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Changing conditions impact federal prison chaplains

Posted on: January 12th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Guard tower at Collins Bay Institution, a federal penitentiary falling under the supervision of the Correctional Service of Canada. Photo by Timkal (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Changing conditions impact federal prison chaplains

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The following is the second instalment of a multi-part series detailing the work of Anglicans involved in prison ministry. Read Part 1 here. Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website later this month for future instalments.

Ministry in the federal correctional system has undergone numerous changes in recent years that have posed challenges to chaplains. One of the most notable was the decision by the Harper government to hire a new private contractor, Bridges of Canada, to oversee the hiring and pay of chaplains.

Previously, Kairos Pneuma Chaplaincy, a New Brunswick-based organization run by prison chaplains, had handled chaplain contracts in federal corrections. The Rev. Tim Smart, who has served as a part-time prison chaplain at Cowansville Institution in Quebec since 2009, described the change in contractor as “a broadside to all of chaplaincy.”

“It was very hard for the chaplains to accept that their own organization, which had managed to make something administratively workable, had not been given a chance to grow and understand, and had just hired this other contractor…who didn’t really know a whole lot about institutional chaplaincy,” he said.

Concurrent to contractual changes have been a series of budget cuts to Corrections Canada, which spends the majority of its money on buildings, infrastructure, and paying guards.

Along with chaplaincy, a wide range of programs related to education, psychology, and rehabilitation for inmates have been either completely eliminated or have seen their funding drastically reduced in the past 10-12 years.

“I think there’s just this general sense that chaplaincy is not terribly important to a lot of people in Corrections Canada—although they will say it is,” Smart said. “The fact that the budget is continuously being cut and [the] lack of concern for employees shows that it’s not that great a concern.”

He argued that budget cuts based on saving money in the short term might prove more expensive in the long term.

“What is a better deal financially—to help these guys while they’re inside with some better programs and better support, or do we just release them with very little support and very little training or education, and then they’ll come back?

“If it costs $110,000, $120,000 to house somebody in a federal prison every year, maybe we need to make sure they’re not coming back in and costing the system, in fact, more.”

Evolving culture

While structural changes abound at federal institutions, just as significant to the work of prison chaplains are the effects of an increasingly secular and pluralistic culture on their own role.

At the time that the Rev. Peter Huish (deacon) first began work as a chaplain at Cowansville Institution, there was a fairly distinct delineation between Protestant and Catholic chaplains, with the former primarily serving anglophone inmates and the latter francophones.

Even then, however, inmates who attended chapel and came to speak to Huish included not only Protestants and Catholics, but “post-Christians,” future Christians, those who had never attended church, those who held no faith at all, and those who came from Jewish, Islamic, or even Rastafarian backgrounds.

“For me personally, those traditional lines of Protestant/Catholic very, very quickly faded away, and then in the service itself, those lines became quite muddied,” Huish said.

Gradually, the situation evolved to its current state, wherein the Correctional Service of Canada requires what is known as a “site chaplain,” who is responsible for ensuring that inmates of any faith tradition have access to the spiritual resources they need from the community.

“The role of a chaplain has moved very much away from a kind of narrowly denominational one to one of being a spiritual facilitator, implicating other spiritual leaders and animators and so on from different traditions,” Huish said.

In larger prisons, there could be two or three full-time chaplains, as is the case at the Federal Training Centre in Lavalle, where Huish currently works as a part-time volunteer. Most site chaplains in Quebec are Catholic, though there are also some Protestant site chaplains, as well as an imam and Buddhist monk who travel from prison to prison.

“We are a pluralistic society…The designation of Protestant or Catholic just doesn’t cover it anymore in terms of the prison population,” Huish said. “According to our Charter [of Rights and Freedoms], we have an obligation in our prisons to meet the needs of all people of faith.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 11, 2017

‘The thing to lose sleep over is whether the church is being faithful’

Posted on: January 12th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

By André Forget on January 11, 2017


Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers believes Anglican churches in Quebec need to be more engaged in the community around them. 
Photo: André Forget


On a chilly Saturday afternoon in December, Bruce Myers, coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec, welcomes the Anglican Journal into his office at the diocese’s Church House, housed in an old stone building in the same compound as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

 Myers, who has just finished putting the final touches on the next day’s sermon, is dressed casually, and exudes a sense of relaxed engagement. He speaks in the warm, measured tones of a former radio broadcaster (Myers cut his teeth as a journalist in Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal in the 1990s before being ordained a priest in 2004), but becomes easily excited when discussing theology, ecumenism and his plans for the diocese.

 “I don’t have a lot of interest in being a CEO or an administrator,” he says, almost ruefully, when asked about his approach to leadership. “I would like to see this office become a place from which resources for mission emanate.”   

 This approach to the episcopacy is shaped by Myers’ deep familiarity with the history of his diocese, and personal experience with its complex diversity. Though he was serving the national church as co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto when he was elected, most of his work has been in the diocese of Quebec. His first posting as a priest was to the remote parish of the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, after which he moved to Quebec City to become archdeacon of Quebec.

In this interview, Myers speaks about his vision for the diocese, the challenges facing Quebec, and what it means to do ministry in one of the most secular places in the Western world. 

This interview has been condensed and edited.

What is your vision for the diocese of Quebec?

At one level, my vision is the Kingdom of God, and trying to work with the people of the diocese to find ways to reveal the kingdom—in small, but possibly also in great ways, in each of the communities where we are present.

My role right now is…to visit…the different communities of the diocese, to listen…to see what resources—financial, infrastructure, and human—are already present. To see what the needs are, not just in the congregations, but in the communities in which [they] exist. To hear from our members, to see what visions they may have for trying to be more engaged in the lives of their communities…not just for the sake of perpetuating the church, but for the sake of the world, which is what the church’s mission is fundamentally supposed to be about.

We’re moving into a season where, thanks to a lot of the hard work done by Bishop Dennis [Drainville] and others, we’re…in a position of financial and administrative stability, and structural stability, that we haven’t…had for some time.

 

As someone who has served in the diocese, what’s your sense of its major concerns?

I’ve been hearing pretty clearly—and this predates my moving into episcopal ministry—a real desire by most to become more engaged in the wider communities in which they find themselves. There has been so much talk of mission, not just in this diocese but in the wider church and the wider Anglican Communion, for years now. And yet a lot of our communities and people struggle to find ways to give that tangible expression in their lives and in their congregations.

 

When you talk about engaging in mission, do you mean in a more grassroots way, rather than diocese-led?

…We are one of two dioceses that have their entire territory within the province of Quebec, [and] in that way, we are uniquely positioned to have a voice in the public square, in provincial affairs, whatever the question might be. A role for the bishop and the synod might be advocacy around certain issues, whether it is for refugees…religious freedom…[or] the protection of minority rights.

