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‘An appeal for a good conscience’ (1 Peter 3:21)

February 21, 2018 - 10:06pm

View a PDF version of this document.

Last Sunday, we heard in a reading from the First Letter of Peter that baptism is “not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a good conscience through Jesus Christ” (3:21-22). This view of baptism calls us to mind the teaching of the prophet Micah, that we “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God” (6:8). It points to a way of life in keeping with the Beatitudes which are in truth, calls to attitude and outlook toward others as befits life in the kingdom of God. It is entirely consistent too with the Seven Traditional Grandfather Teachings of the Cree Nations: love, respect, humility, truth, honesty, wisdom and courage.

It is from this perspective that we address the tragic shooting death of Colten Boushie on August 9, 2016 on the farm of Gerald Stanley in Biggar, Saskatchewan; the subsequent trial of Stanley; his acquittal on February 9, 2018; and the protest on the part of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people all across the country.

There is outrage over many issues concerning this case, including the following:

  • the manner in which Colten’s body, while covered, lay face down in the gravel of the farmyard for twenty-four hours;
  • the insensitive manner in which the RCMP notified the family of Colten’s death;
  • the chaos around informing the Boushie family of Gerald Stanley’s first court appearance on August 11, 2016;
  • a jury distinguished by the fact that there were no visible Indigenous people selected;
  • the “excessive” security measures taken through the early days of the trial as if “to protect” those gathered from the Boushie family and the large numbers of Indigenous Peoples assembled to follow the proceedings;
  • the complicated grief the Boushie family is experiencing; upon hearing the verdict they said, “We feel like Colten died again”;
  • the growing anger that Canada’s justice system fails Indigenous people with an alarming consistency; and the frustration that many Canadians feel in the lack of real progress in the reform of the system; and
  • the ugly reality that racism is so systemic and embedded in this country that it seems invisible until in some particular tragedy or travesty of justice it is exposed in such a way as to render it undeniable in the public realm.

Racism is the belief, reinforced by the abuse of power and privilege, that one race is invariably superior to others. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has exposed the historic racism toward the First Peoples of this land.  Other Commissions have also exposed the shameful history of our treatment of Black, Asian, and Jewish immigrants and our internment of Japanese Canadians through WWII.

As people of faith:

  • We declare that racism is evil. It is in fundamental conflict with the truth that God created all peoples with an equal love and endowed each with an equal dignity.
  • We acknowledge that in so far as we are complicit in this sin, we confess our failures. We repent and long to live in more respectful ways in accord with the Word of God.
  • We make a vow in baptism to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. Accordingly, we must make a commitment to learn about racism. We must be more aware of the behaviours that force others to feel “racialized” and correct those behaviours.
  • “We join all those who are longing to escape from the slavery of prejudice, racism, anger, frustration, violence and bitterness. We wish to join all those who are re-dedicating themselves to work for reconciliation among all people in our communities and in our nation.” (Statement of February 15th by the Anglican Lutheran and Roman Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan)

As members of The Anglican Church of Canada:

  • We are bound by a Charter of Racial Justice endorsed by the General Synod in 2004. This Charter calls us to the struggle for racial justice based on “new attitudes, new understandings and new relationships” as reflected in the continuing reform of the structures, policies, and practices of our Church.
  • We call every diocese in our Church to endorse and embrace the Charter of Racial Justice and encourage our bishops to commend it for endorsing and embracing by every parish within their dioceses.
  • We are also bound by a commitment to Anti-Racism Training for all who serve in the councils and committees of the General Synod, and we commend this training throughout our entire Church.
  • We note that a number of dioceses are requiring Anti-Racism Training for candidates for ordination and orienting people who serve on diocesan committees and councils. We call on every diocese to consider acting accordingly.

As citizens of Canada:

Specifically we must track action on Calls 28 and 57.

#28 calls upon “law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal People and the law, which includes the history and legacy of Residential Schools, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal Rights, Indigenous law and Indigenous Crown Relations.”

#57 calls upon “federal, provincial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants” on the same topics.

Both of these calls reference required “skill-based training in inter-cultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism”.

We must also track Calls 39 and 40.

#39 calls for a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal People.

#40 calls for adequately funded Aboriginal specific victim programs.

  • We recognize that there is no real hope of reconciliation without confronting the racism so deeply embedded in our structures and social systems. We encourage a renewed commitment to the values in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982).
  • We encourage a full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). We call on the Prime Minister to act expeditiously on Bill 262 to bring Canadian Law in line with the UN Declaration and we request that, in that work, Indigenous Peoples be full partners.
  • We support Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Rabould’s intention to rid the justice system in Canada of racism, especially her call for the review of peremptory challenge in jury selection. Currently, lawyers do not have to give reasons for excluding candidates for jury duty. This practise, says Steven Penney, a University of Alberta law professor and an author of Criminal Procedure in Canada, “invites bias on the basis of race…It’s not a value we should allow in our system.”  He says the Colten Boushie case is “highlighting those flaws.”
  • We do well to remember the 2013 finding of former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci in his Report, “First Nations Representation in Ontario Juries” that underrepresentation of First Nations People living on reserves was a symptom of a much larger crisis in the relationship between Ontario’s Justice System and Indigenous Peoples in that province and that this finding is not unique to Ontario.
  • We commit ourselves to advocacy for a change in policy and practise.

As people of faith:

  • We ask for your prayers for all whose lives continue to be impacted by this tragedy and this trial, and for the needs for reform in the justice system. With great empathy, we especially remember the Boushie family and Red Pheasant First Nation.
  • We encourage you to attend or organize public events in your community. They could be opportunities for listening, learning, advocacy, and action concerning human rights, racism, and justice.

It is important that we stand together in this time. There is an urgency about our common witness, and that urgency is informed by the Word of God.

“…I despise your festivals and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them, and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts, I will not look upon.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

                                                                                                (Amos 5: 22-24)

God help us.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
Primate
The Anglican Church of Canada

The text of this statement was prepared in consultation with the following persons:

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop

The Rev. Canon Virginia Doctor, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator

Ms. Esther Wesley, Coordinator, Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation

Ms. Melanie Delva, Reconciliation Animator

The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary

Archdeacon Paul Feheley, Principal Secretary to the Primate

Ms. Meghan Kilty, Director of Communications


What can we do to address racism in our communities? Listen. Read. Learn. Act.

The post ‘An appeal for a good conscience’ (1 Peter 3:21) appeared first on Anglican Church of Canada.

#MeToo and the Church—Part Four: The Safe Church Commission and ecumenical initiatives

February 20, 2018 - 6:19pm

Read Parts One, Two, and Three.

Even before the #MeToo movement brought the issue of sexual misconduct to the forefront of public conversation, confronting gender-based violence and abuse had emerged as a priority across many provinces of the Anglican Communion.

At a communion-wide level in 2016, the Anglican Consultative Council passed resolutions aimed at transforming church structures through a commitment to gender equality and justice, and by ensuring the safety of all persons in the communion through safe church policies. To this end, the establishment of the Safe Church Commission represented the most high-profile effort by the Anglican Communion to enshrine the concept of safe church on a global scale.

The Safe Church Commission has a three-year mandate (2017-2020) to produce a charter of safety for churches that would follow guidelines originally set to be determined over the course of three face-to-face meetings. Members of the commission held their first meeting last October at the Anglican Communion Office in London, England, bringing together representatives from Anglican provinces in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Oceania.

Mary Wells, the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative to the Safe Church Commission, said that Anglicans in some parts of the world face different challenges from others in establishing safe churches for all.

“There are some countries where, for instance, homosexuality is still illegal,” Wells said. “And that challenges us around things that are normal in Canada and the States and England, [such as] mandatory reporting … If they tell people they have to mandatorily report child sexual abuse no matter where they are in the world, we will end up with some executions. And that doesn’t make sense.”

From her own vantage point, Wells is reaching out to Indigenous communities to lift up Indigenous perspectives, contexts, philosophies and approaches to ensure the work of the Safe Church Commission hears the voices of Indigenous peoples. In this way, members hope to create inclusive safe church procedures.

“I had one [Indigenous] woman read about the commission, and her reaction was, ‘Well, this sounds like a blue-eyed solution,’” Wells recalled. “And that got me going … [I think] what she meant was, it won’t work, it’s just talk and nothing will happen. But we’re working to ensure that something will really happen.”

Following their first meeting in London, members of the commission split into working groups that would each focus on different areas. One subgroup is focused on policies and another on procedures, while Wells is chairing a third focused on theological reflections.

