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The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury

Posted on: January 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury – Interweavings No 5 Jan 2016

Graham Kings

By Graham Kings

The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury

Interweavings No. 5

By Bishop Graham Kings, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Introduction

W. B. Yeats’ 1919 poem, ‘The Second Coming’, has the memorable line:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

The media, and many people around the world, thought there would be a split in the Anglican Communion during ‘Primates 2016’. This was the meeting of the senior bishops of the 38 provinces, joined by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, from 11th to 15th January at Canterbury Cathedral.

Remarkably, through the grace of God, the humility of the Primates and prayers throughout the world across the traditions of God’s Church, the centre held.

Here we consider seven interweaving themes of the week.

1. Walking Together

The Primates were approaching a fork in the road. People thought some would walk left and some walk right.

Astoundingly and amazingly a central path emerged during the week and the Primates’ voted unanimously to ‘walk together’ along that path.

They are ‘walking together’ and some are ‘at a distance’ from each other, but they are walking together.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described the key moment:

The meeting reached a point on Wednesday where we chose quite simply to decide on this point – do we walk together at a distance, or walk apart? And what happened next went beyond everyone’s expectations. It was Spirit-led. It was a ‘God moment’. As leaders of our Anglican Communion, and more importantly as Christians, we looked at each other across our deep and complex differences – and we recognised those we saw as those with whom we are called to journey in hope towards the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It was our unanimous decision to walk together and to take responsibility for making that work.

This means that stories of energetic mission links will continue to reverberate around the world.

2. Priority of Prayer

The week was bathed in prayer. The Primates joined in with the regular services of the Cathedral, Morning Prayer, Holy Communion and Evening Prayer and fasted on the first morning.

Prayer and the Renewal of Religious Life is the first priority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was manifest in the presence in Canterbury Cathedral, throughout the week, of 17 young people from around the world and from different denominations, in their 20s and early 30s, from the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace

The Community of St Anselm was founded by the Archbishop (as Abbot) in 2015 and is led by him and Prior Anders Litzell. There are 36 members, of whom 16 reside at Lambeth Palace and 20 live around London and continue in their day jobs. They have all offered ‘a year in God’s time’ for prayer, study and service in local parishes.

The Chemin Neuf community of seven people at Lambeth Palace, part of the international Catholic charismatic community, form the permanent praying community and the Community of St Anselm will change each year as members enter new roles, or return to their previous work, after their year at Lambeth.

A video filmed in Canterbury Cathedral has profound interviews about their experience of praying for the Primates.

3. Links through Loans

There were two very moving loans for the week, showing links from the past for the present. The Roman Catholic Church lent the head of the pastoral staff (crosier) associated with Pope Gregory the Great to Canterbury Cathedral specifically for the Primates as a symbol of prayer and catholicity in time. Pope Gregory sent Augustine to (re)evangelise Britain and he arrived in Kent in 597 AD. The ivory head of the crosier was transported from Rome to Canterbury and set up in a special exhibition case in the crypt.

Pope Gregory gave Augustine the Canterbury Gospels for his mission to Britain. They are kept in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and were brought to the crypt for the Primates. The last time they were in Canterbury was for the inauguration of ministry of the Archbishop in 2013, when the Primates were also present.

In 1982, the Canterbury Gospels were in the cathedral during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canterbury with Archbishop Robert Runcie. In planning the momentous service, a key question was who would sit on St Augustine’s chair – Pope John Paul II or the Archbishop of Canterbury? The Dean, Victor de Waal, solved the issue with great insight. The Canterbury Gospels, were placed on the chair. The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury sat under God’s Word.

4. Wisdom from Jean Vanier

On the Friday morning, during the final service of Holy Communion in the Crypt, Jean Vanier, 86, expounded John Chapter 13 and led the Primates in washing each other’s feet. A Roman Catholic theologian and social innovator, originally from Canada, he founded L’Arche Community, at Trosly-Breuil, France, in 1964. It has grown into an international fellowship of communities in 35 countries for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, relates the impact of this:

Vanier has often said that there is a sacramental character to this humble act. He spoke of some of his experiences in L’Arche. Even when, sadly, we cannot break bread together, we can still wash one another’s feet. And then he knelt down and washed Archbishop Justin’s feet. Justin prayed for him and then knelt to wash the feet of the Primate sitting next to him. So around the circle this quiet act of humble service was replicated. All one could hear was the gentle splash of water being poured over feet and the voice of prayer.

Jean Vanier also spoke to the Community of St Anselm on the Thursday.

5. Previous Meetings and Canterbury 2016

Statements from the previous 18 Primates Meetings, 1979 (Ely) to 2011 (Dublin), were gathered on the Fulcrum website as part of its wide-ranging resources on the Meeting.

In his reflections concerning the differences from previous meetings, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa makes three points:

1. The Archbishop of Canterbury consulted widely with the Primates in regard to the agenda. In the Meeting, the Primates voted for the most important agenda items. This gave the Primates a sense of ownership over the Meeting.

2. When the Primates chose the first item for discussion, “the response of the Primates’ Meeting to the latest action of the Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention”, it became clear that this time the burning issues were not going to be swept under the carpet.

3. The invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is another recognition of the facts on the ground. ACNA is an Anglican Church that holds the Anglican teachings which are recognised by a large number of Provinces from the Global South. On this basis, the Archbishop did not want to exclude anybody.

It was remarkable that all the Primates accepted the invitation to come to Canterbury. This owed much to the Archbishop’s visits to all the other 37 Primates in their homes, during his first 18 months in post, to subsequent phone calls to them last summer, following General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to the wisdom of the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and to the invitation to Archbishop of ACNA.

The previous week The Economist elliptically had entitled the article in its print edition of 9 January, ‘Rowing, not Rowing’. This alluded to the Archbishop’s student experience of steering as a cox in the Trinity College, Cambridge first boat. The Economist followed it up with further online comment, ‘Why the Anglicans’ Meeting Matters’ and, after the Press Conference, ‘The Centre holds: Justin Welby just about manages to hold together the Anglican Communion’.

6. Primates’ Communiqué  

The Communiqué was entitled, ‘Walking Together in the Service of God in the World’ and was released at the Press Conference on Friday afternoon, 15 January.

Key points include:

  1. They agreed unanimously to ‘walk together’.
  2. This involved some walking together ‘at a distance’, in the light of the ‘recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA’
  3. The consequences for The Episcopal Church were that ‘for a period of three years TEC no longer represents us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.’ (Addendum A.7)
  4. The Archbishop of Canterbury was asked to appoint a Task Group ‘to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt etc. (Addendum A.8) The communiqué adds that points A.7 and A.8 were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.
  5. They would ‘develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on matters of doctrine or polity are taken that threaten our unity.’
  6. They ‘condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ.’ They ‘reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.’ They also  ‘recognised that the Christian Church, and within it the Anglican Communion, has often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation and that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened, they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.’
  7. They reported that they had discussed many other issues:  evangelism, climate change, religiously motivated violence, child projection, tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism, patronage networks, and corruption.
  8. They committed themselves ‘through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.’ (Addendum B)
  9. They supported the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020.’

As the Communion heads towards the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 2016, and looks forward to the (newly announced) Lambeth Conference in 2020, the Primates drew on the language of The Windsor Report 2004, (‘walking together’ – adding a differentiation within that unity ‘…at a distance’) and of the Covenant process (‘consequences’).

