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Stand with Standing Rock—A Call for Prayer from the Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

Posted on: August 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Dakota Access Pipeline is currently under construction near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The finished pipeline will cross under the Missouri River and carry up to 450,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Photo by Lars Plougmann [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)] via Flickr

The Dakota Access Pipeline is currently under construction near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The finished pipeline will cross under the Missouri River and carry up to 450,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Photo by Lars Plougmann [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)] via Flickr

Stand with Standing Rock—A Call for Prayer from the Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

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Water is sacred and one of the four primal elements that sustain life on Mother Earth. We have not respected water and consequently many lakes, streams, rivers and creeks are polluted. It is an element on the verge of scarcity. We must protect water.

There is a pipeline approved for construction in the United States and while many will say, it’s a U.S. problem, it is also a Canadian problem. The same has happened here and will continue to happen. Oil has become a more precious commodity than water. This pipeline, “Dakota Access,” being built by Energy Transfer Partners, will threaten water for the Standing Rock Sioux as it will cross (underground) the Missouri River. It will also upset burial grounds. Three agencies of the U.S. government are questioning the approval of the pipeline. While not crossing the reservation, it is close, approximately ten miles from the reservation.

For several weeks people from all over North America have been congregating at the Camp of the Sacred Stone near Cannonball, North Dakota. There are people from the other Sioux nations of the Dakotas and Montana, and Minnesota; Ojibwes from Minnesota; various nations from Oklahoma; Alaska, New York and Canada. They are gathered on Sacred land and are respectful of that sacredness.

“The place where pipeline will cross on the Cannonball is the place where the Mandan came into the world after the great flood, it is also a place where the Mandan had their Okipa, or Sundance. Later this is where Wisespirit and Tatanka Ohitika held sundances. There are numerous old Mandan, Cheyenne, and Arikara villages located in this area and burial sites. This is also where the sacred medicine rock [is located], which tells the future.”—LaDonna Bravebull Allard (Lakota, Dakota)

They have come to peacefully protest even though they have been accused of having weapons and pipe bombs. They did have a pipe that was being passed around but it was a sacred pipe that has been part of the Sioux ceremony and culture for years. News reports say that the water supply and toilet facilities to the camp have been shut off. And, there are threats of calling out the National Guard. Yet, not one shot has been fired. The Chief of the Standing Rock Sioux has been arrested along with others. The U.S. supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) but cannot enforce it, it is a moral issue. Even though much of what has been done for Dakota Access is in violation of the UNDRIP, there is only hope that the moral issue can be raised and heard.

The Anglican Church of Canada, through the work of our Primate, the Most. Rev. Fred Hiltz, takes the UNDRIP seriously and is committed to live into the Articles of the Declaration. Also, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report, the 94 Calls to Action, references the UNDRIP in many of the Actions. Action step 48 calls upon the church to “formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the UNDRIP as a framework for reconciliation. The Primate has also commissioned a “Council of Elders and Youth to monitor our church’s honouring in word and action our church’s commitment “to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Another important principle of UNDRIP is “free, prior and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources” (Article 32). It is also important to point out that Article 16 speaks to Indigenous Nations that have been separated by political borders: “Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with own members as well as other peoples across the borders.” Many nations have been separated by imposed borders: Blackfoot/Blackfeet, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Sioux, Cree and others. We need to be good relatives and support our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock.

The Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and the Anglican Church of Canada stand with Standing Rock. We are all related, not only by our blood but also by the blood of Christ. Standing Rock has long been an Episcopal community. Standing Rock Reservation was home of the eminent Deloria Family—Philip, an Episcopal clergyman, served many years on South Dakota side of Standing Rock Reservation—his son, the Venerable Vine V. Deloria, was born there; Philip’s grandson, the famed Vine Deloria Jr, gave his tribal identification as Standing Rock Sioux (though he was born on Pine Ridge Reservation).

