Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

How to apologize for abuse

Posted on: July 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion


“Sexual violence, like any abuse of power, only stops when we expose it and commit to effective prevention and response practices,” says the author. Photo: LeviQ/Shutterstock


Christ fundamentally restructures power systems. In the Beatitudes and in every parable, sermon and directive, he insists that the needs of the most vulnerable be tended first, informing how we organize and prioritize the use of resources. They also ensure full apology, restitution and healing when abuse happens. Unconditional compassion and unflinching accountability are Christ’s hallmarks and, not incidentally, the underpinnings of abuse prevention.

In 1994, Gordon Nakayama admitted to sexually abusing boys during 62 years as an Anglican priest (1932−1994). He died in 1995. Church officials neglected to report his abuse to police.

His adult children, Joy Kogawa and the Rev. Canon (ret.) Timothy Nakayama, have shown great fortitude in publicly acknowledging their father’s violence, extending solidarity towards survivors, and offering to participate in reconciliation.

This year, two pro-active Anglican bishops publicly disclosed Gordon Nakayama’s history of harm and, on June 15, issued an apology to the Japanese-Canadian Anglican communities where he preyed.

Commendably, this was built on an 18-month consultation with the Reverend Nakayama Disclosure Working Group. The apology expresses regret for avoiding public disclosure, acknowledges “sexually immoral behaviour,” commits to listening and promises pastoral care. In this, Bishop Melissa Skelton (diocese of New Westminster) and Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson (diocese of Calgary) have offered a strong example of servant leadership. But, as Bishop Skelton has said, it’s only a start.

The larger context

Two pivotal questions remain, however: why wasn’t the abuse reported in 1994?  Why didn’t the apology process begin until 2014?

The Bulletin (a Japanese-Canadian journal) says survivors and human rights advocates began meeting in 2006, following years of rumour and complaint within the Japanese-Canadian community. Meanwhile, the church sat on Nakayama’s admission.

During his career, Nakayama was supervised by two bishops in the diocese of New Westminster, four in Calgary and, in retirement, was simultaneously overseen by three in New Westminster while still under Calgary’s authority. Nine bishops did not prioritize the needs of children, provide adequate supervision, insist on sufficient accountability or ensure complaints could be made with ease and dignity.

In 1994, church leaders were alert to Anglican sexual abuse cases (e.g., John Gallienne −1990, William Starr−1993, Ralph Rowe −1994 and residential school disclosures). There was wide media coverage of the 1988 Criminal Code changes regarding child sexual abuse. Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, and the first diocesan sexual misconduct policy was adopted by the diocese of Toronto in 1992. We were not ignorant.

Failure to report

Apologizing for avoidance of public disclosure is important, but secondary. The primary issue is failure to follow child protection law in 1994.

Since 1965, adults have had a legal duty to report current and historical child maltreatment to Child Protection. (There is no statute of limitations on child abuse or sexual assault in Canada.) Adults who remain silent are legally, and morally, responsible for abuse that occurs following failure to report.

A police investigation while Nakayama lived would have determined the scope of predation and found survivors. The refusal to report undermines the church’s ability to make amends, provide pastoral care and apologize.

The survivors of Nakayama currently range in age from 40s to their 90s.

According to British and U.S. research, child molesters in institutional settings victimize 44 to 61 children/youth on average before being caught (increasing with time and access). They typically do not stop until caught.

Several factors suggest higher numbers in Nakayamas case: a 62-year timeline, ordained authority, minimal supervision, easy access to victims in multiple settings, confined internment camps (and his movement between them), “superstar” status among Anglican Japanese-Canadians, a regular ministry to 20 Alberta communities beyond his parish and strong cultural taboos against discussing sexual abuse or challenging authority in Japanese culture, the Anglican church and Canadian society.

In a parallel case, authorities estimate that more than 200 boys were abused, over only 20 years, by former Anglican priest and Scout leader Ralph Rowe, who was convicted in 1994 of 39 counts of sexual abuse involving 15 boys. Like Rowe, Nakayama also ministered to isolated families and remote communities traumatized by government policies. It’s possible we need to consider a greater scope of harm.

We’ll never know the actual number, but one is already too many.