Reaction to the communiqué has been varied across the Communion. Most people are surprised, relieved and delighted that there was unanimous agreement to ‘walk together’. It was received with pain by members of LGBTI communities and their supporters in various provinces. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry, was magnanimous and dignified in his video statement, while remaining clear in his support for LGBTI communites. A passionate evangelist at heart, he also is reported to have given a lead in the discussions about evangelism.

Some commentators misinterpreted the communiqué, partly because the Addendum A had been leaked the day before the Press conference, without the context of the full document. The Church Times article, ‘A Canterbury Tale’, by staff reporters, is accurate in its clearing up of misunderstandings and is worth reading in full. The Church Times editorial is nuanced and balanced and judged that ‘the Canterbury meeting was characterised by a new honesty.’

7. Ecumenical Movement Proposing to Fix the Date of Easter

The Primates were discussing issues in the Anglican Communion, but not in a vacuum. The Communion is part of God’s worldwide Church across many traditions and rooted in God’s world.

The announcement by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Press Conference that the Primates had also given backing to the ecumenical movement for fixing the date of Easter, caught journalists by surprise.

This proposal came from the maelstrom of contemporary Egypt. The Coptic Pope, Tawadros II of Alexandria initiated the idea, for which he then received the backing of Pope Francis in Rome and of the Ecumenical Patricarch, Bartholomew, in Constantinople. When consulted, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he would raise it with the Primates at Canterbury. They agreed with this movement and the Archbishop said it would take “in between five and 10 years” to implement and that he “would love to see it before I retired”. He added that Buckingham Palace and Number Ten Downing Street had been informed before the Meeting that this would be discussed.

In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical Council of the Church, fixed the date of Easter: its 1700th anniversary will be in 2025. May that be a promising date for a profound ecumenical symbol?

In Britain, the Synod of Whitby fixed the date in 664 AD. Both St Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne (who died in 709 AD), and the historian and biblical commentator, the Venerable Bede (who died in 735 AD) were fascinated by, and wrote about, the date of Easter concerning the Catholicity of the Church.

Madeleine Davis, in the Church Times, describes the calculation of the date:

Eastern and Western Churches use the same formula to calculate the date of Easter: the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. They arrive at different dates because Eastern Churches use the Julian calendar and base calculations on the actual, astronomical full moon, and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, while the Western Church uses the Gregorian calendar and applies a fixed date of 21 March for the vernal equinox, and uses tables of new moons.

The former Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, represents those who are more cautious, worried about losing the link with Judaism. He concludes:

So, by all means, let an ecumenical conversation happen. But please don’t let’s give up on such a long and rich paschal tradition too quickly.

There will be many further discussions among churches and governments around the world: a fixed date has been on the British Statute book, but not enacted, since 1928. However, as a lead into the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it was significant news. It linked what could be termed four ‘Patriarchates’: Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and Canterbury. Wider discussions in other traditions will also be significant.

Reshaping the Communion is one thing: changing everyone’s diaries is extraordinary.

Conclusion

So, rather than focussing on sexuality, ecclesiology was the key subject.

Rather than just being inward looking, the Primates considered holistic mission.

Rather than being only Anglican centred, they recognised the historic links of Catholicity, and contemporary fellowship, with Alexandria, Rome and Constantinople.

Rather than being completely ‘Church’ centred, they considered a proposal which, if followed through, will affect the whole world: the date of Easter.

We conclude by drawing on two ‘doctors of the Church’: one from Africa and one from the United States of America, who taught for decades in England.

Canon Professor Joseph Galgalo, Vice-Chancellor of St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya, wrote an article for the official Primates 2016 site, ‘What can we learn from Jesus’ hospitality’, based on an address he had given to the Community of St Anselm in November 2015:

Table fellowship defines Jesus’ communality. ‘Eating is patterned into the scheme of his work revealing a striking centrality of food to Jesus’ ministry…The most undeserving of people are given a place at the table, to be heard, healed, forgiven, restored, taught and fed to become beneficiaries of divine hospitality.

The Primates lived and ate together at Canterbury and recognised themselves in those words.

The Revd Professor Daniel W. Hardy, during the last few months of his life, dictated the sum of his ponderings on ecclesiology to his son-in-law in Cambridge, Professor David Ford: they had both been theological advisers at Primates’ Meetings and at the Lambeth Conference of 1998. His insights were published posthumously in a unique book, Wording a Radiance: Parting Conversations on God and the Church(2010). In it, he developed the theme of ‘attraction towards God’:

Creatures are created to move towards God. When creatures somehow lose that ‘towardness’ – becoming obsessive at some point, separating themselves  from the whole of things, and serving only themselves – then the creation loses its order. (p. 47)

He then applied this to the Church:

If, for example, any denominations serve themselves rather than the whole Church, or if any interpreters claim, ‘We have the whole meaning of the Bible, not just one perspective’, then they move against God’s attraction. (p. 47).

Later he applied to Scripture and the Church a word recently new to him, ‘granulation’:

I would say that Scripture enables the healing powers deep within a pilgrim (whether a community or a person) to ‘granulate’. Recovering from a medical treatment recently, I learned that ‘granulation’ refers to the body’s capacity to generate new connective tissue from deep within the flesh, just underneath the diseased tissue that lies above it. This is a hopeful sign, because it shows how the rebuilding of tissue is possible from within the deepest parts of the human body. I would extend the metaphor to the capacity of societies and persons to be regenerated from deep within themselves. (p. 64)

Following ‘Primates 2016’, may the Anglican Communion be regenerated from deep within, to the glory of God.

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Interweavings  No 5  Jan 2016, Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion e-mail,   January 27, 2016

L. Gregory Jones: How to design a sustainable institution

Posted on: January 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

L. Gregory Jones: How to design a sustainable institution

Achieving sustainability is not just a question of money. Christian leaders need to develop human, intellectual, service and network capital, too.

We long for elegant design in our most treasured spaces: museums, cathedrals, houses, town squares, even our modes of transportation. We are astonished by elegant design we find in the natural world, such as mathematical equations and symmetrical patterns of snowflakes and waves and human physiology. We are drawn to the extraordinary beauty of da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or Michelangelo’s “David.”

Our longing for elegant design is rooted in the doctrine of creation and the experience of Easter.  We yearn for the transcendent connections to God and God’s loving, creative purposes found in the beauty, order and mystery of human accomplishment, the natural world and the human body.

We yearn for that elegance found in Christ’s dying and rising.

Less noticed, perhaps, is our longing for God, and for elegance, in the design of our institutions. The question is not whether we will organize ourselves; it is whether we will do so well or badly. We yearn for institutions — including those in the social sector — that will function with what Matthew E. May, in his book “In Pursuit of Elegance,” calls “effortless effectiveness”: an ability to achieve maximum effect with minimal effort.

We marvel at corporations, such as Apple, that offer such effectiveness. Apple combines identity and innovation, efficiency and creativity, functionality and beauty. Such organizations attend to the design of the physical spaces they occupy, to be sure, but elegant design is more than that. It involves attending to the design of people’s time and development, the design of ideas, the design of services, the design of networks and the design of budgets.

One of the key marks of elegant design is sustainability over time. As May notes, “to be sustainable, any given asset, no matter what it is, must be kept whole, without making significant trade-offs that undermine the capital used to generate and maintain it.” He further adds that sustainability “hinges on the ability to see finite resources as the very source of innovation.”

Christian institutions are more often focused on solving short-term problems than on designing sustainable, elegant organizational ecosystems that can accomplish the work that brought those institutions into being. We focus on short-term efficiency rather than long-term effectiveness. We become obsessed with short-term fundraising appeals to keep the doors open, or we rely on a small handful of wealthy “angels” to keep underwriting what would otherwise be an unsustainable business plan.

