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

3 hours 25 min ago

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

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


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

Orders of the Day

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

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

CoGS Working Group on the Marriage Canon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living Wage and Church House Staff

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

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

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

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

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

Yours, Mine, Ours

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

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

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

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

Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible Study

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

Audited Financial Statements

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

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


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


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


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


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

Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours, Mine, Ours (continued)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Human Trafficking Workplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Holden Evening Prayer

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

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

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

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

June 24, 2017 - 2:46am

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

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

Opening Eucharist

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

Welcome and Opening Formalities

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

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

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

Primate’s Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consensus Decision-Making

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

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

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

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

General Synod Planning Committee Terms of Reference

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

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

Nominating Committee Announcement

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

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

Bible Study

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

Marketplace Discussion #1

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

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

Marketplace Session #2

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

Plenary Report Back

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

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

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

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

Responsible Investing Task Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Towards 2022

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

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

She put forward two questions for discussion:

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

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

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

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

Prayers for End of the Day

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

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

The post Highlights from the Council of General Synod: June 23, 2017 appeared first on Anglican Church of Canada.

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

June 22, 2017 - 3:05pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting locally trained ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20, 2017 - 4:20pm

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

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

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

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

TRC Calls to Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The legacy of the Residential Schools

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

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

Language, culture, and spirituality

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

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

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

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

Animator for Reconciliation

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

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

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

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

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

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

Indigenous self-determination in the Anglican Church of Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fundamental Principle 

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

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

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

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

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
The Anglican Church of Canada


*updated June 21, 2017

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Locally trained ministry a rising force in rural and northern dioceses

June 16, 2017 - 8:24pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘A more flexible church’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Preparing for the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer

June 14, 2017 - 12:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACIP to the Anglican Church: Pray for Tataskweyak Cree Nation

June 9, 2017 - 6:47pm

The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) is calling on the Anglican Church of Canada to pray for the community of Split Lake, Man. and the Tataskweyak Cree Nation, as flooding threatens the homes of residents and risks contaminating local drinking water.

On May 18, a band council resolution passed by the chief and council of Tataskweyak declared a state of emergency due to rising water levels and potential water quality issues; issued a flood warning to those at risk of being flooded out of their homes; and called for immediate and ongoing water testing until area water is deemed safe to drink.

A boil water advisory was issued around the same time following the discovery of E. coli in water near Split Lake, an all-Anglican community with a population of more than 3,000 people.

“The people now are very cautious and worried about the quality of water,” said the Rev. Larry Beardy, ACIP member and resident of Split Lake who regularly travels to Anglican congregations in neighbouring communities such as Gillam.

While Beardy said the community has received assurances from Health Canada that water quality is now safe, chief and council remain unconvinced and many suspect that raw sewage may have gone into the drinking water system. A nearby health centre recently confirmed that some residents have developed the stomach illness H. pylori.

“Many people have that sickness in their stomach now,” Beardy said.

In response, some local businesses have arranged for deliveries of bottled water to beleaguered residents.

Flooding poses other threats to Split Lake. There is now concern about continued access to the community via Manitoba Provincial Road 280, amidst fears that a bridge providing the only access to the community for people and supplies might be washed out.

Some homes have already suffered the effects of flooding, while others remain at risk. Many cabins have been flooded and remain inaccessible, and a number have been destroyed.

“There is worry,” Beardy said. “There’s been sandbagging around several homes, but I think they’ve got that in control … Manitoba Hydro has dikes around the community, but the water has gone over some parts of that dike system, and they had to start sandbagging … Water is very close to some homes.”

Destruction of the local cemetery is a major concern, and church leaders have requested soil tests around the cemetery to determine whether graves have been flooded or not.

Chief Doreen Spence and other leaders of the community are currently meeting with Manitoba Infrastructure, Health Canada, and Manitoba Hydro to manage the situation and provide updates for residents.

For its part, ACIP has taken a lead role in raising public awareness of the flooding and seeking assistance. The council has requested that the whole Anglican Church of Canada pray for Split Lake and surrounding communities, as they face the threat of flooding and contaminated water.

Meanwhile, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald has contacted the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund regarding the possibility of emergency assistance. Following requests for a blessing of the water ceremony, Bishop MacDonald will arrive in Thomson, Man. on the morning of Sunday, June 11 to survey the flooding, visit affected communities, and provide pastoral ministry.

Help support emergency response through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

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Mentor-Apprentice Program keeps Indigenous languages alive

June 7, 2017 - 6:42pm

More than 34 First Nations languages and 61 dialects are spoken in British Columbia, a figure that represents 60 per cent of all First Nations languages in Canada. But where languages such as Cree and Ojibwe count tens of thousands of speakers across wide swathes of the country, many of the unique languages in B.C. are spoken by a mere handful of elders.

One such language is Kwak’wala, spoken by the Wei Wei Kum and Wei Wei Kai nations near Campbell River, B.C. For the last two years, members from each nation—elder Frances Quocksister and Melanie Stapley, respectively—have worked together to help preserve the language as a Mentor-Apprentice team, part of an ongoing immersion program run by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC).

