Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

The rise and fall of the American seminary (COMMENTARY)

Posted on: October 19th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

By

NEW YORK (RNS) General Theological Seminary’s campus in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is everything you’d want in an urban seminary.

Handsome buildings, a chapel at the center, quiet walkways in a noisy city, calm places to read and pray. All serving a wonderfully diverse student body eager to minister in a changing world.

It’s like the best of historic church properties: harking back to a day of noble architecture and tradition and yet looking outward to a frenetic city and changing religious environment.

Why, then, is GTS on the verge of financial collapse and, now, paralyzing internal conflict? Its dean is under attack, 80 percent of its full-time faculty were dismissed, its board is floundering — all in the glare of press and blogosphere.

Why? For the same reason that historic churches and denominations are trapped in “train wrecks.” Their time has passed.

As other major denominations are finding, the days of the residential three-year seminary are ending. Fewer prospective ordinands can afford the cost and dislocation of attending a residential seminary.

Fewer church bodies are willing to subsidize such an education, because they, too, face budget shortfalls. Fewer congregations have jobs for inexperienced clergy wanting full-time compensation.

Episcopal dioceses have been seeking other ways, such as diocesan training centers, nearby schools run by other denominations and online learning. They’re seeking professional skills training, not academic prowess.

By my rough count, it appears fewer than half of newly ordained Episcopal clergy in recent years came out of the church’s 11 official seminaries. My alma mater — Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., also embroiled in conflict — trained an average of just eight ordinands a year, one-fifth the number when I graduated in 1977.

Does the Episcopal Church — or any mainline denomination — need all of its seminaries? Probably not. To judge by recent graduation rates, it probably needs only four. Hence the anxiety leading to conflict, as tenured faculty, cost-cutting deans and anxious trustees collide.

Many congregations are in the same situation. The needs they filled 60 years ago — neighborhood churches providing a mobile postwar world with a place to belong and to ground the family — have largely vanished.

Some congregations welcomed new purposes in a world of new lifestyles, new expectations, new family structures, new employment patterns and new attitudes toward Sunday morning, and they are thriving.

Most, sad to say, resisted change and now find that time and tide haven’t waited for them. Like GTS, they find themselves broke, conflicted, hoping for a future and yet mired in disdain and distrust.

Seizing a new moment is never easy. It requires entrepreneurial leaders who risk being shot down and declared “other.” It requires mold-breaking ministry providers who move beyond the “way things used to be.” It requires constituents whose drive to serve stirs voices for change.

The tragedy at General Seminary isn’t that its time has passed — for a new time is breaking in, if the seminary will let it. Nor is it that the seminary is trapped in dysfunction and conflict — for God can redeem such moments. Or that money is tight — for God’s work is never limited by money.

The tragedy is that stakeholders at the seminary are belittling each other, questioning each other’s worthiness and allowing hubris to be their guide. Such behavior cannot end well.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited GTS recently and did the right thing: She listened. As combatants issued lengthy statements, she modeled the holy restraint that all need to learn.

 

(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tomehrich.)

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, October 8, 2014

A way of life for this age

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

By Mark MacDonald

 

(This column originally appeared in the October issue of the Anglican Journal)

 

For the past few years, it has been my practice to speak to indigenous youth about the critical role that they will play in our common future. The highlight has been on the need for courage and vision. I will say, “If we are to turn the negative things around in our communities, in order for our people to have a good life, you young people will need to show more courage, dedication and vision than the previous generation.” While saying this, two things appear to be present and necessary: the love that binds us together and gives us life and the God-oriented traditions—both Christian and indigenous—that give life its meaning.

Recently, it has become clear that the words of challenge to indigenous youth are also necessary for the whole church. In our world of soul-numbing economics and war-producing poverty and division, we are not being asked to reassert a tradition or to recapture the worldly influence of our past. If we are to become the people of God in this age, if we are to make some kind of difference in this world, we must fearlessly follow Christ, boldly represent the essence of our faith and show a level of compassion toward the whole of creation that we have, in recent times, reserved only for our family and closest friends. This will require of us all courage, dedication and vision, all but gone from the routines of contemporary church life.

A number of things will be necessary to have a vital church in the future. Many of them, without doubt, are already in our thoughts and planning. If they are not infused with courage, dedication and vision, they will not be enough. Anything less than that, anything that does not require more than we have ever given before, cannot succeed. It is ours to plead, from now until God grants us the mercy necessary, that we may be inspired to a life that will enact what our time requires; that we may have the capacity of heart to receive the Spirit that animates all that is good.