What is involved in sustainable design? It depends on a logic of abundance, namely, that vibrant institutions are responsive to God’s abundant provision in creation. Equally important, such abundant provision from God is accompanied by attentiveness to those human processes of design and efficiency that lead to generative organization.

Sustainable design requires attention to money at the beginning of and throughout planning, but in ways different from typical fundraising strategies. The attention to money must be woven into the development of other forms of capital to enable organizations to be sustainable over the long term.

Laura Nichol’s description of “four forms of capital” insightfully illumines the interrelated dynamics that go into long-term sustainability. Nichol shows how organizations can generate greater financial capital by focusing attention also, and to an extent more determinatively, on three other forms of capital: intellectual, network and service capital.

We suggest that there is a fifth form that undergirds and envelops the strategic choices that an organization makes: human capital.

All five forms of capital are critical to cultivating sustainability over time. People are likely to be invested in organizations, and to discover that those organizations are vibrant, to the degree that they participate in the contributions those organizations are making to human flourishing. Such contributions might include addressing critically important problems, cultivating important opportunities and innovation, or enabling truth, goodness and beauty to be discovered in profoundly new ways.

People invest in organizations:

  • By their own engagement as staff or as volunteers (human capital).
  • By conserving wisdom and cultivating new ideas (intellectual capital).
  • By providing opportunities for others to solve problems or experience development (service capital).
  • By connecting with other people and organizations who care about similar issues and themes (network capital).
  • By making contributions and encouraging others to provide financial support for the organization to sustain its current budget, as well as for it to dream about new possibilities (financial capital).

Each organization needs to make strategic choices about how to develop each form of capital. The stronger the attention to developing human talent within the organization and in its boards, the more likely the organization will be to develop intellectual, service, network and financial capital. And so on.

The sustainability of Christian institutions depends on a healthy ecosystem of organizations. Congregations and pastors do not exist in isolation; they need, for example, educational organizations, healing organizations to care for those who are sick, and spaces to pay attention to the particular needs of young people and older generations. Those institutions, in turn, need healthy and vital congregations and pastors.

The sustainable design of Christian institutions looks both inward at their generative organization and outward at their role in the broader ecological contexts that contribute to the flourishing of all the institutions in that ecology.

For example, some organizations may play a “keystone” role in an overall Christian ecosystem — a college and seminary within a small denomination, for example. In other cases, transformative leaders might become what Steven Johnson calls “ecological engineers,” developing new ecosystems of organizations through traditioned innovation.

When we are fundamentally responding to God’s generous provision, we are then able to think about the design of our institutions from a position of abundance rather than scarcity, and to think about ecosystems rather than regarding our institutions or others as stand-alone competitors for precious philanthropic dollars.

Such a commitment leads us to be aware of those resources and relationships that are necessary for both short-term stability and long-term fruitfulness.

 

Senior strategist and theology professor, Duke Divinity School
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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, News & Ideas, January 21, 2016

Church-sponsored refugees arrive in Port Colborne

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


Fares, Bilal, Jana and Hiba arrived at their new home in Port Colborne on New Year’s Day, almost three years after fleeing the war in Syria. Photo: André Forget


Port Colborne, Ont.

On New Year’s Day, a family of refugees from Syria began the last leg of a journey that had lasted almost three years and brought them thousands of kilometres from home.

As they walked toward the car belonging to Canon Robert Hurkmans, rector of St. James and St. Brendan, the Anglican church that had sponsored them, Bilal and Hiba* watched as their children, eight-year-old Jana and four-year-old Fares, gazed with delight at the fat snowflakes falling from the sky.

A week later, seated in their freshly painted apartment, Bilal and Hiba served tea while Jana and Fares chased each other around the spacious living room overlooking their quiet residential street.

Bilal and Hiba were warm and energetic in their welcome, and when one of them couldn’t find quite the right word to express themselves in English, they would laugh merrily at their own limitations. With the help of interpreter Sima Mahli, they spoke to the Anglican Journal about the long journey that brought them from Syria to this city on Lake Erie, in the Niagara region of southern Ontario.

In 2013, the Syrian civil war had already been raging for two years, and Bilal and Hiba—Muslims from the city of Hama—were in constant fear for their lives.  Hama was controlled by Bashar al-Assad’s government troops, but was frequently under attack from rebel forces.

Bilal had a job running a convenience store, but worried that “someone would come into their home and take them” or that an explosion would kill members of his family. They decided to flee to nearby Lebanon, and after taking a long, roundabout journey by car to avoid the chaotic and dangerous main highway, they arrived in the port city of Tripoli.

But while Lebanon gave them shelter from the immediate dangers of the war, it meant starting a new life. Since the beginning of the conflict, over a million Syrians have taken refuge in the small Mediterranean country, which is still trying to recover from its own violent sectarian past, and jobs and shelter are scarce. Bilal was lucky enough to find work as a chef, but it meant pulling 13-hour days for pay that amounted to only about $400 a month.

Bilal and Hiba often struggled to make ends meet, and paying rent meant they were not always able to afford food; medication for the children when they fell ill was usually beyond their means. Fortunately, they were not entirely alone. Bilal’s brother, Abdul-Raman, had also fled to Tripoli with his wife and five children, and it was through him that Bilal and his family would ultimately escape to safety in Canada.

Donna Kalailieff, who has been co-ordinating the St. James and St. Brendan refugee sponsorship group since September, said they had originally planned on sponsoring only one family—that of Bilal’s brother. But after Abdul-Raman explained to Kalailieff over the phone that he would not feel right leaving Bilal and Hiba and their children behind, she spoke to Hurkmans about the possibility of sponsoring both families. His answer? “Absolutely.”

A year ago, Kalailieff or anyone at St. James and St. Brendan could not have imagined that 2016 would begin with such a welcome.

The idea to sponsor a refugee family arose in spring, after Hurkmans learned that the diocese had decided to celebrate its 140th anniversary by sponsoring 50 refugees. He had been preaching a series of sermons on the biblical responsibility for those who have wealth to also be “rich in good deeds,” and the message of sacrificial giving and the call to raise money for refugee sponsorship struck a chord in the congregation.

Within four weeks, the congregation raised $8,000 more than its initial goal of $25,000, and donations were still coming in.

Kalailieff, who retired last November after working as a nurse and project-manager for the ministry of health and long-term care, said members of the congregation have been eager to donate their talents as well as their money to help the newcomers. Two English as a Second Language teachers at St. James and St. Brendan have already stepped forward and offered to give private lessons, while a retired school teacher in the congregation has offered to help Hiba and Bilal find a school for Jana and Fares.

Ted Kalailieff, Donna’s husband, who was involved in getting the apartment ready and furnished for the family’s arrival, said the wider community has also pitched in—two brand-new bunk beds were donated by the proprietor of a local laundromat, who came to Canada as a refugee from Uganda in the 1970s.

When asked whether or not he has any concerns about the hospitable zeal burning out, Hurkmans said that while it is still “early days,” he isn’t that worried. “I think there’s a lot of excitement in the community.”

The Rev. Bill Mous, Niagara’s director of justice, community and global ministries, agreed, noting that finding people to help the refugees once they are in the country usually isn’t a problem.

“I’ve never seen a refugee sponsorship group be content with submitting the application and losing enthusiasm,” he said. “The transformation and the excitement begin when the family arrives, and that commitment is just redoubled if not expanded infinitely…the chapter that begins upon arrival in Canada is the chapter sponsors are most excited about.”

