre took place on May 5 that featured activities such as kite-flying and story time incorporating prayer. The parish has also planned a walk across the Hartland Covered Bridge—the longest covered bridge in the world—on May 10, with song, praise, and prayer. Other events include a Christian film screening and an exercise in which parishioners pray for five friends, using objects such as five small stones or a bracelet with five knots as reminders to pray for them.

Bonnie Sparks, a lay reader-in-training at St. John’s, first organized prayer events for Thy Kingdom Come last year, inspired by her own deep veneration for the Lord’s Prayer. She pointed to the importance of prayer as our “chief form of communication” with God.

“If you have a spouse and you don’t communicate with that spouse, that relationship flounders, and it’s the same with us as Christians,” Sparks said. “We have to stay in communication with God. It is not only to keep the relationship going, but it’s the strength that we get from that too. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet—well, how can we be the hands and feet if we don’t know what we’re supposed to be doing?

“To me, [Thy Kingdom Come] ties in all the things that I feel are important as a Christian. […] It’s important to pray for our family members that don’t know Christ. It’s also an opportunity to pray together, to bring the whole parish together because we’re all doing the same thing.”

Western Canada

On the other side of the country in B.C., the congregation of St. George Maple Ridge will be marking Thy Kingdom Come by holding daily prayer every morning at 9 a.m. during the 10-day campaign.

“We’re conscious that some people are working at that time, and so those who are here will be praying for those who are working,” pastor the Rev. David Edgerton said. “We talk about people being on their front lines of ministry, in wherever place God has called them to be, and so we’ll be praying for people on their front lines at 9 o’clock every day.”

In addition, St. George’s will hold longer intercessory prayer sessions on both Saturday mornings for parishioners to pray for their community, parish, and church.

Like many others, members of the congregation first heard about Thy Kingdom Come through social media.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for unity,” Edgerton said. “In a church that’s often divided by issues for different reasons, to have something we can really come together with is good. […] I think it helps remind us that we’re part of the global Anglican Church, even out here in the suburbs of Vancouver.”

Central Canada

At St. Thomas Anglican Church in Thunder Bay, Ont., members of the congregation are marking Thy Kingdom Come for the first time. Plans include two worship services each day, a special prayer room for guided recitations of the Lord’s Prayer, and a series of prayer stations in the church.

Each station has a theme. One station, called “Forgiveness and Letting Go”, features a sandbox where individuals can use their fingers to write something for which they wish to receive forgiveness, or emotions such as fear or anger that they wish to set down or make peace with. Another station contains maps and images of those who have devoted their lives to God, encouraging people to pray for their community, their nation, and the world.

Deanna Blanchard, a member of the congregation and wife of incumbent the Rev. Jonathan Blanchard, first learned of Thy Kingdom Come through a friend’s Facebook post.

“All Christians should be participating in something like this,” Blanchard said. “I think that’s what we just felt—that this is something that as Anglicans, we can definitely get behind, but also just as Christians.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re Anglican or whatever [denomination]—Christians all over the world are coming together and praying for this.”

Are you participating in Thy Kingdom Come? View a list of resources to help organize prayer events and other activities. 

Pledge2Pray as an individual, with your family, or as a church.

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Consultation hears port traffic raises vulnerability for exploitation in St. John’s, Nfld.

May 8, 2018 - 4:30pm

Sea traffic is a major means of transport for human trafficking and exploitation in regions on the Atlantic coast, representatives from dioceses in the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada learned at a recent consultation in St. John’s, Nfld.

This second of four national consultations on the eradication of human trafficking took place from April 16-18 at Queen’s College, Memorial University of Newfoundland. The event followed an earlier consultation for the Province of Ontario in Pickering.

The eastern consultation raised the particular concern of how human trafficking manifests itself in seafaring regions with major port centres. The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada includes the three dioceses in Newfoundland as well as the dioceses of Quebec, Montreal, Fredericton, and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

“We identified that in each of the dioceses of the ecclesiastical province, there are at least one or two major ports,” organizing team member the Rev. Canon David Burrows said. “So, aspects of human trafficking are pretty high from the perspective of international travel and labour exploitation, all those various pieces.”