But the more concrete, practical work needs to happen in the small local communities, and the diocese’s role is working with the folks on the ground to make that happen. I think—not just here but in other placesdiocese is almost a dirty word. Diocese is associated with this amorphous, distant structure with an office somewhere far away that sends us bills and takes our money, and we don’t seem to get anything…in return…How can the diocese be seen as a positive resource, a helper and an enabler for local communities…?

I’ve been hearing clearly that there is a real hunger among the people of our diocese to learn. They would like to take greater ownership of their faith. They would like to have a faith that seeks understanding, to be informed Christians, to have something more than a Sunday service and a sermon or even a weekly Bible study…so that they can participate as fully as possible in the world as disciples of Christ.

What I could see happening is some dedicated structure work on the diocese’s part in helping create opportunities for the people already in our church to deepen their formation. And maybe opportunities for people who aren’t members of the church to participate…too.

 

Would this mean a restructuring of the diocese?

Yes…my vision for episcopacy has always been…as a priest who is first among equals.

I’m really hoping that the kind of episcopate I can offer is one that sees the bishop as… primarily a pastor, a teacher, somebody who can work in trying to help equip congregations and individuals in engaging in meaningful mission in the world, and being less focused on administration and the temporal affairs of the diocese and the church.

I see the real danger in a bishop becoming overly burdened with administrative, financial, temporal affairs. And while those can’t be ignored, I’d like to think—perhaps naively—that I might be able to compartmentalize those and allow others who have those strengths and gifts to focus on that, so that I can engage in the more spiritual dimensions of the position…

If I had a dream for how we would conduct ourselves as a diocese moving forward, it would be that we would reflect theologically on everything we do, every decision we make, every dollar we spend, every dollar we invest, every energy we expend, and engage in that critical step each time…Is there something that is going to be qualitatively different in how we conduct ourselves and the decisions we make?

 

According to a 2013 survey by Pew Forum, only 17 per cent of Quebecers attend a religious service at least once a month. Do you see that as a challenge?

A generation ago it would have been an obstacle. Now I see it as an opportunity…There’s the whole story of the Quiet Revolution, the mid-20th century in Quebec where the francophone majority really took ownership of their destiny in a fundamental way. In addition to…coming into their own as the majority culture, part of that included a fundamental rejection of the Roman Catholic Church, and subsequently, of organized religion in general. And that has lingered for decades. My sense is that the pendulum is beginning to swing back in this province, that as we move into a generation of Quebecois who haven’t even inherited, necessarily, negative stereotypes or caricatures of any church, there is an opportunity there. There’s an inherent spiritual hunger and quest that is basic to every human being, and that has been left unfed for at least a generation in this province.

I think what [people]—especially young people—are looking for is a credibility in a religion and a community of faith. They are looking for authenticity, and for people of faith to have their acts match their words and to have their gestures match their rhetoric… If we can offer, as a witness in 21st-century Quebec,…authentic communities of faith who are engaged in the world around them in helpful, meaningful ways…that’s probably the most attractive kind of witness we can offer.

 

Do you think the diocese will exist in 30 years?

I don’t know…I’m not sure it’s even important if the diocese of Quebec as a formal structure will exist in 30 years. The church will exist in 30 years, the church will exist in 300 years or 3,000 years, or whenever our Lord returns. I’m not hung up on whether the formal structures of our church continue to exist in their current form or not.

What I think is more important than the formal structures or the shape of things is that the gospel is being proclaimed and the kingdom is being revealed.

One of the best things I’ve done in the last year is reread the diocesan history, which has helped me realize that there has never been a time when the Anglican diocese of Quebec was large and prosperous and wildly successful. We’ve always been a minority church, and we’ve always been a huge territory serving a relatively small number of people…The whole history of Christianity has been ebbs and flows…proportionally, the church is the largest it has ever been, and the church will be just fine.

So I feel, on the one hand, a great weight of responsibility for being a bishop in the church of God, and the person who has been called to oversight and leadership of this particular church in this particular time and place, and I take that responsibility seriously. But I also carry it with the lightness of knowing that it isn’t all my responsibility…that it is Christ who is the head of the church, not me, and not anybody else.

I don’t actually lose very much sleep over it…The thing to lose sleep over is whether the church is being faithful and being the church that we are called to be. That is something worth losing sleep over.

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, January 11, 2017

A Pastoral Letter to The Anglican Church of Canada on The Feast of the Epiphany

Posted on: January 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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A Pastoral Letter to The Anglican Church of Canada on The Feast of the Epiphany

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Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet you in his name and love on this The Feast of the Epiphany. Today we remember the visit of the magi, their adoration of the Christ Child, and the offering of their gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Church has come to think of them as

“Sacred gifts of mystic meaning
incense doth their God disclose
gold the King of Kings proclaimeth
myrrh his sepulchre foreshows”
(Hymn 158, Common Praise)

The word “epiphany” means to “manifest” or “show forth”. On this day the glory of the Lord was manifested to a world far beyond that manger where he had been laid as the Babe of Bethlehem. Now his glory was being revealed to the nations.

In this holy season we see the Child grow into adolescence and into adulthood. Luke writes he was strong, filled with wisdom and the favour of God was upon him”. (Luke 2:40) We see him leave his home in Nazareth and make his way to the edge of the River Jordan where John was preaching. We follow him in these coming weeks from his Baptism to his Transfiguration. We see him changing water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee and feeding a hungry multitude in a grassy place. We hear him calling his first disciples and see how he begins to nurture them as a community. We encounter him as Teacher and Lord, and come to know the power of his love to heal and reconcile, to re-set our relations, one with another, in the wondrous grace of God.

This year we are “in Epiphany” until the very last day of February, almost two months to watch the gospel that is at the very heart of God made known in our Lord’s ministry. And if we listen carefully we will hear his invitation to show forth that same gospel in the manner of our living, particularly through the vows of our baptism.

This year our country celebrates the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. In prayer for Canada we often say, “Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people”. (Prayer for the Nation, p. 678, BAS) Considering those many nations, we are more conscious than ever that they include the First Nations of this land – the Indigenous Peoples who lived here long before “settlers” from other places arrived. There is great hope all Canadians will recognize the contributions of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit to the cultural fabric of this country and that where that fabric has been torn, we will have more resolve than ever to mend it. The Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission with respect to the sad and lingering legacy of the Indian Residential Schools are a declaration of what we need to do as a country. I ask your prayers for the Prime Minister, the Parliament of Canada, and for the Churches that our response to these Calls be worthy of the depth and integrity required. With respect to our own Church’s response I am pleased to say that within just a few weeks we will have appointed a full-time staff person whose work will be entirely dedicated to reconciliation. That individual will work in close consultation with the offices of the Primate and General Secretary, the National Indigenous Bishop and the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.

In 2017 we will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation. In that time, the AFHR has provided grants of over 7 million dollars for 654 projects all across the country. They range from language and culture recovery to healing circles, supporting the healing journeys of Indigenous communities and their members.