Members made such progress in London that their next meeting has been moved up to May, with Wells noting, “We felt that we had so much momentum happening at that meeting that we decided to meet in six months instead of a year.” They plan to rework a draft safe church document at the May meeting in order to present it at the 2019 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, followed by a presentation at the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Ecumenical Women

While Anglicans work with each other internationally to establish safe church policies, they are also reaching across denominational lines to work with other Christian churches through membership in ecumenical organizations.

The Rev. Laura Marie Piotrowicz, Canadian representative to the Ecumenical Women coalition at the United Nations, said that sexual violence is a frequent topic of discussion at gatherings such as the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).

“It is so pervasive in society, and it is not limited by age or sector,” Piotrowicz said. “It is a foundational reality in everything that we’re doing towards equality.”

Though members of Ecumenical Women have not attended UNSCW since the onset of #MeToo, they have discussed the movement via teleconference—acknowledging that sexual misconduct is “pervasive in the church and something the church needs to address.”

They plan to discuss the #MeToo phenomenon when they attend at the 62nd session of the UNSCW, which will place from March 12-23.

“Within the Anglican delegation, we’re constantly talking about how Anglican Women can build one another up and support one another, and a lot of that comes with education and with sharing the stories,” Piotrowicz said.

“The primary focus for this year’s UNCSW is on rural women, and especially in rural communities, we can find sexual misconduct that has gone on for however many years that is just presumed to be normal. Oftentimes, there are less resources available for rural communities. So it’s definitely something that will be part of our conversations.”

Self-reflection and the importance of faith

As Anglicans join the ongoing debates sparked by #MeToo, the movement provides an opportunity for the church to look inward and acknowledge past failures, while also considering how it can support survivors and embody the ethos of safe church.

“The church has an opportunity to become a moral voice and to take some leadership,” said retired priest Mary Louise Meadow, who served as canon pastor for the sexual misconduct policy in the Diocese of British Columbia from 2003 to 2006. “But in order to do that, it has to look carefully at … its own reluctance to, in the past, fully address its own culpability.”

Besides the apology for its role in facilitating abuse through the Indian residential school system, Meadow said that the Anglican Church of Canada “needs to come forward with ways to state to its own complicity as being a social structure with power and that held the trust of many vulnerable people in its ministry relationships, and allowed that trust to be abused by the conduct of some of its clergy or ministers.”

“I think the church needs to be very candid about its own self-learning, and then it can become a credible spokesperson for creating trust for people who want to move forward to address the healing of sexual harm,” she added. “But we need to see how that gets done pastorally.”

Even as the work of the Safe Church Commission moves forward, Wells said bishops must take leadership and speak out in support of people who bring forward complaints—while also reminding their congregations of existing policies and procedures that the church has in place to deal with sexual misconduct.

“For me, what the #MeToo movement is doing is it’s highlighting how courageous the church was in stepping forward early on to deal with these kinds of things and how we’ve done them very carefully and sustained it and reviewed it and stayed on top of it for so many years,” Wells said.

She stressed the importance of faith in providing Christians with the strength and foundational beliefs to better address sexual misconduct, which she believed encouraged that early response.

“Churches are accustomed to dealing with the notion of sin, of hurting other people and … dealing with people who get into bad behaviour,” Wells said.

“The church has had more or less luck in dealing with it, and sometimes it’s absolutely colluded with it. But I really felt that it had to be the faith foundation that gave the churches the courage to deal with this. And I think that the public sector should be turning to the churches to ask for what they can learn from their experience, because they have a lot to learn.”

For Piotrowicz, that faith foundation that can guide the church’s response to #MeToo finds expression throughout the Bible, going back to the story of Creation.

“God did not make women less than men,” Piotrowicz said. “God made us in God’s image, and we’re equal in God’s eyes right from the beginning.

“All throughout the Scriptures, when we hear about stories of inequality, we hear about the need for justice, the need for people to be respected, the need for people’s dignity to be lifted up. And that’s not men first and women second … It is the call for all of us to be living into the fullness of Christ.”

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Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan

February 16, 2018 - 2:30pm

I whole-heartedly join a growing number of Church Leaders responding to the call of Pope Francis for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan on February 23rd.  That is the Friday of the first full week of Lent.  Moved by the Holy Father’s invitation, I looked ahead to the texts appointed for reading at the eucharist that day.

The prophet Ezekiel speaks of God’s desire that we turn from the wickedness of the ways in which humans commit such abominable crimes against one another.  He calls us to re-set our hearts toward doing what is right and just in the sight of God. (Ezekiel 34:21-28)

The psalmist sings of his trust in the Lord’s plenteous redemption, and kindness. (Psalm 130)

In the gospel of the day, we hear Jesus teaching on reconciliation and how we go about that work, however hard it may be however long it may take. (Matthew 5:20-26)

The peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan have suffered through the horrors of war for so many years.  They know so much death and are acquainted with so much grief.  Communities have been destroyed and family life shattered.  So many of their children know nothing but war.  So many in fact are orphaned by its carnage.

On this Friday, February 23rd, let us fast as an act of solidarity with those who suffer so much deprivation through war and those whose poverty is incomprehensible.  And let us pray for those who work for reconciliation and peace – that their ranks be swelled and their strategies embraced.  May the peoples for whom they labour finally know a peace that is just and lasting, a peace in which they and their children can live in hope of better times, in full accord with the will of God.

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

View a PDF version of this statement.

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#MeToo and the Church—Part Three: Perspectives on Indigeneity, colonialism and the legacy of the residential schools

February 12, 2018 - 2:30pm

Read Parts One and Two.

For many Indigenous peoples in Canada, the increased public attention to sexual violence in the wake of the #MeToo movement can carry a very different meaning than it might for non-Indigenous peoples.

The historical experience of colonization, widespread abuse of children in the Indian residential school system, the resulting intergenerational trauma, and the ongoing struggle against racism and sexism create unique challenges for Indigenous people, the effects of which can be felt in attitudes to the current public conversation sparked by #MeToo.

Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor said that she knew “more than several” Indigenous women who had experienced sexual violence in the past, but who were reluctant to publicly share their stories.

“From my point of view, I don’t think a lot of Indigenous women have responded by saying ‘me too,’” Doctor said. “I think that’s the case for a lot of Indigenous women … They’ve been silenced or not encouraged to speak about it, and if they do speak about it, what alternative do they have? Are there safe places for them to talk about what happened to them?”

Experiences of sexual abuse in Indigenous communities are often related to issues such as alcoholism and drug use, caused or exacerbated by the intergenerational trauma that resulted from colonization and the residential school experience.

“I’ve been working in Indigenous communities for most of my life, and I’ve heard the stories of Indigenous women being raped or sexually molested by either family members or people who have been drinking,” Doctor said. “It all seems to stem from people abusing alcohol, and it’s a dysfunction that we really haven’t dealt with, and I’m not quite sure how we do deal with it.

“We can say ‘me too’, but what happens after that, I guess, is my concern.”

Unique challenges for Indigenous women

Determining the cause of harassment directed against Indigenous people can be doubly vexing, since discrimination may also be based on race or gender.

“For Indigenous people, it’s kind of a double whammy, because the harassment could be because they’re Indigenous more than because of their gender,” Doctor said. “So it’s really hard to differentiate or to tell where that harassment is coming from and what’s at play.”

Reflecting on current policies towards sexual misconduct both inside and outside the Anglican Church of Canada, Doctor suggested that harassment needs to be defined to reflect and include  linguistic and cultural differences.

“The whole issue I have with a lot of policies that come out not only through the church, but even through the government as well, is that they’re written in a language that is okay for Western thought and comprehension—but when you take it to Indigenous communities, it’s like a foreign language,” Doctor said.

Words such as “harassment” may not be understood by those whose mother tongue is not English, she noted, and must also be translated accordingly.

“How do you translate ‘harassment’ into Cree or Oji-Cree or Plains Cree to have it make sense to the people, and so they know what you’re talking about?”

Abuse in residential schools

While #MeToo has shined a light on the problem of sexual violence in present-day culture, the Anglican Church of Canada is no stranger to witnessing the bravery and importance of truth-telling by survivors. In grappling with its own role in the residential school system, the church heard many survivors describe their experiences of sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse in the schools.

Reconciliation animator Melanie Delva was and continues to be struck by the courage of residential school survivors who came forward and shared their stories in a pre-#MeToo era, at a time when public reactions were more likely to range from skepticism to outright hostility.

“There was no social media hashtag to connect [survivors] to one another, and there was certainly no groundswell of public support for them at any level—most often the exact opposite,” Delva said.

“Above all, to me that speaks to the incredible strength and bravery of these Indigenous women and men. It’s one thing to come forward with a hashtag which almost guarantees you the support of hundreds of thousands of people. It is a whole different story to come forward when—quite frankly—people don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

Yet Delva was unsure whether “the dominant church and society” would have listened to survivors of sexual violence in the absence of social media and the related hashtags such as #MeToo.