We call the Church to pray for Standing Rock, for Good Minds to prevail and for peaceful settlement. We also call the Church to pray for water, that is taken for granted in many of our communities but good water is getting scarce in our communities. We call upon the Church to pray for our governments, both Indigenous and Settler, that they may work together to protect our fragile Mother Earth. Flowing waters are the arteries of our Creator, precious and life giving. Without water, there is no life here on Mother Earth. Pray that our Creator, God, will help us to live in balance and harmony with each other and with Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

“The dangers imposed by the greed of big oil on the people who live along the Missouri river is astounding. When this proposed pipeline breaks, as the vast majority of pipelines do, over half of the drinking water in South Dakota will be affected… It must be stopped. The people of the four bands of Cheyenne River stand with our sister nation in this fight as we are calling on all the Oceti Sakowin or Seven Council Fires to do so with our allies, both native and non native in opposing this pipeline.”—Joye Braun (Cheyenne River)

Bishop Mark signature

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

Signature - Fred

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

Note: Dr. Owanah Anderson, Choctaw Elder and long time mentor of Mark MacDonald and Ginny Doctor contributed to the preparation of this statement.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, August 25, 2016

Victoria tent city put spotlight on homelessness, says deacon

Posted on: August 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By André Forget on August, 23 2016


For almost a year, tent city residents protested Victoria’s lack of affordable housing. Photo: Super InTent City


The tent city pitched between the courthouse and Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in downtown Victoria for much of the past year may be gone, but its impact on how the city deals with homelessness continues, says Nancy Ford, the cathedral’s deacon to the city.

“So many people have been deeply changed by this, in the church and without,” said Ford. The relationships that formed between the tent city residents and the police force and social services providers have shifted the way these two groups interact, from a more “doctrinaire, top-down authoritarian model” to a more “collaborative and relational one,” she said. “I think that is a huge shift.”

After months of legal wrangling, a July 5 court injunction authorized the provincial government to clear the camp. It was demolished August 14, after alternate housing was found for its 300 residents.

“To quote T.S. Eliot, it ended with a whimper rather than a bang,” said Ford, noting that the closure of the camp happened much more peacefully than many residents had anticipated.

Earlier attempts by the province to close the camp were unsuccessful after the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the residents were not posing a serious risk to themselves or others. However, by July, the situation had deteriorated to the point that Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson decided the camp was “unsafe for those living there and for the neighbouring residents and businesses.”

But Hinkson said that the province needed to find alternate housing for the tent city residents before forcing them off the land.

While the original plan was to have the camp closed by August 8, delays in preparing the former seniors’ home into which many of the campers were moving pushed the date back to August 12.

Ford said the transition was handled in a respectful way, and the needs and wishes of the campers respected.

“Although there was a push to make certain it was ready, there was give and take with the province in terms of when it was ready and then when people could move in,” she said. “It wasn’t top-down, it was a moving with, a being-with sort of model.”

Tents started sprouting in October 2015 when a group of homeless Victorians discovered a legal loophole that allowed them to camp on the lawn of the Victoria courthouse despite municipal bylaws that prohibit camping in public parks after 7 a.m.: because the courthouse lawn is on provincial land, long-term camping rights are protected by B.C. law.

In the months that followed, the camp swelled as more and more of the city’s homeless population pitched tents or built shelters on the piece of land at the corner of Quadra Street and Burdett Avenue. The camp, which called itself Super InTent City, became an extremely visible symbol of B.C.’s housing crisis.

Given its close proximity—Christ Church Cathedral is directly across Quadra Street from the courthouse lawn—cathedral parishioners quickly established contact with their new neighbours. Ford became one of the most visible ambassadors of the church in the tent city, often sitting in on leadership circles and advocating on behalf of the residents.

The cathedral provided material support for the community—opening up its washrooms, providing food and coffee, and hosting events such as dinners and vigils for camp members. However, a rise in violent behaviour in the camp, following the relocation of some of its stable members, caused the cathedral’s dean, Ansley Tucker, to call in May for the closure of the camp and the relocation of its citizens [LINK: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/dismantle-tent-city-house-residents-victoria-cathedral].

The provincial government renewed its own attempts to shut down the camp in June, leading to the court’s July decision to allow the relocation of the campers.

Ford said that the relocation of the 300 tent city campers does not mean an end to the city’s housing problems.

Recent federal government statistics show there are around 1,400 homeless people in Victoria, and with a vacancy rate of 0.6% (compared to a national average of 3.3%), housing in Victoria is a squeeze even for citizens who are not on the street.