The apology

A full apology is difficult. It requires courage to look at harm directly and name it; whatever we’ve done or left undone. It requires us to be mindful, accountable and compassionate and to listen well, express genuine regret, take action for restitution and ensure prevention.

We must accurately name Nakayama’s behaviour as violent abuse of power. Euphemisms like “mistakes” or “sexual bad behaviour” or “immoral sexual behaviour” minimize the violence. These were criminal acts against children by a trusted, church-endorsed adult: it’s called molestation, sexual abuse/assault/exploitation.

Neuro-psychology and trauma research identify sexual assault as one of the most psychologically damaging crimes because it is such an intimate act of violence, such a profound violation of trust, and  invokes such extreme shame in victims. Sexual assault results in one of the highest rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of any violent experience—97%.  (In contrast, combat veterans show 30% PTSD rates.)

The act of apology involves empathic listening until survivors trust they’ve been fully heard. Those who crafted the recent apology to Nakayama survivors clearly intend to listen deeply. This will take time and won’t be easy. It may necessitate finding other abuse survivors to listen to, if the survivors of Nakayama can’t or won’t come forward.

The focus of compassionate apology is on the needs of survivors, not our desire for forgiveness or relief from shame.

In addition to avoiding our duty to report, we owe an apology for favouring the elderly comfort of a sexual predator over those he violated, for abdicating responsibility for justice and care until now, for denying survivors a recovery process until now and for neglecting to protect children in the first place,  including Nakayama’s children.

Unflinching accountability includes actions of restitution and prevention meaningful to survivors.

Sexual violence, like any abuse of power, only stops when we expose it and commit to effective prevention and response practices. When we say, “We take this very seriously,” survivors want to know what we will actually do to ensure no one else suffers this way. We need to share information about safe church efforts and ask what actions would further communicate our commitment to justice, making amends and preventing harm.

Helping us make a good apology is not a survivor’s burden. Usually we wait for survivors to report abuse before taking action. In this case, the perpetrator admitted harm. Since then, we’ve had a clear responsibility for right action, whether survivors ever come forward or not.

It’s up to us, as a faith community, to continually live and communicate genuine apology (for this and other histories of harm) by giving priority to the needs of the vulnerable.

Culture shift

Based on every sexual misconduct case I’ve reviewed, and reports from the Church of England and the Australian Anglican Church, we are consistently failing and often re-traumatizing survivors, particularly at the parish level. Ignorance about sexual assault results in dismissiveness, rumour-mongering, victim-blaming, ostracizing and even harassment of survivors and/or their families. Often this destroys the victims trust in the church and faith in a loving God.

Strangely, in most cases, a parish community rallies around the perpetrator at the expense of  survivors. We’re often more passionate about the possibility of wrongful accusation (which is less than 2-3% according to Canadian, U.S., Australian and British police data) than we are about believing and meaningfully supporting the person who has experienced life-shattering harm.

Is it any wonder survivors are reluctant to disclose and request support? We have yet to prove we can be trusted to respond with compassion and accountability when we learn of abuse.

Apology does not demand forgiveness

Genuine apology doesn’t pressure survivors to forgive and move on. The 2011 Church of England document Responding Well cautions: “To encourage victims to forgive, where there is no effort to act on their behalf to hold the abuser to account, is a gross form of injustice.”

We must live our full apology whether or not those harmed are ever able to forgive us.

While Bishop Skelton and Archbishop Kerr-Wilson have made an excellent start, I invite them and the House of Bishops to think more deeply on this matter, particularly its implications for those living with this harm (one in three women and one in six men) and for the life of the church. I invite all of us to do the same—we are church only in relationship to each other.

Christ unflinchingly called power to accountability, especially in relation to vulnerable community members. He prioritized the needs of the vulnerable, the victimized and the stigmatized. His commitment was immediate, responsive, compassionate, needs-based, assertively proactive and pragmatic. This is the core of living a genuine apology, and it’s the core of living Christianity.

The Church of England resource Responding Well (2011) offers comprehensive guidance for providing pastoral support to survivors.

About the Author

Marion Little

Marion Little

Marion Little implemented the sexual misconduct policy and abuse prevention trainings for the diocese of British Columbia for several years.  She is a founding member of the Anglican Church of Canada Safe Church Working Group, and of the international Anglican Communion Safe Church Network. Little, who has an MA in dispute resolution, teaches conflict resolution skills and is also a master trainer with the Canadian Red Cross RespectED violence and abuse prevention program.