She noted that it was a woman of colour, Tarana Burke, who began the #MeToo movement in 2006. However, it was not until a famous white woman, actor Alyssa Milano, began using the hashtag in 2017 that #MeToo truly captured the public’s attention—a fact that Delva called “hugely problematic.”

“I believe that Indigenous survivors of sexual abuse were the #MeToo movement calling to the Church decades ago—but instead of a groundswell of support, they were often not believed or had to fight to have their claims taken seriously and treated fairly,” Delva said.

“Some are still in that fight,” she added, noting ongoing attempts by survivors of St. Anne’s Indian Residential School to settle claims with the federal government.

Taking action

Delva said the controversy faced by the St. Anne’s survivors indicates the need for everyone to be more vigilant in listening to the voices of marginalized and vulnerable people in society and within the church, and in ensuring safe environments for all.

“We can’t wait until the dominant culture decides to ‘accept’ it as a valid issue,” Delva said. “And after listening, we have to act. Policy is good, but there also needs to be training on the policy, so that the people who need to do the hard work of responding to allegations know how to do so in a way that is fair and respectful and not re-traumatizing.

“We need to listen to the racialized in communities in terms of what they need as culturally respectful approaches to policy and procedure.”

Doctor said that the discussion on sexual violence sparked by the #MeToo movement was a significant enough issue that it may well become a topic of discussion at this year’s Sacred Circle.

“If we can create that sacred space for women to feel safe and be comfortable, perhaps we can begin a discussion and begin to talk about how we can move forward from there.”

In the final instalment of this series, we will further explore the work of the Safe Church Commission of the Anglican Communion and the worldwide push for safe church policies.

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Bishop’s Confirmation Day in Montreal to build community and prayer partnerships

February 7, 2018 - 5:07pm

Montreal youth project coordinator Lee-Ann Matthews pointed out that confirmation after baptism is “not really the end of your faith journey; it’s just the beginning”.

In the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, the question of how the diocese could support the faith journeys of those undergoing confirmation—also known as confirmands—became the pondering and project of Matthews and former diocesan missioner Mark Dunwoody.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, the diocese will present the fruits of that discussion in the form of its first-ever Bishop’s Confirmation Day. Anyone in the diocese who has been confirmed in the last five years, or who is looking to build a new life of faith, is invited to the synod office to attend the all-ages event which will feature art, music, food, and a meeting with Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson.

Along with a tour of Christ Church Cathedral, those in attendance will enjoy workshops on drumming and art, respectively facilitated by Saya Percussion and artist Christina Marie Phelps. Opening worship will be led by the Zack Ingles worship band.

“We just thought it’d be really great to honour people who’ve been confirmed,” Matthews said.

“I think confirmation itself has value because it’s one of the ways that people enter into the church,” she added. “A lot of people don’t go to church unless they have a reason, like a funeral, Christmas, a wedding, or a baptism. But confirmation’s another one of those things that manage to get people’s attention.”

The idea for the celebration met with a favourable reception from Bishop Irwin-Gibson, who in the past has invited confirmation classes to visit her office and personally given tours of Christ Church Cathedral for the confirmands.

“I thought it was a great initiative to invite people,” the bishop said. “A lot of the young people have not had a visit to synod office or to the cathedral, so it’s one of the ways to try to continue to engage them … What we’re going to be doing is trying to have some fun [and] do some cross-parish networking with the young people who come.”

What is a prayer partner?

A key aspect of that networking process at Bishop’s Confirmation Day will involve assigning prayer partners to confirmands.

Matthews defines a prayer partner as “a friend who you will pray for and who will pray for you by name … someone you can text or call or have a meal or coffee with when you need a prayer, a buddy, a confidant, a comrade in Christ”. Each participant at Bishop’s Confirmation Day will receive a prayer partner whom they are encouraged to reach out to on a weekly basis.

Each partner will be given a prayer partner card with suggested questions to ask or send their partner via text message. Examples include:

  • Can I pray for you today? / Can we pray together?
  • Does someone in your life need me to pray for them?
  • Is there a situation in the world that is troubling you?
  • I am praying now … Let me know what prayers you need.

“Of course as Christians, we’re all really familiar with how much prayer can impact people’s lives positively,” Matthews said. “But I think that a lot of people outside the church are not necessarily as connected to the importance of prayer … We’re just trying to drive home the value of prayer and how much it can connect you to God and to one another, to build your community and to build a connection to God.

“It’s also worth just to get people thinking outside of themselves,” she added. “Prayer isn’t just about your own personal relationship with God, but it’s also about your community.”

Building that sense of community through networking is a major goal of Bishop’s Confirmation Day.

Among those who will be present at the event is the Rev. Jean-Daniel Williams, associate pastor of Christ Church Cathedral, who oversees the weekly young adult Bible study group Hungry Minds. Bishop Irwin-Gibson cited Hungry Minds as an example of a program that brings together young Christians by encouraging them to think more deeply about their faith.

“The most exciting confirmations for me have been with young people who have clearly had enough time and freedom to think about stuff,” the bishop said, adding, “We’re really trying to build relationships for the future so that we can help people in their journey of discipleship.”

Registration is open until the day of the event. To register, contact Lee-Ann Matthews.

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#MeToo and the Church—Part Two: Development of sexual misconduct policies

February 5, 2018 - 2:30pm

Read Part One.

The development of sexual misconduct policies across the Anglican Church of Canada starting in the early 1990s reflected wider historical changes in public attitudes towards sexual abuse and harassment.

The  public acknowledgement of sexual harassment developed largely out of the women’s rights movement and second-wave feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. This acknowledgement spurred changes in policies and practices in many workplaces and jurisdictions. At the same time, a series of shocking cases of violence toward children, including child sexual abuse, were rapidly gaining public acknowledgement and attention.

Social worker Mary Wells, currently a member of the Safe Church Commission of the Anglican Communion, remembered the public concern in the early 1980s that followed the rape and murder by three men of a boy in Toronto who had been earning money by shining shoes.

“The whole community, the country, was actually in shock when they found out what had happened,” Wells recalled.

In the aftermath, Chairman of Metropolitan Toronto Paul Godfrey set up the Metropolitan Toronto Chairman’s Special Committee on Child Sexual Abuse. Calls from federal politicians and activists led to changes in the Criminal Code of Canada and Canada Evidence Act that allowed children to testify. The offence of “invitation to sexual touching” was written into law to eliminate a legal loophole that had previously exonerated accused child predators.

During this period, a wave of disclosures emerged regarding sexual and physical abuse of children at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, Nfld., operated by the Roman Catholic-affiliated Congregation of Christian Brothers. The ensuing media attention and public furor resulted in public inquiries and renewed criminal investigations, following previous investigations in 1975 and 1982 that had resulted in only one conviction.

“When [the revelations of abuse at Mount Cashel] finally came out, there was broad support from the Canadian public to say, ‘This can’t go on. This isn’t acceptable. We will stand with these now young men,’” Wells said. “But it was a huge shift in the Canadian social paradigm.”

Ontario dioceses lead the way

Throughout the 1980s, Wells helped to develop practices and procedures for investigating allegations and interviewing complainants in child and adult sexual abuse cases, gaining a reputation as an expert in the topic. In 1989, at the request of the Department of Justice Canada, she wrote Canada’s Law on Child Sexual Abuse: A Handbook, which explained the recent changes made to the Criminal Code and Canada Evidence Act.

In the wake of the Mount Cashel case and other cases of sexual abuse, the Diocese of Toronto formed a committee to craft a sexual misconduct policy. Wells’ home parish recommended her to the committee, which would go on to develop the first Anglican sexual misconduct policy in Canada.

Then-Archdeacon Colin Johnson and Archbishop Terry Finlay were vital in the development of the policy, with Wells noting that Johnson “took a leadership role in helping get that [policy] drafted and shepherded through”. She also praised Finlay for his understanding and clarity in addressing the issue.

Mary Louise Meadow, a retired priest who served as coordinator for chaplaincy in the Diocese of Toronto at the time the sexual misconduct policy was developed, described Finlay as “the bishop that knew how to engage the lay people around him to help the church in the Diocese of Toronto respond”.

She also highlighted the role of Wells and Donna Hunter, director of program resources in the Diocese of Toronto, in crafting the policy, and said that the main impetus for the sexual misconduct policy came from non-ordained women.

“Those two women were absolutely instrumental in getting that policy worked through the executive committee of the diocese and getting it in place,” Meadow said.

At approximately the same time, the Diocese of Ontario was playing its own role in shining a light on sexual abuse. In 1992, Bishop Peter Mason offered a public apology to victims of convicted pedophile John Gallienne, who sexually abused more than a dozen boys while serving as choirmaster and organist at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston, Ont.