One of the major lessons from the consultation, Burrows said, was that through traffic at seaports in Eastern regions, “we have these potentials for vulnerability in each of our dioceses that are just on our door front.”

Labour exploitation is a concern in dioceses represented at the consultation. Participants learned that exploitation related to sex work accounts for approximately 10 to 15 per cent of trafficking cases in the region, with other forms of labour exploitation making up the majority.

Burrows cited two cases in the Greater St. John’s region over the past decade in which container ships arrived with the owners of the vessel bankrupt, and foreign sailors did not have their own passports to return home. As a result, the sailors spent several months aboard the boat while local community members provided support for items such as food and medical care.

“One of the conversations that we had around that was the continued support and resources needed to be given to the Mission to Seafarers to help establish and continue the great relations that we have with seafarers as they come into the various ports, so that we can identify when there may or may not be issues with regards to equity and the support of workers in the Maritime trade.”

Community partnerships

A key point at the consultation was a community forum on April 17, at which participants invited the wider public to join the conversation about the eradication of human trafficking. The ensuing discussion brought together city councillors, university students, and community groups engaged in support of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Among these organizations is Living in Community, a new board formed in the St. John’s region aimed at integrating the community into accepting and acknowledging the presence of sex work and making it a safe environment, while also addressing potentials for human trafficking within the sex trade.

Another active group is the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (S.H.O.P.), a sex worker advocacy program that supports women with past or present experience in the sex trade. The only program of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador, S.H.O.P. provides outreach in St. John’s and surrounding communities.

Speaking at the forum, S.H.O.P. program coordinator Heather Jarvis discussed the group’s “rare and unique partnership” with representatives of the Anglican community, and how dominant practices and policies in the anti-trafficking movement can often unintentionally have the effect of further marginalizing sex workers, Indigenous women, criminalized women, and other vulnerable groups.

One of the most important lessons that Anglicans have learned, Jarvis said, is the importance of recognizing that people do not always fit easily into one category. She offered the example of anti-trafficking groups or individuals deciding that a person who does not identify as a “trafficked victim” does not require support, which can leave that person vulnerable to actual trafficking.

“To be perfectly honest, historically the church has not been friends to the kinds of communities that I work on,” Jarvis said. “So, to have such a strong partnership is really something that we’re very proud of.

“The Anglican Church has been instrumental in helping our program do some of the frontline human rights-based work that we do, which does include fighting human trafficking, but also fighting the ways in which human trafficking can sometimes have even marginalized people left behind.”

“There are sex workers that are part of the Anglican community,” she added. “And they’ve been very willing to acknowledge that and recognize that the work of the Anglican Church needs to sometimes be outside of the church institution itself, and in our streets and in our communities. And what that work looks like is building relationships, like they’ve done with us.”

‘A keen willingness to learn’

Dr. Andrea Mann, General Synod lead staff for the human trafficking consultations along with Dr. Ryan Weston, said the St. John’s symposium drew a comparable number of participants as the gathering in Pickering. She described those in attendance as representing a cross-section of Anglicans, hailing from large and small cities, port towns, rural areas, and small fishing outposts, but united by “a strong passion for social justice, and a keen willingness to learn and to be effective leaders in eradicating trafficking and slavery in their local dioceses and local communities.”

Worship and liturgy throughout the consultation was prepared by the Ven. Charlene Taylor, who highlighted connections between biblical stories and people engaged in forced migration and slavery. As at the Ontario consultation, a chaplain was present to help participants process the often-difficult subject matter.

“These gatherings raise our awareness about physical and emotional violence and fraud and harm, especially against children and young people,” Mann said. “They require learning a number of uncomfortable and devastating truths about some of our local communities.

“They can be overwhelming conversations and presentations on both the scale of trafficking and slavery in the world today, and its organization of the profits and the greed, and of how we are complicit in these systems if we don’t know more. I think people were particularly struck with how we can so quickly become complicit if we don’t understand the supply chains involved in the goods and services that we import.”

Following the consultations for the ecclesiastical provinces of Ontario and Canada, two more regional consultations for the ecclesiastical provinces of Rupert’s Land and BC/Yukon on eradicating human trafficking will take place before General Synod 2019.