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Anglican Journal News, July 24, 2015

Summer goodbyes

Posted on: July 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal is located a few blocks down the hill from McGill University. As a result, our pews always hold a scattering of students and, as the cathedral’s ministry to students and young adults falls under my portfolio, it’s my job to get to know them. I have a really great job.

I’ve had this job for four years now. And, this summer, the last of students from my first year left Montreal—and she outlasted many folks who arrived in the intervening years. Students are a transient bunch, arriving in our midst and staying for a year or two—or, if I’m lucky, four—before moving on to the next stage in their lives.

This sending is an important part of young adult ministry. We are an important stop on the journey to Christian maturity. In many cases, we are the first church a student chooses for themselves; the first church where they are not primarily someone’s daughter or grandson. We don’t want to be the last. So we make space for the gifts and ideas and passions of these new members as quickly as we can, inviting them into the community at large and the community of young adults in particular.

Which means, every summer, we say goodbye to people we can’t quite imagine being without, people who we could count on to ask the hard question or break the silence or crack the terrible joke or do the dirty job. Every summer, we say goodbye to people we have grown to love.

This makes summer a challenging time for this ministry. The wounds are still fresh, the edges still ragged around the gaps people left behind. Our numbers are lower than during the school year, our ambitions smaller, our gatherings shorter. And I can’t help but worry a little—has our luck run out? Is this what it will be like all the time now? Was last year our last good year?

These fears are unfounded, of course. But more than that, they are unfaithful. These fears are rooted in my desire to have a “successful” ministry for which I can take credit, a ministry with robust numbers and lots of activity. And so summer is an important time for my own spiritual well-being. Summer reminds me that this ministry is but a small part of God’s much bigger mission. It does not exist to stroke my ego or justify my salary. It exists to serve those God sends to us and then, in the fullness of our time together, to send them on with thanksgiving and blessing. “Success” is a question not of numbers but of depth: how well do we welcome? How well do we love? How well do we send?

And then, after a summer of goodbyes and worries and wonderings, autumn comes. And every autumn, God leads new students through our doors and the community re-forms itself, accommodating the gifts and quirks of these new members and learning how to get along without those who now minister in other places. Every autumn, we say hello to people we know we will grow to love…and we will one day say goodbye to.

We welcome. We love. We send. And we trust that, in God’s great mercy, that will be enough.

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Anglican Journal News, July 22, 2015

Intergenerational ministry: What’s old is new again

Posted on: July 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion


Tearing down walls between the generations can build community, strengthen faith, and remind both young and old that they are not alone, say advocates of intergenerational ministry. Illustration: Nina Rys/Shutterstock


In the mid-20th century many Anglican Church of Canada parishes joined their mainline and evangelical neighbours in creating tightly-focused programs for even the tiniest demographics. Now, many parishes are tearing down those walls between ages and stages, hoping to bind up scattered, sometimes shattering church communities.

The 20th century craze to split the church into demographic segments was a profound departure from Judeo-Christian tradition. Jesus grew up in a Jewish community where the generations nurtured each other’s faith — in fact, young Jesus was so caught up learning from his elders at the temple in Jerusalem that he let Mary and Joseph start for home without him. The Apostle Paul mentored his spiritual son, Timothy, in ministry; he also instructed older men and women to be good examples and to mentor younger people in faith.

Sadly, segmentation –  intended to keep kids, youth, young adults, or even seniors in church – may cut off them off from each other and the worshiping life of the church. This leaves youth with “no sense of what it means to be a mature adult Christian living out a life of faith in the Church,’’ writes the Rev. Valerie Michaelson, pastoral associate and Queen’s Chaplain at St. James’ Anglican Church, Kingston, Ont.,  in “How to Nurture Intergenerational Community in Your Church,” posted on the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism website. It also deprives adults and seniors the opportunity to understand and mentor younger members of the church, say advocates of intergenerational ministry.