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Anglican Journal News, October 16, 2014

A Call to Prayer

Posted on: October 14th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

Once again we are at a moment in history when the world God loves is on high alert. The terrorist movement known as ISIS continues its aggressive campaigns to conquer Iraq, Syria and other nations. The world has witnessed horrific crimes against humanity and in the considered opinion of global leaders ISIS poses a very real threat to international security.

The governments of many nations have wrestled with engagement in a mission to bring this terrorist movement to a halt. Through a vote this week in the House of Commons, Canada is now among numerous allied nations engaged in this mission.

While I am deeply aware of the significant debates among people of faith with respect to “just war,” it is not my intent at this moment to draw us into that discussion but rather to call us to prayer.

I ask your prayers for all people who have been victims in this conflict, all those who have been displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and all those who are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

I ask your prayers for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who will be deployed for this mission, for their families for whom times like this are very unsettling, and for all the CAF chaplains and their ministries.

It is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada. As we gather “to raise the song of harvest home” and give thanks for this good land in which we live, let us be mindful of all the blessings we enjoy, including religious freedom Let us remember those who are denied this freedom and persecuted for their faith.

Let us turn to God and pray,

“Lead us, Father, into freedom;
from despair your world release,
that redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.”
(Hymn 576, Common Praise)

 

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

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 10, 2014

Lord, teach us to pray.

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Kyle Norman

 

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

I have read that statement time and time again.  It frequently comes up in our lectionary.  What proceeds from this request is the institution of The Lord’s Prayer – the most beloved of all prayers.  Through Sunday school lessons, confirmation classes, or just through the frequent hearing of the words, we dutifully commit this prayer to memory.  The words of The Lord’s prayer are so ingrained in us that even those who have not stepped into a church in decades can join in the prayer through the simple prompting: “Our Father, who art in heaven. . .”

We must not forget, however, that these words are an answer to a very serious request from the disciples.  The disciples wish to learn how to pray; they long to hear instructions from He who was their Master and Lord; they desire to receive direction in this most holy and sacred activity.

Today, asking for a lesson on how to pray may seem odd.  After all, when is the last time you went to your priest (or Bishop) and asked for a run down on prayer?  Do I sit?  Do I stand?  Should my hands be cupped or open?  Should I bow my head or look toward the heavens? Today these types of questions seem ludicrous; yet it was common in ancient times for students to request these lessons from their teacher.  Every High Priest, Rabbi, and Teacher had subtle nuances that made up their particular ‘brand’ of praying.  Thus, those who were committed followers of a certain teacher would naturally be tasked with learning these particular nuances.   Just as John taught his disciples to pray, as Saul was no doubt taught at the feet of his teacher Gamaliel, the disciples now request that Jesus unravel the intricacy of prayer for them.

This got me thinking about my own training in the school of prayer.  I don’t know about you, but I was never taught how to pray.  Now I have grown up in the church; I was baptised at 13 days old and confirmed when I was 16; I built the foundation of my faith with Sunday school felt boards and Christmas pageant costumes;  I went on youth retreats and summer camps; My high school years were filled with youth groups, mission projects, and lock-ins.  I even spent three years as a church youth worker before spending an equal amount of time in Seminary.  Yet all throughout this process I do not believe that I was ever explicitly taught how to pray.  It was just assumed that I would figure it out as I went along.

Is this your experience as well or is it just me?

Where did this assumption that we as Christians would just ‘figure prayer out’ come from?  Surely, it isn’t from the Bible.  After all, the disciples asked for a lesson in prayer, and all of the statements about prayer in the epistles are made to a community of people for whom it was assumed would be living out their prayers lives together.  I suspect that this boils down to the overly privatized atmosphere in which we view all things spiritual today.  Our faith is about ‘Me-and-Jesus’ (and notice who comes first!)   In many ways, we still abide by the old adage that says it is ‘not polite to speak about religion in public.’  Sure we may drape this under the rhetoric of pluralism and tolerance, but the result is that our spirituality becomes severed from active life.

When it comes to our prayer lives, then, prayer is seen as a solely personal endeavour.  No instructions need ever be given, no lessons to learn, because prayer is just about how I function within my “Me-and-Jesus” framework.  What is more, given the fact that prayer is seen as something essentially ‘private’ to the individual, we make ourselves the ultimate authority on our own prayer life.  This may sound freeing until we realize that we cut ourselves off from any possibility of growth.  How can I learn to pray when I am the ultimate authority on what it means for me to pray?

