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Loren Mead: Still stuck on the importance of the local church

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

Forty years after starting the Alban Institute, Loren Mead is still convinced that the local church is ‘where the rubber meets the road.’

 

Forty years after founding the Alban Institute, the Rev. Loren Mead still believes in the fundamental importance of congregations.

“I am still stuck on the importance of the local church,” he said.

It was that “monomania,” he said, that prompted him to create the institute in 1974.

“I sort of woke up in ministry with a sense that whatever’s going on, it’s the parish that’s the issue, that the local church is where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “And I focused on that part of the institutional framework.”

At the time, many in the church discounted the life of local congregations, but Mead was “clear that that was not the way to go, that we needed strong local churches.”

Looking back, Mead said he hasn’t been surprised at the track record of mainline and other churches over the past 40 years, and he offered a general critique.

“It feels like we’ve been fighting a defensive war and not shifting our model to understand the power of the laity as the important part of the church,” he said. “We’ve gotten more hierarchical and defensive. We’re worrying about how to survive rather than what we ought to be doing.”

An ordained Episcopal priest, Mead is an educator, consultant and author who has worked to strengthen religious institutions, especially local congregations. He served from 1974 to 1994 as president of the Alban Institute, developing its national, multidenominational work of research, publishing, education and consulting.

He spoke recently with Alban at Duke Divinity and Faith & Leadership about the institute and its work. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: You started the Alban Institute 40 years ago, in 1974. Tell us about that. Why did you start it?

Well, a lot of it goes back before Alban. I sort of woke up in ministry with a sense that whatever’s going on, it’s the parish that’s the issue, that the local church is where the rubber meets the road.

And I focused on that part of the institutional framework. I probably discounted a lot of other important things, simply because that was what I felt called to deal with. The parish is what I was about. I expanded to look at other things that affect parishes, but that was my monomania.

Q: What were the issues at the time? What was it about congregations that caught your attention?

What I saw was a church that largely discounted the life of the local congregation. At the time, in the 1960s, clergy were leaving in large numbers to go into all kinds of social work and whatnot. I was clear that that was not the way to go, that we needed strong local churches.

I was partly reacting to the negative image that seminaries and churches had in the ’60s. Everybody said, “You need to go where the action is” — and that was not where the church was. I thought that was just wrong.

I was asked to do an experimental project for the Episcopal Church, Project Test Pattern, and for three years I studied local churches, how to change and strengthen them.

We were beginning to worry about people leaving the church. We didn’t have the data yet, but everybody told me that the problem was evangelism — we weren’t getting people into the church.

I discovered that the problem was that they were leaving the church. We got lots of people into the churches in the ’50s and ’60s. I mean, they flocked in — couldn’t stop them — but they went out the back door after a year or two. I always thought that the issue of evangelism is, “How do you close the back door?” more than worrying about getting them in the front door.

In Project Test Pattern, we experimented with organizational development that was being used then in education and management — industry and universities. We sent consultants in to work with congregations.

Previous efforts at changing congregations were pretty thin. People would tell congregations what to do, and they would or wouldn’t do it. People in the church structures would develop programs for congregations, but they never found out whether the programs worked or not.

What we did was send trained people into congregations to help them make decisions about what they needed to do, what they needed to respond to. And the consultants wrote up what they discovered and what they saw and what happened.

That was the key turning point. We started getting data about what really happens in congregations. Before, most of what we knew about churches was from sermons about churches or proposals that people made for churches. We didn’t know what actually went on in a church board, for example, or what happened when people got in a fight in a church.

These consultants began writing reports of what they saw happen in churches, and what they tried and what the reaction to the trial was. We began to build up a body of information and knowledge about what happens with churches. That was the basic thing we did in that project.

Q: What were some of the most important of those findings? What did you learn in assisting these congregations over the 20 years you headed Alban?

I guess the first thing we learned was that you can learn, that you don’t have to just sit down and accept what happens. We can learn what is going on; we can learn how to change it; we can learn how to plan what we’re going to do and then figure out how to do it.

We learned that every congregation went through crises, and those crises were when they were open to change. Probably the major crisis that happens to any congregation is the change of pastors.

Every time a pastor changes, a congregation has an opportunity to change. We came to see it as the critical point in the life of a congregation.

Pastors didn’t like to hear that, because we pastors think the most important thing is what we help the church do. But the fact is, the biggest change that happens in a church is already over when the pastor gets there. The congregation has had to face the loss of a previous pastor and decide where they want to go. When you come in, if it’s been done well, the congregation is ready to go in some new directions.

So we spent a lot of time working with placement systems and trying to help people learn. We helped develop the concept of “interim pastor” and ways to train and prepare them to go in and help the congregation get over the previous pastor and get ready for the new one.

Q: Do most congregations take advantage of that opportunity for change? Or does it just inevitably happen in any pastoral transition?

We thought for years it just would happen, but we discovered — and others discovered — that paying attention to that change point is a critical, strategic issue for the church. But most churches don’t see it that way. They see it as “an unfortunate time we’ve got to go through before we can get a new pastor.”

But we discovered that often the most creative moments in a church’s life happen when the pastor isn’t there.

That’s true of the interim period, but also, for example, when a pastor’s on a sabbatical, or the pastor is unable to get to a board meeting, and the board goes in a new direction. Sometimes the way pastors relate to congregations makes it difficult for the people in the congregation to have their true authority.

Congregations that go through a long period without a pastor always think everything’s going to hell in a bandwagon or something, but before long they discover that they’re learning new things and doing things in new ways and feeling pretty good about it.

Another crisis point we discovered was church fights. Most people hate the thought of them, and they’re terrible experiences, but we found that a church fight often opens a congregation up to new life. Things that have been neglected have to be dealt with.

Most churches try to squelch fights. And people today think the way to deal with conflict is for some people to leave the church. Sometimes that works, but we felt that it’s possible to learn something from conflict management to make that kind of crisis different.

Q: These discoveries from 30 or 40 years ago seem very relevant to church life today.

Yes, I think they are.

I was ordained in 1955, at a time when the church was on an incoming tide. This was after the Second World War. The strength of the American economy was unmatched; we were getting richer; there was more money; the church was popular. Religion was important in everybody’s life; it was the way we made community in a lot of places.

From 1950 to 1965, we had a massive movement of people into the churches. We built stronger institutions. Our seminaries were made stronger; membership went up; every judicatory, every Methodist conference and Episcopal diocese built a headquarters. People who used to run a judicatory with a bishop and a secretary suddenly had five or six people on the staff.