Given the spotlight on refugees in autumn 2015, the diocese of Niagara’s decision to focus on refugees for its anniversary has proven fortuitous. Mous explained that while the diocese has generally done a few sponsorships every year, the push to bring in 50 refugees has been met with “a huge level of interest.” Over 25 applications have currently been submitted, and a further six are almost ready for submission. Mous said he expects the diocese will surpass its goal by “some significant amount.”

Port Colborne has played an important role in this—after Bilal’s brother and his family arrive later this month, the community will be hosting 11 Syrians.

While Bilal’s brother was supposed to have arrived first, he and his family were held up in Lebanon by the birth of a child. After being cautioned against travelling before the infant reaches two months, they decided that Bilal and Hiba should lead the way.

Fortunately, Hurkmans said, they were able to rent two apartments in adjacent buildings, so they will be reunited as neighbours in their new country.

In the meantime, Bilal and Hiba are busy settling into their new life in Canada. They have already been introduced to the local community health care centre, and are looking into enrolling Jana and Fares at a nearby elementary school. While Bilal hopes to eventually return to the kind of work he did in Hama, learning English will be the next priority. And after so many years of exhausting work and emotional uncertainty, he is first taking a much-needed break to recuperate.

Speaking through the interpreter, Bilal and Hiba said their dreams for their new life in Canada are simple.

“I want my children to have bright futures, and I feel that they have that opportunity now,” said Hiba. “Just to be healthy, just to be happy and safe and not to be afraid.”

 

* The last names of the families of Bilal and Hiba, and Abdul-Raman, have requested that their last names be withheld to protect family in Syria

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Anglican Journal News, January 12, 2016

Twenty-first century brought family disagreement at the Primates Meeting

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Primates from the Anglican Communion gather together at the 2005 Primates Meeting in Dromantine, Ireland. Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2004 to 2007, is third from left in the front row. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

Primates from the Anglican Communion gather together at the 2005 Primates Meeting in Dromantine, Ireland. Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2004 to 2007, is third from left in the front row. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

Twenty-first century brought family disagreement at the Primates Meeting

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The second instalment, following the first, on the Primates’ meetings then and now.

The last four Primates Meetings, which took place every two years between 2005 and 2011, saw major discussions break out revolving around issues of human sexuality, particularly concerning the blessing of same-sex unions. Striving for unity amidst open differences, the differing views among Primates took on the character of a family disagreement within the Anglican Communion.

After the Episcopal Church in the United States consecrated an openly gay bishop and the Anglican diocese of New Westminster in Canada allowed the blessing of same-sex relationships, the issue of sexuality came to the fore at the 2005 Primates Meeting in Dromantine, Ireland.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, who became Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada in 2004, recalled his first Primates Meeting as “very, very tense,” with a group of Primates largely from the Global South registering their disapproval over the actions taken by their counterparts in the U.S. and Canada.

“There were 14 Primates who would not set foot in the chapel because the American Primate [Frank Griswold] and I were there … It was a pretty icy time,” Hutchison recalled.

The 2005 Primates Meeting was also the first for Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the Primate under Hutchison and to Hutchison’s successor Archbishop Fred Hiltz. The level of tension expressed by the Primates’ refusal to enter the chapel, even for the Eucharist service held by the Archbishop of Canterbury, stunned Feheley.

“For a new person coming in at that point, for me, that was staggering, because I don’t think it had ever occurred to me that people would choose to stay away from a Eucharist because so-and-so was sitting in the congregation,” he said.

Feheley described the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as the “most difficult” of the four he attended, with tensions at an all-time high and a noticeable separation among the Primates. Among those in attendance was Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female Primate in the Anglican Communion.

Primates Meeting 2007 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives
Primates Meeting 2007 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

Despite disagreements, the meeting again allowed Primates to understand the views of their foreign counterparts. Archbishop Hutchison offered the example of the Church of Nigeria, which opposes homosexuality and same-sex marriage but also faces an environment in which violence between Christians and Muslims is commonplace.

“Anglicans in Nigeria are in a very, very difficult spot because they are, to begin with, persecuted by the Muslim majority, and as Muslims hear that Anglicans are now in favour of the blessing of same-sex couples and so on, it gives one more reason for Muslims to reject and indeed punish Christians,” Hutchison said.

“That’s an issue for them. It’s not simply a matter of distaste for same-sex relationships. It’s a matter of their own safety and well-being … And by the way, that kind of understanding is one of the advantages of this kind of coming together despite our differences, [in] that you can listen to and hear and appreciate the issues that emerge for them locally.”

Friction remained at the 2009 Primates Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, the first attended by Primate Fred Hiltz. The meeting took place at the height of activities surrounding the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, interventions by Primates from other jurisdictions, and conversations around a proposed worldwide Anglican covenant.

As a result, Archbishop Hiltz recalled the 2009 event as one wracked by tensions. Feheley, by contrast, said that the meeting marked the beginning of a gradual reduction in discord compared to previous meetings.

“This wasn’t because now suddenly everybody was seeing things in a liberal way or a conservative way,” Feheley said. “But you could begin to see the Communion saying, ‘OK, we need to work at this. We need to really try to understand Scripture and authority. We all know what the Scripture says on homosexuality, but we don’t agree on the interpretation.’”

Primates Meeting 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt. Left to right: Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives
Primates Meeting 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt. L-R: Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

With the lowering of tension, the 2011 Primates Meeting in Dublin, Ireland had an altogether different feel for Archbishop Hiltz. Though a number of Primates did not attend due to health reasons, visa issues, or declining to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation, the meeting acknowledged those who were not present.

“We were painfully aware of that dynamic in our midst in Dublin, but upheld them every time we gathered to pray,” Archbishop Hiltz said. “Every time we were in a conversation, we were just mindful that they weren’t there and that we needed to be conscious of their voice and perspective in the conversation.”

Exploring a wide range of topics, the 2011 meeting produced notable statements on climate change and gender-based violence.

“If you look at the communiqués from the Dublin meeting in 2011, they were really positive,” Feheley said, noting that throughout all four Primates Meetings, Archbishop Rowan Williams continued to serve as a focus of unity in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury.

With Primates requested to make suggestions for the agenda at the next meeting, many concerns from Dublin will carry over into the 2016 Primates Meeting in Canterbury.

Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website for the third and final instalment in this chronological overview of the Primates Meeting.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, December 29, 2015

In the beginning, the Spirit moved upon the waters

Posted on: December 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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MarthaSQ

By the Jewish calendar, it was already the first Sunday in Advent—after sundown on the Saturday—when I clicked on a link sent to me by Ainsley Munro, a teenager in my congregation at the time. It was the Advent Conspiracy promotional video, and I was immediately drawn in by a message that spoke to my most prominent Christmas sadness. Yes, of course the rest of our culture is welcome to celebrate a holiday season at Christmas, even if the prayer and story, the invitation of “Come and worship” is no longer compelling to most people. Christmas hasn’t been stolen from Christians. We don’t corner the market on winter festivity. But as I’m trying to make sense of how the baby in Bethlehem relates to the relentless focus on gift lists and designer décor and the wild rush to shopping malls on what are now the other hotly anticipated “holidays” of Black Friday and Boxing Day (what does it really say about us that there would be such a made rush of panic to shop for ourselves the day after we have inundated one another with presents?) I admit to sometimes feeling lost.