Much of the money that supports this process was raised from Canadian Anglicans as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and the Agreement stipulates that all of the money allocated in this way be spent before 2018. The Healing Fund Committee has faithfully fulfilled this mandate, but that means that as of the end of 2017, the funds raised as part of the Settlement Agreement will have been depleted and the fund will be empty.

Another twenty-fifth anniversary comes in 2017. The annual campaign originally known as “Anglican Appeal” and now called “Giving with Grace” began a direct appeal to Canadian Anglicans to support the ministries of the General Synod.

The convergence of these two anniversaries creates an opportunity for our beloved Church, an opportunity to replenish the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation and renew our commitment to healing. I am very pleased to tell you that the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation will be the focus for Giving with Grace in the twenty-fifth anniversary year that they share. We have begun good work in this ministry, and I am particularly grateful to Esther Wesley for her leadership in developing the AFHR and its relationships with indigenous communities and their members. In 2017, the generosity of Canadian Anglicans will allow a renewal and continuation of that ministry.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Installation of The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. Mark has travelled the country and met the some 120 Indigenous congregations. He has confirmed 100’s of young people and adults too. He has sat with Elders and Chiefs and Councils and listened to the needs of their people and the hopes they have for building a truly Indigenous Church within The Anglican Church of Canada. There is as the Anglican Council of People has said, “an urgency” to move ahead, and it is anticipated that year will see some significant progress.

In June, Bishop Mark and I are hosting an Indigenous Ministries Consultation. This will be a gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across the country – laity, clergy, young people, elders, Indigenous Ministry Development Officers, Archdeacons for Indigenous Ministries, Bishops and staff of the General Synod. We will take time to reflect on where we are as a Church in partnership with Indigenous Peoples in the spirit of the Covenant of 1994, the 2014 Statement, “Where we are Now: Twenty Years after the Covenant”, and a 2016 document “Circles of Faith; A Jesus Plan for Indigenous Leadership”. We will celebrate some achievements, note disappointments and acknowledge failures. We hope to learn from them all. We hope to discern together next steps for honouring of the right of Indigenous Peoples to be self-determining with respect to meeting ministry needs, raising up leaders, and making decisions in keeping with aboriginal customs. I pray this conference will be another watershed moment in the Timeline of “Indigenous Peoples and The Anglican Church of Canada: An Emerging Relationship”.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Anglican Foundation which has eagerly come alongside thousands of individuals, parishes, dioceses and faith communities to help invigorate, rejuvenate and refresh ministry on all levels, whether it be infrastructure, innovation, or improvement. As AFC celebrates sixty years of generosity, it remembers with gratitude the foresight of its forebears who said in 1957, “the time to proceed is now” when referring to establishing a Foundation to provide Anglicans the opportunity to give to support ministry in Canada where need is greatest. Sixty years of generosity! Sixty years of believing that when we all give, we all benefit. In recent years our tag-line has been “Imagine More!” Now is a time to imagine yet more!

Our Church has long standing Global Relations – some exceed forty and fifty years – I think of Cuba and the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. This year marks the 10th anniversary of a resolution of the General Synod of 2007 to strengthen ties with the Diocese of Jerusalem. And in those years some amazing things have happened – visits I have made with Dr. Andrea Mann, our Director of Global Relations, the funding of a Canadian priest to serve as Chaplain to Archbishop Suheil Dawani, visits by Suheil to Canada, the forging of a very vibrant Companion Relationship between Jerusalem and Ottawa, the formation of Canadian Companions of Jerusalem, the establishing of Jerusalem Sunday (Easter 7). Within recent weeks we have appointed the Rev Canon Richard LaSueur as a Middle East Liaison volunteer. We will mark the 10th anniversary of this relationship by hosting Archbishop Suheil and his wife Shafeeqa for an extended visit throughout Canada this fall. We are grateful for the flourishing of this Global Partnership and we pray that we may be true companions in a diocese so committed to the ministries of hospitality for pilgrims, education and healthcare for all irrespective of their faith tradition, and reconciliation for a lasting peace in the Land of the Holy One.

I am also pleased to say that in recent years we have been able to rebuild a number of relationships with Churches throughout Africa. This is in no small measure a credit to the ministry of The Rev. Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa who works for both our Church and The Episcopal Church (in the United States) nurturing these relationships. Eight of our dioceses are in companion relationships with diocese in five provinces throughout Africa. The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue continues strong and vibrant. This spring the bishops will gather in Nairobi in Kenya. This fall we will welcome to Canada the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, The Most Rev. Albert Chama (Primate of Central Africa) for a pastoral visit and engagement with our Church. There is much for which to be thankful and ever hopeful.

When we think of Africa, we often think of the amazing work the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has done over the years – in food aid and security, in combating HIV AIDS, and especially in these times in extending Maternal Newborn and Child Health. All these programs have the wonderful effect of nurturing good relations between our churches and the agencies we support. The “bonds of affection” between us are real and genuine.

For the Church Catholic 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Anniversary of the Reformation that followed Martin Luther’s act of nailing to the door of Cathedral Church in Wittenberg 95 Theses for reform in the Church. That Reformation brought with it many blessings but in time would be viewed as the first of many other movements by which the Church became very much divided. Lutherans around the world have been very clear in saying this anniversary is not a celebration. It is a commemoration that will be marked by numerous ecumenical gestures. A key element in holding these gestures together is the very theme of this commemoration, “Liberated by God’s Grace” and its three sub-themes – “Salvation not for sale, Human Beings not for Sale, Creation not for Sale”. Historically rooted, and biblically based these themes address some of the most pressing issues of our time – religiously motivated violence, human trafficking and Climate Change. Many Churches are partnering with Lutherans in marking this anniversary in such a way as to show our care and concern for our common humanity and our common home, the earth itself.

Fittingly, the World Council of Churches invited the Churches in Germany to prepare the resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25). The theme is “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us”. (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). In the midst of liturgies for this week, people will participate in the erecting of a wall confessing the many sins by which Christians have been so sadly divided – ignorance, contempt, intolerance, inquisition, persecution, and exclusion. Having looked upon this wall for a space of time they will move to a time of prayer for forgiveness of these sins. Then the wall will be slowly dismantled and its pieces quietly rearranged in the shape of a cross around which everyone will gather remembering that “Christ has broken down the dividing walls of hostility…that he might create in himself a new humanity, making peace, reconciling us to God in one body through his cross”. (Ephesians 2:14-16)

Within our own Church we look forward to the appointment of a new Coordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations with special responsibilities for our Full Communion relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; our dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee Canada; and our work with the Ecumenical Councils and movements of which our Church is a member, the Canadian Council of Churches and KAIROS.

Like every year this one will mark significant anniversaries for some dioceses and parishes throughout our Church. It is my continuing joy to respond to a number of invitations to share in these celebrations. If I cannot be present I happily send greetings on behalf of the whole Church.