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First Woman Ordained Bishop for Diocese of Niagara

May 7, 2018 - 2:43pm

Bishop Susan Bell to serve as coadjutor bishop after historic service of consecration

HAMILTON, ONTARIO – The Right Reverend Susan Bell has become the first woman ordained to serve as coadjutor bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara after a historic and sacred service at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton on Saturday, May 5.

“My heart overflows with gratitude for the support and kindness of so many people along my faith journey and in all my ministries,” said Bishop Bell in a message to the diocese. The new bishop’s episcopal motto focuses on mission in the world and she invited the diocese to listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. “May we renew God’s mission of love in all the communities we serve.”

An estimated 600 people attended the standing room only service which was also live streamed on Facebook. Archbishop Colin Johnson, metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, was the presider and chief consecrator during the two-hour consecration. Bishop Linda Nicholls of the Diocese of Huron preached the sermon. Outgoing Bishop Michael Bird celebrated the Eucharist alongside the new bishop and Archbishop Johnson. The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz was also in attendance.

Bishop Bell was chosen by the clergy and people of the Diocese of Niagara on the fifth ballot of an episcopal election that took place on March 3, 2018. After a brief transition period, Bishop Bell will succeed Bishop Bird as diocesan bishop on June 1, 2018, becoming the 12th Bishop of Niagara and first woman to serve in this role.

The mission of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara is to follow Christ passionately while ensuring the growth of healthy, spiritually vibrant, justice-seeking faith communities. Its 90 parishes serve people in the cities of Hamilton and Guelph, the regions of Niagara and Halton, as well as Wellington, Haldimand and Dufferin counties.

Biography: The Right Reverend Susan Jennifer Anne Bell

Episcopal Motto: Go into all the world (Mark 16:15)

Bishop Susan Bell was elected coadjutor bishop on March 3, 2018 and consecrated on May 5, 2018. Bishop Bell will succeed Bishop Michael Bird as diocesan bishop on June 1, 2018, becoming the 12th Bishop of Niagara and first woman to serve in this role.

A strategic, mission-centred, spiritual leader, Bishop Bell strives to listen and watch for where God is at work in the church and the world and then to come alongside that work.

In addition to her diocesan ministry, Bishop Bell is also a Ph.D. candidate in Church History at St. Michael’s College, within the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto. Her thesis work is an exploration of George Herbert’s Country Parson within its 17th century ecclesiastical and political context.

At the time of her election, Bishop Bell served as the canon missioner of the Diocese of Toronto, an associate priest at the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Toronto, and an honorary assistant at St. James Cathedral, Toronto. She has also served as the senior chaplain at Havergal College in Toronto, as the summer incumbent of St. George’s, Métis-Sur-Mer in Quebec and as the chaplain at Wycliffe College.

Bishop Bell is sought-after retreat facilitator and conference speaker. She is the current national team leader for Fresh Expressions Canada and has also served as the Anglican representative for the National Ecumenical Dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada and as member of the Board of Threshold Ministries. Having a lifelong love of music, vocal performance is an area of special interest to Bishop Bell.

Born in 1966, Bishop Bell grew up in the Diocese of Niagara’s see city, Hamilton. She attended McMaster University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English before pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto.  After graduating from seminary, Bishop Bell was ordained a deacon in 1997 and a priest in 1999 by the Diocese of Toronto.

MEDIA CONTACT:
The Reverend Canon Bill Mous
Communications Coordinator
905-905-527-1316 x330
bill.mous@niagaraanglican.ca

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Liturgies of lament: Disaster response focus of 2018 National Worship Conference

May 1, 2018 - 6:00pm

In the face of disaster, liturgy and ritual can be a powerful source of comfort to those attempting to process catastrophic events that shatter our sense of normalcy and leave destruction in their wake. But are existing resources for Anglicans and Lutherans up to the task?

For organizers of the upcoming National Anglican and Lutheran Worship Conference, which will take place from July 16-19 in Victoria, B.C., the gap between increasingly frequent disasters and the worship tools available to respond to them was a major factor in developing the theme of the gathering.