The Diocese of Ontario subsequently committed to write a policy and procedure to provide proper training for clergy and staff members for handling such cases. Wells called the apology “a very important turning point for that congregation and for that issue.”

Current church policy

The sexual misconduct policy established by the Diocese of Toronto in 1992 served as the model for policies and procedures that are now in place for virtually every Anglican diocese in Canada—as well as the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada, which adopted its own policy for sexual misconduct in November 2005 with the approval of the Council of General Synod.

Under these policies, procedures in cases of sexual misconduct are structured to meet civil requirements based on the offence. Allegations of child abuse, for example, are reported to police or child protection services and the church steps back during the course of a statutory investigation.

Complainants who report exploitation, harassment, or abuse have their allegations investigated by trained persons. In the course of the investigation, the allegations are documented and the complainant is listened to carefully and offered support.

The accused person is fully informed of the complaint in writing and has the right to respond and have their response documented, reflecting procedures used by most professional regulatory bodies. Harassment complaints are dealt with using models similar to workplace harassment policies, such as including opportunities for mediation if both parties agree.

A report is then prepared, which may make recommendations for decisions to be made by designated church authorities. Parishes who are affected by abuse complaints also receive provision for crisis response.

What the church can offer

In a post-#MeToo environment, Wells suggested that the Anglican Church of Canada can play a vital role by sharing the lessons it has learned through decades of experience in developing policies and procedures for sexual misconduct.

One of those lessons, she said, is the importance of due process.

“I’m delighted that the #MeToo movement is happening, but I find it very concerning that it’s unfolding without any policies and procedures in place,” Wells said. “So there’s no due process for people who are accused in way too many of these [cases].”

“In any workplace policy, or certainly in any church policy, if somebody is credibly accused, they would be put on leave. Sometimes it’s paid, sometimes it’s without pay. But there’s no pre-judgement until there’s a careful investigation where the complainant’s statement is taken in full and signed off, and then that is presented to the person who’s complained against, and they have opportunity to review it and to reply to it.”

Wells emphasized that developing policies for sexual misconduct is an ongoing task.

“All of the policies have review mechanisms built into them,” she said. “Every few years they need to be looked at, and from the experience of the previous years, to see if any changes need to be made. So it’s a growing, organic thing.”

In the next instalment of this series, we will consider the role of the residential school experience and how Indigenous perspectives can inform the church’s response to #MeToo.

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#MeToo and the Church—Part One: How can Anglicans respond?

February 2, 2018 - 5:02pm

The #MeToo movement has led to an explosion of public discussion around the prevalence of—and disclosure of personal experiences about—sexual violence, harassment, and abuse. In the months since use of the hashtag began trending on social media following allegations of sexual violence by public figures such as Harvey Weinstein, thousands of survivors have shared their own experiences of abuse and sparked an ongoing discussion whose ripple effects continue to be felt with each new revelation.

Evolving public attitudes towards sexual violence reflect widespread social changes over recent decades that have now reached a tipping point. In the wake of #MeToo and associated responses and hashtags such as #TimesUp, public and private organizations of every sort find themselves looking inward and grappling with how to address sexual violence within their own ranks.

The Anglican Church of Canada is no exception. For decades, the church has publicly strived to address cases of sexual abuse and harassment and adopted policies and practices for dealing with such situations. As a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, it has appointed a representative to the Safe Church Commission to help craft global guidance for establishing safe churches, with the goal of adoption in 2020 by all churches within the worldwide communion.

With the increased public attention to sexual misconduct following #MeToo, the question of how Canadian Anglicans can support survivors and address the widespread problem of abuse and harassment has once again come to the fore.

Actions speak louder: Primate

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, identified two ways that the church can respond to #MeToo and help combat sexual misconduct.

Firstly, the church must express its solidarity with those who are coming forward and sharing their experiences.

“I think we need to especially support the front-liners who are breaking the silence and instilling in others the courage to come forward and tell their stories,” the Primate said. Noting the “overwhelming” prevalence of predatory behavior on the part of many men, he added, “I think the church needs to be solidly standing beside women who are coming forward to tell their stories and to demand justice and to look for healing.”

Secondly, the church must follow up its words with actions by looking within itself and ensuring that it is a safe place for all.

“For me, I think part of supporting women and recognizing the indignities that they’ve suffered is to make sure that those kind of indignities are certainly not happening within the life of the church itself,” Archbishop Hiltz said. “Every once in a while, as we sadly know and shamefully know, there are incidents that break where it’s pretty clear that women have not been safe within the church itself.”

“It’s one thing to say we stand in solidarity with women, and we might go and march with them and so on,” he added. “But the reality is that … making sure you’re working at safe church policies and practices … lends so much more integrity to saying, ‘We really support you women and we really encourage you and we pray for you’ and so on.

“At some point, you’ve got to say, ‘…and these are the things we are prepared to do within our own community of faith so that you feel safe in the church itself.’”

A global challenge

Addressing sexual misconduct and raising the importance of a “safe church” is not just a matter of concern for the Canadian church, the Primate noted, but for the entire Anglican Communion.

The Safe Church Commission of the Anglican Communion, established in 2017, is perhaps the most high-profile embodiment of calls across the communion to enshrine the principles of safe church. Mary Wells, the Canadian member of the Safe Church Commission appointed by Archbishop Hiltz, has been a leading activist since the early 1980s in developing procedures for responding to and investigating cases of sexual abuse.

Though policies and procedures for dealing with abuse have been in place within the Anglican Church of Canada since 1992—when the Diocese of Toronto adopted a policy for dealing with sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a ministerial relationship, and sexual harassment—#MeToo has brought the issue back to the forefront.

“Because we’ve been doing it in Canada since 1992, [sexual misconduct] started to fall into the background as an issue of concern … Resources are starting to fall off, and the awareness and the seriousness of the issue has been falling off,” Wells said.

“I’m hoping that the #MeToo movement is going to kind of shake the church a little bit and restore this issue to prominence,” she added. “It’s not unusual for an issue to have a prominence for several years and then fade into the background … The #MeToo movement is going to make sure that it doesn’t.”

In the next instalment of this series, we will examine the history and development of sexual misconduct policies and procedures within the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Lent Devotions offered by heads of the Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

February 1, 2018 - 6:50pm
Set Free By Truth

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada joined the leaders of the The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Lent Devotions for the upcoming liturgical season.

Named Set Free By Truth, the Lent Devotions begin with Ash Wednesday on February 14 and continue through Easter Sunday, April 1. Each segment of Set Free By Truth presents Scripture citations, a reflection, and a prayer.

Set Free By Truth is available for free downloading.

Ash Wednesday:“Return to me with all your heart”; by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Lent 1:“An appeal to God for a good conscience”; by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Anglican Church of Canada.

Lent 2:“Take up their cross and follow me”; by National Bishop Susan Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Lent 3:“But we proclaim Christ crucified”; by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church.

Lent 4:“The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people”; by Presiding Bishop Eaton.

Lent 5:“Purge me from my sin”; by Archbishop Hiltz.

Palm/Passion Sunday:“Hosanna!” by Bishop Johnson.

Triduum:“Until he comes again”; by Presiding Bishop Curry.

Set Free By Truth can be downloaded for websites, bulletin inserts, church programs, and used as discussion points.

Download now

 

For more information, contact The Ven. Paul Feheley at pfeheley@national.anglican.ca.

 

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Lay Spiritual Renewal pilot project earns positive feedback

January 23, 2018 - 3:53pm

The Diocese of New Westminster is garnering positive reviews from participants in its Lay Spiritual Renewal pilot project—a “uniquely Anglican” retreat weekend that organizers are hoping will expand into a nationwide program for spiritual formation.

Pro Mundi Vita—a Latin term meaning “For the Life of the World”—saw its first two retreat weekends last October at Camp Elphinstone in Gibsons, B.C. Approximately 12 participants attended the first retreat from Oct. 13-15, while 17 participated in the second retreat from Oct. 27-29.

The third and final retreat weekend of the pilot phase will take place from Feb. 23-25 at Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre in Maple Ridge, B.C. Spaces for the third weekend are now sold out, with project coordinator Pamela McElheran creating a wait list due to strong interest.

“What’s happened is that the word is out there,” McElheran said. “People now want to come because they’ve heard it’s good … I think the feedback that we’ve received says that it really has opened up new avenues of prayer and connection, and deepening of faith for people.”

Diocesan program

The origins of Pro Mundi Vita lay in a diocesan working committee formed in 2015 after a meeting to discuss the three-day Cursillo program, which had been offered by the Diocese of New Westminster in the 1990s.