While Ford believes there has been a sea change in Victoria resident’s attitudes about homelessness, she said that concerned citizens will have to keep up the pressure if they want to see systemic change.

“We really have to [hold] people’s feet to the fire,” she said.

 

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

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Anglican Journal News, August 25, 2016

Church away from church

Posted on: August 23rd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Rhonda Waters on August, 22 2016


Photo: Elena Srubina/Shutterstock


Church attendance has its seasons, just like everything else.  Some communities only open their churches in the summer, when the cottagers arrive from their city homes – which means that some city churches find themselves suddenly emptied out.

This summer, I have been serving one of those city churches.  Our numbers began to drop shortly after May long weekend and, by Canada Day, we were down to roughly a third of our non-summer attendance.

I spent much of May and June in a state of well-hidden (I hope) irritation.  Church isn’t supposed to go on vacation.  Where was people’s commitment?  Didn’t they know how hard this was on those of us left behind?

And then a parishioner, eagerly anticipating her own month away at her cottage, said: “I need this.  It restores my soul.”

Now, I may not understand the culture of cottages (not a dominant feature of rural Alberta), but I understand the need for restoration and I consider myself professionally obligated to support people in their efforts to attain it.  I decided to stop complaining about the impact of cottages on the church and start thinking about how the church could be part of the work of the cottages.

The late-in-the-game offering I shared with my congregation was a set of “Prayers for Summer Sundays,” (Book of Alternative Services,  pp. 366-379).  This simple liturgy of the word was designed to be comfortably used by one person or by a group and included a short prayer of preparation; the collect, psalm, and gospel appointed for that Sunday; a set of optional reflection questions on the Gospel; guidelines for intercessory prayer; and a closing prayer.  I encouraged people to follow the service in the knowledge that their home parish (and, indeed, Christians around the world) were praying with them.  The body of Christ is not defined by physical proximity and we do not cease to be members just because we haven’t been “to church” in a while.

So, did it work?  Did cottagers use the prayers?  Did the prayers make them aware of their membership in the body of Christ and so help to restore their souls?  I have no idea. I know that people appreciated the offer of a way to take church with them so that they didn’t have to feel like they were choosing and the recognition that they would continue to be faithful members of the church even in their absence.  So I think it worked – even if no one actually went so far as to pull out the prayers while enjoying their coffee and looking out over the lake one Sunday morning.

And it has me wondering how else the church might be able to engage with people’s lives in similar ways.  How can we offer people ways to connect with their faith and their faith community without making them feel that they have to choose between “church” and other good things in their lives?  As the definition of regular attendance shifts to once a month, how do we help make their membership in the body of Christ relevant all the other days as well?

 

About the Author

Rhonda Waters

Rhonda Waters

The Rev. Rhonda Waters is priest-in-charge at St. Matthew’s, diocese of Ottawa. 
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Anglican Journal News, August 22, 2016

General Synod 2016: What now?

Posted on: August 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By John Clarke on August 18, 2016

Opinion submissions on religious topics (maximum 500 words for print; 800 words, online) will be considered for publication; send queries to [email protected]

In July, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada passed, on first reading, a resolution that if approved on second reading at the next General Synod in 2019 will make changes to Canon XXI [church law] on marriage, allowing religious weddings for same-sex couples.

The question now is: what happens in the next three years? Some bishops have indicated that they will begin allowing same-sex marriages. Others have dissented from the action of General Synod. This situation raises many questions. However, just one is being asked here: what principal attitude should the church have in preparation for General Synod 2019?

All institutions, the church included, have rules, both official and conventional, to help govern their interactions, internally and with others. The rules of order in a debate are meant to prevent the boisterous and bully from taking control and winning, if for no other reason than through sheer noise and bravado. Rules of order allow for calm, rational and widespread sharing of thoughts and arguments. At least, that’s the theory.

The church, like any gathering of people, needs rules to regulate fair decision-making. Sometimes, a decision is so important, or involves a significant change in doctrine or canonical law, that extra and overwhelming criteria are imposed to ensure that it is a product of true commitment, rather than a whim. In the Anglican Church of Canada, a resolution to change the canons needs to be carried by a two-thirds majority in each of the three orders—bishop, clergy and laity—at two consecutive General Synods.