“It seems to be endless,” Ansley Tucker, Anglican co-chair of the conference along with Lutheran co-chair Karen Johnson-Lefsrud, said of recent natural disasters. “We had fires in Slave Lake [Alberta], we had fires in B.C. [last] summer; you’ve got hurricanes blowing through the Maritimes. I lived in Calgary during the flood in 2013, and our parish was right at the geographical centre of that flood.

“Then when you add onto that gun violence, terrorism, domestic violence, it just seems as if, whether through natural disaster or disasters which are of human beings’ own making—maybe some natural disasters can be laid at our feet too—we’re having to deal with this more and more. But the reality is that our worship resources give us almost nothing to deal with this as a praying community.”

The resulting theme of the conference, Responding to Disaster: Prayer, Song, Presence, aims to help plug that gap, providing ways for people of faith to respond to traumatic events through worship.

In the case of Anglican liturgies, Tucker pointed to areas in which a different perspective or emphasis might supplement existing materials.

“When we did our last really major liturgical revision, which [was] the Book of Alternative Services, we were really trying to undo the heavy emphasis on sin in the prayer book, and, well, to make our worship more of a celebration,” Tucker said. “And I think maybe we went a little overboard.

“So we have a celebration of the Eucharist, that’s fine. We celebrate marriage, that’s fine. We celebrate life when somebody dies, which is fine, but we seem to have lost our capacity in our liturgical resources for lament. […] Part of what we’re trying to address [is] how the church, when it gathers as a believing and praying community, deals with disasters of any kind—but also how we interact with the civic community and in multi-faith environments when disaster strikes.”

Scheduled speakers reflect that focus on the relationship between the church and the wider community in the aftermath of disasters. Keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller is a professor of liturgy at Huron College whose work delves into the question of how to provide rituals that connect with people’s lived experience. A panel discussion will also feature first responders to disasters discussing their own experiences.

Worship at the conference will follow an overarching theme, From Dissonance and Lament towards Transformation and Harmony. Over the course of five worship services, participants will take an emotional journey through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

“Our hope is that the worship will somehow express the capacity that ritual has to echo the dissonance that comes in those times of disaster, while also showing us how the ritual has a resonance in the midst of that,” said the Rev. Canon Dr. Dawna Wall, Anglican co-chair of the worship planning team. “In music and art and spoken word, we’ll try to reflect both of those realities.”

Another highlight will be the presentation of the Companion of the Worship Arts awards to this year’s Anglican and Lutheran recipients, which will take place at a special banquet.

Registration for the conference can be made online, with an early bird rate of $375 recently extended to May 15 and a $450 regular rate thereafter. Fees at registration cover worship, plenary sessions, and some meals. The closing date for registration is June 15, 2018.

“We’re really encouraging anybody, whether they’re ordained or not, who is interested in how we make our worship real in the face of disaster to come,” Tucker said.

Register now for the 2018 National Worship Conference.

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Jerusalem Sunday 2018 celebrates ministry of women and mothers

April 26, 2018 - 2:54pm

This year’s Jerusalem Sunday celebration falls on Mother’s Day, and that convergence has not gone unnoticed by the Canadian Companions of the Diocese of Jerusalem (CCDJ).

The board of the CCDJ has chosen the theme Mothers of Jerusalem for the fifth annual Jerusalem Sunday, which parishes and diocese will celebrate on May 13. Resources are available online to help Anglicans mark the occasion, which focuses on the ministry of women and the work of mothers in striving for peace and justice.

Bishop Michael Ingham (ret’d), who serves on the advisory council to the CCDJ, said that the ministry of women is “quite important” in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

“It’s a culture and a society where traditionally, men dominate,” Ingham said. “So the empowerment of women, and releasing the talents and creativity of women, is really the focus this year, and the diocese is working hard on that.”

He praised the role of Shafeeqa Dawani, wife of Bishop Suheil Dawani, as a leader in the diocese “particularly empowering the ministry of women and young women in a culture which tends to suppress them.”

Liturgical and preaching resources for Jerusalem Sunday 2018 were compiled and written by Dr. Patricia Bays, a retired teacher and author of the book This Anglican Church of Ours.