Crosswalk, an intentionally intergenerational book club at St. Augustine’s Church in Lethbridge, Alta. was launched in early 2015. It offers informal mentoring and support to about 20 women and girls, ranging in age from 12 to their late 80s. “This group is intergenerational on purpose. We had youth, older ladies in the Anglican Church Women (ACW), and some women in friendship groups or who served at funerals, but we needed to build a bridge between generations and let them get to know each other in an unstructured mentoring setting, ” says Wendy Doherty, Children and Families Coordinator, at St. Augustine’s Church.

“What I really like about Crosswalk is that it is intergenerational and age is no boundary. I am able to learn from older women, to have some influence on younger teens, and hear all their opinions,” says Meredith Macdonald, a health care worker who looks forward to Crosswalk even when she’s had a busy day at work. “The dynamics of the group are really interesting, and there’s so much knowledge in one room. I really like it that can ask questions without feeling belittled.”

The Rev. Allison Chubb, a chaplain at St. John’s College at the University of Manitoba, echoes the sentiment.  “Sometimes, generations are hugely separate. Many people in the 18-22 age group genuinely don’t feel welcome in our churches, and most people don’t realize that.”

The Rev. Allison Chubb

 

Chubb adds that just getting to church is an issue for many students she works with. “The University of Manitoba is almost situated outside the city, so it’s not always accessible to buses or getting to a church.  I am trying to bring more people from the diocese in to the university,” says Chubb, adding that getting youth to participate in activities with members of her diocese, Rupert’s Land can be an uphill battle.

Chubb, believes that many youth engage best in what theologian Robert Webber called ancient-future worship: using ancient forms of worship in a modern context to create a sense of rootedness in the worshipper.

“Generally I find students are not connecting with a denomination. They’re looking for a community. They want a rootedness, a sense of the ancient, and the space to ask questions in that community,” says Chubb.

Tearing down walls between the generations can build community, strengthen faith, and remind both young and old that they are not alone, say advocates of intergenerational ministry.

The best news?  Being intentionally intergenerational can begin with small changes: encouraging children and youth to participate in Sunday morning services, intergenerational prayer, an intergenerational worship service; or even just inviting seniors to share their faith with kids, teens, and young adults over dinner.

Jane Harris-Zsovan is a Canadian author and journalist who writes on faith, society, and history. Her latest book is Finding Home in the Promised Land: a personal history of homelessness and social exile (J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, September 2015).

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Anglican Journal News, July 14, 2015

Stories of Jesus

Posted on: July 9th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Michelle Hauser

In one of the earliest memories I have of my father’s mother, Dorothy Campbell, she is an outline of herself, back-lit by the upstairs window of an old farm house, bending over a creaky iron bed, her ear within a few inches of the wrinkled lips of the oldest person my young eyes have ever seen. A shockingly white shot of hair, belonging to Great-Grandma Sarah, is splayed across the pillow. At 90 years of age, the Campbell family matriarch’s thin frame leaves only the hint of a body under the handmade quilt.

On that particular day, in addition to tending to her mother-in-law, my grandmother was also the translator for the visit, as practised caregivers-in-the-know often are. Her voice raised, speech slowed, she announced our arrival: “John is here, Mom, Frank’s oldest boy, with his two girls.” A whispered response is relayed back to us: “She’s so glad you’ve come.”

In my last memory of Granny Campbell, some 30 years later, she is sitting comfortably in her favourite chair, in a cozy apartment where she and Grandpa are cared for in their final years. Daughters-in-law and granddaughters and nieces are hard at work. The roster of round-the-clock caregivers is co-ordinated and managed by my uncle, her youngest son, who serves as Chief of Staff.

They keep watch. They prepare well-portioned, diabetic-approved, home-cooked meals. They say, “Remember the time, Mom…?” so visits to the past have a place in the duty-bound, sometimes dull routines of the present. They have reached the pinnacle of elder care: anticipating wants and needs before wants and needs have even been articulated.

In and among these memories of my grandmother—as both giver and receiver—I do not see what secular philosophers might refer to as “paying it forward.” She was a woman of deep and abiding faith who raised her family accordingly. What I do see, instead, are “deeds full of grace, all in the love light of Jesus’ face,” the kind that William H. Parker wrote about in Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, his much-loved hymn from 1885.