Is it any wonder why so many people struggle with developing an active and rich prayer life?

We see here the problem with such an individualized understanding of prayer.  Striving to figure it out as we go, yet lacking the specific desire, knowledge or space to do so, we never achieve the growth (or results) we would hope for in our prayers.  Eventually many of us just give up beyond the most routine of prayers said in a frenzied and hurried manner.  This leaves much of the Biblical statements on prayer seeming like over-exaggerations without any practical or real-world significance.  The charge to ‘pray without ceasing’, for example, is simply an impossibility given the demands of life and our own lack of results in prayer.

E.M Bounds describes this sense frenzied prayer as the manner in in which we ‘drop down and say a few words, and then jump up and forget it and expect God to answer.” This, remarks Bounds, is akin to a ‘small boy ringing his neighbour’s doorbell, and then running away as fast as he can go.”  (Quoted from E.M Bounds “Understanding Prayer” pg. 60).  There is simply no time given to this holy act.  This would, of course, explain our lack of results in prayer; we never stay in prayer long enough to hear God respond.  Yet, again, were we ever taught the necessity of listening? Were we ever taught how to quiet our distractions and wait upon the Lord to respond?

We tend to view the matter of prayer as pertaining to what we say, rather than seeing it as internal disposition before our Lord and maker. When this is the attitude by which we approach that most central of spiritual activities, we are lead into one of two serious dangers.  Either we do not recognize our prayerlessness as a problem, or we fail to look for the lessons that can move us into a deeper prayer-filled connection with our Lord.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.  The disciples asked to pray, and Jesus did respond.  What is more, the Spirit is present to continue ushering us into deeper experience, if we would  but open ourselves to such lessons.  E.M. Bounds writes “The strongest one in Christ’s kingdom is the one who is the best knocker.  The secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray.  The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christ kingdom.  The most important lesson we can learn is how to prayer.”

May we, like the disciples of old, echo the question “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Were you ever taught how to Pray?  What resources, lessons, and experiences did you use to develop your prayer life?

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on

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Weekly update from The Community, October 10, 2014

‘Until all are fed’

Posted on: October 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Fred Hiltz

 

 

Stalks of corn are tied to the ends of every pew. Apples, parsnips, carrots and tomatoes are nestled in beds of colourful leaves on every windowsill. Fall flowers are tucked among wooden hampers overflowing with cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes and turnips at the chancel steps. Homemade bread and bunches of grapes deck the altar. It’s Thanksgiving and we have gathered “to raise the song of harvest home” (Hymn 262, Common Praise).

As the offertory hymn is sung, wheelbarrows laden with canned goods, pasta and cereals are rolled up the aisle, all destined for the local food bank. The offering plates brim with gifts for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, widely known for its commitment to both food aid in emergency situations and food security for the long term. It’s Thanksgiving and we are praying for deliverance from ways of giving thanks for plenty that leave the poor unfed (Psalm 135, Book of Alternative Services).

One billion people in the world are hungry. Over four million people in Canada live in poverty. Thousands of people in First Nations and Inuit communities live without access to clean water and affordable, healthy food.

As people of faith, we are called to hear the cry of the poor and to do everything we can so that their hope for a better life does not perish (Psalm 9:18, BAS). We have a moral responsibility to press world leaders to have unwavering political will in achieving the Millennium Development Goal “to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.” In the monumental task of building a just global economy, we pray that their deliberations will be firmly rooted in the divine will for peace and plenty among all peoples.

Our perseverance in this public witness to our faith is wonderfully expressed in some words from the song that united the 2013 Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea:

How long will we sing?

How long will we pray? How long will we write and send? How long will we bring? How long will we stay? How long will we make amends?

Until all are fed we cry out; Until all on earth have bread. (“Until all are fed” by Brown, McFarland, Morris) 

 

ARCHBISHOP FRED HILTZ is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Journal News, October 10, 2014

Lessons learned from Back to Church Sunday

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Leigh Anne Williams

The Rev. Clarence Li and parishioner Peter Lamb extend a big invitation to anyone driving in the vicinity of St. Hilda’s by the Sea in Sechelt, B.C.   Photo: Courtesy of St. Hilda’s


At St. Hilda’s by the Sea in Sechelt, B.C, they hung a Back to Church Sunday banner by the road to be seen by everyone driving through the neighbourhood. They printed two different kinds of invitations—one for the Sunday services and one for Taizé and other services during the week, and they handed out invitations at the nearby farmer’s market on a Saturday morning.