“My grandfather … went to residential school, which basically stopped all of the language knowledge from passing on to his children … so it’s huge to be able to go out and have that revitalization,” said Stapley, a supervisor at the Wei Wei Kai childcare centre on Quadra Island who oversees the centre’s language and culture program,

The Anglican Healing Fund has granted $15,000 to the Anglican-founded, Victoria, B.C.-based group called Aboriginal Neighbours to support the project Revitalizing Indigenous Living Languages: A Gift to Future Generations, which supports engagement in FPCC’s three-year Mentor-Apprentice Program. The grant includes three $5,000 honorariums for elder-teachers on mentor-apprentice teams in Ladysmith and Port Hardy, as well as a third team in a location yet to be determined.

In the Mentor-Apprentice Program, mentors and apprentices spend a total of 900 hours together speaking the language one-on-one over the course of three years.

Every week, Melanie Stapley spends 10 to 12 hours with her mentor, Frances Quocksister. They meet at Quocksister’s house at the beginning of each day and sit at the kitchen table for activities such as reading picture books, in which Stapley will describe in Kwak’wala what is happening in different pictures. The pair will often play card or board games together, and occasionally members of other mentor-apprentice teams in the community will join them.

“When I started [the program, my knowledge of Kwak’wala] was very beginning[-level],” Stapley recalled. “I basically knew how to say [the words for] animals and numbers … [There aren’t] a lot of people in our community that speak the language, so even hearing it was pretty foreign for me.”

After 600 hours of language experience in the first two years, Stapley is now able to engage in fairly complete conversations in Kwak’wala with her mentor.

Language revitalization

Aboriginal Neighbours, an ecumenical group initiated by the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous members in support of justice for First Peoples, has played a key role in helping to raise money for the Mentor-Apprentice Program.

The group’s involvement began in February 2015, when treasurer Ruth D’Hollander attended a special display of the exhibition Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. at the Royal B.C. Museum. During a panel discussion at the display, which was organized for International Mother Language Day, speakers discussed efforts within the province to revitalize Indigenous languages.

D’Hollander, who is non-Indigenous, was at the time becoming more aware of the colonial and racist values that drove the residential school system, and the role of the schools in contributing to language loss.

“I realized that it was our government and our churches who took these languages away … I’d been to many hearings here on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver, and I heard so many people firsthand talk about being beaten and shamed for using their mother tongue,” she recalled, adding, “The whole injustice of it just hit me hard.”

When D’Hollander asked the panel what single action might best address their most pressing concerns, speakers immediately raised the issue of language revitalization. Dr. Peter Jacobs, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria who is of Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) and Kwagulh (Kwakiutl) ancestry, pointed to support for the Mentor-Apprentice program as a particularly effective way to preserve Indigenous languages.

An effective learning model

For the last three years, Jacobs has been researching the Mentor-Apprentice Program and studying outcomes for both mentors and apprentices. His findings have determined that the program offers significant advantages over other forms of language instruction, chief among them more immersion time for learners to become conversant in the language.

By comparison, other models for language instruction, such as classroom-based courses, generally involve fewer hours of immersion and intensity, and require a greater capacity of people to fill classes. Compared to Cree and Ojibwe, less prevalent languages such as Kwak’wala are unable to mobilize the necessary resources and people to sustain programs such as university-based courses.

“Right now, for some communities, [the Mentor-Apprentice Program] will be the most effective way to create a new generation of speakers for the time being,” Jacobs said.

The program, he added, offers a deeper meaning and engagement for mentors and apprentices alike. For mentors, helping to recover their language by passing it on to the generation can have a significant positive healing effect.

Apprentices, meanwhile, often find employment in their communities directly related to language revitalization, such as becoming teachers. A large percentage go on to pursue higher education in order to better support local language initiatives.

“The apprentices are becoming leaders in their community in many different ways … They’re really having a clear connection with their identity, with their language and their culture, and they’re attributing that to the other effects that it’s having in their [lives], like getting motivation to go to school or things like that.”

Monetary support

Crucial to the success of the Mentor-Apprentice Program are honorariums and stipends given to teams, based on evaluations from teams of community elders on the progress of the learner that take place every 100 hours of immersion.

Typically, mentors receive $25 per hour, while learners receive $20 per hour. Those stipends enable young people to devote the necessary time to participating in learning the language, which may require taking time off work.

“That’s where the money part becomes crucial, because you can’t really ask someone to take 300 hours out of their life every year—unless they already had money, but they don’t,” Jacobs said.

Stipends also enable elders—many of whom are on low incomes—to participate in the program, and serve in many ways to affirm the wealth of knowledge they offer as mentors.

In the case of her own mentor, Melanie Stapley said, “it allows her to be able to go out and do things that she might not have been able to do. It also gives her consistency. I go to her house every day and can help her with things.”

Working through Aboriginal Neighbours, D’Hollander has led efforts to raise $47,000 for the Mentor-Apprentice Program by applying for grants from organizations that included the Anglican Healing Fund and the Anglican Foundation of Canada. Anglican contributions include the $15,000 grant from the Healing Fund and two consecutive $10,000 donations from the Anglican Foundation.

In light of a growing sense of urgency to preserve languages at risk of extinction, every little bit helps.

“This is a real state of emergency, because the people who have the language to pass it on are dying,” D’Hollander said.

“These are the elders, these are the residential school survivors, and we don’t have much time for this. We don’t have much time left.”

Support language revitalization projects, like the Mentor-Apprentice Program, through the Anglican Healing Fund.