The motion to change the marriage canon achieved this. It was not a close vote—69.5% of the members of General Synod voted in favour of the resolution. That’s 19.5% higher than the 50% plus 1 that is normally expected in a democratic institution.

There are those who would argue that the church is not a democracy, but the Body of Christ in the world, with Jesus Christ as head. True; however, neither is our church a dictatorship. We have put into place reasonable and fair rules to help us collectively discern the will of God in the life of our church. There is no one person ruling the church. It is our collective responsibility to use Scripture, tradition and reason to help discern the will of God in our lives today. We have no option but to take seriously the idea that God’s Holy Spirit might be calling the church to a new thing—a new thing that is reflected in the overwhelming majority of prayerful, careful members who voted yes on the resolution to change the marriage canon.

It is inappropriate, at this point, for people to oppose the action of General Synod regarding same-sex marriages. The responsibility now lies with those who voted “no” to honestly consider if, in fact, the Holy Spirit is leading our church in a new direction.

The imperative to maintain the unity of our church now rests with the 30.5% to move away from their positional stance. It is destructive and discouraging to the whole church if this continues to be a debate about the merits of full inclusion of every person regardless of their sexuality. That issue is settled.

Is the Anglican Church of Canada ready to allow same-sex marriages in the church? The mechanisms we have, and that we’ve agreed to, for deciding the will of God in these matters has said “yes.” The dissenting bishops, and every delegate to General Synod 2019 who might be leaning toward voting “no,” ought to assume an attitude that acknowledges that same-sex marriages might in fact be God’s will. Genuinely accepting this possibility is the way forward for the whole church. All members of General Synod 2019, regardless of which way they lean on this issue, should hold the same attitude prayerfully in their hearts and minds.

This is not the time for any one group to shore up delegates or badger them into voting one way or the other. Such disrespect for due process is not appropriate. This is a time for all of us to open our hearts and minds to the working of the Holy Spirit. The principal attitude that our church needs for the next three years is one of respectfulness for the affirmative and overwhelming decision of General Synod 2016.

 

John Clarke is archdeacon of Prince Edward Island region, diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. 

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Anglican Journal News, August 18, 2016

Advice from a Christian entrepreneur

Posted on: August 5th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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“You’ve got to be true to mission,” says social entrepreneur Chris Henderson. Photo: Isaac Prazmowski


When it comes to raising money through enterprise, Chris Henderson has one word of advice for the Anglican Church of Canada: think of projects or partners that will be in line with your values—otherwise, it won’t work.

“You’ve got to be true to mission,” he says. “Not being true to mission means you’re almost writing a cheque for failure.”

Henderson is the founder of two clean energy companies—Lumos Energy and the Delphi Group—and much of his work involves consulting with Aboriginal communities on clean energy projects. A member of the United Church of Canada, Henderson also helped the United Church divest itself of old church property in Ottawa in a way that attracted national media attention.

Beginning in 2010, Henderson led the search for a buyer of the old Westboro United Church property in Ottawa, when its congregation decided to amalgamate with two other local churches. Eventually he found a developer willing to partner with the Ottawa Music Foundation, a major local arts organization. The foundation got the church building, which it repurposed for its own office space and use by the community. The developer paid more than a million dollars for the property around the church. The church gave some of the proceeds of this sale to the Ottawa presbytery, and with the rest, it created a special fund for granting money to local community organizations. This funding arrangement allowed the congregation to continue to “support the community to do God’s work on Earth,” Henderson says.

If the Anglican church wants to try raising money through social enterprise, he says, it needs to ask itself, “What is the unique asset the Anglican church has that could be applied to where the elements of a growing economy are, that have a social enterprise output that also attract partners who could work with the Anglican church?”

The Anglican church should ask itself not simply how to make money, Henderson says, but how to do something for the greater good in a way that also brings in revenue.

“Go and do things that you’re good at doing,” he says. “You’re a faith organization—work in a faith context.”