Feedback on the Cursillo program suggested that there was strong support for a new Lay Spiritual Renewal program in the diocese. The working committee in response established Pro Mundi Vita, applying for and gaining sponsorship from the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Foundation, and the Diocese of New Westminster.

The retreat is tied together by the morning and evening prayers of the daily office, interspersed with exercises based on the practice of Lectio Divina. Outdoor and indoor activities include prayer walk stations in which participants view various written and audio-visual materials as a starting point for prayer and individual reflection.

Contemplation by individual participants is often followed by small group discussion. Art and music is a major element of the retreat, incorporating singing and projects such as making prayer beads. Evening worship services take place around a campfire to further prayerful contemplation.

Strengthening prayer life

Participants encompass a wide range of age and backgrounds. Ebey Masillamanie, a Langara College student and parishioner at St. Cuthbert Anglican Church in Delta, B.C. first heard about Pro Mundi Vita through a discussion with rector Paul Woehrle.

Having attended similar retreats previously in his home country of India, Masillamanie, 28, saw Pro Mundi Vita as a chance to become closer to God and learn more about prayer, spiritual well-being, and how God had transformed the lives of others.

“I would say it strengthened my prayer life,” Masillamanie said of the retreat. “It also gave me a thought to realize that I’m not really spending as much time as I should spend with God.”

One of the biggest lessons he took from the weekend was the value of silence in prayer, and how one can glorify God through even the smallest acts.

“I learned from that retreat that sometimes you don’t really have to talk everything to God,” Masillamanie. “You just sit and listen to him, and maybe you learn something.”

“I never used to do that,” he added. “I used to always just pray and just leave, but I never had a mentality to sit quietly just for a few minutes to listen to what he’s trying to say.”

Sharon McElroy, a parishioner at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Sechelt, B.C. left the retreat with a new appreciation for the different forms of prayer.

“I think the highlight of the whole thing was the wide diversity of ways they showed us that a person can pray,” McElroy said. “There are so many different ways to do it, and I’ve always found prayer kind of difficult—like, what are you supposed to say? What are you supposed to do? Who are you praying to?

“All of those questions were handled and we talked about them … It became apparent that you didn’t have to use words to pray, and I really liked that concept.”

Though she has not always prayed regularly in her life, McElroy found herself praying daily and often at the retreat. She has since kept up the habit, describing her experience of prayer as “a little bit deeper and a little richer now.”

Attending Pro Mundi Vita, she said, has given her “a whole lot of encouragement about the path that I’ve been on, that I’m moving in the right direction” in terms of spiritual formation.

“I’m going on 76 years old,” McElroy said. “It’s been a long journey to have a personal relationship with God. People always talked about it to me; I never had it.

“So this has really helped me feel that, to feel into it, and realize I didn’t have to have some kind of epiphany or something—that it can be a very gentle experience of praying and being in contact with the divine.”

Nationwide aspirations

Part of funding for Pro Mundi Vita allowed for three initial pilots to tweak and refine the program.

Following the third retreat in February, its coordinators are hoping that the materials and format of the retreat might eventually be replicated by Anglicans across the country. A fourth retreat is expected to take place in the Diocese of New Westminster this fall.

“We’re trying to develop a tool that other churches or other dioceses can use for spiritual formation,” project lead Eric Mason said.

At the moment, he added, “We’re still in the development on how to disseminate it and present it to the wider church. Right now we’re working on developing the retreat itself so that it becomes something that we can pass on.”

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LGBTQ rights focus of World Student Christian Federation gathering

January 17, 2018 - 5:20pm

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) recently held a major gathering focused on human sexuality and LGBTQ rights. More than 40 participants from around the world attended the Inter-Regional Leadership Training Program 2017 on Identity, Diversity and Dialogue, which took place from Nov. 1-5 in Bangalore, India.

Among those in attendance was Canadian representative for the WSCF North America regional section, Kiersten Jensen. Currently a Master’s of Social Work student at Carleton University, Jensen previously worked for four years at Trinity Anglican Church in Ottawa as parish administrator and director of child and young family ministries.

In 2014, Jensen travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the first official dialogue on gender and sexuality held by the WSCF. An ecumenical organization with a strong focus on social justice issues, the WSCF is a highly diverse body with very different theological, political, and legal contexts facing Christian students in different regions.

“Prior to that, the WSCF didn’t have any official statement on LGBTQ issues,” Jensen recalled. “At that point, what we discovered is that we were in so many different spaces that we couldn’t even put out a statement on criminalizing LGBTQ people, because some people were in spaces where [in] their countries at the time, that could have been dangerous for them … if they were found to come out in support of LGBTQ people.”

In the intervening years, different regions had been doing work in their own ways related to LGBTQ issues.

As a result, the gathering in Bangalore to some degree had the character of a reunion—with many who had attended the Geneva conference returning to discuss how to move forward and provide education on LGBTQ issues, and what a queer theology might look like.

“That week in Geneva, everybody was working really hard together and was really invested in the WSCF and moving us forward as we could … It was really, really challenging, and so I wasn’t really sure what to expect here,” Jensen said.

“But it was amazing. It was a lot more affirming. It seems like everybody who was at this particular gathering was in a different space, and felt like they had a lot more ability to be open.”

Participants came from around the world. Besides India, countries of origin ranged from Malaysia to Malawai to Italy, as well as Canada and the United States.

Participants gather outside at the Inter-Regional Leadership Training Program. Submitted photo

The resulting conversations accordingly reflected the diversity of those in attendance. A number of participants were specialists in LGBTQ research. Other young people, though excited to learn, had little to no prior education on LGBTQ issues. For example, some were unaware of the difference between a gay person and a trans person.

While there was a common desire to move forward with an action plan on how the WSCF could help local movements engagement with their own faith communities on issues of LGBTQ justice, participants were frequently reminded that the needs of the LGBTQ community can vary greatly depending on context.

“Right here in Canada for example, marriage equality was a big thing,” Jensen said. “In another place, it might be refugee-related issues.

“In India, one of the big things is that trans women are often sex workers—and maybe some of them want to be sex workers, but most of them would like to have regular jobs. But they can’t, because there’s so much stigma. So that’s just recognizing that each individual place has different needs.”

A highlight of the event was when participants met with members of Sangama, a South Indian organization described by Jensen as “run by queer and trans people, for queer and trans people and sex workers in the region.” Sangama specializes in advocacy work and on-the-ground support work to ensure LGBTQ people and sex workers have basic needs met, while providing services such as teaching job training skills.

“It was really, really neat to get to hear … what LGBTQ justice issues look like for [the local community] and how they’re approaching their work,” Jensen said.

At the time of writing, volunteers with the WSCF were preparing an official statement on the gathering to identify how the WSCF can help students and young people engage with their communities on LGBTQ issues, start conversations, and develop initiatives suited to their local context.

Note: This article was edited on Jan. 18, 2017 to include reference to participants who specialize in LGBTQ research.

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A letter from Archbishop Hiltz on the future of his primacy

January 9, 2018 - 6:54pm

January 7, 2018

The Baptism of the Lord

Dear Friends:

On this Sunday, right on the heels of The Feast of the Epiphany we find ourselves at the Jordan River remembering The Baptism of the Lord. We recall how he insisted that John take him into those waters. We hear again that voice from heaven as he rose up from his transitory burial, ”This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3:17) We remember that the Spirit descended and rested upon him like a dove, and then within days drove him out into the wilderness beyond Jordan. There he fasted for forty days and nights. The evangelists speak of that time as His Temptation in the Wilderness. Many biblical scholars speak of it as a time of spiritual discernment as to the nature of his mission. It was clearly a time of spiritual wrestling, marked by a deepening awareness of his identity as the Servant of God, The Anointed One who would announce good tidings and publish peace, saying to Zion, “Your God reigns”. (Isaiah 52:7) From those days in the wilderness, he would come in the power of the Spirit into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, teaching the people in their synagogues and healing the sick among them. So began his public ministry.

As we celebrate Our Lord’s Baptism we recall our own. We are reminded of who we are, the Beloved of God in Christ and what our work is in our own communities and in the world. It is an opportunity at the very outset of a new year to reaffirm our commitments to the many ministries that accompany our vows in baptism.

Sometimes those commitments take the form of continuing work in just the same way we have done it for many years albeit with renewed vigor and spirit. Sometimes they take the form of deepening clarity with respect to the charism and skill needed to enhance a particular ministry, its reach and impact. Sometimes they take the form of a concerted effort in drawing others into an emerging ministry, one for which we know they have gifts, and encouraging them in their participation. Sometimes those commitments take the form of thoughtful and prayerful discernment with respect to making way for new leadership.

Now, dear friends is such a time for our beloved Church, a time for me to make plans to conclude my years of service as Primate, and  time for the Church to make the arrangements necessary for the election of a new Primate.