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Learn. Pray. Act. 22 Days for Healing and Reconciliation begin May 31

May 30, 2017 - 2:01pm

For 22 Days, the Anglican Church of Canada is calling people to learn, pray, and act for the Anglican Healing Fund, and its support for the recovery of Indigenous languages. 22 Days for Healing and Reconciliation start on May 31 and lead up to the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer on June 21.

This year represents the second occurrence of the 22 Days project, which the church first observed in 2015 to mark the 22 days between the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and National Aboriginal Day. Anglicans observed those first 22 days by ringing church bells across the country to draw attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In 2017, Anglicans are encouraged to mark 22 Days by learning about the Healing Fund and its role in bolstering community-based projects to preserve Indigenous languages; praying for those who seek healing through language recovery; and acting to support the Healing Fund through prayer and donations.

The focus on the Healing Fund and language recovery—both for 22 Days and the annual fundraising campaign Giving With Grace—reflects the crucial role of language as a pillar of Indigenous culture and identity, as the church strives to live out the 94 Calls to Action identified by the TRC.

“When you don’t know your language, you lose your identity,” Healing Fund Coordinator Esther Wesley said.

“When I look at the Healing Fund, and the [Indian Residential Schools] Settlement Agreement coming to an end, I talk to a number of people, including a number of elders from different communities, [about] what they would like to see and what they would value more than anything, and that’s language.”

Over the last 25 years, the Healing Fund has worked on community projects with an estimated 700 different groups across Canada. Since Wesley began her work in 2004, she has observed an evolution in how residential school survivors and their families have grappled with the process of healing from the intergenerational impact of the schools.

The 1990s saw the first community gatherings where survivors began speaking about emotional, physical, and sexual abuse they had endured in residential schools. Later, they attended school reunions with classmates.

During that time, Wesley said, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous churches rarely discussed or mentioned cultural values.

“Over time, it has changed,” she said. “You see more and more communities starting to talk about their traditional values, their traditional practices. You see this sort of climbing of a ladder—people coming back to their traditional ways of understanding, their traditional practices and their spiritual beliefs, coming onboard as time goes on.”

With the growing prevalence of projects based on cultural practices in the wake of the TRC, Wesley hoped that this year’s 22 Days would make people more aware of language loss across Canada.

“There are some strong languages, and there are some languages in some areas that have less than 10 speakers, and that’s where we need to make sure people understand that languages are going fast … and if we don’t help to do anything about it, they’re going to be lost. Many of them are already lost.”

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald described the focus on language recovery as “something that Indigenous people have been asking for, hungry for, waiting for, for a long time.”

“This is a critical issue for Indigenous people,” Bishop MacDonald said. “Recovery and revitalization of language is really central to what a livable future will be.”

“Studies have shown that retention of language, the strength of language, has a lot to say about the resilience of people,” he added. “And so the strength of language often is an indication of the strength of a community.”

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted that this year’s 22 Days coincides with the appointment of Melanie Delva as reconciliation animator, as well as the day of Pentecost—the same day on which, in the Acts of the Apostles, a crowd comes together with each person hearing the Good News in their own language.

“I think people are more conscious than ever of the importance of recovering of language … so I think this has the potential to really, really ignite a lot of interest and commitment from people,” the Primate said.

He expressed his hope that the 22 Days would become a standing commitment for the Anglican Church of Canada well into the future.

“I would say it’s really quite a lovely development that the 22 Days has become something of a pattern in the life of our church … I think it’s really good that that’s become a feature of our church’s continuing commitment to reconciliation.”

View a list of resources to observe this year’s 22 Days. Sign up for the event on Facebook at

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Jerusalem Sunday resources highlight women’s voices, support for disabled children

May 25, 2017 - 3:21pm

As Canadian Anglicans prepare to celebrate the fourth annual Jerusalem Sunday on May 28, new liturgical resources highlight the perspectives of women and focus on ministry to support disabled children in Jerusalem.

Reflections and sermon notes for Jerusalem Sunday 2017 draw on the experience of Anglican women from the Diocese of Ottawa who travelled to Israel and Palestine last November for a women’s conference and pilgrimage. In Jerusalem, they joined women from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for a mutual learning experience on ministry and the history of their shared faith. Since 2011, the Ottawa and Jerusalem have had a formal covenant of partnership together.

Patricia Kirkpatrick, chair of Biblical Studies at McGill University, took the lead in preparing the sermon notes, which include reflections from the Ottawa participants as well as her own thoughts on Scripture.

“We thought we wanted this year in the sermon notes to make it a little bit more personal,” said Andrea Mann, director of Global Relations, adding that Kirkpatrick “kindly did that, trying to lift up perhaps the voices, the spirituality, the thoughts of women for Jerusalem Sunday. That’s kind of a new lens for us.”

Another liturgical resource in 2017 is the Jerusalem Sunday bulletin cover highlighting the Princess Basma Centre for Children with Disabilities, a non-profit charitable organization and important ministry of the Diocese of Jerusalem that provides physical rehabilitation for local children.

Special offerings from Canadian Anglicans at worship services on Jerusalem Sunday have provided vital support for the Penman Clinic, a centre located in the West Bank that serves as the main source of medical care for many people of all faiths in the surrounding area. As a result, the clinic’s list of needs to fortify their diagnostic tools and infrastructure has now been met.