The invitation of Advent Conspiracy is simple: worship fully, buy less, give more, love all. It started in 2006 with a couple of churches joining together to invite their congregations to give the gift of water to their loved ones at Christmas. It was an invitation grounded in freedom and generosity. We can opt out of the dominant commercial assumptions. In celebration of Jesus’ birth, we can give gifts that give life. Christmas can still change the world. And we can be part of it. Advent Conspiracy is now a global movement. It doesn’t raise money. It is not associated with any one denomination. But every year, more and more money is given by Christians at Christmas to allow for clean water to bless entire communities.

I showed that clip at church the next morning, the first Sunday of Advent, 2010. We challenged our congregation to give enough that together our congregation might purchase a well through Canadian Lutheran World Relief for a third world community for $1750. It was a small congregation, but between Advent and Easter that year, enough for two wells came in. We all felt good about reclaiming something. In all of the tinsel and wrapping, Christians risk being entirely swept along into a season whose only relationship to Christ is the etymology of its name.

But a question was raised to me that Advent, and it niggled: “what about communities in our own country that don’t have access to clean water?” I heard it from more than one person, and I found myself wishing they could keep their inquiry to themselves. I wished it even more when I began to make a few casual inquiries myself. Raising $1750 for a well in a community chosen by Canadian Lutheran World Relief, this was a straight-forward, compelling and satisfying sort of transaction. On the other hand, how do you build a well into the permafrost of a community in Northern Ontario? What would such a thing cost? What mechanism is there for giving? Wouldn’t $1750, figuratively (and maybe literally too) be but a drop in the bucket? More likely, as I came to discover, it would be a drop without a bucket, because as that casual inquiry led me down a series of more deliberate conversations, it became clear that giving water to other people was easy. Giving water to Canadians was impossible.

I can look back on this series of words—from Ainsley, from various parishioners—inviting, questioning, and I can see that the Spirit was clearly at work. But the amazing thing about the Spirit is that she is generally a multi-tasker. The next fall, I got to hang out with National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald for a day at the Diocese of Toronto’s Outreach Conference. Of course I signed up for his afternoon workshop. It didn’t particularly matter to me what he was speaking about. I value any opportunity to hear the wisdom and grace he has to share. He mentioned water as one of the grave concerns in most of the First Nations communities with whom he ministered.

“I have some people in my church who would like to help with water. Is there any way of doing that?” I asked. A few others in the workshop indicated interest as well.

Bishop Mark noted all of our names. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I’ll find out.”

I have heard Bishop Mark share numerous times what happened next, but it still causes a catch in my throat to recount it. In the space of weeks, Bishop Mark began to receive calls and correspondences from unconnected individuals and groups all across the country, each of them saying the same thing: “we want to do something about water in First Nations communities.” Nothing of this sort had ever happened in his years as National Indigenous Bishop. People had expressed concerns to him in the past, but in general, it was concern without legs. Until now, there had been no energy for doing something concrete in partnership with our indigenous brothers and sisters. Suddenly, without Mark’s prodding or suggesting, a movement was happening. And without any communication yet between these various parties, without any lobbying or advocating yet taking place, this movement had focus. Water. “It is the one of the clearest experiences of the working of the Spirit that I have ever experienced,” Bishop Mark has noted on more than one occasion.

That movement led us to a first meeting in Trinity Church in Aurora Ontario with a group that would eventually call itself Pimatisiwin Nipi—the Living Water Group. Bishop Mark led us in more deeply probing the energies of our hearts. Yes, we were all there for First Nations and water, but it quickly became apparent that this focused energy also represented great diversity: some were concerned about our national water systems and saw the problems in our First Nations communities as ‘the canary in the coal mine’—they were sounding the alarm to us on the mistreatment of our collective water systems, water systems which, by their very nature, connected to one another; others were compelled by the spirituality and wisdom in First Nations’ understanding of water and our relationship to the natural world; many were concerned that we foster a national understanding of why some people in our country live in third world conditions, recognizing that reconciliation can never happen when so many of us live in ignorance; and there were a few like me. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel every other piece of the puzzle was immensely important, but I was also in “Martha mode.” I could see Advent coming up again in a few months, and I wanted to do right by my people. This year, I wanted my community to give the gift of water to my fellow Canadians. I wanted a project.

Four pillars of Pimatisiwin Nipi were articulated out of this first conversation: Education, Advocacy, Partnership and Strategic Giving. We were all keenly aware of the deep biases that exist out there in our broken relationships between our first peoples and the rest of us. If any piece of this puzzle was to be at all effective, it would need the holistic approach of the other three pieces with it. Furthermore, Bishop Mark instilled in us a most important principle. “Faithfulness,” he said. “That is going to be the most important piece. Things are not going to happen quickly. There will be advances, and there will be set-backs. The most important thing that we can communicate in reaching out to partner with First Nations people is that we are going to stick it out and stick around.”

It has taken time. There have been road blocks and set-backs. And yet, there has been a surprising smoothness to the development of our work, too. Quite early on, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund joined our group. Their participation meant that we now had an ability to donate through an already-established charity, and not only that, through an agency that had a sparkling reputation and all of the expertise and connections that we needed to find, develop and oversee an actual project. With Bishop Mark, they explored several different avenues, even being told at one dead end that what we wanted to do was, in Canada anyway, impossible. “It’s the federal government’s responsibility,” we heard. “You can’t by-pass that.” And eventually, enough conversations led us to another powerful network of people, who had come together under a spiritual energy bearing all of the same divine fingerprints of our own group.

The Pikangikum Working Group is a group of professional people who came together in 2010 after a coroner’s inquest into a string of youth suicides in the northern-Ontario First Nations community of Pikangikum. These suicides marked Pikangikum as the community with the highest suicide rate, per capita, in the entire world. Their hearts were moved with compassion. They wanted to do something. But they wanted to do something that was different from the old things that have been tried and that have failed. “We didn’t just want to throw money at the problem,” Dave Steeves, one of the co-directors, says. Partnerships had to be developed. The community itself needed to be empowered, listened to, and there needed to be a particular emphasis on changing patterns for the young people. Twelve priorities were identified, with Food, Water and Shelter topping the list. Ninety-five percent of the homes in Pikangikum did not have running water or waste water removal. Many houses did not even have outhouses. Bathroom “facilities” in many cases consist of nothing more than an outside hole in the ground.

PWG is not a registered charity, but they began to seek groups, charities, implementing partners with whom they could work in these critical areas. And they got creative. They worked with engineers and the community to develop housing and infrastructure solutions that worked for the northern Ontario conditions. For example, whereas the government had estimated an $80 million+ pricetag to equip the homes of Pikangikum with running water, PWG created a plan that would cost just $20,000 per home—about 13% of the government’s estimate.

And so PWRDF and PWG began to flesh out the Water Project. Bishop Mark’s Pimatisiwin Nipi group took a gigantic leap of faith and committed ourselves to raising an initial $100,000 for the project. Working in partnership with another development group—Frontiers Foundation from the United Church—this initial commitment would see 10 homes receive the gift of running water and waste water removal systems in 2013. We had a lot of interest expressed in the project, but we didn’t know whether $100,000 was a crazy goal to set. We just knew that it was what we needed in order to begin our work.

Now in Advent 2015 I can note some amazing fruits from those first nudgings of the Spirits:

  • Over $100,000 was raised in the time-frame we set for ourselves.
  • In 2013, 14 Pikangikum homes, chosen by the community as being most in need of this gift, received Water.
  • Remarkable things were noted in conjunction with this gift of water: the healing of skin conditions and various other health troubles, an increase in school attendance because of the removal of embarrassment around poor sanitation. More than that, remarks from nurses and band leaders about “the return of dignity” to these families.
  • With an average of 7 people per home, almost 100 people in this small community directly impacted by this initial gift of water water!
  • Along with the water systems put in place, training and jobs in the community to manage and care for the growing infrastructure.
  • Now more than another $100,000 raised, ready to make possible this gift in another 10 homes as soon as partnerships and weather allow.