In 2017, I marked 40 years in ordained ministry and 40 years of marriage with my dear Lynne. For 23 of those 40 years I have served our Church as a bishop, and for 10 of those 23 as Primate. As you well know this was not an office to which I aspired. Nonetheless I have endeavoured to fulfil the duties required of me in the best interests of our Church and its commitment to God’s mission in Canada and as a loyal partner in the life and witness of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It has been an enormous privilege and a great adventure with blessings beyond number.

This year on December 3rd, I will God willing reach the age of 65. I think that is probably no secret in our Church! And in the natural order of discourse around such milestones, questions arise with respect to one’s intentions about retirement. I believe it is incumbent upon me to help move us all beyond whispered speculations to clarity about my intentions.

Allow me just a few minutes to bare but a bit of my soul concerning my discernment. At some length, I have considered how much longer I should remain in office. In all honesty, there are days when I wonder if I might not be coming very close to the “best before” date in the leadership I am providing. Time and again, I have examined the scenarios for which Canon III on The Primate makes provision with respect to resignation. I have experienced more than a few restless nights. I have tried to abide by St Paul’s counsel not to be anxious but prayerful (Philippians 2:6) I have prayed and I have quietly asked a few others to uphold me in their prayers through this time of discernment. For their pledge to do so I am enormously grateful.

I confess too that out of a deep and abiding love for our Church I have in these last several months felt more than a little sense of solemn obligation to see General Synod through the next round of conversations over a few very significant matters. I think of how we begin to move beyond Vision 2019. I think of the second reading of the amendment to the Marriage Canon.  I think of the next steps we will be taking to honour the dream of a truly Indigenous Church within The Anglican Church of Canada. I think of the desire deep in the soul of our Church for making a faithful response to the Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission grounded in the UN Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I think of the emerging nature of global partnerships, orientated not only around fellowship and mutual encouragement  in our witness to the Gospel but also  solidarity in addressing massive global issues as horrific as human trafficking and as critical as climate change.

My discernment has brought me to a decision to resign at the conclusion of General Synod 2019. Last week I made my decision known to the Provincial Metropolitan senior by election, The Most Rev John Privett (Archbishop of Kootenay and Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon). In accord with the requirements of Canon III on The Primate, I also submitted my notice of intention to resign as Primate at the conclusion of General Synod. Having consulted with the other Metropolitans and the Prolocutor of General Synod and the Deputy Prolocutor, Archbishop Privett and I have jointly determined that my resignation take effect  July 16, 2019. On that day the 42nd Session of The Meeting of General Synod will conclude its work and will celebrate the election of a new Primate. It will be a day when I pray we will all say with a resounding heart soul and voice, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)

For the decision I have made I ask your understanding and respect. In the work we still have to do together I ask your patience and perseverance. Know that I remain ever grateful for your prayers and for the multitude of ways in which you have and continue to support me in my ministry. Know that my prayers for our beloved Church are very much in accord with the affection with which St Paul held the Church in Philippi.

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me….. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-7, 9-11)

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

View this letter in PDF format

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Ottawa Youth Internship Program spurs community engagement

January 4, 2018 - 2:30pm

In late 2017, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa secured funding for the next session of its Youth Internship Program. Running from January to June 2018, the session will mark the third cohort in an ongoing initiative that has garnered attention from Anglicans across the country.

Since its first session in the first half of 2016, the Youth Internship Program has provided paid work experience, faith formation, and development of leadership skills for 14 young participants, helping cement bonds between youth, the church, and the community.

“The success of our program I believe to be the building of the relationships,” coordinator Donna Rourke said.

“We model really collaborative relationship building and community engagement within our churches and our communities. Everything we do in the program is to empower our youth to be the leaders of tomorrow, both in our churches and in our communities.”

Participants in the program are youth enrolled in Grade 11 or 12 or attending their first year of university or college. Working in a parish or with one of the diocese’s community partners such as KAIROS, Habitat for Humanity, or the local food bank, interns are able to accumulate considerable work experience in a safe and supportive environment.

Currently in his first year at Carleton University, Malcolm Tychie was a student at Nepean High School when he learned about the Youth Internship Program from a presentation by Rourke at All Saints Anglican Church.

“I thought it was pretty cool and a good chance to get a job like my mom was asking, so I signed up and was lucky enough to get a position,” Tychie recalled. “I’m pretty glad that happened.”

Joining the second cohort in the program that ran from September 2016 to June 2017, Tychie worked at Trinity Anglican Church as their community engagement coordinator. His responsibilities included writing email newsletters for the community as well as writing Facebook posts to keep people engaged in what was going on around the church.

Over the course of his internship he made valuable connections with fellow interns, his supervisor Kiersten Jensen, and Rourke—who as part of the program helps coach interns on important job skills, such as how to behave during an interview.

“It was a very nice experience,” Tychie said of his internship. “I met a lot of really great people there and it was really interesting. It exposed me to another church community … I love the community I’m in, but it was very nice to experience a different one … It gave me a real chance to explore different aspects of the church that I hadn’t really thought about so much.”

“For example, the music program … When I went to Trinity, they have a proper organ rather than a little box one. Their organ player is excellent … and the choir is great too. So it gave me a new appreciation for the music program.”

Tychie’s cohort enjoyed additional features of the program, following feedback from the first session. These included Christian mentors and monthly faith formation, in which interns can speak with a three-person clergy team about their individual faith journeys.

Following the conclusion of the third session in June, the next session of the Ottawa Youth Internship Program will take place from September 2018 to June 2019. The Diocese of Ottawa will begin accepting applications for the fourth session this year with active recruitment taking place in March and April.

Find application information for the Youth Internship Program.

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CLAY 2018 set to weave stories in Thunder Bay

January 3, 2018 - 2:30pm

The Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering returns to Central Canada this year, and preparations to host the biennial ecumenical event in Thunder Bay are underway.

CLAY 2018 will take place at Lakehead University from Aug. 15-19, bringing together hundreds of young members of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

While the structure is similar to past iterations of CLAY, featuring large group gatherings, shared worship, and live entertainment, this year’s event—which is based around the theme of Threads—differs in one significant aspect.

Rather than a keynote speaker, CLAY 2018 will feature a “storyweaver”, who is the Rev. Steve Greene. Currently assistant curate to the rector for South Huron Regional Ministries, Greene has led slam poetry ministry projects at previous CLAY events. In addition, the gathering will feature three storytellers, who speak to their experiences in ministry and embodying God’s call.

In his role as storyweaver, Greene will speak at large group gatherings, pulling together the narratives of each storyteller, weaving them throughout the tapestry of the CLAY context, and relating them with the Bible and how God’s word has impacted our lives and stories.

“Connecting those stories together … it’s my job to weave it all through, and to give them understanding that we’re all stories to be told—that God has created us to tell his story, which is critically important,” Greene said.

Looking at storytelling traditions from different cultures, Greene believes that there are five basic tenets of a good story: It must be understood, engaging, memorable, shareable, and dialogical.

“The goal for me is to use those five tenets and weave them into each person’s story, and then move it on to the people who will be listening—the youth and young adults, and how their stories are understood,” he said.

The 2016 CLAY gathering at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown saw an enthusiastic response, selling out all available spaces with a notable increase in attendance over previous years.

As a result, organizers have made sure that more spaces are available this year than in 2016, raising the total number to more than 1,100.

Sheilagh McGlynn, youth animator for the Anglican Church of Canada, said that while attending CLAY has long been “in the Lutheran DNA”, with successive generations of families attending, Anglicans are fairly new to CLAY.

“We’ve been doing this now for a number of times and our participation has increased every time, but we’re still a minority when it comes to the broad participation at CLAY,” McGlynn said.

“I hope that we can change that, because I think it’s such an amazing event for young people—not just young people, for communities. Youth leaders and their young people can come to this together and have this experience together.”

For the first time in the history of CLAY, participants will be able to register for the gathering online. Online registration for CLAY 2018 begins on Jan. 15.

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Primate’s New Year’s Day Sermon

January 1, 2018 - 4:13pm

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
Sermon, New Year’s Day, 2018
Christ Church Cathedral
Ottawa, Ontario

“We praise you, heavenly Father,
for the name of your incarnate Son, Jesus.
May it be to us and all your children
the name that is above every name,
the name to be honoured, trusted, and adored,
now and forever more.  Amen”

Today it is our joy to remember the naming of the Child whose Nativity we celebrate throughout these twelve days of Christmas.  There was no question as to what his name would be.  In fact, the naming would be an act of obedience to instruction given by an angel when the child was conceived.  In Luke’s account of the Gospel, it is Mary who receives the instruction.  In Matthew’s it is Joseph.  “You shall name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)  While the naming was an occasion of rejoicing, few perhaps, grasped the significance of this Child receiving that name.