Many of the resources draw upon the theme of pilgrimage. In 2016 Bays took part in a women’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, during which she met with fellow Anglicans in Israel-Palestine that included local women’s groups.

Another contributor to this years’ resources, the Rev. Canon Dr. Dawna Wall, took part in her own pilgrimage to Jerusalem and has written three reflections on the theme Mothers of Jerusalem, which are included among the preaching resources.

“There are a number of psalms and other passages that relate to pilgrimage,” Bays said. “It could be about Jerusalem itself, the image of Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation as a city of peace.

“I looked at the idea of mothers of Jerusalem, and the image of mother hen; Jesus talks about himself as [a] mother hen as he looks at the city of Jerusalem […] And then I also provided some background information about the diocese today—the membership of the diocese, a bit of the history, and some of the work of women in the diocese.”

Other resources include suggestions for hymns and prayers of the people.

The meaning of Jerusalem Sunday

Since the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada established Jerusalem Sunday in 2013 at the suggestion of Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, the occasion has slowly grown in prominence. Yet, Ingham suggested that Jerusalem Sunday remains “somewhat off the radar” for many Canadian Anglicans—a reflection, he said, of current challenges faced by the Canadian church in a situation “when there are many worthy causes to support, and many local parish churches are struggling to fund their own ministries.”

Even so, Ingham said that the Anglican Church of Canada’s annual reflection on its relationship with the Diocese of Jerusalem connects Canadian Anglicans with some of the deepest roots of the Christian tradition.

“Jerusalem is in many ways the crossroads of the world,” Ingham said. “It’s where civilizations have met and clashed over centuries. It’s the place where the three Abrahamic religions meet. It’s the place, geopolitically, which could ignite the whole world in war. And spiritually, for all Christians, it’s the place where we all feel we have a connection, because of [its status as] the land of Jesus’s birth and death and resurrection.

“To be connected to Jerusalem is in a real sense to be connected with the living heart of our Christian faith. At a time when Christians are depopulating in the Middle East, the land of our Lord’s life and death is in the hands of the Diocese of Jerusalem and other partner churches in that area—all of which are facing grave difficulties.”

Most urgent among these difficulties is the need for financial support to fund the diocese in its various ministries.

The Diocese of Jerusalem is spread out over five different countries or territories: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. It oversees more than 50 institutions that include parish churches, hospitals, clinics, and schools that reach beyond local Christians and also serve much of the region’s largely Muslim population.

While the CCDJ advisory council hopes Canadian Anglicans will send prayers and raise awareness on Jerusalem Sunday, they also hope collections will be able to send some material help to the diocese.

“It’s a very selfless outreach ministry that the diocese conducts, in extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” Ingham said. “We all know about the geopolitical tensions in the area. The church is one of the forces in the Middle East that attempts to lower the temperature of war and draw people together in relationships of mutual respect and trust and peace, and it’s very difficult to do that.”

Bays underscored the need to pray for peace and for the church to give strength to its Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.

“We tend to think of Israel as primarily Jewish or primarily Muslim, but there’s quite a significant and important Christian presence there who have been in that land from the very beginning of the Christian church,” she said. “I think that’s probably little-known in the Anglican Church, and I think it’s important to celebrate.”

View a complete list of resources for Jerusalem Sunday.

Learn how to become a Companion of Jerusalem.

Help support the Diocese of Jerusalem in its ministries.

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General Synod Planning Committee prepares for Vancouver

April 25, 2018 - 7:10pm

In January, members of the current General Synod Planning Committee (GSPC) gathered in Vancouver for their first face-to-face meeting to plan the next General Synod, which will take place from July 10-16, 2019 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

One of the challenges that the planning team is addressing , General Secretary Michael Thompson said, was to find new ways of dealing with the agenda in a way that would create a sense of belonging for all synod members—a dynamic that he described as creating a “synod on a human scale.”

“Given the extraordinary diversity in our church, how do we accommodate that diversity so that there really is as close to full comfort and participation as we can get, in a meeting of human beings talking about things that aren’t always easy to talk about?” Thompson said.