“That was a little bit intimidating,” the Rev. Clarence Li said in an interview, “but that was a good experience…It’s all about building relationships. The invitations give us a chance to start conversations with others,” he said. Their efforts were rewarded with about 15 people visiting the church.

Some of the parishes the Anglican Journal contacted followed the Back to Church theme more closely than others, which adapted freely and widely from the template of parishioners inviting friends to church that began in the U.K. in 2004. But those the Journal spoke with agreed that the event’s value is not only for the invited guests, but also for hosts practising and building an invitational culture. “This is a once-a-year event to remind us of the need to be inviting,” said Li.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Charlottetown was part of an ecumenical street party,  organized with six churches in its downtown Prince Street neighbourhood. Each church held its own service, but then they collaborated to put on a barbeque after the services. St. Paul’s had one barbeque on its lawn for three churches, and the three churches at the north end gathered at First Baptist Church. Archdeacon John Clarke estimated that there were about 10 new people at their Sunday service. “I think that’s a great success. If there were 10 in our church and 10 in another, across the diocese that is equivalent to a whole congregation,” he said, noting that the outdoor barbeque attracted the interest of many people downtown who hadn’t come to the service, providing another opportunity for conversation and invitation.

St. Paul’s also shares weekly services and lunches during Advent and Lent with its ecumenical neighbours. “I think the fact that we are together in Advent and Lent and we do the street party together on Back to Church Sunday does give people a sense that it is not about picking Anglicanism over something else—it is about accepting Christ into our lives,” said Clarke.

A note in St. Paul’s Back to Church Sunday bulletin offered a similarly ecumenical message. If St. Paul’s didn’t suit the visitor, the church could help to put him or her in touch with another Anglican church in the city or a parish in a “sister church” of another denomination. “Our goal for Back to Church Sunday (and for whenever someone tries us out) is not to force, trick or lie to people to get them to join us, but to bring people into an awareness of their relationship with the Creator. It is not, for us, about people’s money or joining parish committees—it is simply about creating opportunities for people to give praise and thanks to God for all the blessings of life.” Clarke said one parishioner suggested printing the whole message on cards that would be available to visitors all year round.

Another theme that emerged was about “truth in advertising,” and following advice from Michael Harvey, who co-founded Back to Church Sunday in Manchester, to make sure that the Back to Church Sunday service is not too radically different from regular services, so that visitors know what the community and services they are being invited to are usually like.

Shawn Branch, national director of Threshold Ministries, recalls a well-intentioned Back to Church Sunday event done around Valentine’s Day that he felt went awry because the service was changed too much. “None of us robed. We had a totally different person doing the music. It was different liturgy. We welcomed people with candy and little activity bags for the kids,” he said. “And the next Sunday, we had the organ back and those of us in leadership were robed and it was a BCP service.”

Branch, a lay leader at All Saints Church, East Saint John, says that when the parish has done those kind of events since, they’ve been careful to add different elements but make sure it isn’t “radically different” from a usual service. The parish periodically does picnics or barbeques and since many people were going for breakfast after church, they’ve started hosting breakfasts before church about once a month.

“The approach we’ve taken is to encourage constant invitation,” he said. When a parishioner invited a family to come this summer, they initially said, ‘We’re not sure we’d be comfortable at church. We wouldn’t know how to act.’ All they needed was a bit of reassurance and to hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine,’ ” he said.

Branch thinks that the relationships people build are more important to healthy church growth than programs or “whether it is BCP or BAS or whether there’s a band or keyboard or an organ…We need to be inviting people back into community.”

Archdeacon Clarke recalled that last year, a couple who had left St. Paul’s 20 or 30 years before, were speaking to the widow of a man who had died about maybe returning to the church. “The funeral was just over and she turned to me and [asked] me when Back to Church Sunday is.” He recalled with a chuckle that his answer was, “‘It’s next Sunday.’ ” _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _Anglican Journal News, October 3, 2014

Welby backs airstrikes against ISIS

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

By André Forget

 

 

“There is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a debate in the House of Lords. File photo: Lambeth Palace


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has thrown his support behind the military airstrikes against the Islamic State (known also as ISIL or ISIS), a radical organization of insurgents in Iraq and Syria attempting to create a “caliphate,” or Islamic government ruled by a single individual in accordance with Sharia law.