“Jesus” you see, was a common name in those days.  But in the case of this little one, circumcised according to the law on the eighth day after his birth, this name would spell out his life and ministry.  He was that one of whom the prophet had spoken,

“To us a child is born
to us a son is given…
And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.”
—(Isaiah 9:6)

Holding that child in his arms the devote and righteous Simeon would say “Lord, now let your servant go in peace: your word has been fulfilled.  My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people; a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”  Luke 2:29 – 32)

At the very same hour the aged and faithful Anna would also give thanks to God and “speak of him to all who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38), beckoning them to come and see the child.

He was the Messiah, the Anointed One who would announce salvation and publish peace.  He was the Servant of God who would bear the sins of the world and give his life a ransom for many.  He would be the first born from the dead, the one of whom St. Paul would write, “God has exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at his name, every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and every tongue confess him Lord.” (Philippians 2: 8-10)

As a grandparent I was amazed by the care Nathan and Melissa took in naming their child – Leah Madeline.  Leah is a good biblical name, and Madeline is the name of Nathan’s maternal grandmother.  What for me and for any of us who are grandparents is equally wonderful is that time when our grandchild embraces that name as their own, that time when with the genuine joy of a child they respond to our question, “What’s your name?”  and “What’s Mommy’s name? What’s Daddy’s name?  What’s Gran’s name? What’s Papa’s name?”  And off they rhyme them one by one, that host of those to whom they know they belong, all those who love and nurture them with heart and soul, who watch and protect them, who teach and guide them, taking great delight in their growth and comprehension of the joys and complexities of life.

A child’s name gives them identity within their families, among friends, in society at large and eventually in their places of education and employment, in their life’s calling and labours.

Now dear friends, consider with me an awful indeed unacceptable reality that in our world, thousands of children are born and their birth is not registered.   This sadness is a violation of their first right as human beings.  To be registered at birth guarantees statehood, access to medical treatment, opportunity for an education and employment as an adult.  All these rights are at risk when a child’s birth is not or cannot be registered.  They are persons without an identity or a homeland, without rights or opportunities.  Legally they are nobodies.

Issues related to birth registration are huge in our world and the World Council of Churches, of which the Churches of the Anglican Communion are members, is endeavouring to address them through a global initiative known as “Churches’ Commitments to Children”.  Launched from Geneva in March 2017, this initiative seeks

  1. to promote child protection through church communities;
  2. to promote meaningful participation of children and adolescents as possessing agency – that is a mind and a voice in shaping social policies impacting their own lives, and
  3. to promote intergenerational activities for climate justice, for behaviours adaptive to the impacts of climate change.

In keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the World Council of Churches sees these initiatives as consonant with the ministry of Jesus’ embrace of children, how he welcomed, blessed and healed them; how he lifted up their awe and wonder in life itself, and in the mystery of things divine.  How he saw them as models for any who would embrace the joys of the Kingdom, he was announcing.  The World Council of Churches also sees these initiatives as consonant with Jesus’ stern warning against any who would violate their innocence or harm them in any way.

We live in times when it is impossible to escape seeing the images of children whose basic human rights are violated; a time when it is impossible to plead ignorance; a time when from the perspective of the Gospel of Jesus, it would be irresponsible indeed unforgivable, for us not to act in the interests of their dignity, safety and well-being.

You know the images of which I speak:

  • The children of war- just last week UNICEF described 2017 as a nightmare year for such children- the children of Israel and Palestine and Iraq and Syria, and South Sudan and Yemen
  • The children who become separated from their families in the masses of people fleeing oppression in their homelands.
  • The children who cling to their mothers and fathers in risky voyages across treacherous seas or desert treks in the hope of refuge in another country.
  • The children who know no life beyond a refugee camp.
  • The children who are trafficked as young as twelve or thirteen for the sex trade.
  • The children who work in unsafe factories meeting the unfettered greed of consumerism in other parts of the world.
  • The children in this country who are living in poverty-1 in 7 according to stats released in September 2017.
  • The children who are the descendants of those who were taken from their families and housed in the Indian Residential Schools, the children of those dark chapters in the history of Canada.
  • The children who suffer through bullying, physical, emotional or sexual abuse and in some cases utter neglect because their parents are so entrapped in cycles of addiction of one kind or another
  • The children who have suffered abuse by ministers of the Church, including our own.
  • The children who live within the horrors of domestic violence and those who are innocent victims in the midst of bitter custody disputes. As I speak I am sure you can see the faces of dear little Aubrey Berry and her sister Chloe who were found dead in their father’s home in Oak Bay B.C. on Christmas Day

Alongside these tragic images are a number of beautiful ones reflecting God’s call to love and protect and nurture these little ones; to do that in the name of Him of whom the prophet writes: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in the bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

I think of those who lead Children’s Time in our liturgies, those who teach Sunday School, those devoted to Godly Play and Messy Church and all others who with imagination and dedication nurture in our children the truth that God loves them.

I am encouraged by the adoption of Safe Church policies across the Church.

I give thanks for the Feed My Lambs initiatives to end child poverty in Canada, of Church sponsored breakfast programs, and after school snacks and homework clubs hosted by numerous parishes.

I am glad of Church supported summer camps for kids who live in poverty and summer camps for the children of refugee families settling in Canada.

I take heart in the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s Kids Helping Kids program, and the many ministries under the auspices of Hope Bear; the Foundation’s support in Hope Air – a service that provides free travel for children from remote northern communities requiring medical treatment in large metropolitan centres; and the Foundation’s love for children in palliative care.  One of the facilities it supports is Canuck Place in Vancouver.  There, they say, “We cannot add days to a child’s life, but we can add life to their days”.

I am ever grateful for church wide support for Help Lines for children or teens in crisis.

I am pleased to see that The General Synod is funding staff positions dedicated to suicide intervention programs in Indigenous Communities throughout Canada.

I think of our Church’s commitment to anti-racism training. It really has to begin with our children. I think too of the many efforts  to respond with integrity to the Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in particular today, to the ones addressing Child Welfare including significant gaps in funding for health care and education. They in fact are the first of the 94 Calls.

I rejoice in the amazing work and impact of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund programs for Food Security and Maternal Newborn and Child Health, particularly in Rwanda, Mozambique, Burundi, Tanzania, and Bangladesh.

I am mindful of our Church’s support for the internationally renowned Kids4Peace program offering opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian children to vacation together and to forge friendships across the politic that separates them.

I cite the International Anglican Women’s Network programs for confronting gender based violence under the banner “Precious in God’s Eyes”.

I cite the Communion-wide initiative through the Anglican Alliance to rid the world of the evil of trafficking people for the sex trade.  Some countries are designated as source countries, some as transfer, and some as destination, and some are all three.  Canada is one of them.  In every country children and young women who are poor are most vulnerable to be trafficked.  In Canada it is Indigenous children and young women who are at highest risk.  Given this sad reality I am pleased that our Church launched a website and is producing materials to help us know the signs that people are being trafficked, to name them and address them.  We have launched this initiative in partnership with the Canadian Centre To End Human Trafficking, our Full Communion partner the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Kairos.  We are joining hearts and hands with all others united in the work associated with the great Freedom Prayer.  It reads in part as follows.

“God of freedom,
Who leads us into life…

Where chains restrain God’s chosen children
Where humans trade in kin and skin
May our words pass on your promise
Of a land where liberty is sweet

God of freedom,
Who leads us into life…

Give us faith to face the Pharaohs
Who line their pockets from this plague
Send us as salvation’s sponsors
Willing servants; slaves to love

God of freedom,
Who leads us into life,
Deliver us from every evil:
And make of us
Deliverers of others.”

Friends, I name all these ministries not to parade or boast about them, but rather to say I believe they are all in the spirit of “the moral obligation” that informs the World Council of Churches Commitments to Children.  The Council has requested that each member Church adopt them and make them their own.  I intend to place them before the Council of General Synod of our Church and I commend them to every diocese in the hope of a strong endorsement by every parish throughout our Church.

Like every New Year’s Day, this cathedral church reverberates with our carols of praise rejoicing in the birth of the Christ Child and his naming.

On this New Year’s Day, it will also reverberate with the renewal of our baptismal vows.  As we come to that sacred moment, I ask you, one and all, to be especially mindful of our commitments to the children of the world.  As the call from the World Council of Churches reads, “Children’s needs to be nurtured and protected, as well as heard and respected, should call forth the best in us.”

To turn our energies to that call is to delight the heart of him whose Naming and Nurturing, whose increase in wisdom, stature, and favour with God and humankind we remember on this 8th day of Christmas, Jesus our Lord.

To him be the glory in the way we sing and the way we serve. Amen.