And about 1965, the mainline churches — and about 25 years later, the evangelical churches — discovered that the tide had peaked. It was 1966, I think, that the Methodist Church for the first time lost members. The tide started going out, and since at least 1970 the membership and strength of the churches has been declining, and the institutional structures we built in the ’50s and ’60s we can no longer pay for. But all of that related to local churches.

Q: If you were launching an Alban Institute today, would you still focus on local congregations or on repairing those larger institutional structures?

I am still stuck on the importance of the local church. And I think that a lot of those other structures came and went.

The structures of the churches think organizationally, but they often don’t see the interrelationship between things. When we started Alban, we discovered that churches of different denominations are dealing with the same stuff, but they do not share what they know with each other.

Our denominations make us siloed, so that each denomination is trying to solve its problem by itself, and they don’t realize other congregations down the street are having the same troubles. We have to relate them to what other congregations are doing.

Q: Has that situation improved over the last 40 years? Are congregations working together a little better?

No.

For example, take the loss of members in a church. In the ’70s, I was consulting with a bunch of churches in New England. And everywhere I went, I found big churches having the same problem. They had built a church for 1,000 members but now had only 200 members. And they were all asking, “What can we do to get more members?”

I remember working with one in Scarsdale, New York. They had lost members and were having a hard time paying their bills, but they were stuck on the fact that they no longer had a strong youth program. So they decided they would raise a lot of money and get a new youth director.

What they didn’t know was that all their young people had moved on and gone to other places. There had also been demographic changes, with a large increase in Jewish residents and a large number of Japanese immigrants. The church was trying to recapture what they had been 20 years before. They didn’t look at what was going on in the world around them.

And then I found that all these large churches were each trying to solve it themselves. They didn’t realize that changes were happening all over New England. They were just looking at themselves. They didn’t know that every church in town had the same problem. [Each denomination was] trying to solve it on a congregational basis, when the problem was a systems problem.

We lost the capacity to look at larger issues. We were structured to deal with things denominationally, when the problems weren’t denominational. We thought the answer was a new program or a new staff person, when first we had to figure out what was going on in the world around us.

Our judicatories really have that responsibility, to look at the larger picture, but they are also siloed. They only see their own churches; they don’t see the larger issues.

Q: Are there any areas where you think the church, especially the mainline churches, have made progress, have done things right?

I think basically they’ve tried to double down on what they used to be and have not looked at the new things that are coming along.

But there are a few areas. When we started, seminaries and the judicatories and most of the congregations were concerned that people coming out of seminaries were remarkably well-educated in theology and denominational matters but didn’t know how to lead a congregation.

We helped do some research on the boundary between the seminary and the congregation in the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of seminaries now have programs to help with the transition from the seminary to the congregation, and that’s helped a lot.

Another thing, when I came out of the parish, there was very little continuing education available for clergy other than book learning. Very few training agencies that worked with congregations helped pastors learn how to lead. Now, a lot of seminaries have some kind of continuing education that isn’t strictly academic.

Also, when we started, it was hard to get good publications about the nitty-gritty of parish life. Now, many publishers are publishing stuff that comes straight out of the life of parishes.

But there are still too many things trying to tell parishes what to do. If there’s one terrible thing the church does, it’s that we believe in gimmicks, that there is a gimmick somewhere that will fix it all. I don’t believe that.

Q: As you look back over the past 40 years, what has most surprised you? Anything catch you unaware about how the church has developed or not developed in the U.S.?

I guess not. It feels like we’ve been fighting a defensive war and not shifting our model to understand the power of the laity as the important part of the church. We’ve gotten more hierarchical and defensive. We’re worrying about how to survive rather than what we ought to be doing.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity,  Faith & Leadership Newsletter, November 04, 2014

How the Canadian hymnal evolved

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

By Diana Swift

 

The hymnal of the Anglican Church of Canada, created 1905 to 1908, “became the first concrete expression of the new national spirit of the church,” says historical musicologist Kenneth Hull.    Photo: Diana Swift


 

The stormy history of the Canadian Anglican hymnal might surprise many who each week sing contentedly from the Book of Common Praise. At a recent conference commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Anglican diocese of Toronto’s founding, Kenneth Hull recounted how this small book became an ecclesiastical football in the latter half of the 19th century and a touchstone for burgeoning Canadian nationalism.

“The first authorized hymnal of the Canadian church, created 1905 to 1908, became the first concrete expression of the new national spirit of the church and was a pivotal moment in the life of Canada’s new General Synod,” said Hull, a historical musicologist and associate professor of music at Ontario’s University of Waterloo.

Hull spoke Nov. 1 at the University of Trinity College, University of Toronto, in the conference session “The Beauty of Holiness.” He noted that 19th-century hymn practices were very diverse across Canadian dioceses, many of which had their own customized collections. England’s Hymns Ancient and Modern (A&M), originally published in 1861, predominated but shared the stage with the more evangelical collections Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer and Church Hymns, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Preferences split sharply along low church versus high church and Anglo-Catholic versus evangelical lines. “In reaction to the perceived high church theology of A&M, in 1874 the diocese of Huron approved two evangelical collections for parish worship, thereby cutting out A&M,” said Hull, adding that this was an expression of the diocese’s “militantly low church convictions.” In contrast, A&M, with its high church complement of old plainsong hymns, was widely used in the neighbouring diocese of Toronto. New Brunswick’s diocese of Fredericton boasted no fewer than six different hymnals.

The sacred songbook battles, fiercely fought in the Canadian Churchman (predecessor to the Anglican Journal), reflected not only the diocesan autonomy of the day but also the theological polarization of a fractious period in Canadian Anglicanism. “The two major parties had their own organizations, leaders, controversialists, networks, mission societies and Sunday school curriculums,” said Hull. “At synods and in the church press, the two sides attacked each other with an energy, and frequently with a scurrility, that is now surprising and even shocking.”

By the end of the 19th century, opinion had diversified and the polarization in churchmanship had softened. As the centrality of church life declined, the focus shifted away from politics and theology to better service. With the creation of the Canadian General Synod in 1893, a new avenue opened up for proposing a national hymn book. Far from being only a component of worship, a Canadian hymnal raised the issue of the Dominion church’s relationship to its English parent: was it just an ex-colonial dependent or a mature partner?