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, August 05, 2016

Funding mission in the 21st century: challenges, ‘incredible opportunities’

Posted on: August 5th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Congregants at St. Lydia’s, a storefront “dinner church” in New York City, eat and pray together. During the daytime, St. Lydia’s is a communal workspace for freelancers and others who would normally work from home or in cafés. They pay a monthly fee for a variety of amenities and “a more spiritually connected way to live and work.” Photo: Andrew Rowat


Sharing worship space with Jews and Muslims, partnering with private companies and opening church/restaurant hybrids are just some of the ideas some Anglican Church of Canada leaders are talking about as the organization struggles with the financial challenges of being a church in the 21st century.

“I think the standard ways of doing business are not necessarily going to hold over the next 50 years,” Bishop John Chapman, of the diocese of Ottawa, said in an interview. “I’m thinking that, in a way, we as a church need to begin thinking in entrepreneurial ways.”

Chapman made his comments after a presentation last fall to Council of General Synod (CoGS) on the 2016 budget, which foresaw stagnating levels of diocesan proportional giving to the national church over time.

For Chapman, however, the main financial challenge facing the church today is an increasing demand for ministry.

“We will always have generous donors, and we will always be dependent on the generosity of donors,” he says. However, Chapman adds his concern is not so much that the donor base is shrinking, but that “there is an increased expectation now on the part of the church to do more…and there’s an obligation, I think, on our part to respond to that expectation.”

The diocese of Ottawa, for example, is facing an ever-increasing client base for its five community ministries, which provide housing for disadvantaged women and shelters and day programs for people living on the street.

The church needs to start thinking more imaginatively about how it can use its existing resources—which are considerable—to raise more money, he says. For example, it has a massive amount of seriously underused building space from coast to coast, Chapman says.

“When you look around a city, and you look at all the churches…and you look at the real estate they’re sitting on, and then you think about how that real estate is being utilized seven days a week…you have a usage problem here. It almost becomes an ethical issue—are you making maximum use of the real estate that you have claimed as your own?”

Estimating the value of real estate owned by the Anglican Church of Canada is difficult, partly because of the complex legal structure of real estate ownership in the church, says General Synod Chancellor David Jones.

In the diocese of Ottawa, all parish property is owned by the diocese, says Executive Archdeacon David Selzer. Real estate, including land and buildings, is recorded in the Parish Managed Capital Asset Fund; at the end of 2014, its net book value (cost minus accumulated amortization) was estimated at $21.3 million, according to the diocese’s financial report for that year.)

If some of of the church’s  space were retrofitted to provide affordable housing, it would mean not only a roof over the heads of disadvantaged people, but a new source of revenue, Chapman says.

Alternatively, churches could partner to share their space with non-governmental organizations, other faith groups or health-care facilities and even for-profit franchises, he says.

For example, the Lunch Club and Drop-In Centre at St. Luke’s Church, in the heart of Ottawa’s Chinatown, provides meal programs, social,  health, recreational and counselling services.  Some programs are in partnerships with the Royal Ottawa Hospital, two Aboriginal centres, the Somerset West Community Health Centre and the Salvation Army.

“If anybody built a church today that isn’t a multi-purpose facility, that needs to be seriously questioned,” Chapman says. “There’s no reason why a building could not accommodate a Christian sanctuary and a synagogue and a mosque, to be really extreme. There’s no reason why that building couldn’t be accommodating a walk-in clinic or a seniors’ health care [facility], or a pharmacy, or a physiotherapy clinic.”

In general, he says, the church should be reaching out more to people with an entrepreneurial spirit, and being open to their ideas.

Asked if some people might object to the idea of the church partnering with private enterprise, Chapman says, “I would think that we need to give our head a shake, because it’s money to support ministry. It’s not money that we’re going to beautify our churches or, you know, buy expensive silverware or do anything like that—those days have long ended.”

The church has at least one senior leader with considerable experience in private enterprise. Bishop Melissa Skelton, of the diocese of New Westminster, was brand manager for global consumer goods behemoth Procter & Gamble from 1992 to 1993. From 1997 to 2001, she served as vice-president of brand systems development for Tom’s of Maine, which markets natural-ingredients-only toothpaste and other personal care products.

When it comes to fostering the growth of the church—including its financial growth—the key, in Skelton’s view, is to focus on building dynamic parishes. “It’s all about, ‘Do we have something compelling and magnetic at the core of who we are that inspires our wanting to give up our treasure to that, and our wanting to invite others into that?’ Without that, it doesn’t make any sense,” she says.