From a second reading on changes to the  marriage canon, to further steps towards Indigenous self-determination, to a Primatial election that will determine the successor to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the 42nd meeting of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada will feature a packed agenda that the GSPC is working hard to organize in the run-up to 2019.

Facilitating dialogue

Prolocutor Cynthia Haines-Turner, who serves on the GSPC as a representative of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), said that members of the planning team are “really working hard to try and have as balanced an agenda and approach and process as possible” as General Synod members prepare to look at the second reading of proposed changes to the marriage canon.

“That’s a sensitive issue, and I think it’s important for the General Synod Planning Committee to create … the best process so that people may be able to contribute and participate in that vote without leaning one way or the other,” Haines-Turner said.

Another major priority for the GSPC is to shape the life of the General Synod in a way that Thompson described as “more accessible [and] more welcoming to what one might call Indigenous ways of knowing, Indigenous ways of exploring, of deciding”—in part through close consultation with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). Bishop Sidney Black, ACIP co-chair, represented ACIP at the meeting of the GSPC.

The General Secretary surmised that could involve more time for conversation during the synod before moving to parliamentary procedures.

“I think it has to do a lot with how we prepare—not just to have a vote, but to be a community that’s having a vote and to emerge from that vote with a continuing sense of being a community,” Thompson said.

Location, location, location

By holding their first in-person meeting in Vancouver, GSPC members were able to get a sense of the community that would be hosting the next General Synod, with Bishop Melissa Skelton welcoming members to the Diocese of New Westminster and the ecclesiastical province of BC & Yukon and sharing a meal.

The planning committee includes many Anglican leaders from the diocese, including Executive Archdeacon Douglas Fenton. Other members from the Diocese of New Westminster include the Ven. Dr. Lynne McNaughton—representing CoGS in her role as Deputy Prolocutor—and the Very Rev. Peter Elliott, who chairs the Worship Committee.

“Obviously, I love our diocese, and I think it’s really important for the wider church to have a sense that this is a country that goes from coast to coast,” McNaughton said.

“To be able to host [General Synod 2019], it helps people in New Westminster [and the ecclesiastical province] have more sense of the national church … To have a big event like this really is exciting for Vancouver.”

Because of the location of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver only three blocks away from the Sheraton Wall Centre, members of General Synod will able to access the cathedral for worship, including opening and closing services and the election and installation of a new Primate.

Though no final decisions have yet been made, Elliott is hopeful that delegates and others will have the opportunity to participate in Sunday worship at local parish churches.

“It’s a bit of an organizational challenge to get 200-300 people from downtown Vancouver into various parish churches across the diocese,” he said. “But I think we’re up to the challenge, and I think it’ll be good both for members of the General Synod to experience worship in a local parish church—and also for local parish churches to receive visitors from across Canada, some indeed from across the world, who make the General Synod more than just the meetings in Vancouver.”

Primatial election and visions post-2019

The decision by Archbishop Fred Hiltz to resign as Primate at the conclusion of General Synod 2019 did not come entirely as a surprise to members of the GSPC, who had some inkling the Primate’s retirement might be a possibility.

With much of the site work already done, news of the impending retirement did not put any significant extra pressure on the committee.

“We were surprised and sorry to hear that the Primate is retiring, but we had some sense that it might be happening, so we were in some ways prepared,” GSPC chair, the Very Rev. Peter Wall said. “And we had already been planning, in terms of the length of time of General Synod given, that we knew there was a possibility that it might happen, [so] we made sure initially that we had enough time for it.”

The election of a new Primate, Wall noted, comes right as the Anglican Church of Canada begins to create a new set of priorities to succeed Vision 2019, which has guided the church in its ministry and mission since 2010.

“We’ve had Vision 2019 in front of us, so what’s post-2019 in terms of the vision for ministry and mission for the church?” Wall asked. “How do we look forward to 2022 and the next Joint Assembly? What’s going to happen in terms of the ongoing work on self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans? All of those things are big pieces of what General [Synod] is going to have before it and what the church has before it.”

The GSPC will hold two more face-to-face planning meetings this year, including a meeting in May, and will update CoGS at its next meeting in early June.