I spent most of this past winter assuming a caregiver’s posture: kneeling by a hospital bed, listening to whispers and translating for my own mother-in-law, who is 91 years old. When she moved into a retirement home last fall I feared institutional living would not be good for her, but I never imagined it would kill her. “We need to bring her home,” I said to my husband this past April. And so we did.

Some have called us brave, others have called us crazy. From my perspective, though, the story is less about heroics than it is about familiarity—pulling a thread from the past and seeing how well it matches the present.

I didn’t get a lot of worldly goods from my father or his family. I have a round hall table that belonged to Great-Grandma Sarah, Granny Campbell’s a baking board and, until recently when it snapped in an unfortunate encounter with my bread machine, a wooden spoon that would have been my final exit item should my house have ever caught fire.

What I did inherit, though, are “scenes by the wayside,” stories of a family living into, and always guided by, the love of Jesus. Caring for the elderly in their time of need is what they did. And now it’s what I do.

My mother-in-law, whose health has improved since she came to live with us, recently said, “When you get to be as old as I am, you will know how short a lifetime really is.” I find this mildly terrifying, mostly because the truth of it is written all over her face. She didn’t intend it to serve as a warning, but I took it that way all the same.

Anyway, it gives me reason enough to fill this short bit of time with what matters most: “Sad ones or bright ones, so that they be, stories of Jesus—tell them to me.”

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Anglican Journal News, July 09, 2015

For whom the bells toll

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

MIkeOver the last 3 weeks, as part of the #22days initiative, bells have been ringing in churches from coast to coast, tolling for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Based on the posted responses on Anglican.ca, there have been nearly 100 churches taking part in various ways, with an estimated 350,000 combined bell tolls taking place. It received a mention on the floor of Canada’s Parliament as a push toward a formal inquiry. It has received good media coverage. It has been a set of moments for the Church to step into the prophet’s role, standing in solidarity with the grieving, and by giving voice to all lives being important.

In many ways we’ve risen admirably to the invitation. We’ve gotten it right, and we’ve done it together. Bell ringing, in some places, has given family members of women on this tragic list a place to grieve, to ring bells with others who care, and to speak and shout the names of their loved ones. It has been a place where healing has had the opportunity to start to grow. I’ve witnessed it: Healing has started to grow. Now comes the hard part. The hard part lies in the ‘What now?’ part of this equation.

It’s great that we’ve risen to the challenge of the prophet task, but can we be the prophet to ourselves? In our own hearts? Can we live with the hard truths voiced in the wake of the TRC? Are we willing to build relationships of equality with Indigenous people? Will we help to call for justice, and the implementation of the TRC recommendations? Are we truly ready to strive for justice and peace for all people, respecting the dignity of every human being?

I’ll be honest; I don’t know what this looks like. I know that as a liturgical people, it’s hard not to know what’s coming after the psalm, much less be asked to remain in the midst of the unknown. But remain we must. We can’t flinch, run away or bail out now.

We’re in this with our words and our bells.

Now is the time to give generously of our hearts and our time, and our continued action. Taking steps forward in faith, here are the principles I’m trying to abide by: People are people, not issues. Relationships need to be based on equality. Justice, to be truly reconciling, needs to be restorative. Healing must be sought for ourselves as well, not simply wished for someone else. In the midst of what promises to be a time filled with uncertainty, I feel that God is doing something wonderfully new in our midst. In continuing on this path of reconciliation, relationship building and healing, we have the chance to reclaim a piece of ourselves lost when we became participants in colonization. This uncertain time is pregnant with holiness and redemptive possibility. I consider it the most important work we can be about right now.

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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The Community, An update from The Community, June 19. 2015

Making it explicit

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

Part of my explanation for why I became a priest is that God knew I would be a lousy Christian otherwise. I am filled with admiration for the many, many Christians who don’t have to live their lives inside the church to be faithful, to reveal God’s love and proclaim the Good News of Jesus whether in word or action. I tried that—and it was exhausting and frustrating to be constantly negotiating the relationship between my faith and the public sphere. I realized that I need to be explicit about my faith, and being ordained gives me permission to do that all the time. This is also, I think, one of the functions of the church. The church, as the Body of Christ, is called upon to find ways to be explicit about who Christ is, what we know of God, and why any of that matters—and all of us, lay and ordained, need to participate in that work.