The focus of offerings has now shifted to support an emerging priorty. All special offerings made on Jerusalem Sunday 2017 will go to support the Basma Centre’s Hydrotherapy Pool program for children, a form of physiotherapy with rehabilitation exercise in a pool.

Jerusalem Sunday is observed on the seventh Sunday of Easter and provides an opportunity for members of the Anglican Church of Canada to support and learn more about the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Jerusalem. Established at the 2013 Joint Assembly, Jerusalem Sunday serves as an occasion to reflect on the ever-growing relationship between the Canadian church and the diocese located in the Holy Land.

View a complete list of Jerusalem Sunday resources.

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Revamped church building opens possibilities for New Brunswick parish

May 23, 2017 - 7:47pm

Only a short time ago, St. John (Stone) Church in the Parish of St. Mark faced a situation familiar to many churches across Canada. With a historic church building too large for its present congregation but in need of repair, the parish found itself burdened by high maintenance costs, competing pressures for ministry, and a significant carbon footprint.

Now Stone Church—located in St. John, N.B. in the Diocese of Fredericton—has turned its weaknesses into strengths and a revitalized relationship with the local community. Over the course of 2016, the 191-year-old church underwent a major renovation marked by the demolition of the parish hall, the construction of six new rooms under a previously unused balcony, and flexible seating that replaced the pews.

“It’s kind of like that prayer at the end of the Eucharist—‘more than we can ask or imagine’,” rector John Paul Westin said. “We found that the thing that we thought was actually our main stumbling block became our greatest resource.

“The result of it [was that] instead of having a beautiful old church building that people who want to worship in can come and use for two hours a week, we now have something that’s accessible and used by people for seven days a week.”

Out with the old

At the time Westin took over as rector of Stone Church in August 2013, discussions had been going on for approximately a decade regarding the dilapidated state of the hall, which hosted community programs such as a laundry mission, language classes for immigrants, Bible study, and the Street Hope outreach program.

His predecessor David Edwards—now bishop of Fredericton—also took part in discussions over how to deal with the decaying infrastructure while serving as rector from 2002 to 2011.

“During my time it became clear that something needed to be done with the buildings,” Edwards said. “At that time we vaguely spoke about demolishing the hall and going into one space, but really the main thrust was the replacement or renovation of the hall.”

The cost of renovating the hall would have carried an estimated price tag of $2.2 million, while still leaving the old church building as it was. Though unable to afford to keep both buildings going, parishioners felt called to stay put and minister in their current location.

The obstacles facing the congregation appeared insurmountable—until a new idea came to the fore.

“We had never considered that the church and the hall would be one building,” Westin said.

“When we let go of our expectations of what our limitations were,” he added, “we started to see things from a different perspective.”

In with the new

By demolishing the hall and moving its functions into the church building, the congregation relieved itself of a significant financial and environmental burden while retaining the community programs that used the hall.

The six new rooms under the balcony accommodate a kitchen, office, Sunday school, and meeting rooms. Each has soundproof glass walls, through which anyone inside can still see the stained glass windows visible in the main part of the church.

Meanwhile, the church has undergone extensive renovations through the removal of pews and their replacement by flexible seating in the main part of the sanctuary. In the process, congregation members and guests were once again able to use its balcony, previously closed due to fire regulations.

Westin said that the revamped church has been “extremely well-received” by the congregation and the wider community, including other churches and the Heritage Conversation Service of St. John, which promotes the rehabilitation and development of historic buildings.

Strengthening community ties

Besides opening up new possibility for worship, such as incorporating Messy Church and creating different seating structures for different liturgical purposes, the new layout has helped Stone Church attract a variety of artists and community groups.

Recently, the church hosted a concert by Christian singer-songwriter Steve Bell, who played to a packed house that filled even the balcony seats, and many more concerts are planned in the future. It has also hosted a wide variety of community events, such as a conference for the healthy eating network Everyone Can Eat, and a seminar for Threshold Ministries.

Westin estimated that at least 10 different groups have already held activities in the church, which offers a sound system and completely open free space in which people can set up chairs and tables.

“I think groups are starting to see us, as we had hoped, as a possible venue, so that we can get more people from the community in and using it—so it’s not simply seen as a church worship space, but as a space that might be usable for various community groups.”

While the church still has to finish paying off some of the funds that helped finance the renovation, it remains in line with its projected financial plan. The cost of the new building is presently less than half that of maintaining the two older buildings.

On a deeper level, the reinvention of Stone Church has started a conversation among parishioners about how the structural changes will affect the future life of the congregation. For other churches considering similar renovations, Westin highlighted the need to answer such fundamental questions to better equip each congregation for its own distinct mission and ministry.

“Every building has its own strengths and weaknesses, so I would say just be really open to what God might be able to show you can be done with your building … Try to discern what are the needs of the community, and what are your strengths in your congregation, and what do you need your buildings to be able to be used for in order to accomplish the work that you feel God’s calling you to do in your community.”