Like other years 2017 will also represent for countless men and women significant milestones in their ministries as lay readers, intercessors, sacristans, Sunday School teachers, catechists, musicians, choristers, pastoral care workers, advocates for compassion for the poor, champions for justice and peace, deacons, priests, bishops, and scholars of the Faith. For the Spirit’s grace at work in their lives we give thanks to God and pray that in every generation the Church may be so blessed for its ministries in the service of the Gospel.

Speaking personally 2017 is a year of several significant anniversaries in my life in Christ. It marks the 60th of my baptism – April 7, 1957 at Emmanuel Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I was not quite 2 ½ at the time! As many of you know, I carry the certificate of my baptism in my Prayer Book and occasionally pull it out in the context of a chat with children or in preaching. It is old and yellowed. It is a bit frayed around the edges as indeed I am at times! I must unfold and refold it carefully lest it tears apart. I treasure this piece of paper, for it reminds me of who I am, to whom I belong, and that my life’s labour as Rowan Williams put it is “to take hold of him who first took hold of me” and to live by the principle that “only as a disciple can I lead, only as a learner can I teach”.

I share this baptismal anniversary with you not so much to draw attention to myself, as to lift up one of the current initiatives throughout our worldwide Anglican Communion, – “A Season of Intentional Discipleship”. It is an invitation to the Churches to ponder the holistic nature of discipleship and its impact on every aspect of our living – from our worship to our work and our service in the community, from our political choices to our care for the earth. It is an opportunity to ponder those great biblical texts that remind us that life as a disciple means life in a community of faith and all the joys and struggles that entails. It is a challenge to think afresh about how Anglicans understand the nature of the Church and its calling in Christ. I have great hope that our own Church will seize this opportunity. And in doing so will embrace the recently published text, “Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making” – An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation, edited by The Rev. Canon John Kafwanka and The Rev Canon Mark Oxbrow. It is superb.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of my ordination as a Deacon-June 3, 1977 in the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I plan to keep this day in quiet at the Convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto. It will be a time to give thanks for all those who nurtured my call to ordained ministry, all who taught me the Atlantic School of Theology all who mentored me through the years, and all the many people among who I served in parish ministries and in time episcopal ministry throughout Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Through the example of so many people so dedicated to Christ his gospel and his Church, I have been so blessed and even now as I begin to think of them all my heart overflows with gratitude.

A few weeks after that anniversary I will recall the 10th of my installation as Primate June 25, 2007 in Winnipeg. I have travelled much in these years and I give thanks for the warmth of hospitality with which I have been received in dioceses and hundreds of parishes across the country. I rejoice in the many ministries that bear such an incredible witness to the Gospel of Christ in your local context. For some of you that is a huge and densely populated urban sprawl, for others a vast expanse of communities scattered across Canada’s North. For some it is a ministry concentrated among the poor and destitute in the downtown core of our large cities, for others it is a chaplaincy in hospitals and in hospice, in shelters and in centres for recovery from addictions, in prisons and in half way houses. For some it is ministry on our streets with the homeless and for others it is ministry at our harbour fronts with mariners from all over the world.

As dedicated as you are to all these local ministries I recognize and appreciate your commitments to the work of the Church more broadly as well. Thank you for your support of the ministries of the General Synod, Anglican Foundation and PWRDF. I am so encouraged by all who embrace “the big picture” of what it means to be The Anglican Church of Canada.

I draw this pastoral letter to a close with reference to an initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in “drawing together young Christians (age 20-35), from all over the world and all denominations and varieties of Christian expression, for one transformative year of prayer, theological reflection and service to the poor, in the heart of London”. The Community of St. Anselm as it is known is based at Lambeth Palace. These young people lead the liturgical life of the Chapel in the Palace crypt. They work in the community and on occasion some of their numbers accompany the Archbishop in his travels. In this “A Year in God’s Time” prayer is at the heart of their life and work. Their quest for a closer walk with the Lord, their openness to his leading in their lives is very much in the spirit of St. Anselm. (Archbishop of Canterbury 1093-1109, and Teacher of the Faith) Here is an excerpt from his great work, “Faith Seeking Understanding”.

“This is my prayer, O God: may I know you, may I love you, so that I may rejoice in you. And if in this life I cannot know, love, and rejoice in you fully, may I progress day by day until that joy comes to fullness. May knowledge of you advance in me here, and there be made full; may your love grow, and there be full; so that here my joy may be in great hope, and there may be full in reality. Lord, through your Son you command or rather counsel us to ask, and you promise that we shall receive, that our joy may be full (John 16:240. I ask, Lord, for what you counsel through our wonderful Counsellor (Isa 9.2) I shall receive what you promise through your truth, that my joy may be full. Faithful God, I ask to receive it that my joy may be full. In the meantime, may my mind meditate on your promise, may my tongue speak of it. May my heart love that joy, may my mouth talk of it. May my soul hunger for it, may my flesh thirst for it, may my whole being desire it, until I enter into the joy of my Lord, God three and one, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom 1.25).”

In so much as that was the prayer of Anselm and now that of a Community named after him, it is a fitting prayer for any and all of us who through our baptism endeavour to live more fully our life in Christ.

With blessings for Epiphany and this New Year,

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 06, 2017

Finding Christ in prison

Posted on: January 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Photo illustration via Shutterstock

Finding Christ in prison

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The following is the first instalment of a multi-part series detailing the work of Anglicans involved in prison ministry. Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website in the coming weeks for future instalments.

Anglicans serving as prison chaplains at federal and provincial institutions have seen a multitude of changes impacting their work in recent years. From budget cuts and the adoption of a private contractor model to cultural changes reflecting an ever more pluralistic and secular society, chaplaincy requires periodic adaption to new circumstances for priests and deacons working with inmates.

Through all its transformations, however, the spirit of prison ministry and its importance from a Christian perspective remain the same as in the time of Jesus, who memorably said, “I was in prison and you visited me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:36, 40).

“I think even that simple line reminds Christians particularly of their duty to find Christ in prison,” said the Rev. Tim Smart, rector at Grace Anglican Church in Sutton, Que., who has worked part-time as a prison chaplain since 2009 after first serving on a volunteer basis.

As a chaplain, Smart has helped connect inmates to the outside community, which most will return to after serving their sentences. He highlighted the importance of the church having a presence inside prison so that upon release, inmates have people who will welcome them back into society.

“All the church words that we use on Sunday morning…these become, I think, in some ways more real and somehow more pertinent, more alive in the [corrections] system, because it’s obvious that forgiveness is needed,” Smart said.

“It’s obvious that redemption is sought for. It’s obvious that inclusion is important for people who are kind of at the end of their rope,” he added, pointing to a quote from Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The Rev. Quinn Strikwerda, who has served as a chaplain at the Edmonton Remand Centre for three years, noted that inmates often come from poor or broken families. Many have been abused in the past or suffered from drug addictions. For those who have been more fortunate in their own lives, recognizing the breadth of human experience through prison ministry can lead to personal and spiritual growth.