It is, once again, difficult work. The world in which we find ourselves speaks many different languages and no longer grants the church a privileged voice in any given conversation. I am convinced that this is the great challenge of the moment: figuring out how the church can participate in the public sphere in ways that are respectful and relevant both to its conversation partners and to itself. And while implicit communication is crucial—faith expressed in the work of justice and love and reconciliation—there needs to be a place for the explicit kind, too.

 

There is, however, a potential danger with explicit communication; it can imply a degree of certainty, a lack of ambiguity and nuance that can push other truths underground. Which is why it is important that we find ways to not only be explicit about what we believe but also explicit about what we doubt; explicit about the wholeness of who we are.

One reason it took quite a while before I agreed to God’s generous solution to my Christian life is that I have not always found churches comfortable places. Too often, church communities are full of the unspoken: unspoken rules, unspoken expectations, unspoken doubts. Too often church communities require us to leave pieces of ourselves at the door, refusing to allow us to bring our whole messy, complicated, controversial selves into the conversation. This, too, is exhausting as we constantly try to negotiate the boundary between our “acceptable” faith and our “unacceptable” selves. Such communities tear down rather than build up and are not equipped to be trustworthy conversation partners with the wider world. We need to practise being honest amongst ourselves if we want to be honest with anyone else. I need permission to be explicit inside my church as well as outside of it.

Making all of this explicit—our doubts and our beliefs—may not always be comfortable. There’s a reason that the word  “explicit” has a rather naughty tone to it, after all. Being explicit sometimes requires us to cross boundaries we might rather leave alone, to name things we might rather not name. But I am convinced that it is just this rather transgressive kind of communication that is called for if we are to continue to grow as the Body of Christ, negotiating those boundaries between faith, community, and the public sphere with grace, respect, and integrity.

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Anglican Journal News, June 22, 2015

What’s next for the churches, after the TRC

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion
By Wayne Holst


The national attention paid to the publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report in the past few weeks represents a tipping point in the way Canada’s First Nations people relate to the rest of us. As one who has followed, for 25 years, developments centring on the core issue of the great injustice—the Indian residential school system—I truly believe that we have reached a special moment of societal change in the way all Canadians relate together.

Canada’s historic ecumenical churches have expended great efforts to draw attention to the stubborn problems afflicting us, and have already learned a great deal with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters as rituals of apology and serious attempts at healing and compensation have been taking place.

These churches have actively supported and participated in the processes leading to the Berger Commission Report (1977), the publication of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), and the more recent apology of the prime minister on behalf of all the people of Canada (2008).

A pivotal moment in our journey together as a nation has occurred with the recent appearance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. Its 94 recommendations portend an era of profound change.

Through all these years, the churches have attempted (sometimes poorly, sometimes sublimely) to view their mission as poised and serving on the cutting edge of public policy and advocacy. Now—when it may seem that we have completed our task and can pass responsibility on to other powers in society, like the courts and legislatures—I believe there are new challenges facing God’s people as we enter a new day. The journey of justice-seeking and societal renewal has not ended. In a true sense, it has only just begun.

As a country, over the past century and a half we have progressed through the stages of imperial colonies as well as bi-cultural and multicultural societies. We are now ready to define ourselves as a “nation of minorities.” This means that we will ground our Canadian identity in Aboriginal ways of living inclusive, organic community to an ever-expanding human family within our borders. Aboriginal people will play a key role helping us to define ourselves as Canadians in the future.

Religion in Canada will evolve and expand, not disappear. We will continue to see that our varied faith traditions are connected, at their core, to the primal meanings that strengthen a society best represented among us by our First Nations people. Divisive patterns that characterized our past will be reframed in new, inclusive ways.

This implies the cultivation and development of spiritual practices that will integrate Indigenous Native American with global faith traditions, and open pathways of meaning for all humanity.

There is a lot to unpack here, theologically and spiritually. The TRC has proposed paradigm shifts that will hopefully engage the best, more open and generous hearts and minds.

The ecumenical churches of Canada continue to have much to do.