The cause was taken up by Toronto magistrate James E. Jones, who convened hymnal committees and used the pages of the Churchman to ensure passage of the hymn book proposal, which came in 1905. Key was the committees’ operating principle of “unity by inclusion, not by exclusion,” so that worshippers of every Anglican stripe could find hymns to express their style. “For the church to accept such an inclusive book required a tolerance that had not existed concretely before,” said Hull.

Before the authorized hymnal emerged in 1908, there were more polemics and much suggestion gathering. Some looked to the model of the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s 1880 hymn book, which Jones praised for having “driven out a lot of American and other trash.” Others favoured adopting the highly successful hymns of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Another faction preferred importing a collection from the English mother church, which raised the objection that English hymns were “pitched too high for Canadian voices.”

Overall, the polemics and the passionate letters in the Churchman were testimony to the growing importance of music in the church, and to the potentially unifying role of a Canadian hymnal, which finally appeared in 1908.

In other papers, Jonathan Lofft, a junior fellow in divinity at Trinity College, outlined how Edward Marion Chadwick helped create pontificalia for the bishop of Toronto, designing four mitres and, most notably, a magnificent jewel-set crosier. The Toronto lawyer and heraldist also designed a droll coat of arms for Bishop Arthur Sweatman and the coat of arms for General Synod. Lofft also read a paper on behalf of the University of Toronto’s Bruce Russell on the Anglican patronage of Gerald Larkin, scion of the wealthy Salada Tea Company family, which resulted in the ethereally beautiful Trinity College Chapel.

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Anglican Journal News, November 03, 2014 

Yukon priest has heart for Swaziland

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

By Diana Swift

 

The Rev. Canon David Pritchard, says a friend, is compassion personified. Photo: Contributed

 


 

(This story first appeared in the November issue of the Anglican Journal.)

The territory of Yukon and the kingdom of Swaziland couldn’t be farther apart—in distance, size, climate and economy. But both are home to the Rev. Canon David Pritchard, priest-in-charge—at least until December—of St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Carcross, Yukon.

Since the late 1980s, Pritchard, 79, has been plying his way every few years between the two continents. And on Dec. 30, undaunted by recent cardiac bypass surgery, he’ll permanently leave his northern home for his southern one, where he spent 16 years, married and buried a young Swazi wife, and fathered four children. “I love the Yukon, but I always knew I wanted to live out my life in Swaziland.”

His love of this tiny kingdom of 1.4 million people on the eastern edge of southern Africa took hold during the more than 12 years he spent as executive director of the National Council on Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Dependence, an NGO supported by the churches, the UN and the World Health Organization. “Our office was a 10-foot by 13-foot trailer. We had no guaranteed funding,” he says.

Pritchard, who became an Anglican priest in the early 1980s after retiring as Yukon’s assistant superintendent of education, is the kind of person who sees a need and responds quickly—body and soul. “He throws himself wholeheartedly into everything he does,” says Beverley Whitehouse, a lay minister and secretary of Christ Church Cathedral in Whitehorse. In 2011, for example, he took to heart the plight of famine victims in the Horn of Africa. Never one for wringing hands on the sidelines, he leapt into action and spearheaded an effort that eventually raised some $43,000 for famine relief in the Horn, garnering an additional $28,000 for the cause in matching federal funds.

On his return to Africa, one of his first tasks will be to help build a solid house for a single mother and her five daughters, who now live in tumbledown huts and sleep on threadbare blankets on floors of packed cow dung.  The girls are all being sponsored by one of Pritchard’s many causes: the Swaziland Educational Trust Society, a Canadian registered charity incorporated in 2004 to educate youngsters in Swaziland, where schools charge fees. The trust has raised more than $150,000 over nine years. “Most of our students are now in high school, and each year we have three or four new graduates,” says Pritchard, who actually started sponsoring the schooling of Swazi children on his own in 1987 when he arrived to serve as a parish priest under the Anglican Church of Canada’s world mission branch. “That was during the AIDS pandemic, when increasing numbers of children had parents who were dying,” he recalls.

“David is a very compassionate, very concerned  person, who takes very seriously every project he’s involved in,” says Jim Tiedeman, a Whitehorse resident who sits on the education trust’s board.

After the 2001 death from tuberculosis of his wife, Cyndie, a TB ward nurse, Pritchard took his children home to live in Yukon in 2002, where, “being young and strong, they adapted marvellously,” he says. He, however, had a major problem. “After working amid abject poverty for 16 years, I couldn’t stand the affluence!”

In 2003, Pritchard took over the helm of St. Saviour’s and for the past nine years has also served on the board of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, of which he is currently vice-president. “His devotion to the PWRDF has been saintly,” says the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz.  Hiltz adds that Pritchard has been one of the board’s strongest advocates for addressing the often unacceptable conditions under which indigenous people in Canada live.

Last year, Pritchard spent several months in Swaziland, and upon his return to Canada, says Whitehouse, “you could tell he was pining for Africa.” He will be sorely missed in the diocese of Yukon. “He’s a great administrator and chairs a meeting wonderfully—he keeps things moving and on target,” says Whitehouse. “And he’s a person you’re always glad to see—there are never any negative connotations.”

Not one to leave without a generous gesture to his home parish, Pritchard enlisted the aid of friends this past summer and before his surgery helped restain all the wood in St. Saviour’s—from ceiling beams to pews.

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Anglican Journal News, November 03, 2014

Ministry training that flows in the Nass River valley

Posted on: November 22nd, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

The clear, salmon-rich waters of the Nass River cut through snow-peaked northern British Columbia, drawing people and animals to feed on its gifts. So significant are these waters’ ability to nourish and sustain that they were named for Indigenous words meaning ‘food depot’ or ‘top lip’ and ‘bottom lip’. Thousands of years after its first feeding of people, the Nass River valley again is a vital source of sustenance. This time, however, the faithful of the Diocese of Caledonia are finding in the valley food for the spirit to fuel a journey of transformation and renewal.

Like so many other pockets of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Diocese of Caledonia faces distinct challenges in growing Eucharistic communities and carrying out its ministries. The parishes of the diocese are peppered across rugged terrain and have difficulty attracting and supporting full-time stipendiary clergy. The ministry context here also has a unique blending of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglican communities as it partially overlays the traditional lands of the Nisga’a First Nation.