In a debate in the House of Lords Sept. 26, Welby acknowledged that “there is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space.”

However, he warned the House that the United Kingdom “will not thus be able to deal with a global, holistic danger if the only weapons we are capable of using are military and administrative.” Instead, he urged Britons to offer “a more compelling vision, a greater challenge and a more remarkable hope than that offered by ISIL.”

Welby’s speech, a copy of which was released by Lambeth Palace, highlighted the dangers of a purely technical response to the crisis in the Middle East. Welby exhorted his peers to “face the fact that for some young Muslims the attractions of jihadism outweigh the materialism of consumer society.” He noted that, “if we struggle against a call to eternal values, however twisted and perverted they might be, without a better story, we will fail in the long term.”

The archbishop was careful, however, not to portray the conflict in the stark and reductive terms of East versus West. Instead, he argued that this “better story” must be an ecumenical one to which all people of good faith have access. “The vision we need to draw on is life-giving,” said Welby. “It is rooted in the truths of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, relying heavily in the Middle Ages on the wealth of Islamic learning, the Abrahamic faiths—not necessarily enemies—and enriched by others such as Hinduism and Sikhism in recent generations.”

The motion to intervene once more in Iraq came in response to a formal request by the Iraqi government for military support, which the House of Commons ratified by a vote of 524 in favour and 43 opposed.

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Anglican Journal News, September 29, 2014

Why give thanks?

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

By Fiona Brownlee

 

“Giving thanks reminds me that even when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction, God is still present in my life and is nudging me in the direction of the gospel,” writes the author. Photo: Mythja/Shutterstock

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Jesus is with his friends, sharing a meal: he gives thanks to God for bread and shares it with them; he gives thanks to God for wine and shares it with them. Jesus is surrounded by people who need to be fed: he takes the loaves and fishes, thanks God for them and then has his friends share the food with others. Jesus gives thanks. We as church give thanks. I, as a human being, give thanks as well.

So why give thanks? Why take the time to thank others for what they have done for us, to thank God for what we have been given? Why be thankful?

I regularly turn to this portion of the General Thanksgiving prayer in the Book of Alternative Services (BAS). It reminds me that gratitude is placed squarely in my relationship with God and is made up of all the portions of my life.

 

“We thank you for setting us tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.”

(A portion of the General Thanksgiving prayer, BAS, p. 129)

 

When my children were small one of the earliest actions I taught them was to say “please,” to get what they needed/wanted and then to say “thank you” when the action was complete. It was a way to build in that they live in community, even a small family community, and that we take care of each other. As they grew older they realized that saying thanks to others outside of their family made it possible for them to show that same level of caring to others.

Each time I gather at a meal, be it with my husband, extended family or with friends, grace is shared. The community that I am gathered with says thanks to God for the food, for those gathered at the table, for the good things that have happened in our day. We offer all those things up to God to remember that it is not just by our hands that our life is the way it is. We are who we are and have the gifts we have because God is part of our lives.

I give thanks to God because of my relationship with God, our creator, our redeemer, our sustainer. I am fed in this relationship by going to regular Sunday worship and sharing the bread and the wine that is offered during eucharist (thanksgiving) week by week. I am fed by the people who gather there who are also giving thanks.

Gratitude has become the foundation for what I do and how I am in the world. Giving thanks reminds me that even when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction, God is still present in my life and is nudging me in the direction of the gospel. Saying thank you to others for their presence in my life and their gifts places my life firmly in God’s community of love and justice for all.

Here is my gratitude list for this particular moment:

I am grateful that I care about the world that we live in and can see injustice and want to do something about it.

I am grateful that I live in a wonderful home, have caring friends, an amazing family and good work that calls out the best in me.

I am grateful that I have opportunities to share my gifts with others in ways that are meaningful for them and for me.

I am grateful that I am reminded by Jesus’ words in the gospels, by the example of my faith companions, by the goodness I see around me.

 

Thanks, merci, gracias, migwetch, hi hi, tansi to God for this day and always.

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Anglican Journal News, September 29, 2014

 

Beyond multiculturalism: Grounding Ourselves in a Native Canadian Dimension

Posted on: September 28th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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BEYOND MULTICULTURALISM
Grounding Ourselves in a
Native Canadian Dimension

 

By Wayne A. Holst

 

What does it mean to be a Canadian today?