Resources

1. Berger Commission Report

 http://tinyurl.com/o6toagh

2. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

http://tinyurl.com/pts6but

3. Prime Minister’s Apology

http://tinyurl.com/pxp7sav

4. Truth and Reconciliation Report Recommendations

http://tinyurl.com/phhrhf8

 

Wayne A. Holst continues to teach religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinate adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church in Calgary.

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Anglican Journal News, June 19, 2015

May life not simply go on

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

The Rev. Monique Stone

As someone seeking to witness, learn and humbly support the journey of healing and reconciliation at this weeks Truth & Reconciliation Commission Closing Events I made my way to Rideau Hall to experience the Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams Heart Garden Ceremony. En route I was forced to stop at a red traffic light on Laurier Avenue at the corner of Elgin Street; an intersection included in the Walk for Reconciliation just three days prior.

As I glanced around waiting for the light to change I realized how normal things seemed; people rushed by to get to work or their next destination, cars were stopped, Starbucks coffees where grasped in hands. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, nothing seemed like it did the Sunday prior when the very same corner was filled with an estimated 10,000 people walking together to honour the beginning of the week’s reconciliation events.

I wanted to yell out of my window, “Don’t you know what has happened here this week?” “Don’t you know you are naively walking on the very same spot of the road where a Women’s Warrior Dance erupted a mere 72 hours ago?” “Don’t you know that Indigenous peoples of this country and those who are standing beside them are here this week declaring the hope for a world that will change?”

The hustle and bustle of a mid-week afternoon screamed out that not everyone knew and maybe not everyone cared about the activities that had consumed so many people who have participated in the past four days of events.

And my heart sank—because the world has changed this week even for those of us who have been simple bystanders and witnesses to the work of others. My heart sank when at the corner of Laurier and Elgin life had so clearly gone on when it feels like so much has happened.

In the past four days the words murder and genocide have passed the lips of truth-tellers and hung in the air ready to be heard by ears throughout the country. The stories of horror and hurt have been laid out for Canada to humbly absorb, accept and honour. The recommendations for next steps have been offered as a gift of hope for all peoples to continue this life-changing journey that can transform our present and our future.

And whether everyone has noticed or whether everyone is ready to care the world has indeed changed. Thank. God.

And for those of us who sought to witness, sought to learn and sought to support may we serve this transformation as it begins.

May we take our heart—even if it has sunk to the bottom of our stomach feeling raw from new awareness.

May we take our heart—even if it is stuck in our throat causing us to not know what to say or consuming us with tears.

And use it. And be guided by it.

And make sure that life does not simply go on at the corner of Laurier and Elgin

… or any other place in this country.

The Rev. Monique Stone

About The Rev. Monique Stone

I am blessed to be the Incumbent at the Parish of Huntley in Carp, Ontario (part of the Diocese of Ottawa) and have lots of fun contributing to the leadership of our rural parish. Whether I am sitting at the local coffee shop or flipping burgers at the annual Fair I consider authentic engagement with the broader community integral to my ministry. I personally feel that this period of church history with all its changes, declines, doubts and concerns is exciting, inspiring and best approached with a sense of hope and a sense of humour.

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The Community, An update from The Community, June 12, 2015

The game of minutes

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

minutesHave you ever played “The Game of Minutes”? Do not be alarmed if you haven’t. It is not well known in our modern day. This little game was first described in the personal letters of Frank Laubach, letters written to his father while on missionary work in the Philippines. These letters, eventually published in 1937 under the title ‘Letters by a Modern Mystic,’ described Laubach’s desire to be mindfully focused on the presence of God ‘at least one second of each minute.’

Do not be thrown off by the use of the word ‘game.’ The language of game is not to suggest triviality. The game of minutes describes a continuous walk with our Lord. It is a ‘silent conversation; a ‘practice of the presence of God;’ a ‘familiar friendship with Jesus’; an ‘exhilarating spiritual exercise.’ For Laubach, the game of minutes simply described the manner in which he attempted to hold onto, and follow, the presence and will of God as revealed through the course of the day. He writes, “my part is to live this hour in continuous inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to His will, to make this hour gloriously rich.’