These broad challenges were given a particular voice when Rev. Gary Davis of Holy Trinity in Aiyansh approached Diocese of Caledonia Bishop William Anderson for some support. The retirement of some clergy and other factors left Davis as the only full-time priest in the Nass River valley. He was struggling to meet the needs of the communities there, including offering Nisga’a liturgies.

Bishop Anderson understood and responded to the hunger for more training and education in his diocese. His first step was adapting a lay reader training course for Caledonia, which would end up serving as the first module in a larger program aimed at meeting ministry needs in the Nass River valley and beyond.

A small group of faithful Anglicans eagerly signed up for the opportunity and in late 2013 became the first cohort in an emerging theological training program. Perhaps by no coincidence at all, the first group all came from service professions requiring keen pastoral skills. The experiences as schoolteachers, nurses, and administrators primed them with many of the tools required for parish ministry.

A grant from Council of the North is seeding the early years of this initiative, and covers administration and travel costs. With the short-term viability of the project secured, the diocese went on to create modules on basic preaching skills, how to study and read the bible, and so on. Archdeacon Ernest Buchanan, who administers the program, says they started with foundational courses to make sure all students had the basic training they needed to move on to more advanced topics and ministry practices.

The diocese has secured permission from Trinity School for Ministry to adapt some of its extension ministry modules for the Canadian context. This includes adding more history from the Anglican Church of Canada and understanding the unique place of the Nisga’a First Nation in the life of the church in Nass Valley. Over the course of three years, students will also have modules on biblical scholarship, history, theology, ethics, church administration, and more. Of equal importance is the cohort’s hands-on experience in parish ministry and ongoing group discussion about leadership, mission, and growing vibrant Eucharistic communities.

The immediate goal of this training and education initiative is to build up the community of lay readers in the diocese. This foundational training can be put to service in support of parish ministry right away or it might also serve as a good basis if any participant feels called to seminary study and ordination to the Holy Orders.

The diocese is blessed with trained and talented educators, including Buchanan who has taught at a seminary in Mexico City and has a passion for vocational training. The Rev. Luke Anker of Christ Church in Kitimat has an incredible appetite for biblical scholarship and shares this with the students. Even Bishop Anderson will take on the role of professor and teach liturgics when time comes for that module.

The nascent initiative is characterized by the flexibility and resourcefulness that defines ministry across Council of the North. Buchanan says that while the modules do have a schedule, all involved attentive to the need to “flow with community life.” He laughs, “There are going to be interminable interruptions, because life has interminable interruptions.”

Even in these early days, Buchanan sees much hope in his midst. He is witness to a deepening commitment among the students who gather at Aiyansh for their modules. They are seriously engaged in the future of the church and want to understand their role in bringing about the flourishing of God’s will in the here and now. “Hey, this is a vocation toward which God is calling us,” Buchanan hears his students say, “and we have to take it seriously.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 21, 2014

A moving spirit

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

By Leigh Anne Williams

(L to R): Paul Latour thanks volunteers Dave Meade and Kent McFadyen. Photo: Jacqueline Rimmer


Compassion can be a powerful force for change. The Anglican Journal takes you to three communities where it is at work for and with youth.

“People said it couldn’t be done, that it was asking too much of these kids who are ages 12 to 18,” says Sheryl Kimbley, describing the program she created, with a cadre of volunteers, that runs annually in Prince Albert, Sask. Northern Spirits gives about 100 aboriginal kids from northern Saskatchewan the opportunity to participate in a fall workshop where they learn about producing a musical showcase. They also compete to be among 30 kids chosen to create an annual show, performed before hundreds in February at the Prince Albert Winter Festival.

“They have not once let me down,” Kimbley says. The kids are in charge of producing the show. “They are the musicians, they are the emcees, [responsible for] every possible thing that has to do with putting on a show, right to knowing how to deal with admissions and customer service,” she adds. Along the way, in the larger workshop and the show, the goal is to build their confidence, self-esteem and dreams for the future.

The event requires a huge investment of time and energy from Kimbley and the other volunteer organizers and mentors. “The preparation is ridiculous, finding the presenters and speakers…I can’t even begin to calculate the hours,” she says. They also invest a lot in the kids themselves. Sometimes it is answering a music question via Facebook or answering a call in the middle of the night and trying to connect kids with people who can give them more help with personal troubles. In 2010, Northern Spirits became a part of Kimbley’s job with the Prince Albert Grand Council, but before that, her hours had all been volunteer, including using holiday time and sick leave from work.

Why does she do it? “Saskatchewan is losing kids due to suicide at an alarming rate. I think if there’s something that we can do that helps even one or two of them, then you can’t stop.”

The program’s many success stories from the program keep Kimbley inspired. She describes one young girl who didn’t find the courage to sing until everyone was saying their farewells at the end of the workshop. “When she sang, she was shaking and trembling, but she had the most beautiful, powerful voice ever … She [later] went on to be a junior chief on her reserve.”

Kimbley grew up in the parish of St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral in Prince Albert. Her whole family is musical and many of them are involved with Northern Spirits. “Anything that I do is not without the grace of God and the community and [my] family,” she says.

In Victoria, B.C., compassion is also bringing the community together to help provide a safe haven for youth at risk.

The Threshold Housing Society began as a ministry of Christ Church Cathedral, diocese of British Columbia. The society grew until it had to become separately incorporated, but the Rev. Scott McLeod, the bishop’s representative on its board, says it maintains its connection with the diocese. Many Anglicans support Threshold, volunteering for events and helping with the upkeep of the two houses it operates.

Recently, a 90-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated a four-plex property to the society, but the building needed an extensive renovation. Threshold asked activist Paul Latour if he could help.

Compassion has led Latour on an interesting journey of his own. In 2008, he wanted to help a friend with multiple sclerosis fix up her garden, and he organized a mini extreme makeover. He recruited a team of six people, and seven weeks later, they were stunned by the generosity of those they approached: 27 businesses and 75 volunteers helped do a $25,000 garden makeover.

“It was really only meant to be a one-off,” says Latour, but afterward, the volunteers kept thanking him for giving them the opportunity to make a difference. “Something shifted inside and God opened up a door and said, ‘Do you want to walk through?’ ”

He went on to organize other radical renovations of non-profit facilities, such as Victoria’s Mustard Seed food bank. He was still in the process of setting up his organization HeroWork when he agreed to take on the Threshold project. (HeroWork brings people and companies to complete “radical community renovations for worthy non-profits.)