“As Christians, I think we’re really called to work with those who are very much on the margins of our society…It makes us more fully human to be able to walk with the people who have had such difficulties in their lives,” Strikwerda said.

The need to minister to the most marginalized people in society holds similar prominence for the Rev. Peter Huish (deacon), who has worked as a federal prison chaplain for 18 years, preceding Smart as chaplain at Cowansville Institution. During that time period, he has visited almost every correctional institution in Quebec.

“Visiting those in prisons is an absolutely key part of following [Jesus] and finding him,” Huish said. “It’s very, very clear that…if we go to those least of our brothers and sisters that we find him there, or we find him in them. So I’m absolutely convinced that’s the justification, and the church needs to know that—better than it does, quite frankly.”

Though Huish did not renew his contract for this year, the Correctional Service of Canada has allowed him to continue his work as a chaplain on a voluntary basis.

His passion for chaplaincy stems, in part, from the positive changes it can make in the lives of inmates—an effect that also makes itself felt upon those who minister within prison walls, with Huish emphasizing the nourishing and enriching effect of chaplaincy in his own life.

“It is an extremely rewarding ministry,” the deacon said. “I’ve formed some of the most important and authentic relationships that I ever have in terms of working with men in prison, those who have made a commitment to do better in their lives.”

The imitation of Christ finds a powerful expression in the work of chaplains, as described by Strikwerda.

“I think when a lot of people think about prison chaplaincy, they would see it as mainly providing…church services and preaching to people and trying to save their souls, “ Strikwerda said.

“Personally, I believe that God does reach people here and that they can find some measure of salvation,” he added. “But that’s not principally what our job is.

“Our job is principally to be Christ incarnate in these very, very dark places, so that people can find comfort and they can open up spaces in their heart for God to come in.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 03, 2017

Grateful for the Visionaries: MCC Food Bank, More-with-Less Cookbook Marks 40 Years

Posted on: December 29th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Grateful for the Visionaries: MCC Food Bank, More-with-Less Cookbook Marks 40 Years

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

 
Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger.  PWRDF (Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund) is a member.

Nadia Bolz-Weber: Entering the stream of the faithful

Posted on: December 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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You have to be really deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity, says the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints.

Nadia Bolz-Weber (link is external) likes to have both tradition and innovation happening at the same time in House for All Sinners and Saints (link is external), a mission church she founded in Denver, Colo., that’s part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Her church follows the ancient liturgy of the church, yet during Easter Vigil, for example, members are asked to tell the resurrection story in teams. People have made films, written original pieces of choral music and acted out scenes with Barbie dolls.

“We’ll call that ancient/future church and different stuff like that, but I find that’s what people are drawn to,” said Bolz-Weber, who earned a master of divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology.

She has become a leading voice of the emerging church after a hard-drinking life as a stand-up comedian and restaurant worker, and has been described as a “6-foot-1 Christian billboard” for her tattoo-covered arms.

Bolz-Weber spoke with Jesse James DeConto for Faith & Leadership about communicating a historic doctrine in today’s culture and holding on to something old in an identifiably Christian way. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: For those clergy who want to be doing what you’re doing, what do they need to know?

That they should figure out who their people are and try to be their pastor.

Older folks from the church will say, “What do young adults want? What do they want so that we can do it?” I’m like, “I’ve never had to ask myself that question.”

I get to be in ministry in a context I’m native to, so I’ve never had to second-guess, “Will they like this?” or, “Will they get this joke?” or, “Would they enjoy doing X, Y or Z?”

There’s something about doing ministry as the person you are that ends up making a big difference, and who you are is going to be different than who I am.

I know a lot of pastors, if you ask them, “Do you feel like you can really be here in your work?” they’d say no. I think that ends up being really key.

Q: How do you see your ministry as part of a new Reformation — the Great Emergence or the Fourth Great Awakening that Phyllis Tickle and Diana Butler Bass have talked about?

The Holy Spirit is subversive, and one of the things the Spirit does is blur lines that we’re comfortable maintaining. My experience has been that we like to have these lines of liberal and conservative — theologically and socially. I think that people, especially the younger generation, have experienced those lines becoming real blurry and are fine with that. I know that’s true for myself.

I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to be a part of fundamentalism of the left or the right, mostly because it lacks two things that I can’t do without in my life anymore — which is joy and humility.

I don’t see a lot of joy and humility in these extreme stances that people take on either side. So I feel like the Spirit moves in the blurring of those distinctions that we all like to have. Every time you meet somebody who’s in a category of conservative or hateful or narrow-minded or fill-in-the-blank, there’s some sort of connection that’s made, and then you have to rethink the category. That’s the work of the Spirit.

I think it’s interesting people dismiss the being “spiritual but not religious” thing. My business card for the church says, “We’re religious but not spiritual.” That yearning that people have is for something that’s more than 20 minutes old. I think people want to be connected to something that’s more than a whim.

There’s very little in our visual field, generally in our lives, that’s more than 50 years old. And so to be connected to something that’s ancient speaks something to us, because everything around us is new. Since the age of progress, new is better, right?

Now we go, “Wait a minute — that’s not always true.” When new is always better, we’re not tethered to anything. I think I see a longing in people to be tethered to something, and I like to say that you have to be really deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity.

I really like to have those two things going on at the same time all the time — tradition and innovation. We’ll call that ancient/future church and different stuff like that, but I find that’s what people are drawn to.

Q: How do you hold on to something old in an identifiably Christian way?

I reject the premise I often hear in progressive Christianity that in order to be down with multiculturalism or with peace and social justice you have to jettison the Bible and Jesus. I think those are the only two things we have going for us.

Having said that, I feel there’s something about the Bible and orthodox Christian teachings — the creeds, the Bible, the liturgy and, most certainly and importantly, the gospel — that even the church can’t [mess] up. We’ve tried, and we’ve done a lot of damage, but there’s a resiliency to it.

So I think some of the questions we ask end up not being necessary, because the thing that we’ve been given to caretake is so much more resilient than our errors are. The Bible will still be here long after every book on Oprah’s list has faded into memory. It’s not going to die; it will not return empty.

I find comfort in that. That’s something that’s rooted in reality. It’s not about me coming up with the next clever thing or me trying to be as relevant as I can possibly be or any of those things, because it has its own integrity. You can’t deconstruct the truth.

The reason the Bible is important is because it bears Christ into the world; it’s the cradle that holds Christ. As a confessing Christian, the central message of the Bible for me is the revelation of how God chose to reveal God’s self.

Therefore, since we know what the central message is, the gospel itself is at the center. It’s not one thing; it’s like concentric circles.

David J. Lose has this great book, “Making Sense of Scripture.” He writes there is one view where everything in Scripture is a link — one of them can’t be weak, so they all have to be together and they’re all equal and they’re all equally strong, and if you doubt that, everything will pull apart.

The view I’m talking about is where the gospel is in the middle, and the farther away something in the Bible gets from that, it has less and less authority.

Q: How do you communicate a historic doctrine in today’s culture?