If you are a Canadian, how would you define
yourself as a citizen?

Over time, that definition keeps changing
and evolving. Through our history – as more
people join us, and we mature as a nation -
our Canadian spirituality is also developing.

100 years ago, when Canadians fought in
World War One, we did so as British
subjects. When we entered World War
Two we did so as Canadians but many
Quebecois were not pleased that they
were fighting a war dominated by the
English.

Fifty years ago we started to describe
ourselves as a bilingual and bicultural
nation. When that seemed inadequate
to many of my own people, the idea
was expanded to multiculturalism.

In some ways, that still continues to
describe us but a most important
ingredient  has always been missing.
Now, one significant reality has been
added.

We are beginning to understand ourselves
with a Native Canadian dimension. Using
John Ralston Saul’s term in his book
“A Fair Country” we are becoming aware
of ourselves as “A Metis Nation.”

We have been heavily influenced and
shaped by Aboriginal ideas such as 
egalitarianism, proper balance between
individual and group, and a penchant
for negotiation, rather than violence.
All of these are values that Canada has
absorbed. We see the results in our
healthcare system and our evolving
legal system as traditional British and
French law changes to adapt to a new
realities in the new world.

How important it is to recognise that we
are influenced by the fact that Native
Canadians were here first! As we started
arriving from Europe, the United States
and other parts of the Americas, we
have been joined by new Canadians
from around the world. Gradually, we
ware coming to see that there were
significant cultures already present,
to which we had to accommodate, even
though our relations with the First
Nations has always been an uneasy one.

Richard Wagamese, a fine Ojibway writer,
and one of Canada’s best today now
publishes “Medicine Walk” a profoundly
spiritual story that integrates both Judeo-
Christian and Traditional spiritualities.

We are not just different from Americans,
but different in ways that matter. We
are not a melting pot of cultures, but
respectful of the different cultures that
continue to influence us as Canadians.

Wagamese believes that we are far more
Aboriginal than European and American
and our failure to recognize and celebrate
this prevents us from becoming the strong,
confident and progressive country that is
our birthright.

Whether we can all agree that the First
Nations are indeed the founding pillar
of our civilization, and that Native
spirituality is indeed something we
are able to integrate to our nation’s
spiritual values – will be key issues
with which we will be grappling this
fall as people of our congregation study
both Ralston Saul and Wagamese.

“A Fair Country” by John Ralston Saul
   http://tinyurl.com/pvs5e3w

“Medicine Walk” by  Richard Wagamese
  http://tinyurl.com/o95nho4

 

 

Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city.

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Colleagues List, Vol. X, No. 6,  September 7th, 2014

One way of marking koinonia across space and time: The BAS Calendar of Holy Persons (an invitation to contribute)

Posted on: September 27th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

 

by Eileen Scully

 

Eileen ScullyOne of the jobs before the Liturgy Task Force is to review the BAS Calendar of Holy Persons, and to make recommendations towards additions or other changes to it. We’ve taken a look at the work done south of the border with The Episcopal Church’s Holy Women, Holy Men, and other Calendars produced or revised since the BAS was authorized in 1985. We’ve also talked a lot about Canadian Anglican identity, and what it means to keep memorials and commemorations in our Church, which connect us in koinonia with the wider Body of Christ ecumenically and across the world, and through time, back those many years. And what it means to be Canadian Anglican Christians, and what more of our shared identity and particular identities within our common life could be better lifted up. Some have asked “what would a post-colonial Calendar look like?”

In my time with Faith, Worship, and Ministry, we’ve seen three additions to the BAS Calendar of Holy Persons. In 2004 we added Florence Li Tim-Oi and Mother Emily Ayckboom, as memorials; in 2010, National Aboriginal Day of Prayer became a special commemoration. Each of these additions say something about who we have grown to be as Anglican Church of Canada, and the practice of remembering and commemorating feeds that deeper grounding and keeps us thinking and celebrating and challenging ourselves about who we are. Are we continuing to live out our commitments to healing and right relationship with Indigenous peoples? Do we support and uphold the ministries of religious communities? Do we welcome the gifts of women in ministry?

