Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

U.S. priests fall in love with Iqaluit

Posted on: February 25th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Tali Folkins on February, 22 2017

The Rev. Rebecca Osborn rides in a quamutiik, or sled, with her daughter outside Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: Bishop Darren McCartney

Two and a half years ago, the Rev. Rebecca Osborn had never heard of the diocese of the Arctic. This winter, now an assistant priest at St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut, she delivered her first sermon in Inuktitut—and hopes she will be there long enough to give many more.“We certainly want to stay in the North, want to stay in the diocese,” says Osborn, who moved to Iqaluit from Pittsburgh with her husband, Jared, also a priest, and their two young children in August 2015. The city of some 7,000 people now feels like home to them, she says.

It all began, as she told the CBC in January, with pizza. She happened to have a craving for pizza on the same evening an information session on the North—with pizza on the menu—was being held at her seminary.

She and Jared had been considering going overseas for many years, she says, but had never considered the North. But the information session changed that.

“It just sort of stuck in our minds,” she says.

The Osborns got in touch with the diocese, and had online video chats with diocesan bishop David Parsons and suffragan bishop Darren McCartney. The bishops challenged them to visit Iqaluit to check it out, and they did.

“We just kind of fell in love with it, and we felt a lot of affinity with the people and the culture,” she says. “And they liked us, so they invited us to stay.”

They returned to pack up their things, and in a matter of months, they had moved.

“It did happen kind of quickly—it was about 10 months in between hearing that the diocese existed and moving up here,” she says. She and Jared share the assistant priest position at the cathedral.

Osborn says they have found the people very welcoming, and they enjoy the closely-knit community. They also like what they find to be a slower pace of life, and the opportunity to discover the Inuit language and culture.

Part of the North’s appeal to them, however, Osborn says she finds hard to explain. It reminds her, she says, of someone who’s spent his or her whole life dreaming up the perfect spouse based on set criteria—only to end up making a choice based on a flash of insight instead.

“You think you know what you want, but then when you actually meet the person, sometimes it just happens really fast—like, ‘Of course, they’re right’ —even though you never knew that person,” she says. “It felt like that—it felt like we wanted this kind of experience our whole lives, but we didn’t know the specifics.”

Osborn got a basis in Inuktitut by taking courses at a local language school, and still works on it every day. She now answers her office phone in Inuktitut, and is able to have basic conversations in the language—to talk about the weather or to ask people she’s visiting in the hospital how they’re feeling, and to offer up prayers. She gave her first Inuktitut sermon this January, relying only on St. Jude’s Dean Jonas Allooloo, a Native speaker, to look it over beforehand for anything that didn’t make sense.

Jared is also learning the language, Osborn says, but was not able to take the courses. He is not yet able to preach sermons, but he is able to celebrate Inuktitut Eucharists and do readings.

Osborn says she’s enjoyed the challenge of learning Inuktitut, which is very different from English, not only in vocabulary but in structure also.

“It’s not just a matter of learning new words. You kind of have to reorganize your thoughts, and that’s a really long process!” she says.

Osborn says she believes all languages, including Inuktitut, will be spoken in heaven. Her education in the language, she says, has shed some light for her on why Inuit people tend to interrupt less than southerners. Sometimes, Osborn says, what English expresses in a whole sentence, Inuktitut will say in a single word, with many prefixes and suffixes attached. The indication of who is doing the action doesn’t come until the end of the word—so anyone who interrupts will miss something essential.

In the South, she says, “We’re kind of trying to rush people along, so we cut people off, but the Inuit way of doing it is, you wait until someone’s done speaking and you pause to make sure they’re done. And now I understand why—it’s because you have to make sure that you got the whole word, or else you won’t understand what they’re saying!”


About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

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


Anglican Journal News, February 23, 2017

The Book of Common Prayer in worship today

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

The Book of Common Prayer in worship today

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Despite being supplanted in many churches by the Book of Alternative Services, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) remains the definitive prayer book for a great number of Canadian Anglicans.