In the lead-up to the renovation, Latour says he was working about 14 hours a day to pull together all the volunteer efforts. “It is, on one hand, the hardest thing I have ever done…and on the other, it’s this beautiful, magical thing.”

In Newfoundland, Claudia Long is working to help build compassion in a new generation. She had no sooner retired from her 31-year career as a schoolteacher than she was back in schools for 27 visits a year as an instructor in the Roots of Empathy program.

Created by another Newfoundlander, Mary Gordon, the program is designed to cultivate empathy by bringing a parent and infant into a classroom of children who are coached by an instructor on how to relate to an infant. It aims to help children understand their own feelings and those of others and to build caring societies. It is now in use in every province in Canada, some U.S. states, New Zealand and the U.K.

Although the organization is a secular one, Long, an Anglican in St. John’s, says its values go hand in hand with her faith.

“The most rewarding part for me is to see the children’s reaction with that infant baby and to see that even the most assertive kids in the classroom still come down to that baby’s level,” says Long. “I just felt it was a wonderful program to give back.” _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Journal News, October 30, 2014

Mishamikoweesh ‘revolutionary’ for Anglican Church of Canada

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

By André Forget

 

“I feel that the birth of Mishamikoweesh has opened the doors for our fellow indigenous brothers and sisters in Christ,” says Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. Photo: André Forget


Bishop Lydia Mamakwa and National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald spoke to Council of General Synod (CoGS) Nov. 14 about the long journey toward the establishment of the first indigenous diocese in North America, the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, and of how that journey is continuing in the wake of its creation.

Mamakwa, an Oji-Cree from Kingfisher Lake First Nation, located north of Sioux Lookout, Ont., talked about some of the ways in which the diocese, which was created in June from the northern region of the diocese of Keewatin, is unique. “As a diocesan bishop,” she explained, “I do not have the sole authority to make the decisions. The elders and the people are involved; the chiefs and councils are also involved. When making a community visit, it is my duty to acknowledge the community leadership and listen to their concerns.”

She also mentioned another significant difference: “We can communicate mostly through our own language, written and orally.”

Important steps toward putting indigenous structures into place, Mamakwa noted, were taken at the first Sacred Circle, which will serve the function that a diocesan synod serves in non-indigenous dioceses. In addition to choosing provincial and general synod delegates and electing an executive council (which will serve as a diocesan council), a council of elders has also been elected, which Mamakwa said would “play a big part in Mishamikoweesh.”

Mamakwa also spoke of some of the challenges Mishamikoweesh faces. The diocese includes many remote communities, and travel is not easy. “We have no highways, we have no roads, we only get a winter ice road during maybe two or three months out of the whole year,” Mamakwa said. She went on to note the inefficiency of air travel in terms of both time and money, explaining that getting to a community only 15 minutes away by air is $1,100 one-way, and can take a day or more depending on the freight plane schedules.

However, despite the challenges Mamakwa expressed her gratitude toward those who helped bring Mishamikoweesh into being, and her pride at the change it represents. “Indigenous people have the authority to use their God-given gifts to govern themselves within a church using their traditional ways,” she said. “Yes, we have a lot of issues to deal with from the residential school era and abuses that have been inflicted on our people, but despite the issues that are still there, our people are resilient through it all.”

For Mamakwa, Mishamikoweesh is important for all indigenous Anglicans in Canada. “I feel that the birth of Mishamikoweesh has opened the doors for our fellow indigenous brothers and sisters in Christ, and I pray that doors and opportunities will be opened for them also.”

In his part of the presentation,  MacDonald spoke further about the importance of Mishamikoweesh for indigenous Anglican communities across the country. Praising Mamakwa as a “trailblazer,” he stressed the very different forms of governance employed historically and to the present day by indigenous peoples in what is now known as North America, and the importance of allowing indigenous peoples to return to structures of governance that are built around their understanding of power as shared in communities, rather than organized in a “vertical” fashion.

“We’re beginning to see a different way of imagining how a church can be in an indigenous community,” said MacDonald, “and we now have the freedom in Mishamikoweesh to work things out in a way that makes sense in our cultural environment. I think that this, over time will be revolutionary – not just for us, but probably for the rest of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, responded by expressing what a “great to joy” it was for him to see Mamakwa seated as bishop, and sharing some of his memories from his visit to Kingfisher Lake First Nation to mark the formal creation of Mishamikoweesh.

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Anglican Journal News, November 16, 2014

Archbishop Welby: the Anglican Communion’s challenges and the way forward

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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“The potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about” – Abp Welby        Photo Credit: Church of England __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In his Presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward.

Read the full text of the address below:

During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.

A Flourishing Communion

First of all, and this needs to be heard very clearly, the Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries. There has been comment over the last year that issues around the Communion should not trouble us in the Church of England because the Communion has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. Not only does it exist, but almost everywhere (there are some exceptions) the links to the See of Canterbury, notwithstanding its Archbishop, are profoundly valued.  The question as to its existence is therefore about what it will look like in the future.   That may be very different, and I will come back to the question.

Secondly, Anglicanism is incredibly diverse. To sit, in the space of a few months, in meetings with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Primate of Australia, the Primate of South Africa, the Moderator of the Church of South India, the Primate of Nigeria and many others is to come away utterly daunted by the differences that exist.  They are huge, beyond capacity to deal with adequately in the time for this presentation.  Within the Communion there are perhaps more than 2,000 languages and perhaps more than 500 distinct cultures and ways of looking at the world.  Some of its churches sit in the middle of what are literally the richest parts of the globe, and have within them some of the richest people on earth.  The vast majority are poor. Despite appearances here, we are a poor church for the poor. Many are in countries where change is at a rate that we cannot even begin to imagine.  I think of the man I met in Papua New Guinea who is a civil engineer and whose grandfather was the first of his tribe to see a wheel as a small aircraft landed in a clearing in the forest.

At the same time there is a profound unity in many ways. Not in all ways, but having said what I have about diversity, which includes diversity on all sorts of matters including sexuality, marriage and its nature, the use of money, the relations between men and women, the environment, war and peace, distribution of wealth and food, and a million other things, underpinning us is a unity imposed by the Spirit of God on those who name Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This diversity is both gift and challenge, to be accepted and embraced, as we seek to witness in truth and love to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, the potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about. We need to hold on to that, there is a prize, the quest for which it is worth almost anything to achieve. The prize is visible unity in Christ despite functional diversity.  It is a prize that is not only of infinite value, but also requires enormous sacrifice and struggle to achieve.  Yet if we even get near it we can speak with authority to a world where over the last year we have seen more than ever an incapacity to deal with difference, and a desire to oversimplify the complex and diverse nature of human existence for no better reason than we cannot manage difference and dealing with The Other. Yet in Christ we are held together.  In Christ the barriers are broken, peace is held out to us as a gift established, which needs living. In Christ there is hope of a life that provides hope of peace.