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Vision keepers: Primate’s council of Indigenous elders and youth holds first meeting

May 16, 2017 - 12:30pm

The Council of Elders and Youth held its first formal meeting from April 30 to May 3 at a small airport hotel near Winnipeg. The Council was established by Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, and confirmed at General Synod 2016, to monitor how the Anglican Church of Canada would honour its commitment to adopt and comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The six Indigenous council members, comprising individuals of First Nations and Métis backgrounds, include Ms. Judith Moses, bishop-elect Sidney Black, Canon Laverne Jacobs, Ms. Danielle Black, Mr. Aaron Sault, and the Rev. Leigh Kern. Both Archbishop Hiltz and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald attended part of the initial meeting.

One of the first decisions of the elders and youth who made up the council was to change their name.

“There were some people who were very uncomfortable with being called a council of youth and elders, especially the elders part,” Moses said. “People are [not] just named an elder; it’s a life-long process and there are identification ceremonies.”

Henceforth, the group will be known as the Vision Keepers Council. Archbishop Hiltz said the council’s desire to change its name was “entirely appropriate” from his perspective, describing it as “a sign of them claiming their mandate and shaping it in a manner that will work for them”.

Members designated Moses and Kern as chair and note-taker, respectively, using Aboriginal titles. In her role as chair, Moses is known as Kahentinetha, a Mohawk term meaning “she who makes the grasses wave”, while Kern as note-taker is referred to as Asinakii, a Blackfoot name referring to the person “who records the story”.

The council meeting opened with prayer, drumming, tobacco offerings on the lawn of the hotel, and recognition of the traditional territories it stood on. During the meeting, members made decisions on key aspects of organization, decision-making, and overall vision, while brainstorming potential recommendations they may make in the future.

The Vision Keepers discussed the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers as a guide for their values and behaviour. They also created the following mission statement for their work: “To enable Settlers and Indigenous people to become all that the Creator has called us to be, in harmony with each other and the land.”

In an brainstorming session, council members discussed a number of potential steps by which the church might live out its commitments to the UN Declaration. Some early suggestions included:

  • Identifying a need for on-going anti-racism training in Indigenous cultural sensitivity for clergy and lay leaders, likely every four years;
  • Strengthening links with other Indigenous organizations and structures in the church including the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice; the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples; and new reconciliation animator Melanie Delva;
  • The need for dioceses to develop their own plans for responding to the UN Declaration.

Of the latter, Moses noted, “I think that it’s very important that the church not rely on the Indigenous community to help them to do their outreach, their learning … Obviously, Indigenous Anglicans are happy to help. But we need to see the actions being taken by others, both as a demonstration of their real commitment as well as to do their own learning.”

Further suggestions included:

  • Responding to different communication needs in both the Indigenous and settler communities, such as improving translation of key documents into Indigenous languages and communicating progress;
  • Thinking beyond introductory tools such as the Blanket Exercise to find other tools and mechanisms for helping parishes move dialogue, understanding, and engagement forward;
  • Coordinating work of the council with the Church calendar and prayer calendar to integrate it naturally into the life cycle of the church, e.g. reflections and pastoral resources to help parishes in the lead-up to National Aboriginal Day;
  • Opening worship services with acknowledgement of traditional territories;
  • Recognizing local Indigenous chiefs or nations in the Prayers of the People;
  • Rethinking the practice of swearing allegiance to the Queen in episcopal ordination rites;
  • Producing worksheets on values of “cultural safety” to help parishes undertake outreach on the UN Declaration and engage in respectful, meaningful relationship-building across cultures;
  • Building an inventory of Indigenous projects that the Anglican Church of Canada is undertaking at a local level across the country.

“There’s a sense that there is a lot of really great stuff going on, but we just don’t know about it from coast to coast to coast, because there’s no mechanism of sharing the learning, of sharing networks,” Moses said. “It’s something that we would like to talk to the new reconciliation animator about … In order for us to assess progress on the United Nations Declaration, we have to know what it is we’re assessing.”

Precise details of how recommendations from the council might be received and implemented remain to be worked out, as do the respective tenure of the members and duration of the council itself. For the moment, the Vision Keepers Council remains accountable to the Primate for its mandate.

Going forward, council members will hold two face-to-face meetings per year and conduct the rest of their business via phone or video chat. Early indications suggest solid chemistry among the council, with Moses praising the “excellent dynamic in the group”.

The National Indigenous Anglican Bishop left with a similar view.

“I was impressed with the passion, energy, and commitment of the Vision Keepers,” Bishop MacDonald said. “They will be a great help in tracing our church’s work in reconciliation.”

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House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon registers objection to election of the Rev. Jacob Worley

May 15, 2017 - 5:22pm

Download this release in PDF format.

For immediate release

The House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon in the Anglican Church of Canada has registered its objection to the episcopal election of the Rev. Jacob Worley in the Diocese of Caledonia. Their objection is registered under Canon 4 (b) vi  “That he or she teaches or holds or within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine or Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.

“The Bishops met several times as a Provincial House of Bishops since the ecclesiastic election in the Diocese of Caledonia, reviewed the materials before them, and met with the Rev. Jacob Worley,” said the Most Rev. John Privett, Archbishop and Metropolitan for the Province of BC & Yukon. In coming to this conclusion, the bishops reviewed the Rev. Worley’s past actions, what he has written directly to the House, and what he said when meeting with the Provincial House of Bishops.

“After many open and prayerful conversations, the majority of the House concluded that within the past five years the Rev. Worley has held – and continues to hold – views contrary to the Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Archbishop Privett. “The view he held and holds is that it is acceptable and permissible for a priest of one church of the Anglican Communion to exercise priestly ministry in the geographical jurisdiction of a second church of the Anglican Communion without the permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority of that second church”.