“The more that we build the fire at the centre of a congregation, the easier it is for us with our whole hearts to want to give to it, and to want to invite others into participation, to include their financial giving. That’s at the core of everything that I believe.”

A financially successful church, Skelton says, will have at its core Jesus Christ “and also, just like him, has a personality, has a magnetism, has a way of doing things that people get drawn into, and evokes a generous heart because we want to give of ourselves to it.”

Churches also need to make sure they have the basics covered—for example, every parish website should have a “click here to donate” button, Skelton says.

At the same time, Skelton adds, there are “incredible opportunities” for experimentation with various types of socially-conscious enterprise. This could include, for example, using existing church space for a café or a restaurant for training homeless or unskilled people, or a “dinner church” on the model of , St. Lydia’s in New York City, a sort of hybrid church and restaurant.

St. Lydia’s, says Julia Stroud, its community co-ordinator, pays for itself partly by charging monthly fees to freelancers and others who want to use it as a workspace. The goal, she says, is that these fees will pay the rent for the storefront space the church occupies (which amounts to a “fraction,” she says, of its operating budget). The rest of the church’s funding comes from grants, gifts from large donors and pledges from congregants.

The Anglican Church of Canada, Skelton says, should be wary about partnering with large, purely-for-profit enterprises—renting out church space to coffee chains, for example. One thing she learned in her years as a corporate executive, she says, is that organizations should be careful to get together only with others that share their values.

“Don’t just go into it for the money, because it will wear on you,” she says. “The potential for it to go awry is huge. And once you’ve partnered, and it goes awry, all of your energy goes into trying to extract yourself. It should be as careful a process as if you were getting married.”

If the church wants to partner with the private sector, it will also have to face a difference of corporate cultures, says Monica Patten, until recently interim director of Resources for Mission at the office of General Synod. Entrepreneurs need to act fast to seize the moment—whereas church offices, fond of process and deliberation, are used to moving slower. While there are many entrepreneurs within the Anglican Church of Canada, she says, partnering with them would require the church to act faster than it is accustomed to. “And if the church wants to involve itself with social enterprise [business with a social mission], it would have to learn much more about it than it knows now,” she says.

Joshua Paetkau, who served on the Anglican Church of Canada’s Task Force on the Theology of Money, says his main concerns in the church’s involving itself with business are that it not see entrepreneurialism as a virtue in itself, and that making money not be seen as the reason for the church’s existence.

However, he says, “I think it certainly is important that we look at how we’re engaging people, how we’re using the resources that we have been given and that we still have—in the form of church buildings, for example—if there are ways that they can be used, and these ways also help contribute to the overall maintenance of the church and the communities it’s called to serve.”

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, August 05, 2016

‘Brief Encounter’

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in the movie classic, Brief Encounter. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


 

What movies do you enjoy and why? My partner Marlene and I watch a lot of first-run films; but recently we’ve viewed some of the classics.

We consider this entertainment, but the teacher in me is always looking for human interest and wisdom to be gained. Here are my thoughts after a recent viewing of the 1946 English romance, Brief Encounter.

A key discovery? Human nature is unchanging, and our highest values, like fidelity in marriage, take work. Today, however, we seem to have moved from personal and societal certitudes to situational struggles and unclear grounding.

In this 70 year-old classic, much-feted director David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter) created a splendid adaptation of Noel Coward’s play, Still Life (1936), with great acting by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

Laura, a conventional British suburbanite, is a married woman with children. Her mundane life becomes increasingly complicated after a chance meeting with Alec, a physician, at a greater-London railway station. He kindly removes a piece of grit from her eye. They share tea and return visits. One inadvertent meeting quickly evolves into a powerful love affair.

Matters become even more tangled when they are observed by acquaintances, and also when the couple visits a flat owned by Alec’s friend, who unexpectedly discovers them.

Frightened, Laura uses a back exit, feeling humiliated and ashamed. The lovers realize that a future together is impossible. Alec accepts a medical position in South Africa, and she is resigned to ending the relationship. We’re uncertain if it was ever consummated.