In 2004, the Faith, Worship, and Ministry committee approved a document entitled Processes and Procedures for Calendar Review. Based on a Report already approved by the Anglican Consultative Council in the 1990s, it helpfully describes the role of Calendars of Holy Persons, and makes recommendations of processes by which local celebrations can be brought for consideration to the whole church. I’ve attached most of the document below this article, but draw your attention to the qualities of those to be considered for inclusion in the calendar, as follows:

  1. “Heroic faith, i.e. bearing witness with great generosity to Christ and the gospel. Historically, the primary model of heroic faith has been witness to the death, but the term may also include persistent risk-taking as well as a life in which other values are set aside for the sake of devotion and service. True heroic faith is healthy and life-affirming; it is not masochistic or suicidal.
  2. “The fruit of the Spirit. We may expect those commemorated to have exhibited in an exemplary way the fruit of the Spirit to which Paul refers in Gal 5.22, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’ Their lives may not have been perfect, but those who knew them should have been aware of this complex, but unified goal within them.
  3. “Christian engagement. We may expect those who are commemorated to have participation actively in the life of the Christian community and to have contributed to its sense of mission and to its life and growth.
  4. Recognition by the Christian Community. The commemoration of holy people should have spontaneous roots and should grow from the testimony of those who knew them…”

The Procedures part of the document outlines the ways in which local – diocesan, regional – acts of local commemoration might come forward as proposals to be discerned for inclusion in the nationally-authorized Calendar of Holy Persons. What is critical is that the discernment starts locally.

As I look across the country, I see examples of how holy women and men are being remembered and celebrated. The strongest example of which I’m aware, through the story-telling of colleauges and friends, is of William Winter, priest, pastor, teacher in what is now the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.

Who are the others?

I encourage you to start discussion in your own region and diocese. Pay attention to whom you remember, and in remembering, connect deeply in that koinonia in space and time, to feed your present community as it seeks to serve God’s mission in your time and place.

And, as usual, start a discussion here… And send additional comments to the Liturgy Task Force at fwm@national.anglican.ca


Principles and Procedures for Calendar Review (FWM 2004; Adopted from Report of the same name, adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council, 1993)

The first step in a process of commemoration is the spontaneous devotion of people who knew the person involved and testify to his/her holiness. Authority enters the process to encourage or discourage its continuation, and to provide guidance to situate the cult within the larger liturgical tradition. At every point, testing is necessary.

Calendars should be developed to honour and expand the thankful remembering of Christian people. They should not be developed in order to meet pedagogical, regional or sectionalist goals. However, a cyclical pattern exists, as worship forms the community of worshippers, educating us in the broadest sense of spiritual-intellectual-and-affective formation about our ancestors in the faith, and deepening our awareness of the communion of saints, into whose praise of God we enter in every act of worship. The calendar is a tool for re-membering the koinonia in space and time into which we are called, and in which we are held.


The commemoration of holy people is always an act of anamnesis. We remember not only the person’s historical events but the power of grace in their lives and consequently of ‘Christ in us the hope of glory.’ Holy persons are remembered not as examples of “perfection” but as signs and witnesses to God’s grace.

Some calendars restrict the word ‘saint’ to pre-Reformation figures; others do not. Anglicans should be neither intimidated nor beguiled by the technical terminology used traditionally and by Christians of other Communions in regard to the commemoration of holy people and heroes and heroines of the faith. The word ‘saint’ means only ‘holy person’ and should not be used as though it separated a loved and respected Christian from the ordinary levels of humanity. The use of the term is optional. Similarly, the word ‘canonized’ should not be used as though it implied human knowledge of divine judgement. There is, in fact, no compelling reason for Anglicans to appropriate the term, although it has been proposed in at least one province. A process of recognition after the cult has begun and historical statements have been attested will be valuable and may be called ‘canonization’, but the term should not be used as though people become saints as a result of such a process; they become saints, if at all, through holiness of life and witness to the Gospel.

Originally the word ‘martyr’ meant simply ‘witness’, but it was attached at an early date to those who persevered as witnesses to the point of death and whose death was itself the ultimate act of witness. The concept of martyrdom has become more complex in the intervening centuries. Is it to be restricted to those who might have avoided death but chose to remain firm in their resolve? Does it include those who were killed for their faith without the option of escape? Are only those who were killed by persecutors who were hostile to Christianity as such to be accounted martyrs (some Provinces in the Communion have so ruled), or does martyrdom include those who have suffered at the hands of other Christians, perhaps for their doctrinal position or for their engagement with social evil? In societies which are nominally Christian it may be necessary to define martyrdom to include the killing of Christians by Christians. It is more than possible that those who were responsible, directly or indirectly, for the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Oscar Romero, to name but two, were not only technically Christian (i.e. baptized) but acted on the basis of values which they misguidedly perceived to be Christian. The question is not who killed these witnesses, but whether they died for the authentic Gospel.