Bob White, Chair of PWG, reflected on a visit to Pikangikum in the late fall of 2013 with National Chief Sean Atleo:

“To see the happiness in the faces of the family getting hot and cold running water made my day. Also to see the actual work being done was gratifying. You guys have done amazing work in convincing the people you work with to reach out and lend a hand of support. The National Chief remarked that he saw the dignity returned to the family, the 4 generations living in that house. Keep up the great work. This was possible because of you and the thousands of Anglicans that know that through love a better world is possible.”

I had a dream back in 2011 when our group first met with Bishop Mark. I imagined a scenario in which Anglicans all across Canada came to associate Advent with giving Living Water. I imagined that each year we would raise $100,000 to implement clean water solutions in a First Nations community in Canada. I imagined that would become one very concrete form of healing and reconciliation, of building partnerships between communities, “respecting the dignity of every human being,” and adequately celebrating the birth of one who promises the quenching of thirst in all who believe.

I hope this dream doesn’t entirely come true. I hope that our federal government will invest in much-needed infrastructure so that all of our brothers and sisters might drink clean water NOW. I hope that it won’t take 40 Advent seasons for Pikangikum to be equipped with water, let alone the other 100+ communities in our country who have severe water needs.

And I hope the Spirit isn’t done with us yet. I suspect that the Spirit continues to move upon the waters.

About Martha Tatarnic

The Reverend Martha Tatarnic serves as the rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in St. Catharines. Previously, she has served in congregations in Orillia and Oakville. Her focus in congregational leadership has been in empowering justice initiatives and outreach in the small church, starting a new service, the possibilities and potentials of Anglican-Lutheran partnership, and forming disciples through the power of music. As a young mother navigating family life through the continually changing waters of modern-day life, she is passionate about connecting the dots between faith – worship – Scripture, and exploring the concerns, joys, questions, stresses, worries, celebrations, of Right Here, Right Now.

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The Community, An update from The Community, December 18, 2015

The Primates Meeting: Bringing together parts of one whole

Posted on: December 19th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Primates of the Anglican Communion attend the 2003 Primates Meeting at Lambeth Palace in England. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

Primates of the Anglican Communion attend the 2003 Primates Meeting at Lambeth Palace in England. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

The Primates Meeting: Bringing together parts of one whole

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With the latest Primates Meeting set to take place in Canterbury from January 11-16, Primates from across the worldwide Anglican Communion will soon be making their way to England to address some of the most pressing concerns for Anglicans around the globe.

Each of the 38 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion is autonomous, yet part of an interdependent whole. The Primates Meeting is one of four Instruments of Communion that help bring the provinces together, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury—who serves as symbolic spiritual leader of the communion—the Lambeth Conference, and the Anglican Consultative Council.

Though no body has authority over individual provinces, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2004 to 2007, described the significance of the Primates Meeting as lying in its ability to bring together the leaders of each Anglican province.

“As an instrument of communion, it’s a way of building relationships—and ultimately, the health of the whole communion must depend upon relationships, not motions and regulations,” Hutchison said.

Development of the Instruments of Communion

First established in 1978, the Primates Meeting was the last of the Instruments of Communion to emerge historically. Evolving out of its predecessors, it represented the culmination of a period that saw the rapid growth of the Anglican Communion around the world.

Autonomy for individual provinces has been a cherished Anglican value stretching back to the 16th century. Even within the British Isles, the Church of England, the Church of Wales, the Church of Ireland and the Episcopal Church of Scotland were all fully autonomous.

By the middle of the 19th century, the situation in the communion had become more complex. The Episcopal Church in the United States was autonomous, in large part due to the U.S. War of Independence, while the Church of England in Canada—the forerunner of the modern Anglican Church of Canada—was not.

In 1867, following requests by church leaders in Canada, South Africa and the United States to the Archbishop of Canterbury, a meeting was held in London at the Lambeth Palace—the first Lambeth Conference.

Lambeth Conference, 1888. Photo P7565-135 from Anglican Archives
Lambeth Conference, 1888. Photo P7565-135 from Anglican Archives

Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 1986 to 2004, noted that the Lambeth Conference was the first international Anglican body with any influence, though it had no actual authority.

“They sorted it out that they could be a body that consults and recommends … They had no authority anywhere, but they felt generally speaking that this was a good idea for them to meet,” Peers said.

While the Lambeth Conference served as a kind of glue to help hold the communion together, its relative lack of authority, and the fact that only bishops were able to attend, prompted those in attendance to suggest a new kind of event.

The 1963 Anglican Congress held in Toronto was the first international Anglican gathering at which clergy other than bishops attended. The Congress recommended that the next Lambeth Conference set up a body called the Anglican Consultative Council, which was established in 1970 and brought together bishops, clergy and lay people from each province. Alone among the Instruments of Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council is a legal entity in Britain that can receive and disperse money, and which by law must meet every three years.

Controversy around the ordination of women

Throughout the 1960s, a new controversy was slowly brewing among the communion: the ordination of women. Delegates at the 1968 Lambeth Conference had expressed their approval for the idea of ordaining women as deacons, and Canadian bishops began doing so based on the fact that it was the opinion of the Lambeth Conference, though this was not formally binding.

Lambeth Conference 1978. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives
Lambeth Conference, 1978. Photo from Anglican Communion Archives

In the 1970s, the Anglican Consultative Council, by a narrow majority, stated that it was appropriate for churches in the Anglican Communion to ordain women to the priesthood. Despite its non-binding status, the council’s decision provoked a backlash by dissenting bishops.

When the Lambeth Conference met in 1978—with Archbishop Peers among those in attendance—the majority of the bishops present opposed the ordination of women. The recommendation by the Anglican Consultative Council, however, had already been made. The bishops therefore asked then-Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan to call together regular meetings of the Primates for mutual support.

“Basically, what was happening in 1978 … was to try and put the brakes on the Anglican Consultative Council, who clearly in the minds of many people were galloping towards ruin,” Peers recalled. “And they thought the Primates would be able to rein in the horses.”

In the ensuing decades, the Primates Meeting steadily grew in importance. Archbishop Robert Runcie was a strong supporter of the Primates Meeting during his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury. By the end of Archbishop George Carey’s term, the Primates were meeting once a year.

But as the 21st century dawned, new controversies began to be felt among the Primates. The ensuing debate would serve as a major test of the unity of the Anglican Communion in the years to come.

Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website for the next instalment in this historical overview of the Primates Meeting.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, December 17, 2015

‘God has been so abundant!’

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Ranson family: Kimberly, Isaac, 3, Colin, 2 and the Rev. Paul Ranson, Anglican chaplain at Rothesay-Netherwood School in Rothesay, NB. Photo: Contributed


(Reprinted with permission from the diocese of Fredericton eNews) 

“Relief, tremendous relief” are the words Kimberly Ranson used to describe her reaction when she learned New Brunswick medicare will help fund her son’s brain surgery.

“I feel like I need a new word for thank you,” said Kim. “I keep saying it, but thank you is not enough.”

Colin Ranson, the two-year-old many parishes “adopted” this fall, needs laser brain surgery in Houston, Texas, scheduled for March 4. He has Pallister-Hall Syndrome, a rare genetic defect that includes a tumour on his hypothalamus. It causes gelastic seizures — anywhere from a dozen to a hundred giggling seizures every day plus behavioural outbursts he cannot control. The longer the tumour remains, the worse the prognosis for Colin’s development.