The experience, however, has affected them deeply. Their parting is heart-rending and a final goodbye is botched, leaving both of them distraught and unsatisfied. Laura sinks into a suicidal trauma, but blocks these impulses. She comes home to her husband, who, sensing her recent preoccupation, thanks her for returning.

Could a credible remake of this movie occur today? Certainly—infidelity remains problematic. But for today’s audience, the story details would need to be less discretely presented.

Women’s rights and freedoms have advanced considerably since the end of the Second World War. A feminist critique of this film may suggest that Laura and Alec acted “ethically” more out of social convention and fear, based on the good social example expected of them. Women bear the brunt of any fallout, but that, I believe, is also changing.

Gay people today might say that they are now saddled and seek release from the oppression of social conformity that postwar women endured.

I think the biggest change has been in the locus of ethical decision-making. It has shifted from society to the individual. In retrospect, we might be critical of the way both Laura and Alec seemed more dissuaded by the public perception of their behaviour than how they personally felt about it.

Infidelity remains a timeless issue. Today’s understandings might differ; the moral crux of the matter has not. Human nature is unchanged. How we act upon it varies.

Our highest values are not shaped, applied or realized without considerable struggle and soul-searching. Brief Encounter helped me rediscover that.

About the Author

Wayne Holst

 Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for 25 years. He taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and co-ordinates adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.

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Anglican Journal News, July 18, 2016

The church at its worst, or best?

Posted on: July 4th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Fasten your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride at General Synod 2016.

This, more or less, is what Canadian Anglicans have been telling one another.

The church’s governing body will meet in Richmond Hill, Ont., July 7-12 to act on a number of matters, including a controversial motion to change the marriage canon (church law) so that clergy can marry same-gendered couples.

This early, many have already expressed a great deal of anxiety about the meeting and some are anticipating the worst. There are concerns about the tenor and conduct of debates on the floor as well as possible protest actions that may ensue. Others worry about a fallout regardless of what decision is made. If the motion is passed, some Anglicans may decide to leave the church for good. If the motion is rejected, some Anglicans may also decide to vote with their feet. Either way, there will be disappointment and hurt.

Some bishops have expressed fears of possible civil disobedience if the motion is defeated, including clergy performing same-gendered marriages without their approval. Others are concerned about what an approval could mean for the church’s relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion and with its ecumenical partners.  Still, some are trying to figure out a unique solution that need not be a zero-sum proposition for both sides of the divide.  All this to say that any decision will have an impact on relationships within and outside the church.

However, just as the worst possible scenario can happen, it is also entirely possible that the best possible outcome may emerge.

A lot will depend on how the meeting itself is organized and how General Synod members conduct themselves. Organizers say there will be a lot of time devoted to prayer and there is a plan for members to be in “neighbourhood groups,”  designed to be places for “everyone to be heard and everyone’s opinion to be valued.”

There will be some whose minds are made up and who may feel that these discussions will be an exercise in futility since they’ve “heard it all before.” But there should be patience, respect and humility to listen to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit and acknowledge that one may still learn something new.  Members must not fear honest, painful discussions. They need to be open about them—it shows a church struggling to be true to its mission instead of burying its head in the sand.

Church members closely following the proceedings via social media also have a role to play in ensuring that discussions online are respectful and helpful.  The point is not that there should be no conflict and disagreements—by now, people have clued in that it isn’t always a love fest in church, and it shouldn’t be, otherwise there is no accountability—but that one can have them without vilifying and tearing each other apart.

It is also important to remember that the church has been through many upheavals before—including the ordination of women to the priesthood and the remarriage of divorced persons—and it survived. It struggled, yes, but it survived by the sheer will and effort of its members, and by the generous grace of God.

About the Author

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison is editor of the Anglican Journal.

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Anglican Journal News, July 04, 2016

Praying for patience

Posted on: June 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Photo: Denisgo/Shutterstock


When I was a teenager, I remember my youth pastor telling me, “be careful when you ask God to give you patience. God might just answer your prayer by giving you the opportunity to practice patience.”