Fourthly, the Communion is extremely active. Let me give you a few examples. In Mexico, a small community abandoned by all, of people who had lost their homes and were living in the bad lands, where a priest (otherwise unoccupied apart from a full-time career in a professional area and running another church, as well as being unpaid) was sent by his bishop, to start a church, something he thought might well cost him his life. But there he went, to the poorest of the poor, and a community has been established with numerous baptisms, growing spirituality and a love and concern and compassion for one another that speaks of the living presence of Jesus among them.

Another example, a conference in Oklahoma City, in which from people around The Episcopal Church, with patience and courtesy to one another, there was discussion over the issues around the use of firearms and the meaning of the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, in practice in the modern-day USA.

The South Sudan, and after a day spent burying the dead of a great massacre, the Archbishop stood up with extraordinary courage and called for reconciliation.  Those from the rebel group would already have opposed him, those from his own group would not necessarily have been impressed. To do that puts any of our struggles into a real perspective.

In England a church in the middle of an extraordinarily mixed area of religious faith, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, active in its worship, lively in its preaching, yet being the centre and focus of religious leadership in the area so as to enable difference to be handled well.

There are so many others that merit a presentation of its own.

We live in a community that exists, that is deeply engaged with its world almost everywhere, that is diverse and argumentative and fractured, but yet shows in so many places both known and unknown the power and love of Christ through His Spirit at work in our world. We live in a Communion which merits celebration and thanksgiving as well as prayer and repentance.

A flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.

I do not want to sound triumphalist. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.

Our divisions may be too much to manage.

In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.

In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world  as we should, must affect our actions and our words.

A Communion under threat

There is persecution in the Communion, in many, many areas. We are a poor, and a persecuted Church.

We are well aware of that and need to remember it constantly. In very many parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa and the Middle East, but also South East Asia, persecution comes from jihadist attacks which have killed many, many Anglicans, other Christians and in largest number Muslims, over the last few years. Not a day goes by without some report being received of the suffering and persecution of churches around the world, and of cries for help and requests for support. Not a day goes by without something which should break one’s heart at the courage and the difficulties involved.

There is immense suffering in the Communion. The terrible spread of Ebola, indescribable, a Black Death sweeping through three Dioceses of West Africa, is by itself a catastrophe of historic proportions. I was briefed on it two weeks ago in Accra, and the suffering of people in the afflicted countries makes the blood run cold. We must help, pray and call for more help.

In the South Sudan the human created food shortage threatens to turn into a terrible famine. In DRC the war continues with the utmost cruelty, usually including rape.

The list could go on and on, especially in the Middle East, Palestine and Israel, the Levant and the Euphrates valley.

Where do we go?

So what do we do? Where does this extraordinary, fractious, diverse, argumentative, wonderful, united, ferocious, peaceful, persecuted, suffering  body that is the Communion go, and what is the impact on us here in the Church of England?

First, as I have said nothing we say is heard only by us.

Secondly, we should rejoice in being part of this monumental challenge, of this great quest for the prize of being a people who can hold unity in diversity and love in difference.  It is almost unimaginably difficult, and most certainly cannot be done except with a whole-hearted openness to the Holy Spirit at work amongst us. It comes with prayer, and us growing closer to God in Jesus Christ and nothing else is an effective substitute. There are no strategies and no plans beyond prayer and obedience.

Thirdly, the future of the Communion requires sacrifice.  The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours.  Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient.  Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree.  What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.

In this Church of England we must learn to hold in the right order our calling to be one and our calling to advance our own particular position and seek our own particular views to prevail in the Church generally, whether in England or around the world. We must speak the truth in love.

In practice that has to mean the discipline of meeting with those with whom we disagree and listening to each other carefully and lovingly. It means doing that as much as when we meet with those with whom we do agree, whether it is during sessions of General Synod or at other times. It means celebrating our salvation together and praying together to the God who is the sole source of our hope and future, together. It means that even when we feel a group is beyond the pale for its doctrine, or for its language about others or us, we must love. Love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemy. Who in the world is in none of those categories?

All of us prefer being with those whose tradition we know and in which we were brought up. I am as much part of that as anyone else here. But I have gained far more in my own walk with Jesus Christ through being willing to meet with others whose traditions I did not find sympathetic, and be as transparent with them as I am with my closest friends, as from anything else that I have ever done.

And for the future of the Communion? I have not called a Primates’ Meeting on my own authority (although I could) because I feel that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to develop a collegial model of leadership, as much as it is necessary in the Church of England, and I have therefore waited for the end of the visits to Provinces.

If the majority view of the Primates is that such a meeting would be a good thing, one will be called in response.  The agenda for that meeting will not be set centrally, but from around the Primates of the Communion.  One issue that needs to be decided on, ideally by the Primates’ meeting, is whether and if so when there is another Lambeth Conference.  It is certainly achievable, but the decision is better made together carefully, than in haste to meet an artificial deadline of a year ending in 8. A Lambeth Conference is so expensive and so complex that we have to be sure that it is worthwhile. It will not be imposed, but part of a collective decision.

The key general point to be established is how the Anglican Communion is led, and what its vision is in the 21st century, in a post-colonial world? How do we reflect the fact that the majority of its members are in the Global South, what is the role of the Instruments of Communion, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what does that look like in lived out practice?  These are great decisions, that must be taken to support the ongoing and uninterrupted work of ministering to a world in great need and in great conflict. Whatever the answer, it is likely to be very different from the past.

So, the good news. The Communion exists and is doing wonderful things. The bad news.  There are great divisions and threats. The challenge. There is a prize of being able to develop unity in diversity and also with deeper and deeper ecumenical relations demonstrating the power of Christ to break down barriers and to provide hope for a broken world. We must grasp that challenge, it is the prize of a world seeing Christ loved and obeyed in His church, a world hearing the news of his salvation. So let us here, in the Church of England and above all in its General Synod, be amongst those who take a lead in our sacrificial, truthful and committed love for the sake of Christ for His mission in His world.