Colin’s father, Paul, is the Anglican chaplain at Rothesay-Netherwood School.

An estimated cost of $200,000 Cdn stood in the way of getting Colin the high-tech treatment he needs, so his parents created a website to ask for help. The parishes of the Diocese of Fredericton did not disappoint, raising more than $72,000 in four weeks, with money still coming in.

The family had their neurologist apply for medicare coverage, but they didn’t know how long an answer would take, or if it would be the one they hoped for, so they were prepared to fundraise the entire cost.

But when New Brunswick medicare notified the parents that they would be helping to fund the surgery, Kimberly and Paul felt they had enough money to ensure the surgery would go ahead.

“I shut down the donation side of the website (caringforcolin.ca) late last week,” said Kim on Dec. 7. “We got a call from medicare saying they would be negotiating with the Texas hospital. Anything they don’t cover, we will be able to cover. “So our goal of $200,000 is met.”

Money is still coming in to the diocese for Colin, and fundraisers are still planned, but that’s a good thing, since Colin will need more care. He will have foot surgery, probably next fall, to deal with his enlarged toes, and, said Kim, “He may need a second brain surgery at some point because of the shape and complexity of the tumour.”

As for the fundraising, Kim and Paul are nearly speechless.

“We are completely overwhelmed,” said Kim. “We had no idea it would take off like this. It’s like trying to stop a freight train.

“God has been so abundant! In all honesty, we wouldn’t have met our goal without the church.

“We’ve heard so many stories of churches being blessed by this — like kids telling their parents they’re praying for Colin.”

They even heard from a retired priest in Houston who read their story on the Anglican Journal website and wrote to assure them her congregation is praying for Colin.

“This has been a great effort by the whole diocese,” said Fredericton Bishop David Edwards. “It shows what it is to be a diocesan family. And it’s what we learn to be as we try to follow Jesus more and more.”

For fundaising co-ordinator the Rev. Jasmine Chandra, this has been the easiest funding campaign she’s ever been a part of.

“What’s next? I keep thinking about what else we could take on!” she said.

“I’m just thrilled about it all. It’s been great to be involved and see all these good news stories come our way. We’ve seen people dig deep. It’s been fantastic.”

Two Christmases ago, Kim and Paul were dealing with an exceptionally cranky baby whose cries went on for 24 hours straight. It was a tense Christmas, knowing something was wrong, trying to convince doctors — without success and without a diagnosis.

By last Christmas, they had learned the truth about Colin’s condition. They knew they would probably need to seek expensive treatment in Texas but had no idea how to ensure their son would get it.

This year, said Kim, “It’s nice to redeem Christmas. We will relax as a family and not worry. We have a plan and it’s going ahead. It’s the best Christmas present ever!”

Readers are encouraged to continue to pray for Colin, his surgery, his family and his medical team.

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Anglican Journal News, December 09, 2015

Solace for the soul

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features


Mental illness is now the domain of science. Is there still a role for faith? Image: Mouki K. Butt/moukikbutt.com


 (Last of a two-part series)

Religion, say some mental health experts, has at times been a mixed blessing for people of faith struggling with mental illness—but the picture is changing, bringing new hope for the afflicted.

Sr. Dorothy Heiderscheit, chief executive officer of The Southdown Institute, a psychological treatment facility for clergy outside Toronto, says that priests struggling with mental health problems have often faced a barrier to getting help, based on the notion that their faith should be sufficient and that they, therefore, needn’t turn to psychology.

However, Heiderscheit says, a growing awareness in recent decades of what mental illness is, and of the complex relationship between faith and psychology, has considerably dismantled this block to seeking help. One result of this has been a change in the mindset of clerics coming to Southdown. “Their attitude is different from the days of just being ordered to come,” she says. “They come knowing that they’ve got something to look at, and grateful that they’ve got a safe environment to do it.”

The change is happening in institutions, too, not just attitudes. In Canada, numerous parishes and dioceses have taken up projects intended to raise awareness of mental health issues and support the mentally ill. The diocese of Rupert’s Land, for example, has over the past year been involved in a mental health initiative that includes, among other things, a “mental health first aid program” equipping clerics with a protocol to follow when dealing with mentally ill parishioners.

St. Aidan’s, a parish in London, Ont., held a year-long focus on mental health that wrapped up this summer with a special healing service for all Londoners. Anglican clergy and other employees who find themselves in mental distress are now supported by the Employee Assistance Program, which allows them access to free, confidential short-term counselling.

Still, the Canadian church may be lagging behind its American cousin. Since 1991, The Episcopal Church has run a national ministry for supporting mentally ill members, the Episcopal Mental Illness Network. This summer, the church’s 78th General Convention passed a resolution calling on its dioceses, congregations, schools and other entities to “explore and adopt best practices” for the “inclusion, support and spiritual care” of mentally ill people and their families.

But in the Anglican Church of Canada, there’s no common understanding about how the church should view mental illness or exercise ministry around it.

The growing recognition of mental health as a sphere distinct from spirituality does not mean that the two are completely unrelated, Heiderscheit says. “They’re intertwined,” she says. “If your emotional life is not going well, you need to be integrating that with your spiritual life as well, because your spiritual life is what’s going to give you the strength to be honest and face whatever it is you have to face.”

The Rev. Susan Titterington, a psychotherapist and rector of St. Chad’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, says that religion is able to address the wellness of the whole person in a way that science cannot, and it may have an important, as yet not fully realized, role to play. “I think we bring, as people of faith, a very holistic perspective to healing,” she says. “My question would then be: where is the Christian faith within that movement [of reintegrating faith and psychology]?”

Canon Megan Collings-Moore, chaplain at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, agrees that religion’s ability to provide meaning addresses a part of being human beyond the reach of medicine. For people trying to cope with mental health problems, she says, it can often help to have someone committed to walking with them “into those dark places, and to reminding them that they are a whole person and made in the image of God, and that they are valued even when it all seems like it’s falling apart.”

The Rev. Claire Miller, an Owen Sound, Ont., priest who has suffered from times of deep clinical depression, says that looking back at how others have supported her through a particularly difficult period has helped her see the work of the Holy Spirit in daily life.

During some of those dark times, she says, she wonders where God is. “It’s only later, when I’m feeling better and stronger, that I can see—gosh, you know, there were those two parishioners who came and just took one look at me and said, ‘You need to see a doctor,’ ” she says.  “Those kind of people are ministering to me—I can see that after the fact, and how supportive they have been, and how God has been working through them even when I didn’t see it myself.”

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, December 07, 2015

Faith Island

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

By Michelle Hauser

Like many churches, ours is a hive of activity on Sundays. She and her steeple absorb all the people and when worship is done she channels us into innumerable activities and eventually sends us back out into the world. But sometimes people get lost in the leaving.

Last Sunday, after church, I thought everyone in my family had been accounted for. My son was in the parish hall playing with friends, my husband was in the church rehearsing with the choir director and I was heading out the Robinson Street exit, cradling yet another Sunday school craft: a paper-plate angel covered in gold glitter glue, a Christmas tree topper to replace my Bombay Company Victorian angel. (So long, elegant lady—make way for the Chinet Disco Dancing Queen.)

Angel and I had just walked out the blue doors when I saw my son playing on the church steps. He was not where I’d left him, nor where I’d told his dad to pick him up:

“I thought you were in the hall?”
“I’m out here now.”