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“But you, O Bethlehem”

December 20, 2017 - 2:15pm

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Christmas 2017

At many Christmas Services, there is one carol that is sung by candlelight and most often it is “Silent Night! Holy Night!”  But this year I invite you to consider “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

In the opening verse of this much loved carol, Phillips Brooks takes us to that “little town” of whom the Prophet had written,

“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
And he shall stand and feed his flock
in the strength of the Lord,…
And they shall live secure,
For now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.”

(Micah 5: 2, 4-5)

 

Brooks speaks of the town’s stillness and its undisturbed sleep above which “the silent stars go by”.  Then he speaks of the beauteous light that shines in its streets, as the birth of the Messiah becomes known.  As we hold our candle, and focus on this lovely text, we might think of how far a cry the Bethlehem of today is from the stillness and peace of which the carol speaks.  Stark images of the massive Separation Wall come to mind, as do images of the heavily guarded check point through which people must pass in and out of the city.  In many respects, Brooks’ words “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” are a fitting commentary on the circumstances in which people live there.  They live with hope for the peace God intends, however elusive it may be, however challenging to negotiate and secure.  They live with fear that developments such as the world has witnessed in recent weeks will escalate political tensions in their city, in Jerusalem, Gaza, and throughout the Middle East.  So as we hold our candle and sing, we think of all those for whom this “little town” is home, all those who know its history and cling to its destiny in the sight of God.

In the next verse, we are taken right into the manger where “Christ is born of Mary”.  As we hold our candle we remember the song of the angels and the adoration of the Shepherds.  We remember the ancient Church of The Nativity to which thousands and thousands of pilgrims have flocked for centuries.  We think of all those who will gather in Manger Square this year awaiting greetings and messages from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, attesting to the loving purposes of God in Christ.  So as we hold our candle, we pray for all for whom this “little town” is a point of departure or destination in pilgrimage, and for their safety and spiritual enrichment.

In the next verse, we are carried into the realms of heaven itself and then swiftly back down to earth again.  As we hold our candle, we are reminded of the mystery of the Incarnation.

“How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given
as love imparts to human hearts
the blessings of God’s heaven!”

The words of the Prologue to John’s Gospel come to mind.  “And the Word was made flesh, and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  His coming as someone once said is “disguised”.  It is quiet and kindly.  It befriends and redeems the world.  It reconciles us with God and with one another.  It sanctifies and makes holy our lives and our work.  As we hold our candle, we are blessed in hearing yet again this wonderful truth.

“Where meek souls will receive him,
still, the dear Christ enters in.”

That we be ready we pray (with our brothers and sisters in Ghana), “Oil the hinges on the doors of our hearts that they may swing gently and easily to welcome him.”

And what a lovely segue that is to the final verse of this carol.  It is a prayer to the Holy Child that he might indeed “be born in us” and “abide with us” all our days.  It is the prayer of all those who in every generation come to know and love Him.  It was the prayer of all those now numbered among “all ye citizens of heaven above”.  It was the prayer of our loved ones who are now in His nearer presence.  As we hold our candle and remember them, we pray for ourselves that we may embrace his Gospel of love for the world and endeavour to fashion our manner of living in accord with its truths and promises.

Well dear friends, I have made my case for choosing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” as the carol to be sung by candlelight this year.  If you take up my invitation, I hope your experience like mine, helps you to focus more closely on the text and the story it tells, and the reflections and prayers it summons out of you.

With blessings for a Holy and Peaceful Christmas,

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Anglican-United dialogue looks to move forward on mutual recognition of ministry

December 19, 2017 - 2:30pm

New and returning members of the Anglican Church of Canada-United Church of Canada Dialogue came together last month for the first meeting since the renewal of their mandate at General Synod 2016.

Gathering from Nov. 27-30 at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, representatives from the two churches reviewed the achievements of past iterations of the dialogue—as documented in The St. Brigid Report and Called to Unity in Mission—and explored ways to move forward in the mutual recognition of ministers and ministry.

The Rev. Dr. Scott Sharman, animator for ecumenical and interfaith relations and Anglican staff support to the dialogue, said that much of the dialogue focused on how mutual recognition currently manifests itself at the grassroots level.

“Oftentimes, the way that question was being considered was as though that mutual recognition would have to happen at the level of the national churches at the same time,” Sharman said.

“Instead we’ve been thinking that perhaps the way to approach it is to start more from a bottom-up, as opposed to a top-down, way of approaching this challenge—and to begin the focus by looking at actual places where some creative steps have been taken, where there is a form of mutual recognition of ministry taking place.”

He noted that there are many instances in which members of the Anglican and United churches have made allowances for clergy to practice aspects of each other’s traditions. These examples range from Anglican-United joint parishes to chaplaincy work in hospitals, universities, and the military.

To gauge the scope and nature of this cooperation, dialogue members plan to research examples and collect stories of mutual recognition between Anglicans and United Church ministers for further reflection.

“There’s a form of mutual recognition already happening, and so what we want to try to do is say, OK, how is that being handled, what are some examples of ways where that is working, and have steps been taken in order to enable that?” Sharman said.

“Then perhaps [we can] derive some lessons from those stories that can be put forward as guidelines and best practices that could be drawn on as a resource more broadly.”

Mutual recognition of ministry is one of the two major areas that General Synod requested the dialogue to focus on in its 2016 mandate. The other major focus heading into 2019 will be a continuation of dialogue on the understanding of episkopé, or the ministry of oversight and governance, in each other’s traditions.

Dr. Sandra Beardsall, professor of church history and ecumenics at St. Andrew’s College in Saskatoon and United co-chair of the dialogue, said that episkopé has been a major sticking point in previous discussions on mutual recognition of ministry.

“What’s happened in the past is we’ve never been able to get past the issue of episkopé—oversight,” Beardsall said. “We have such different models with the personal episkopé of the bishop in the Anglican Church and the conciliar episkopé of the United Church, where councils and groups make the kind of decisions that bishops make in the Anglican Church often.”

In the absence of an overarching agreement at the national level between the two churches regarding mutual recognition of ministry, members of the dialogue are looking at ways to facilitate current work without having to establish a formal agreement, such as providing shared resources across denominations.

“What is it we can already do, that we’re already doing, and how can we help people do that effectively, efficiently, and not be afraid to try it?” Beardsall said.

“We think that sometimes people assume that working across denominational lines is going to be awkward and difficult,” she added. “We want to help them see that it’s really life-giving and exciting when we share ministry in these ways that we think Jesus called us to do, to be the church in the world—not just to be Anglicans and United Church in the world, but to bring the Good News, whatever way we can, with whatever resources we have.”

After gathering material documenting present instances of mutual ministry, members of the dialogue will next meet in June 2018. Their final meeting of the triennium is expected to take place in early 2019, and will include preparations for a report to bring before the next meeting of General Synod.

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Advent gifts help non-stipendiary clergy

December 12, 2017 - 9:13pm

Drawing on a recent influx of donations, the Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop is helping provide some holiday cheer to dozens of non-stipendiary Anglican clergy across the country.

The office recently received a grant from the New England Company to assist non-stipendiary (unpaid) clergy, along with several individual donations made out through Gifts for Mission. An unidentified clergy member also committed in late November to provide a monthly donation to support one or two non-stipendiary clergy.

Putting the word out to several bishops in dioceses with a high number of non-stipendiary clergy, the office asked them to nominate some of their clergy who are most in need. In response, they received the names of 32 individuals, each of whom will receive $500, a certificate of appreciation, and a card to thank them for their ministry.

Indigenous Ministers Coordinator Ginny Doctor underscored the vital role that non-stipendiary clergy play in the ministry of the church, particularly in Indigenous communities.

“Most of them serve in remote areas … We’re talking about places where the first language is that of Oji-Cree or Cree, and those are the people that we rely on to go out and preach the Word to the people,” Doctor said.

“The real importance is that they they are delivering the gospel to the people in a contextual manner and a culturally appropriate manner,” she added. “I think that’s really important in this day and age, especially as we talk about self-determination and what that means in our remote communities.”

While the Advent assistance provides some short-term support, Indigenous Ministries hope to begin planning and discussion in the new year on how to support and recognize the work of non-stipendiary clergy on a more long-term basis.

For the moment, some funds remain available from the recent donations. Non-stipendiary clergy serving Indigenous communities can contact the Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop to inquire about the possibility of assistance.

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

December 8, 2017 - 5:03pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
December 8, 2017

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Anglican-Catholic diaconate conference set for May 2018

December 7, 2017 - 10:15pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register now for the conference.

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Anglican Healing Fund grant applications due March 1, 2018

November 28, 2017 - 2:30pm

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

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

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

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

Fundraising update

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

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

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

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