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Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), November 17, 2014

The Interview: Ambassador for Christ

Posted on: November 13th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Leigh Anne Williams

 

“You need to be able to have a voice that will articulate the voice of the church, particularly on behalf of those who don’t have a voice themselves with people who have power,” says the Rev. Laurette Glasgow, the Anglican Church of Canada’s special advisor for government relations.       Photo: Art Babych


 

This article first appeared in the Nov. issue of the Anglican Journal.

 

Before being appointed in 2012 as the Anglican Church of Canada’s special advisor for government relations, the Rev. Laurette Glasgow spent 37 years working for the federal government. She was a diplomat for 26 of those years, including as ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, and as Canada’s Consul General in Monaco. During her discernment process, she was asked why she was giving up diplomacy to become a priest. “I said, ‘Well, I’m an ambassador for my country, and I’m going to be an ambassador for Christ.’ They’re different, but they draw from some very similar things.” Now, she has had training as a political scientist, as an economist and as a priest. “You blend all those things together and somehow God uses it all,” she said.

The Anglican Journal’s Leigh Anne Williams asked her about the challenges and rewards of her work for the church in Ottawa.

Why does the church need a special advisor for government relations?

You need to be able to have a voice that will articulate the voice of the church, particularly on behalf of those who don’t have a voice themselves with people who have power, people who have influence, people who are shaping policies and laws that are going to affect the lives of Canadians and also of those beyond our border.

Are there some particular issues where you feel you’ve been able to have the most impact?

I don’t tend to think of successes or failures but rather, how is my garden [of networks] growing? Recently, Bishop John [Chapman of the diocese of Ottawa] and I were asked by the Ambassador for Religious Freedom to come in to have a strategic discussion on Iraq, and that, to me, is an example…We have cultivated that part of the garden very carefully and thoroughly. We believe strongly in the objectives of that office. Initially, I don’t think we were on their radar screen, but now we are invited in as partners, so to me, being invited in to have a conversation is an element of success…I felt as if there’s a little blossom coming out here.

One of the things that I am hoping will bear fruit is the extent to which we’ve helped highlight the work and the mission of the Diocese of Jerusalem with Canadian government authorities. We did this when Bishop Suheil [Dawani] was here last October [2013], where I lined up four days’ worth of meetings with government ministers, with think-tanks, with government officials and others, to be able to spread the word of the good work they are doing. Al Ahli Arab Hospital…is being looked at very favourably as one area of health care in Gaza that is free of any influence by Hamas and that can deliver first-rate services but needs to have the financial and human support…to be able to do their work. We have connected the Canadian government locally with the Diocese of Jerusalem and with the work of the hospital in Gaza, so to me, this is also having a tangible outcome to the efforts that we have put in so far.

What are the most challenging aspects of the job?

When something pops up as an issue, there’s no easy go-to-place for the conversation within our church…The decentralization of the Anglican church is one of its beauties, but at the same time, it offers a challenge for us in terms of coherence, and in terms of co-ordination and in terms of being able to communicate our views effectively, so that people out there will say, ‘What is the Anglican view on this?’ and I’d have to say there are different views on this.

Waiting three years for a General Synod is a little bit long. [The Council of General Synod] can serve a certain role. They meet regularly but not [that] frequently, so how do you have that conversation to figure out: well, where is the church on this issue?

…These days, issues come and go; if you don’t have a response in that nanosecond, you are outdated. Church policy, of course, has to be considered and reflective. It has to go through a process of discernment, so some fundamental issues need to go through that, but on other things, we need to have a more rapid response. Part of that is greater anticipation of some of the issues that are out there, which is one of the things I try to do. But [questions remain]…how do we mobilize a more rapid response?…How do we integrate the different views to have a balanced response and one that represents a considered view? So that’s, I think, a big challenge when it comes to speaking to authorities about where we are as a church…

Have you developed a strategic approach to your work?

If you figure that there is not going to be an opportunity for much progress, but you need to speak truth to power, then you may want to have…more [of a] “protest model.” We have to have a tool kit that offers us a lot of different options. And frankly, things like letters to the prime minister…have marginal effect. Increasingly, I [recommend] mobilizing people to just realize that they have a right as individual citizens to speak to a member of Parliament, to a member of the legislative assembly, to speak to their local councillor or mayor…We are totally non-partisan, but…educating people on issues [is important] and providing them with some of the tools that they may need and the confidence to know that when you go and meet with a parliamentarian and you have a specific ask or you have a point of view that you want to get across, there’s a conversation to be had, and a conversation leads you further than a unilateral statement. 

Any other advice for Anglicans trying to influence public policy?

I’ve encouraged them to stop and think, ‘What is the government relations angle on this issue?’ That’s what I’m here for, to be drawn in as somebody with extensive public policy knowledge and experience and an understanding of how the federal government works…Just for them to develop a reflex or an instinct of [thinking], ‘Maybe we should get the advice of [the special advisor].’ They can ignore my advice, but I think trying to have that automatic reflex is one my secret hopes.

What has been one of your most memorable experiences?

As I was leaving the [Ahli Arab] hospital in Gaza, the director Suheila Tarazi gave me a lovely shawl, hand embroidered by the women in Gaza…I was struck with how I was coming with empty hands in many ways, and she said to me, ‘Your hands may be empty, but your heart is full…Beyond any fundraising or anything else, what’s important is for us to know that we are not alone, that we have not been forgotten.’ Any time that I get discouraged—you have a lot of setbacks in this work and a lot of disappointments—I think back to that moment, and I can touch that shawl and remind myself that there is a larger purpose…It’s about relationship and how we have to continue to be in relationship—that is what Jesus asks us to do. So that’s the heart of my ministry. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _Anglican Journal News, November 5, 2014        

The soldier as artist

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Diana Swift

 

Anglican Chaplain Geoffrey Cyril d’Easum’s sketch of a ruined Abbe of Mont St-Eloi near Arras in the north of France in 1919 was part of the special World War I art exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. Photo: Abbey of Mt St Eloi CWM 19990069-001 Beaverbrook Collection of War Art  © Canadian War Museum ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

In a rare moment of calm in an acute environment, some will scribble a poem, some might grab a harmonica and others will pick up any materials at hand and draw. It is the last group that, in the 100th anniversary year of World War I, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa honoured with a special exhibition.