The question of his views arose from a review of his exercise of priestly ministry when he served in the Anglican Mission in America under license from the Province of Rwanda in the geographical jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church without permission of The Episcopal Church.

As the Provincial House has registered its objection, the Rev. Worley will not be consecrated bishop in the Diocese of Caledonia in the Anglican Church of Canada. As outlined in Canon 4 of the constitution and canons of the Province of BC & Yukon, “the decision of the [Provincial] House of Bishops shall be final” in these matters. The Diocese of Caledonia will now begin the process to hold a new electoral synod according to its canons.

“The Provincial House of Bishops of BC & Yukon ask for your prayers during this extraordinary time,” said Archbishop Privett,  “especially for the Worley family, for the Diocese of Caledonia and all those who worship and minister there”.


Media contact:

Meghan Kilty
Director, Communications
The Anglican Church of Canada
(416) 924-9199 ext. 230


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Alpha course proves ‘gospel communication tool’ in Toronto

May 11, 2017 - 7:01pm

The following is the second instalment of a two-part article detailing experiences of the Alpha course in the Anglican Church of Canada. Read Part 1.

Alpha Canada national director Shaila Visser estimated that in 2016, there were 3,800 Alpha courses being run across Canada in more than 1,750 churches, including both youth and adult courses. Of that total, 99 parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada ran the Alpha course during the year.

One such parish is St. Paul’s Bloor Street, the largest Anglican congregation in the Diocese of Toronto, which began presenting the Alpha course in the fall of 2016. Rector and senior pastor Barry Parker, who facilitates the course at St. Paul’s, said that his congregation has been using Alpha as its “primary interface with the community for evangelism”.

“A lot of my experience in the church is that we’re designed and conditioned to think that people ought to come to us,” Parker said.

“Alpha takes a different tactic. We need to go to [people] by engaging folks where they’re at, not where we think they should be.”

Each Wednesday, St. Paul’s Bloor Street hosts a weekly lesson using the Alpha course. Participants gather for a meal before watching a video lasting 25-30 minutes. The host then asks a series of open-ended questions for round-table discussion.

Parker noted that the latest series of videos targets a younger demographic, reflective of the population in its Toronto neighbourhood which is surrounded by condo buildings. In turn, the average age of participants attending each Alpha course has grown younger.

“It’s been really effective … For example, in this [current] group we have three young women being baptized in a couple weeks that have come out of Alpha, just because they’re so excited and engaged now in the journey of faith,” Parker said. “We see this as sort of the portal to start this journey of faith and lead to discipleship.”

Finding flexibility in local contexts

Visser described the goal of the Alpha course for parishes as “providing a safe on-ramp to their local expression of church in a way that engages people that have otherwise found it to be irrelevant,” one that can lead almost anywhere from deeping questioning to a greater understanding of Christianity to baptism.

That focus on local contexts means that gauging success depends on the specific context for each congregation running the Alpha course.

Reflecting on both St. Paul’s Bloor Street and St. Jax Montréal, Visser—stressing that it was only her personal opinion and that she does not live in Montreal or attend St. Jax—noted, “From what I understand, [St. Jax is] using Alpha because it’s a replant of an already established church, and so they’re trying to really reach the community. They don’t yet have an established sizable congregation, and they are really trying to grow the congregation by sharing the faith, not by pulling people in from other churches.”

“To do that, you have to provide an on-ramp for people either far from God or toying with the idea of God, and I think that’s why St. Jax has taken that approach … where[as at] St. Paul’s, a very vibrant, healthy church in the centre of Toronto, they would run it on a Wednesday night because they already have lots going on on the weekend and in their Sunday services.”

Alpha course is only one way to spread the gospel

Despite embracing Alpha as a valuable tool for congregations, Parker cautioned that the course is “not some magic bullet”, but rather “a gospel communication tool that seems to have resonance in connection with a culture that is increasingly disconnected from the church and the gospel message”.

The church plant at St. Jax centred around the Alpha course, he said, is “a radical approach. But when you think about it, what [parish incumbent Graham Singh is] trying to do is present the gospel to a totally non-churched culture in downtown Montréal, and it’s effective. And as that community builds, then they move into worship, and they’ve had great worship services. I’ve been down there.

“It’s not they’re neglecting worship, they’re just not leading with worship. They’re recognizing that we can’t do that—Christendom is dead, so you can’t lead with Christendom. You’ve got to lead over here and bring folks into not only the experience of Jesus, but also then the community of Jesus, the faith community, the body of Christ.”

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Discipleship and the Alpha course in Montreal

May 9, 2017 - 3:28pm

The following is the first instalment of a two-part article detailing experiences of the Alpha course in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Pioneered in the late 1970s at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) church in London, England, the Alpha course has found a niche at many Canadian Anglican parishes as a method of teaching basic tenets of the Christian faith.

An evangelical course built around talks and group discussion, Alpha is now the primary method of worship at St. Jax Montréal, a mission parish and church plant at the site of the former St. James the Apostle Church. During a nine-month period last year, St. Jax had no Sunday service outside the Alpha course.