“I told your dad to pick you up in the hall when he was finished rehearsal.”

“But I’m playing out here now.”

“OK. Stay where you are. Don’t go anywhere!”

I went back inside to find my husband and revise the exit strategy, but Mark was no longer where he had been either, so I doubled back through the labyrinth from whence I’d come, fielding a chorus of “I thought you’d left!” from all the friends to whom I’d just said goodbye.

The church has four exterior exits but the building is impossible to leave. She seems to want to hold us all inside her upside-down hull indefinitely. When you’re champing at the bit to get something done on Sunday afternoon it can be irritating, but mostly it’s comforting: being cradled in the bosom of all the friendships, relationships and attachments we’ve formed within.

Don’t get me wrong—the good vibrations don’t just come from the people. It’s not a private club and God is not lost here. Actually, I like to think of God floating above us like a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. All of this combines to make church a very reassuring experience for the Hauser family—awash on a great island of faith where we are happy castaways.

One of the better films to come out of Hollywood this year is Pixar’s Inside Out. It is a magical look at the inner workings of the human mind, focusing on the interior life of a young girl named Riley. The girl’s emotions—joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust—are played by quirky but lovable characters. The complexities of personhood are dealt with, too, through the metaphor of “Personality Islands” which float, somewhat precariously, above a dark place known as the “Memory Dump,” where imaginary friends and other precious recollections are unceremoniously deposited.

There is a crisis in the film where Riley’s five islands—”Family Island,” “Goofball Island,” “Friendship Island,” Hockey Island” and “Honesty Island”—crumble and fall away into this scrap-heap, causing an emotional meltdown which leaves her unable to feel anything. Later on, when the film nears its happy ending, as Pixar films tend to do, these islands are ultimately rebuilt and Riley gets a few new ones, too, including some very worldly islands popular among 12 year-old girls: “Fashion Island,” “Tragic Vampire Romance Island” and “Boy Band Island.”

It’s a cool movie, but you might be thinking what I’m thinking: why is there no “Faith Island”? Its absence is all the more pressing and troubling during the scene where Riley runs away from home: her emotion board has darkened, all of her islands are gone and she is in free fall, undone by the world around her, left with absolutely nowhere to lay her burdens down.

What is truly gut-wrenching, of course, is that the state of adolescent emotional isolation so convincingly depicted in the film is anything but fiction. Riley’s confused state of mind is a very real and frightening place where too many kids are stranded nowadays. Hockey and friends and boy bands are fun and all, but they don’t endure. What are kids supposed to cling to when life gets tough, as life tends to do?

Last Sunday, after a few more rounds of our unintentional post-church hide-and-seek, the Hauser family did finally manage to collect itself and pull away, however slowly, from St. Mary Magdalene’s all-powerful tractor beam.

As I watched my son wave goodbye to his friends and beat a path down the stone steps, I wondered what would be the long-term impact of his belonging to this place.

When everything else falls away, will this island of faith endure?

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Anglican Journal News, December 07, 2015

“Rebuild My House!”

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

By Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa  (Preacher to the Papal Household)

Sermon given at Westminster Abbey at the inauguration of the General Synod of the Church of England

“REBUILD MY HOUSE!” (Haggai 1:1-8) Westminster Abbey, 24 November 2015

Few prophetic oracles in the Old Testament can be dated so precisely as that of Haggai, which we have just heard in the first reading. We can place it between August and December in the year 520 BC. The exiles, after the deportation to Babylon, have come back to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. They set to work, but soon grow discouraged, each preferring to work on his own house instead. Into this situation comes the prophet Haggai, sent by God with the message we have heard.

The Word of God, once it is proclaimed, remains forever alive; it transcends situations and centuries, each time casting new light. The situation deplored by the prophet is renewed in history each time we are so absorbed in the problems and interests of our own parish, diocese, community – and even of our particular Christian denomination – that we lose sight of the one house of God, which is the Church.

The prophecy of Haggai begins with a reproof, but ends, as we heard, with an exhortation and a grandiose promise: “Go up into the hills, fetch timber and rebuild the House, and I shall take pleasure in it and manifest my glory there” – says the Lord”.

One circumstance makes this point particularly relevant. The Christian world is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the Protestant Reformation. It is vital for the whole Church that this opportunity is not wasted by people remaining prisoners of the past, trying to establish each other’s rights and wrongs. Rather, let us take a qualitative leap forward, like what happens when the sluice gates of a river or a canal enable ships to continue to navigate at a higher water level.

The situation has dramatically changed since then. We need to start again with the person of Jesus, humbly helping our contemporaries to experience a personal encounter with Him. “All things were created through him and for him”; Christ is the light of the world, the one who gives meaning and hope to every human life – and the majority of people around us live and die as if He had never existed! How can we be unconcerned, and each remain “in the comfort of our own panelled houses”? We should never allow a moral issue like that of sexuality divide us more than love for Jesus Christ unites us.

We need to go back to the time of the Apostles: they faced a pre-Christian world, and we are facing a largely post-Christian world. When Paul wants to summarise the essence of the Christian message in one sentence, he does not say, “I proclaim this or that doctrine to you.” He says, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), and “We preach . . . Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). This is the real “articulus stantis et cadentis Ecclesiae”, the article by which the Church stands or falls.

This does not mean ignoring the great theological and spiritual enrichment that came from the Reformation or desiring to go back to the time before it. It means instead allowing all of Christianity to benefit from its achievements, once they are freed from certain distortions due to the heated atmosphere of the time and of later controversies.

Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church—and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in opposition to the claim of people today that they can save themselves thanks to their science, technology or their man-made spirituality, without the need for a redeemer coming from outside humanity. Self-justification! I am convinced that if they were alive today this is the way Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer would preach justification through faith!

Unity is not a simple matter. One has to start with the big Churches, those that are well structured, putting together that which unites them, which is vastly more important than what divides them; not imposing uniformity but aiming at what pope Francis calls “reconciled diversities”. Nothing is more important than to fulfil Christ’s heart desire for unity expressed in today’s gospel. In many parts of the world people are killed and churches burned not because they are Catholic, or Anglican, or Pentecostals, but because they are Christians. In their eyes we are already one! Let us be one also in our eyes and in the eyes of God.

The Anglican Church has a special role in all of this. It has often defined itself as a “via media” (a Middle Way) between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Christianity. From being a “via media” in a static sense, it must now become more and more a via media in a dynamic sense, exercising an active function as a bridge between the Churches. The presence among you of a priest of the Catholic Church, in circumstances of such special significance, is a sign that something of the kind is already happening.

Let us conclude by returning to the text of Haggai. After the people of Israel, in obedience to the prophet’s invitation, had returned with renewed fervour to the task of rebuilding the temple, God sent His prophet again, this time with a message full of hope and consolation:

“But take courage now, Zerubbabel – it is the Lord who speaks -, courage, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, high priest; courage, all you people of the country – it is the Lord who speaks. To work! I am with you, the Lord of hosts declares; and my Spirit is present among you. Do not be afraid!” (Hg 2, 4-5).

Zerubbabel was the political leader at the time, and Joshua the religious leader. I believe that the Lord wanted me to be among you today, above all to tell you that He is addressing this same message to you, at the inauguration of your Synod and also in view of the meeting planned for next January between the leaders of the entire Anglican communion: “Take courage, Your Majesty, Sovereign of this nation, courage, Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, courage Sentamu, Archbishop of York, courage, you bishops, clergy and laity of the Church of England! To work, because I am with you. Says the Lord!”

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Church of England Friday Mailing, November 27, 2015