I don’t remember asking God to give me patience, but I must have, because I recently found myself stuck in a room full of church leaders for an entire week. Being with church leaders is a perfect opportunity to practice patience because they are wonderfully annoying people. Chock-full of the regular angst of being human, they also come to the table feeling responsible for the collective angst of the human communities they serve. Regardless of the issue being discussed, it’s a recipe for frustration.

In this case, it wasn’t any particular theological belief that bothered me, it was the certainty of their convictions: the assurance that they were standing on the right side of history, and that given time, the entire world would come to see things their way. Having been raised in a fundamentalist church, I have developed an allergic reaction to indubitableness across theological and social-political spectrum. Certainty gives me hives.

As the anthropologist Wade Davis writes, “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” I suspect the same might be true of theological cultures within our church. Other theologies (ways of reading the Bible, sources of moral authority, liturgical practices) are not failed attempts as being your theology; they are unique manifestations of the Holy Spirit—each offering potential gifts of insight to the other, and each baring within it significant limitations.

However, this requires a stance of openness to the other that would allow for the possibility that in our encounter with the other, our own perspective might be legitimately challenged and potentially changed. Insofar as we preclude this possibility we are engaged not in dialogue, but in proselytism. True dialogue requires patience: patience to listen, patience to sit with uncomfortable truths, patience to recognize that we are not the ones responsible for drawing the line that demarcates the right side of history.

As I sat for a week sincerely trying to listen to church leaders whose sense of surety had me scratching my arms, I had a sudden realization: am I not as certain as they are about my own stance of uncertainty? Is that not also a neatly marked out right side of history? Perhaps the indubitableness to which I was reacting was my own—more like an autoimmune disorder than an allergy.

Abba Anthony said: “I have seen all the snares of the devil spread out on earth and I said with a sigh: ‘who can pass these by?’ and I heard a voice saying to me: ‘humble mindedness.’”

About the Author

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Jeffrey Metcalfe is a priest from the diocese of Quebec and a doctoral student in theological studies at the University of Toronto.

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Anglican Journal News, June 27, 2016

Anglican call for action at World Council of Churches

Posted on: June 22nd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Dr Agnes Abuom from the Anglican Church of Kenya is Moderator of the World Council of Churches
Photo Credit: WCC

[ACNS, by Adrian Butcher] The Anglican moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on the Church to move away from nostalgia and consider how to become catalysts of a moral force in a world beset by injustice, inequality and rising xenophobia.

Dr Agnes Abuom, from Nairobi in Kenya, told the WCC’s Central Committee in Norway that it was time to move from rhetoric to action and walk together with people who are denied justice.

“The witness of many in the forefront of struggles demand that we move away from the culture of conferences and statements and begin to get engaged in actions that nurture hope and alternatives,” she said.

“There is room in the gospel for disagreement but there is no room for disengagement,” Dr Abuom added. “Pilgrimage is about hope breaking into our present, motivating us to move forward, overcoming hurdles. . . We need to move from the nostalgia of the past, set aside our burdensome preoccupations and instruments that have outlived their purpose and venture into new and relevant areas of engagement.”

Dr Abuom praised the Church for engaging in the migration crisis in Europe. She said it was ironic that powerful nations and former colonial powers seem to be more affected by what she called the “fear of the other.”

“There doesn’t seem to be a place that is free of xenophobia and the consequential violence against minorities, migrants and refugees, many of whom are victims of war and poverty,” she said. “The images of rejection and mistreatment of millions fleeing from war and violence in recent times are still fresh in our minds. I commend the churches of Europe for their sensitive and generous response and their great witness, even if it meant facing the ire of their governments and the majority.”

Dr Abuom said the church had great responsibility and needed to be actively engaged in renouncing values and attitudes that glorified power. She said it had to denounce systems and cultures that diminished and denied life. The Church needed to be holding to account international financial institutions, military powers, industry and political systems – rather than opting to be their endorsing agents.

She said pilgrimage offered the Church immense possibilities to reimagine itself as a movement of God’s people in mission – open and agile and receptive to the promptings of the Spirit.

One hundred and fifty members of the WCC are attending the weeklong conference in Trondheim under the theme of Pilgrimage. Issues under discussion include justice and peace, the Middle East, religion and violence, and children’s rights.

  • Click here to read the full text of Dr Abuom’s address (pdf)

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Wednesday 22 June 2016