“We stopped everything, and I would say everything else is supplemental to Alpha,” said the Rev. Graham Singh, a veteran church planter who now leads the congregation at St. Jax as parish incumbent.

Though its focus on Alpha is greater than most, the approach of St. Jax reflects the experience of many other Anglican congregations that have found in the course a worthwhile method for attracting seekers and building disciples.

Alpha at St. Jax

St. Jax Montréal first presented the Alpha course at its Easter 2016 reopening, which served as a “pre-launch”. Instead of traditional Sunday services, participants gathered for bagels and coffee and took part in a moment of worship before hearing a talk on an introductory topic, such as the identity of Jesus, the meaning of his death and resurrection, and forms of prayer.

An open discussion would follow. The discussion groups started out in a bilingual English-French format, but soon came to incorporate additional languages such as Mandarin Chinese and Farsi, reflecting the multiculturalism of the surrounding area. St. Jax also offers an Alpha course for children and youth.

“The whole point of Alpha is to give people that space for questions and present the gospel in a very clear, simple way that could be accepted by any denomination in any culture,” Singh said.

“The discussion is completely local,” he added. “So it could be in Farsi, it could be in French, it could be with kids, it could be with older folks. That’s the point, is that it adapts to its local region.”

The Rev. Graham Singh, parish incumbent, speaks at the launch of St. Jax. Photo by Janet Best

Singh first became a proponent of the Alpha course after attending HTB as a graduate student. Returning to Canada as a “missionary” for the “HTB model” centred around Alpha, Singh took part in national meetings known as the Canadian Church Buildings Conversation. Discussions with Anglican bishops across Canada resulted in an invitation for Singh to come to Montréal to plant the HTB model at a flagship parish church in the downtown area.

The choice of St. James the Apostle stemmed from the parish’s inability to continue in its current state due to a lack of financial resources. After several years of attempting to find another sustainable solution for parish and building health, approximately 60 members of the St. James congregation remained.* Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson assigned a curate to help those who still wished to experience traditional Anglican liturgical services find a new home parish, while extending an invitation to the remaining 60 to join St. Jax. One-third chose to join the new church plant.

“We knew of Holy Trinity Brompton doing [the Alpha course], and how they kept getting more and more people coming, and how the church was growing and there were new churches spawning and so on, but I never saw how that happened,” Bishop Irwin-Gibson said.

“I think the business of ‘How do you transmit your faith to the new generation?’ is a real challenge for the Anglican Church—how to make disciples and how to make new Christians, those first two Marks of Mission that we’re really struggling with.”

Elsewhere in the diocese

Singh believed that the church plant centred around Alpha had been relatively successful in the year since its pre-launch. He estimated that St. Jax now sees between 125 and 150 people Sunday participating in Sunday worship at some point each month, including families.*

The bishop said she was “encouraged” by developments at St. Jax and that the experiment offered potential lessons for future growth in the Diocese of Montréal.

However, the role of the Alpha course in new church plants may or may not mirror its function at St. Jax, with the main focus being on opening up the church to new people.

“I don’t foresee that the whole diocese is going to look like St. Jax … but I think there’s some learning, and I think St. Jax can provide some resources and some encouragement to look at the methods that we are using and to get out and find authentic ways,” Bishop Irwin-Gibson said.

“I don’t particularly care if it’s an Alpha course if you can still find a way to apply the principle that you want to be oriented towards the people who aren’t in church, instead of trying to keep the smaller and smaller contingent happy.”

Do you have experiences with the Alpha course in the Anglican Church of Canada? Share them with us on our Facebook page. Learn more about the Alpha course on the Alpha Canada website.

*A previous version of this article stated that “approximately 60 members of the St. James congregation remained who wished to sell the building”, and that an estimated 125 to 150 people attend St. Jax regularly every Sunday. Erroneous information was provided.

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Province of Canada elects new Metropolitan

May 8, 2017 - 1:15pm

The Rt. Rev. Ronald W. Cutler, bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has been elected as the next Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada, succeeding Archbishop Percy Coffin.

The Archbishop-elect was ordained as deacon and priest in 1981 and elected a bishop in 2008 in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI. In reflecting on Episcopal ministry, he said, “My experience of episcopal ministry as suffragan, coadjutor and as diocesan, has been one of journeying with people in transition. Working with those discerning a call to leadership both lay and ordained, with communities experiencing demographic shifts and parishes struggling with what it means to be faithful in this time and place.”

When asked to describe his vision for the Province of Canada, the new Archbishop-elect responded, “I believe that if the Provincial expression of our church is to have any relevance to the ongoing faith life of Anglicans in Eastern Canada, we must take seriously the ways in which the ‘political, economic, educational and social dimensions’ of our lives have been changing. The gatherings of the Province may be the place where we share the ways in which we are seeking to engage God’s mission in these times and how we might best resource the faith communities where disciples are made, nurtured and formed.”

The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada consists of the Dioceses of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Fredericton, Montreal, Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Central Newfoundland, and Western Newfoundland. The Provincial Synod normally meets every three years with delegates from all member dioceses.

The vote for the Metropolitan was taken electronically from May 2 to 6, 2017 by the Electoral Synod of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada with Archbishop-elect Cutler receiving the required majority in the Houses of Laity, Clergy, and Bishops. The date of the Installation of the Archbishop-elect will be announced in the near future.