First of all, people should read Martin Luther’s “On the Bondage of the Will” and “The Freedom of a Christian.”

I also think, if given the opportunity, people can actually see [that] the way in which they live can’t live up to even their own values.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, there is something you didn’t recycle that day. There is something you bought that was not fair trade. There’s some thought you had that was lustful. There is no way to escape the fact that no matter what your values are, you cannot live up to them. It is impossible. That’s what we call being convicted by the law. The law is anything that convicts the conscious.

When Adam and Eve were in the garden and they heard the rustling of the leaves, they freaked out. Do you know what the rustling of the leaves was? The law. They’re convicted by the fact that there’s always something within them that is sin.

In that way, a newborn baby is full of sin. It has no thought for God or neighbor. I still don’t have a thought for God or neighbor. It’s so completely clear to me that that is who I am, but then when I hear about and experience who God is for me, when I return again to my identity that I have in my baptism, it’s corrective to that sclerotic posture that I end up always having.

Q: How does this affect you and your work?

It’s something I need. I need to receive the Eucharist. I need to hear the gospel again and again and again, because I forget all of that. I think that’s what we do in Christian communities. We gather. We remind each other of who we are. We remind each other of God’s promises, and that’s what we proclaim.

I think people, especially liberals, conflate sin with low self-esteem. They’re like, “I don’t want to talk about sin anymore,” because [they’ve been told] sin is immorality. They’re like, “I’m tired of having someone tell me I’m immoral when I’m not.”

There’s very little to do with morality. Sometimes it intersects with morality — absolutely, no question. Being curved in on self can cause some really immoral things.

If you could actually manage to be a completely ethical and moral person, you would still be sinful. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. It just means that God is God and you are not, and that’s actually good news.

I once visited this woman who had a 6-month-old baby die. I spent the day with her. She had a pack of cigarettes next to her bed, and she didn’t have custody of her other four kids, and she was a drug addict. She spent the whole time going, “You know, this all happened because of this cop or this social worker who had it out for me.”

She had this totally external locus of control. I was so sad after I left, and it wasn’t because of the situation, which was sad; I was sad because I felt like she was never going to experience the exquisiteness of God’s grace, because she can’t confess. She needs it, but she can’t get to that place. She’s not going to have the freedom that comes from that, because she keeps going, “No, it’s this, it’s that.” Total denial.

My church always has a confession and absolution at the beginning of our liturgy. A lot of church planters want to jettison the confession, because they don’t want people to feel bad. I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s central to who we are.”

Q: How do you conceive of what you’re doing as a laboratory working for the wider church?

That’s a good question, because we’re taking the essential parts of the liturgy and the theology in the history of the church and enculturating them in our context and then saying, “Oh, look at what we did” — and then get quoted like, “That’s identifiably Lutheran, but it looks totally different.”

I wasn’t raised Lutheran, and in the end, I feel like part of my work is to re-catechize cradle Lutherans. I’m like an evangelist saying to the Lutherans, “You have no idea what you’re sitting on. You can’t even see it.” To have a theological system based on paradox — that’s what the Lutheran theological system is based on, a paradox, and it couldn’t be more perfect for postmodern people.

The way we view Scripture, law and gospel — the tension of living between law and gospel simultaneously sinner and saint, living in the now and the not yet, all of that — Lutherans aren’t afraid to play the mystery card.

We don’t have to explain everything. We don’t claim to have the answers. We have some great descriptions. I took those essentials and I said, “Well, look at what it looks like.”

I think the church in general has to be open to the way in which they need to be reintroduced to their own stuff by people who have chosen it as adults.

Q: What was your process of choosing it?

Of course, it doesn’t feel like I chose it. I didn’t go to church for 10 years. I was violently de-churched. I hated Christianity and Christians for 10 years, and then I met my husband.

He introduced me to it. I’d been clean for four years at that time. [The Lutheran church] was the only place that didn’t feel like a self-improvement program. The Lutherans said, “Nobody’s climbing the spiritual ladder. There’s no spiritual self-improvement program here, and God’s continuously rescuing us, continually coming to us, always interrupting our lives. This is the direction.”

I went, “That is what I’ve experienced.” I fell in love with the liturgy, too, which I’d never experienced. It felt like a beautiful gift that we have that we’ve been given by our ancestors to caretake for the next generation. It’s this gorgeous thing, like entering the stream of the faithful.

It’s been flowing for a while, and you get to enter it and carry it, and then the next generation comes and carries it along.

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Alban Weekly, Alban at Duke Divinity School, October 31, 2016

Congregational development: Managing change

Posted on: December 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Rev. Lynn Uzans speaks at a church gathering in May 2015. Submitted photo

Congregational development: Managing change

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The following is part of an ongoing monthly series on congregational development, which features reflections from Anglicans on how they are responding to the challenges facing churches today.

In a constantly changing world, the basic premise of congregational development today remains largely unchanged, according to the Rev. Lynn Uzans.

For Uzans—currently serving as transition minister at First Baptist Church in Halifax and on a part-time basis as vocations coordinator for the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—congregational development still means “helping people who have been put together in a parish or congregation discover who they are, and what God is calling them to do.”

For a congregation to effectively carry out its mission, however, it must maintain a spirit of self-examination and flexibility that allows it to continually respond to new challenges. Throughout her experience as a minister, Uzans has adopted various models for development, and is a strong supporter of the Healthy Church Handbook, among other tools.

“At the bottom line, I think there are all kinds of really good tools out there,” Uzans said. “But they’re only tools, and they’re tools to get people talking…always asking the question, ‘What’s this about? What’s the end goal here?’

“Is it to keep stuff going that you’ve always had, or is it that what you’ve always had isn’t working and we need to try something new? I realize that change is very difficult for people, but at some point, it’s also about change management, and constantly helping people see that change is not terrifying.”

Uzans’ approach to congregational development emerged from her training in active listening and pastoral care. In helping congregations determine how to move forward, she has continually emphasized self-reflection rooted in prayer.

During her time serving as a minister at St. James’ Anglican Church in Kentville, N.S., when the parish knew that repairs to its sanctuary costing tens of thousands of dollars were necessary, Uzans helped organize a town hall meeting in which members brainstormed all possible options, such as repurposing the space.

“At one point, I said, ‘We’re in the middle of an agricultural area, so what if we turned our sanctuary space into a year-round farmers’ market and carved out a chapel for perpetual agriculture?’” she recalled.

“People kind of looked at me like I had three heads, but it freed people up to say, ‘How can we think outside the box?’”

Parish members put all their ideas on flip-chart sheets, looked at the pros and cons of each, and left the sheets up for a month. After additional meetings, the congregation held a secret ballot asking what God was calling them to do. To the surprise of some, the result indicated that the parish believed God was calling them to repair the sanctuary.

St. James congregation thus started making repairs to the sanctuary. Unexpected assistance from an insurance company meant that the repairs ultimately cost only $5,000.