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Toronto weeps

April 24, 2018 - 3:56pm

So often it is somewhere else – New York, Boston, Paris, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Yemen… Yesterday it happened here at home. An attack at mid-day in North York – an attack that can only be described as an act of terrorism – left ten people dead and many others with very serious injuries.

As people of faith our first response is to uphold all those affected by this tragedy in prayer, those who died and their grieving families, the injured and their families who keep vigil at their bedsides and their medical teams, the leaders of faith communities and all who provide support through accompaniment and counsel.

Throughout the city many churches are organizing vigils and keeping their doors open for all who in the aftermath of yesterday’s attack are seeking a few moments of quiet and solace in the presence of God. Hundreds of candles will be lit and left burning as a sign of our continuing prayers for all whose lives have been hurled into chaos through this tragedy.

As Toronto weeps, we know so many others weep with us. As we turn to God for consolation, we know so many others turn with us and we are grateful.

To that day when violence shall no longer be heard and seen in our streets we look with hope; and for its coming let us pledge our best efforts so that the safety of all people, the freedom of our neighbourhoods, the peace of our cities can be secured.

For all whose life’s work is to “serve and protect” we give thanks for their commitment and courage. For all who inspire us in the labors of laying the foundations of that city whose architect and builder is God we also give thanks.

God our companion,
You inhabit the silence of meaningless pain
You breathe our wordless lament
You swallow the bitterness of our shock
Stay with us, Lord, and pray

God our heartbeat through day and night,
You give us the imagination of hope,
The grammar of love,
And the courage of calm
Stay with us Lord, and heal

God our fearlessness
In your image you have made us whole,
To wait with the suffering
And to tend the wounded
To break cycles of abuse and violence
With the boldness of compassion
Stay with us, Lord, and hope

For yours is the power and the glory,
Before, within, and after our grief
Now and forever. Amen.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

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Regional human trafficking consultations begin with Pickering event

April 19, 2018 - 7:32pm

Extreme poverty drives many Filipino workers to work in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program in an effort to support their families. Upon arrival, these migrant labourers can often find themselves trapped by employers who subject them to severe exploitation.

Under the TFW program, migrant labourers are not able to work for other employers or search for other jobs without being deported. Although not the experience of all migrant workers, some in fields such as agriculture may work from dawn to dusk and as much as 12-16 hours per day. Knowing few people in their new country, they are often isolated, confined to living quarters with no privacy.

Speaking to Canadian Anglicans at a recent panel discussion, Mario (not his real name) discussed losing his initial job after immigrating to Canada from the Philippines, which drove him to an illegal recruitment agency. The agency employed Mario at a mushroom farm, where he experienced harsh conditions and abuse from his employer.  When Mario was diagnosed with cancer, he initially had no access to health care coverage.

The panel discussion was one of many presentations at a consultation, Engage Freedom! Anglicans Against Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, which took place from April 10-13 at the Manresa Jesuit Retreat Centre in Pickering, Ont. The first of four such consultations organized by the Anglican Church of Canada—one for each ecclesiastical province—the Pickering consultation marked the beginning of a new phase in church efforts to develop a more comprehensive policy towards the elimination of human trafficking.

Over the course of the meeting, those in attendance heard presentations from a succession of speakers, including government representatives, Indigenous leaders, Anglican Communion partners, and professionals engaged in efforts to end trafficking and modern slavery.

‘Engaging a wider part of the church’

Ryan Weston, co-chair of the Human Trafficking Reference Group, said the Pickering consultation was “part of an evolving process and an evolving engagement”—following discussion about human trafficking at the Council of General Synod, video production, and the gathering of preliminary information—with the aim of “engaging a wider part of the church as much as possible.”

“We’ve got folks from across the ecclesiastical province of Ontario that we hope will learn some things together and build some networks, and then go home and help lead some initiatives and engagement in their local areas,” Weston said.

“We intend to do them in each ecclesiastical province of the church, and then to have a focus on the issue at General Synod as well. So this will I hope lead to concrete action steps for all of us—for the diocese, for the parishes, and for the national church as well.”