Learn more:

Press release prepared by:

The Venerable Sam Rose
Communications for Province of Canada

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New Public Witness team finds its bearings

May 4, 2017 - 6:59pm

The Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice (PWSEJ) Coordinating Committee for the 2016-2019 triennium held its first face-to-face meeting on April 27-28 at Church House in Toronto.

Led by chair Nancy Harvey and facilitated by PWSEJ lead animator Ryan Weston, the meeting provided an opportunity for committee members to learn about their mutual commitment to social and ecological justice issues, set priorities for the current triennium, and identify engagement strategies with the wider church.

“Certainly there was a lot of energy that came out of it and a real commitment to connecting what’s happening in different parts of the church,” Weston said. “I think that’s how we all see our role going forward—to really be those connectors.”

Since taking on his current position on March 1, Weston has been making connections across the country with people active in various justice issues, discussing how to bring them into a wider conversation or support their efforts at the local level through the resources of the national church.

At the April meeting, which followed a teleconference in November, the coordinating committee identified several issues as their current priorities.

Creation Matters

One of the most active groups associated with PWSEJ is the Creation Matters Working Group, comprised of diocesan ecological justice representatives who share information related to environmental issues and engage Anglicans to live into the fifth Mark of Mission. Harvey currently serves as co-chair of the working group, along with Dean Ken Gray.

Weston described Creation Matters as “very well-established, so it’s ready to do some work and to build on some of what’s happened.”

Responsible resource extraction

One of the key issues outlined in the 2013 Joint Declaration between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, responsible resource extraction will continue to be a “big focus going forward, and particularly in our full communion relationship, but also in the larger church,” Weston said.

Many dioceses have already begun to take up the issue of responsible resource extraction on their own. Furthering that momentum, a working group on responsible investment established at General Synod 2016 has begun to meet to examine how the Anglican Church of Canada might use its investments as a tool for expressing its public witness.

While not confirmed, Weston suggested the possibility of future work with the Open for Justice campaign, a coalition of organizations seeking accountability for the mining, oil, and gas sectors.

“We want to be sure that the conversation around resource extraction and climate justice and care for the environment is not just about our investments—that while that’s an important conversation, that’s not the be-all and end-all,” Weston said. “We have to think about consumption issues. We have to think about some of the other impacts of that work, and how we can speak to that.”

Peace and conflict

Much of the church’s efforts to “challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation”, in the words of the fourth Mark of Mission, are centred around its participation in Project Ploughshares, a non-governmental organization that works with churches, governments, and civil society in Canada and abroad to prevent war and armed conflict and promote peace.

The Anglican Church of Canada continues to support Project Ploughshares, with Weston scheduled to meet Anglican board representatives in early May to discuss the church’s ongoing participation.

Justice and corrections

Anglicans are a founding denomination of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC). The current representative of the Anglican Church of Canada on the board is the Rev. Sharon Dunlop, who continues to serve as president.

The PWSEJ Coordinating Committee at its meeting discussed the church’s continuing participation in the CCJC, and potential new ways it might build connections and engage on issues related to justice and corrections.


Where former PWSEJ director Henriette Thompson was heavily involved in working towards church reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the recent hiring of Melanie Delva as reconciliation animator frees up the PWSEJ lead animator to concentrate on other areas. Even so, the coordinating committee discussed reconciliation at its meeting and still lists it as a priority.

Homelessness and affordable housing

At this early juncture, Weston has yet to dive fully into the church’s work on homelessness and affordable housing, but continues to observe dioceses that have been particularly active on this issue, such as the dioceses of Ottawa and Toronto.

Human trafficking

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has often drawn attention to the struggle against human trafficking and modern slavery. One of the main avenues for Anglican contribution to this struggle is the church’s participation on the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada, part of the CCC Commission on Justice and Peace.

To supplement the CCC learning kit on human trafficking, Weston said, preparations are underway for a series of videos and other resources around human trafficking specifically targeted to the Anglican context.

“Part of what we’re doing is to see what is already happening in this church … trying to figure out how we can make the information as accessible as possible and bring the voices into the conversation … and also how do we get the education about human trafficking down to the parish and diocesan level.”

Interconnected issues

With so many issues to be discussed, Harvey said that members of the coordinating committee “almost felt overwhelmed” on the first day of the meeting because there were so many social justice areas that required attention. A common theme, however, was the interconnected nature of different issues, which may streamline and facilitate the church’s response.

Though still in its early days, Harvey offered a positive impression of the coordinating committee as “a group that’s going to be able to have good, honest, transparent conversations with each other and learn on an ongoing basis.”

“This isn’t an action group, per se,” she said. “It’s more of a group I think that is going to be aware and discover pockets of social and ecological justice activity across the Anglican Church of Canada, and look for ways to raise up those folks that are doing good work at the grassroots level.

“But it’s not going to be a top-down approach. I believe it’s going to be more of a grassroots approach, empowering folks and enabling folks.”

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Indigenous language project shares stories of loss and resilience

April 26, 2017 - 4:52pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earth Day message from Anglican and Lutheran leaders

April 19, 2017 - 2:00pm

April 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

On Earth Day let us pray together:

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

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

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

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

Yours in the spirit of Full Communion,

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

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

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

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The cross of Christ and the power of his resurrection

April 13, 2017 - 12:30pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With blessings for Easter,

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

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