“We didn’t know that when we went into the decision,” Uzans said. “But I think what happened with that congregation was that they discovered that they could have a prayerful approach to decision-making, and that then spilled over into other congregational development…[the prevalent sentiment being], ‘If we could trust God on this, how else might we be able to trust God?’”

Whether in “kitchen table” discussions for smaller parishes or in a more standardized assessment process for larger parishes, congregational development for Uzans involves answering a number of basic questions: “Who are the people? Where are they located? What are they being called to do, and how can we be equipped to do that? And that’s going to look different for every congregation.”

The Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island currently has a parish vitality coordinator, the Rev. Lisa Vaughan, who works with individual parishes using various congregational tools, Uzans noted.

Though some parishes in the diocese have looked at natural church development as a model for development, she said, “My feeling about natural church development is that it requires a numerically larger congregation than many of our congregations in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, so it hasn’t been a model we’ve looked at a lot.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, December 27, 2016

Quebec diocese: On the cusp of change?

Posted on: December 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By André Forget on December 22, 2016

 

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, the oldest Anglican cathedral outside of the United Kingdom, has been a bastion of Englishness in Quebec City since the early 19th century. Photo: André Forget 


Quebec City
In many ways, the diocese of Quebec contains, in microcosm, the whole diversity of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the tensions and challenges that come with it.

While its headquarters are in Quebec City, the diocese includes the rural farmlands of the Eastern Townships, the fishing outports of the Lower North Shore, Gaspé and Magdalen Islands, the remote Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach in the northern part of the province and the growing university city of Sherbrooke.

Though it covers a territory the size of France, its Anglican population (4,000 according to the 2017 Anglican Church Directory) would fit comfortably in a small town. Its 52 parishes include 68 congregations, many of which have a regular attendance of fewer than 10 people on a Sunday. Those who do come may worship in Naskapi, French, English or a combination of languages.

The diocese also contains within its history many important moments in the development of Canada. The first Anglican mass in Quebec City was held to celebrate the British conquest of the city in 1759. The diocese itself was founded in 1793 with the arrival of Bishop Jacob Mountain, at which time its territory stretched from the Labrador coast to Lake Superior. It was the mother diocese of what are now the dioceses of Toronto, Huron, Ottawa, Algoma, Niagara and Montreal.

And because the story of the diocese of Quebec is, in some ways, the story of Canada—with all the pain, sectarianism and outright bigotry that are part of it—the diocese is both a cause and product of the sometimes strained relationships between the Indigenous, French and English cultures that laid the groundwork for the nation.

“We bring with us a lot of historical baggage, having arrived as a church the same year as the English conquest,” explains Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers. “I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked by French-speaking tourists at the Cathedral, ‘Is the Queen the head of your church?’ ”

Myers says he believes the diocese’s history “can also be an asset rather than something we need to be apologetic for.” As someone whose first career as a radio journalist brought him to Ottawa and then Quebec City around the time of the referendum on Quebec sovereignty in 1995, he is aware of how deeply the diocese’s fortunes have been tied to those of the English population.

When asked where the current demographic struggles of the diocese began, every single Quebec Anglican the Anglican Journal spoke to cited two factors, both of which have a common root in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s: secularization, the speed of which has been unrivalled in the Western world, and the outmigration of hundreds of thousands of English-speakers following the rise of Quebec nationalism and the passing of the Charter on the French Language in 1977, which made French the province’s official language.


Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers speaks with parishioners at St. Michael’s, Sillery, in Quebec City. Photo: André Forget


“I believe that what we have in the church is something that would draw people, but if there’s nobody to draw…you can’t create English-speaking people. They have to be there, or they’re not. And they’re not,” says diocesan Bishop Dennis Drainville.

Attempts have been made by the diocese to reach out to French-speaking Quebecers, including an increasing number of churches that offer bilingual services.

But the extent of these ministries is limited by the reality that one of the main attractions of coming to church for many English-speakers is precisely the fact that it is one of the few institutions that still functions in English.

Speaking of the archdeaconry of St. Francis in the Eastern Townships, Jim Sweeny, the diocese’s archivist and property manager, notes that many faithful Anglicans in his region “wouldn’t go [to church] if it was in French.”

For these people, the small remnant of what was once a significant population, the church is a link to a cultural heritage that is quickly disappearing. For this reason, they are even more resistant to change than Anglicans in other parts of the church.

“It’s that sense that they’ve lost everything else,” says Sweeny. “And so I think there is a sense of, [at least] I can control my church.”

But despite the fact that many Anglicans are committed to keeping their churches going, as Drainville notes “the handwriting is on the wall for the future…we just don’t have enough people and we won’t.”

Since Drainville took up his position in 2008, the diocese has struggled through some difficult times financially, and has only recently begun to stabilize, following an effort to be more strategic with diocesan investments and the sale of a large number of properties.

“We’ve been selling a lot of churches…I think we have sold eight or nine churches in the last couple of years,” says Sweeny. He adds that the diocese makes an effort to sell church buildings to local historical societies or the municipalities in which they are located before putting them on the open market.

While Sweeny anticipates fewer closures in the coming years, due to the fact that most of the churches that were going to close have already done so, he stresses that there has been a fundamental shift in how the diocese provides ministry.

“Lay leaders have taken a greater role—there is much more of an acceptance that you don’t have a parish priest,” he says. The new model in his own region, the archdeaconry of St. Francis, is to have a team of priests and lay readers who share responsibility for the entire jurisdiction.

“When you go to the hospital and somebody comes to visit you, it’ll be someone that you probably know, but it won’t be your parish priest necessarily,” he explains. “That’s a sea change in how people look at their parishes.”


Jim Sweeny, diocesan archivist and registrar, with the letters patent from King George III that established the diocese of Quebec. Photo: André Forget


While the adjustment has not been an easy one, especially for older Anglicans whose identities, going back generations, are sometimes tied up in their church buildings, others see the struggle as having the potential to revitalize the church.

“We are on the cutting edge. The one real benefit of being here in Quebec, and being a remnant community, is we do not have the luxury of pretending that we matter, that people think we’re important, that we can rest on our history or our influence in communities,” says Archdeacon Edward Simonton, one of the priests serving the archdeaconry of St. Francis in the Eastern Townships.

For priests like Simonton, the very secularism that has nearly extinguished Anglicanism in the province also pushes the church to be a better version of itself.

“This is missionary work like from in the early church, and it’s incredibly freeing,” he explains. “We are getting rid of basic prison bars that people do not realize are prison bars—like parishes, [which involve] just thinking about yourself in terms of this town, this little community.”

For Simonton and the other lay and ordained leaders in St. Francis, the diocese of Quebec is a testing ground for a new way of doing church, one that might be useful for other parts of the Anglican Church of Canada to consider as demographic decline and growing secularism push institutional Anglicanism ever further into the margins of society.