While remembrances begin at the local level among those who knew and remember a holy person, it is not inappropriate for them to spread more widely, especially if the style of holiness expressed in the life of a person addresses in a striking way the aspirations of a particular generation of Christians. The love and courage of some people makes an almost universal appeal as their story becomes know. In such cases the boundaries of geography and of divided Christianity make little sense. It is not surprising that some Anglican calendars contain the names of people who lived in other parts of the world or belonged to other Christian Communions.

Reports of extraordinary phenomena (miracles, appearances) in association with a cult are not to be equated with evidence of holiness of life and witness to the gospel. They should be treated with caution and not encouraged among those who may wish to promote a commemoration.

Principles for Calendar Revision

The following traits will be found in those who are commemorated:

  1. Heroic faith, i.e. bearing witness with great generosity to Christ and the gospel. Historically, the primary model of heroic faith has been witness to the death, but the term may also include persistent risk-taking as well as a life in which other values are set aside for the sake of devotion and service. True heroic faith is healthy and life-affirming; it is not masochistic or suicidal.
  2. The fruit of the Spirit. We may expect those commemorated to have exhibited in an exemplary way the fruit of the Spirit to which Paul refers in Gal 5.22, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’ Their lives may not have been perfect, but those who knew them should have been aware of this complex, but unified goal within them.
  3. Christian engagement. We may expect those who are commemorated to have participation actively in the life of the Christian community and to have contributed to its sense of mission and to its life and growth.
  4. Recognition by the Christian Community. The commemoration of holy people should have spontaneous roots and should grow from the testimony of those who knew them. The task of authority is to prevent the spread of inappropriate or misleading devotion, not to impose a commemoration which promotes a line of thought or boosts regional self-esteem. The larger church is not obliged to approve such recognition as local Christian communities may give to particular people; however, it should take them seriously.

Guidelines

There should exist within the church:

  1. Commitment to protecting Sundays as the weekly commemoration of the Lord, as well as the integrity of the great feasts and seasons (If a holy person died on Christmas Day, for instance, it may be appropriate to commemorate him/her on his/her birthday or on the date of some other significant event in his/her life.)
  2. Commitment to the commemoration of persons whose witness provides models for Christian life in the present context.
  3. A climate in the church that is hospitable to local commemorations.
  4. Recognition by bishops and other church leaders that they have a responsibility to review local commemorations and to encourage or discourage them as they appear (or do not appear) to foster devotion and holiness.
  5. Provision for dioceses to suggest the names of people remembered locally to an appropriate body of the Province for review (e.g., a Liturgical Commission or a sub-committee of a Liturgical Commission). In the case of the Anglican Church of Canada, Dioceses and Provinces may bring a motion for revision through appropriate avenues to the Faith, Worship and Ministry committee of General Synod, whose responsibilities as outlined below would guide the decisions of the General Synod in revising the Calendar.
  6. Provision for local (diocesan) educational tools to assist local discernment. Individuals or individual communities wishing to forward a cause for inclusion in the calendar, for example, would bring their request to their local diocesan structures for testing and decision before it is brought to a wider, national level. There may also exist local practices of remembrance that are judged to be appropriate locally without necessarily being of benefit to the whole Province. This is to be discerned locally.
  7. Provision for the appropriate national body (the Faith, Worship and Ministry committee) to test the acceptance of commemorations and memorials with a larger representation of the church.
  8. Support for the preparation and publication of accurate biographical material on those who are commemorated.
  9. A process within Faith, Worship and Ministry for the regular review of the BAS calendar that would include possibility of ‘retiring’ of names which no longer command significant attention.
  10. Provision for the General Synod to adopt names to be included in the BAS calendar, to assign them to a particular proper prayers and readings.
  11. A process for sharing calendar revision among the Provinces of the Communion. This to be done through the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation, the Anglican Consultative Council and other, informal, ways of information sharing and partnership.

Eileen Scully

About Eileen Scully

I’m serving the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada as Director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry and have a passion for how worship and learning form disciples for God’s mission in the world, and how that mission shapes our common prayer.

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Weekly Update from The Community, September 26, 2014