The first full day of the meeting included a presentation from Barbara Gosse, director of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, that offered an overview on the scope of human trafficking in Canada today.

The Rev. Rachel Carnegie, co-executive director of the Anglican Alliance, provided details on the global context of trafficking and ecumenical efforts on a global scale to eradicate modern slavery.

“The role of the Anglican Alliance is to help share understanding, expertise, and models of effective work across the [Anglican] Communion,” Carnegie said. “We’ve already formed and held consultations with groups of practitioners in Africa, in Latin America, and in Asia, along with other denominations.

“Coming here to Canada for me is really exciting, because it’s about learning from the vision and the context here—bringing a few structures, things we’ve learned from other parts of the communion, but principally to provide a listening ear to see how the church in Canada is perceiving the problem; to hear from external experts about the response [that] is already there, and what could be the distinctive role of the church in that; and then to work with the group on shaping their response.”

Experiences of trafficking

Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation closed out the first day with a presentation on the relation between human trafficking and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as Indigenous boys and men.

The second day included the panel discussion detailing the experience of Filipino migrant workers, facilitated by Connie Sorio, migrant justice and Asia partnerships coordinator for KAIROS Canada.

Sorio described reconciliation with migrants as one of the main priorities of KAIROS, which engages in outreach efforts in underserved communities to locate migrant workers and the industries that employ them. In the last two years, for example, Sorio has travelled across the Maritimes and discovered a large number of migrant workers living in fish plants.

Throughout the consultation, participants learned about the experience of trafficking and its scope across Ontario and Canada. Leora Rich, manager of clinical services for East Metro Youth Services (EMYS)—which provides trauma therapy and peer mentorship for young people—reported an increase in the last four years in young people coming into the Scarborough EMYS office and detailing their experiences in the sex trade.

Rich detailed the stages of commercial exploitation, which typically play out as follows:

  • Luring. Young people who feel vulnerable or want to escape stressful situations can feel special if a trafficker begins showing them attention. Rich reported that an estimated 85 per cent of clients become involved in human trafficking through a boyfriend.
  • Grooming and Gaming. The trafficker will make the person feel as if they have a special bond. Reflecting a common pattern in abusive relationships, that bond is built up so that the victim later wants to return to this stage.
  • Coercion and Manipulation. The client is conditioned to link having sex with getting back into the good graces of the trafficker. Usually by this point they are completely isolated from social supports such as friends and family.
  • Exploitation. The trafficker holds the client in their grasp through a variety of methods, such as threatening family members or pointing to all the things the trafficker has bought for the victim and that they “owe” them.

Underscoring the prevalence of human trafficking in Ontario, Jessica Franklin, team lead for the Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office, presented a range of statistics and the strategy of the Ontario government to confront human trafficking. These efforts include awareness campaigns, improving access to services for survivors, and better coordinating police responses.

An epicentre for human trafficking in Canada, Ontario accounts for more than two-thirds of trafficking cases across the country. Sex traffickers most often target women and girls, homeless and marginalized youth, and young people who struggle with low-self esteem, bullying, addiction, or mental health issues. The age of recruitment can be as low as 12 or 13. Indigenous women and girls are particularly likely to be trafficked.

Next steps

Interspersed throughout the consultation were theological reflections as well as local case studies from Anglicans who detailed the church’s involvement in efforts to confront human trafficking. One example was participation in the Windsor-based organization WEFiGHT, which provides direct services to human trafficking survivors such as income support, shelter, clothing, food, trauma counselling, and legal information.

The final day of the consultation saw participants reflecting on how to increase awareness in their areas towards the elimination of human trafficking, as well as efforts to build networks, and advance the issue in the runup to General Synod 2019.

Similar consultations have followed or will take place for the ecclesiastical provinces of Canada, Rupert’s Land, and B.C. and Yukon. The Province of Canada event took place from April 16-18 at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld., while dates have not yet been set for the remaining two consultations.

“If we’re going to be effective in [working to eliminate human trafficking], it needs to be engaged in at every level of the church,” Weston said. “So we want the grassroots parish folks to be aware and engaged and praying and taking action as much as folks that are closely affiliated with national initiatives.”

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