“I would not be surprised if the diocese of Quebec becomes the light on the hill,” says Simonton. “When other people start to hit the wall—which they will hit—they’ll go, ‘Oh, Quebec hit that wall and they’re still going. They found a new way to do it.’ ”

 

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, December 23, 2016

Francophone ministry plays a complex role in Quebec

Posted on: December 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By André Forget on December, 23 2016


Archdeacon Pierre Voyer sits in the chancel of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, where Tous les Saints meets to worship. 
Photo: André Forget


Ministry by the Anglican Church of Canada in the French language may be seen as innovative by some, but francophone ministry has a surprisingly long history: the first attempt was in 1768.

In a curious footnote to the history of Anglican Church in Canada, the first Anglican priests appointed to Quebec City, following the British conquest of New France, were French-speakers. They were sent—not, primarily, to minister to the local garrison—but to proselytize the local Roman Catholic population.

They were not, as history has shown, particularly successful.

Almost 250 years later, however, many Anglicans in the diocese of Quebec believe its survival depends on their ability to reach out to the French-speaking population.

Given that French is the first language of the overwhelming majority of the population in Quebec, coadjutor bishop Bruce Myers says pursuing growth means looking beyond the traditional Anglophone communities

If we are to grow numerically, [we have] to have more Frenchspeaking Quebecois clergy and parishioners and members of our church,” he said

While ministry to anglophones will always be an important part of the work of the diocese, Myers, who will take over as diocesan bishop when Bishop Dennis Drainville retires, believes demographic changes in recent decades make francophone ministry essential.

The rise of Quebec nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s—along with the Charter of the French Language, which established French as the province’s official language in 1977— precipitated a massive outmigration of anglophones.

In Quebec City, English speakers made up 40 per cent of the population at the highpoint in the 1860s, but they constituted a mere 1.4 per cent in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

For most Anglicans in the diocese, English is their mother tongue, but many also need a working knowledge of French and among the younger generations, bilingualism is almost a given.

This has meant significant changes to ministry in the diocese.

Of the four Anglican congregations in Quebec City, only two are fully English-speaking, the two others – Tous les Saints, which meets at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, worships in French, and St. Michael’s, Sillery, is bilingual.

Archdeacon Pierre Voyer, priest-in-charge at Tous les Saints, is one of three francophone priests serving in the diocese. In a diocese where many churches struggle to attract more than 10 parishioners on a Sunday, Tous les Saints has about 70 members, around 45 of whom come regularly.

Nonetheless, Voyer, who oversees francophone ministry in the diocese, is skeptical about the degree to which francophone ministry can turn around the diocese’s demographic decline.

“In the Roman Catholic church, and in the different Protestant churches, we are losing our people,” he said. The problem, he said, has less to do with language than with the Quebecois’ indifference to organized religion.

“I don’t know about the future,” he said. “Religion…is no longer part of their lives.”


The Rev. Darla Sloan serves the fully francophone Église Unie Saint-Pierre, a United Church in Quebec City. She is also interim priest at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Sillery.  Photo: André Forget


Drainville was also uncertain about the degree to which francophone ministry will provide a lasting solution.

“There is no indication that I have that a diocese could be supported by a totally francophone population,” said Drainville. “If we had started this process 25 or 30 years ago, who knows? But I am not sure we have 25 or 30 years in central and eastern Quebec.”

Drainville noted that while the diocese has been putting more resources into ministry to French speakers in the last decade, there are only four francophone parishes across the diocese and just two of which are strong.

He also voiced skepticism regarding the efficacy of bilingual ministry.

“I would never recommend a bilingual approach…because, by and large, it is neither fish nor fowl,” he said, arguing that bilingual parishes neither offer an authentically French- Canadian form of Anglicanism nor preserve the anglophone heritage some English- speaking parishioners cherish.

The Rev. Darla Sloan, a United Church minister who serves as interim priest at St. Michael’s, Sillery, agreed that bilingual ministry can at times be awkward. But, she maintained its importance.

“To be truly intercultural and ecumenical as a church means everybody being equally uncomfortable,” she said, noting that the move to bilingualism, while it caused some people to leave the church, has also allowed francophones to participate more fully.

“I think that’s a wonderful testimony to the world, that we need to be able to say, ‘Look, we’re doing this: it’s not natural, it’s not first nature, but it is not our nature for the sheep to lie down with the lion,’ ” 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, December 23, 2016

US-based Episcopal Church plan Revival events to “stir and renew hearts for Jesus”

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Posted on: December 19, 2016

A celebration of the life and ministry of Absalom Jones, the slave-born first African-American to be ordained a priest in the US-based Episcopal Church, will be part of the focus of a series of revival meetings in Pittsburgh next February.
Photo Credit: Raphaelle Peale / Public Domain

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The US-based Episcopal Church is planning a series of revival events over the next two years to “to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement.” The multi-day events will feature “dynamic worship and preaching, offerings from local artists and musicians, personal testimony and storytelling, topical speakers, invitation to local social action, engagement with young leaders, and intentional outreach with people who aren’t active in a faith community,” the province’s public affairs department said in a statement.

“I love the surprised response when people hear we’re organizing Episcopal Revivals,” the Revd Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, said. “Why wouldn’t we? A revival is a movement of the Spirit among the people of God, a concrete sign that we want to share God’s love out loud with each other and with new people. That sounds like the Jesus Movement.

“Every Revival will have a clear plan for follow-up, to continue to water seeds the Spirit has planted. There might be a new church plant or new Mission Enterprise Zone,” she explained. “It might be a Jubilee Ministry born of new, reconciling relationships in the community. Most of all, we hope these Revivals help Episcopalians and our neighbours everywhere to fall more deeply in love with Jesus – a loving, liberating, life-giving God they might never have met before.”

Carrie Boren Headington, the church’s consulting evangelist for revivals, who also serves as missioner for evangelism in the diocese of Dallas, added: “These ‘Jesus Movement’ Revivals will motivate, equip, and mobilise dioceses to love and follow Jesus and to engage in his work of evangelism and reconciliation. We’re beginning months beforehand with research and training for leaders to learn about the locations where God has placed them and to build faithful relationship with their neighbours and communities. Then we work with local teams to shape an inspiring gathering that shares the good news in word and deed.”

The first event will take place between 3 – 5 February in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be themed around a celebration of Absalom Jones – born into slavery in November 1746, he became the first African-American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. He is remembered in the province’s calendar of saints on the anniversary of his death: 13 February 1818.

Subsequent events will take place in May 2017 (West Missouri), September 2017 (Georgia), November 2017 (San Joaquin) and April 2018 (Honduras) before a joint evangelism mission with the Church of England in July 2018. The Episcopal Church is planning to hold further such events in the years ahead.

The Pittsburgh Revival – the Presiding Bishop’s Pilgrimage for Reconciliation, Healing and Evangelism in Southwestern Pennsylvania – will feature a worship service and other gatherings “that invite people across boundaries and into reconciling relationship with each other and with God,” the Episcopal Church said.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Monday 19 December 2016