Witness—Canadian Art of the First World War examined how ordinary Canadian soldiers, as well as official war artists, depicted the landscape of armed conflict. Witness ran from April to September, and parts of it will travel, but its artists and their work can also be accessed online in the catalogue of the same name. [Go to http://bit.ly/1oh47l8]

On offer were never-before-displayed works, ranging from massive official canvases painted in London studios to, perhaps most poignant, quick, private drawings sketched in trenches and prisoner-of-war camps. Whatever the medium, each work was chosen to deepen the viewer’s understanding of the personal sacrifices and national impact of this historic conflict in which almost 62,000 Canadians lost their lives.

According to historian Dr. Laura Brandon, curator of the museum’s war art, many enlisted soldiers had art-related peacetime occupations in design, drafting, illustration, photography and architecture. Artists ranged from celebrated Group of Seven painters such as A.Y. Jackson—who became an official war artist—Arthur Lismer and Frederick Varley to rank-and-file soldiers who were millwrights and grocers. The exhibit also included drawings by Canadian architects, including George Lister Thornton Sharp, designer of Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge. Most items came from the museum’s Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, one of the largest such collections in the world.

Among the soldier-artists featured in Witness was Captain Geoffrey Cyril d’Easum, an Anglican chaplain in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Enlisting in 1916, he first served with the B.C.-based 131st Battalion under Lt.-Col. James D. Taylor and was eventually sent to the French front with the 8th Battalion, Winnipeg Grenadiers. He later received the British Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.” Born in 1870 in Poona, India, d’Easum died in Victoria in 1954.

In one almost bucolic drawing, the padre-soldier-artist shows Hospital Corner, the medical station at Vimy Ridge. The date is May 1917, a few weeks after the fierce April battle and hard-won victory that some say consolidated Canada’s identity as a nation. In the distance is The Pimple, the northernmost tip of the ridge.

Interestingly, says Brandon, “There’s lot of crossover in the imagery of religious art and war art.” Motifs of sunrise, sunset, nocturnes, sacrifice, crucifixion, blasted trees and ruined buildings occur in both. “Society then was very respectful of death and the impact that knowledge of death could have on wartime civilians,” she says. In addition, the propaganda messages from the front were very tightly controlled by the government and depicting the landscape of war had to be approached carefully. Despite differences of skill and scale between official war art and soldier art, “there was no difference in the visual language they used to describe the war,” she says.

Response to the private drawings of soldiers was very positive. “Families just thrilled to see their great-grandfathers’ art work on display,” says Brandon. “I think people have gained a new respect for a different kind of visual response to the war…the value of the soldier’s sketch as well as the big official painting.”

In Toronto, the Cathedral Church of St. James is marking the centenary with the exhibit Called to Serve: An Exhibit Honouring Canada’s Military Chaplains of All Faiths, a unique look at past and present conflicts through the lens of armed forces clergy. It runs from Nov. 6 to 16, with a special symphony concert honouring The Unknown Soldier on Nov. 14. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Anglican Journal News, November 10, 2014    

Church’s Philippine partners offer inspirational resilience

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Diana Swift

 

Antonio Tejamo prepares corn for planting. PWRDF’s Simon Chambers, who recently visited the Philippines, says he was impressed by the resilience, generosity and good humour of Filipinos in areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Simon

 

Last year, Simon Chambers’s trip to the Philippines was derailed by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which came just three weeks after the Bohol earthquake. But this fall, the communications coordinator of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) spent 12 days in the Cebu region of the Visayas island group documenting the inspirational resilience of the Filipinos as they work together to rebuild.

Chambers was visiting the project sites of several PWRDF partners, which include the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the Southern Partners Fair Trade Center and the Central Visayas Farmers Development Center. Together, these NGOs address many issues, from food security and income generation to human rights and the arts. [PWRDF is the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada.]

Chambers was struck by the intelligent integration of a relatively new way of partnering called clustering. “We asked agencies working on small projects to put in grant proposals as one cluster rather than sending us a lot of separate applications from individual agencies,” says Chambers, whose lively blog on his Sept. 21to Oct. 3 Philippines trip can be found on the PWRDF’s website. pwrdf.org/ “I was unsure how this would work on the ground but I came to see how agencies can come together and work efficiently on a lot of projects in reconstruction and relief.”

Chambers was also impressed by the generous spirit of the Filipino people. No sooner had the earthquake response begun than the typhoon struck and the focus of response shifted. “The earthquake victims had lost homes and livelihoods and schools, too, yet they said, ‘Our brothers and sisters need help more,’ ” he says. “They didn’t begrudge the aid going to the typhoon victims. It was so gracious. It felt like a moment of grace.”

According to Chambers, the PWRDF would typically contribute about $40,000 a year to ongoing partnerships in the Philippines, more in times of disaster. “We raised $800,000 for typhoon relief and also sent more than usual to the Bohol earthquake response.”

His journey took him to several different islands (the Philippines has 7,100 islands and 100 indigenous languages). “Often I’d get passed off to a new translator since the one I was working with didn’t know an island’s local dialect,” says Chambers, who admits his knowledge of Tagalog, the national language, is pretty much limited to “thank you.”

Visiting Jinamoc Island, in Samar, he saw first-hand the effectiveness of a holistic model, in which different partners of the ACT Alliance (a global coalition of 140 churches and NGOs) agree to take on different projects, thereby avoiding wasteful duplication. The NCCP, for instance, is building safer houses for fisher families on a hillside about 200 metres inland and is putting up fisherman’s barracks for storage and accommodation near the shore.

Finn Church Aid is rebuilding typhoon-damaged classrooms, while Norwegian Church Aid is tackling water and sanitation. “All kinds of ACT members are coming together to provide the necessities of life in terms of water, hygiene, schooling and employment. They’re even looking at providing fishing boats,” he says. “The partners borrow supplies from each other. The generosity and teamwork are really great to see.”

Did he ever feel an impetus to pick up a hammer or hoe and pitch in? No, he says. “I don’t see the point of spending thousands of dollars to travel thousands of miles to take paying work away from a local person.”

Most impressive of all, Chambers says, are the strength and good humour of the people who saw at least 90 per cent of their homes devastated and 80 per cent of their coconut palms toppled but nevertheless started right away on the long process of reconstruction.

And a very long process it is. “It’s not over in the three months it’s in the papers,” says Chambers. “It takes multiple years to rebuild homes and schools and give psychosocial support and a sense of normalcy to people who are still scared every time it rains.”

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Anglican Journal News, October 23, 2014