At first glance, we may think the game of minutes is impractical. There are simply too many things before us that demand our attention! We often believe, mistakenly so, that true focus on God must occur in the absence of the regular demands and tasks of the day. We believe that in order to truly engage in our spiritual lives we must retreat; we have to escape; we must jettison all distractions from our midst. There is truth to this in some regards. Jesus often calls us to ‘come away to a quiet place and get some rest.’ It is true that we often find it easier to re-connect with God when we step away from, and put down, the complexities of the world around us. Yet to take this too far is to believe that it is only through the cloistered life of monks and missionaries that such single-hearted focus is truly achievable. We mistakenly see life as just too busy for us, making the Game of Minutes, and other such spiritual disciplines, unrealistic. If we believe this we miss out on cultivating a wonderful closeness with Jesus.

The usefulness of Laubach’s game is that it is meant to occur amid everyday existence. Rather than taking us away from the regular spaces of life, playing the game of minutes is a manner by which we attempt to bring Christ into the demands and tasks of the day. We look for the presence of God around us; we cultivate a conversational relationship with Him; we keep a scripture verse or a prayer in our minds; we view silence as a place to listen to the whispers of God. This has the benefit of connecting our outward life with our inward meditations. While we play the game in the context of living our exterior lives, the game itself occurs inwardly. In our hearts and souls, we attempt to remain in a space of devotion, thus experiencing the blessedness that comes from choosing to live in closeness with Christ.

For all the benefits of Laubach’s game, we need to clearly realize that perfect execution of the game is impossible. Laubach himself states this. In a letter dated June 3, 1930, Laubach asks himself the question “Can it be done all the time?” to which he honestly answers, ‘hardly’. Throughout his letters, Laubach frequently speaks of his own failings. Yet perfect execution, however, is never the focus. “We fix our eyes upon Jesus and not on the clock” Laubach advises. It is the effort, the longing, the soulful desire for Christ’s presence in our minds that is both liberating and fruitful for our spiritual lives. The benefit found in playing the game of minutes emerges out of the whole-hearted attempt to draw closer to Christ, and not from achieving a score of 100%.

Don’t like the ‘game of minutes’? Why not try ‘a game of people’? Try to pray for every person you come in contact with during the day. Or, how about ‘a game of places’? Whenever you physically enter a new room or space enter prayerfully, looking, and listening for The Holy Spirit in that place.

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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The Community, An update from The Community, June 12, 2015

Beyond metaphors

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Discussion

By Mark MacDonald

Recently, I had a conversation with an Indigenous friend and theologian. We discussed the Indigenous experience of salvation in Christ, knowing that some folks are a bit nervous about such language. We agreed that the Indigenous experience of the Gospel has a particular character: salvation is almost always experienced as tangible and practical freedom from very present and oppressive forces.

The forces that impact Indigenous Peoples are often expressed in personal difficulties, spiritual or moral weakness, addictions, sickness and despair. The power of these is often amplified by poverty, marginalization and the experience of feeling like a stranger in the only land you or your ancestors have ever known. These forces are powerful, but the experience of God’s power is greater. Salvation is not a metaphor for feeling forgiven or feeling good about the certainty of heaven. It is that, but it is also knowing that life could have a very different meaning apart from God’s intervention in your life.

Indigenous folks have this experience, I suppose, because of a mixture of the urgency of their personal and communal circumstances, as well as a readiness of mind and heart to see the spiritual. This experience is not isolated to them, by any means. Go to an AA meeting and you are likely to hear similar stories. This is something that often and even commonly characterizes the experience and understanding of Indigenous Christians. It certainly is a part of the communal expression of Christian faith that we experience in the Indigenous network.

This is not mentioned here to claim any advantage or priority in the Christian faith and life. At least part of the circumstances that give rise to it should not be desired by anyone. It is, however, something that should be understood by our fellow Christians. It does influence our view of life and our faith. It means that there is a desire, an expectation and a hope for liveliness to faith, being both a practical and miraculous faith. Faith should be healing.

This experience of faith often means that people are willing to forgive quite a lot about the past, before people come to active faith; it also means that quite a lot is expected after people come to faith. In addition, the immediacy of spiritual reality is expected in every aspect of the faith experience and journey. It is why our meetings always begin with a healthy period of time engaging the Gospel of the day. It is also why we believe God wishes to do something big in all of us—the whole church—to bring goodness to this Land.

Bishop Mark MacDonald is national indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Anglican Journal News, June 17, 2015