Far from being a mere textual reference for prayer and liturgy, the BCP, according to Trinity College assistant divinity professor Dr. Jesse Billett, represents a “total system of Christian life”.

“If you treat it as a resource book for worship, you’ll find it very dissatisfying,” Billett said. “It requires you to go all-in.”

The scholar described the BCP as assuming a discipline of private prayer and meditation as well as participation in the daily office, Holy Communion on Sundays, major feast days, and life milestones such as baptism and marriage.

While language in the prayer book can be difficult for some 21st century readers, Billet believed that parishes that use the BCP as the basis for their community life provide compelling counter-examples.

“Just by using the prayer book as it’s meant to be used, you can enter right into it, and it ceases to be anything foreign,” Billett said.

“If you’re in a parish that uses the prayer book very naturally—where people know what page you’re on, or rather, don’t need to look at the page anymore—you can experience it as a natural, flowing, perfectly harmonious way of worshipping.”

A timeless work

The Rev. Jonathan Turtle, assistant curate at the Church of St. Mary and St. Martha in Toronto, concurred on the benefits of increasing familiarity with the BCP.

“The BCP is a bit like a pair of good leather boots,” Turtle said. “At first it can be uncomfortable and even cause you a measure of pain. But once broken in it becomes like a second skin and gives voice to prayers and petitions that one didn’t even know they had.”

He sees the BCP as being “more relevant than ever” in part due to its timeless, unchanging nature.

“Consider the prayer that comes at the end of Compline that asks for God’s presence and protection through the night, ‘so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness.’

“The world is changing and fleeting. The BCP isn’t, and is thus uniquely situated to address our weariness.”

For the Rev. Daniel Bowyer, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Stratford, Ont. in the Diocese of Huron, liturgies from the prayer book constitute his earliest memories of worship, connecting him with God at an early age and continuing to shape his Christian life and ministry today.

“The liturgies within the Book of Common Prayer,” Bowyer said, “have a timelessness in connecting Christians to the living God, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, deepening their faith and sending them into the world to carry out ministry in Christ’s name.”

Mother Melissa Frankland, an Anglican priest serving as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Steinbach, Man., described the BCP as an important part of Anglican identity, noting that it contains the XXXIX Articles defining Anglican doctrine and practices, as well as the Catechism.

“The poetic prose, biblical content, and its monastic rhythm of daily prayer, I believe, contain the tools necessary to help us live as disciples of our Lord,” Frankland said. “It is very convenient that it is all in this one spot.”

She contends that the continuing importance of the BCP in daily worship flows from its “biblically solid” nature—the majority of the prayer book draws directly from Scripture—and the ageless qualities of the text itself.

“Unlike the more modern liturgies and Eucharistic prayers which, I believe for the most part, are created to satisfy a ‘trend,’ the language and poetic prose of the BCP, combined with a theology which is deeply rooted in Christian tradition, make it a worship tool that helps to draw us outside of ourselves, and points us to our Heavenly Father, the very one in whom we are created to worship and glorify.”

Indigenous perspectives

The prayer book retains a special appeal for many Indigenous Anglicans.

“The BCP has much relevance in First Nation communities,” Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor said.

One of the churches in her own community of Six Nations, Ont. uses the BCP for Sunday worship, while the current Indigenous Catechist Training Manual contains the 1962 Catechist found in the BCP. Translations of the BCP exist in Mohawk and Oji-Cree—though each was translated prior to the 1962 edition authorized by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, Doctor used the 1928 version of the prayer book published by the church in the United States.

“I have good memories of that time and that BCP, which is similar to the 1962 BCP,” Doctor said. “I love the language, although that may seem strange since it is ‘old English’ and I am a Mohawk woman!”

“It’s the memories that make it meaningful to me,” she added, recalling one time when she was asked to provide overnight hospice care to an elder while working as a missionary in Alaska.

“He asked me if I would do morning prayer with him,” Doctor remembered. “The next night I went with my 1979 BCP in hand. When I started, he said, ‘No, not that one, the old one.’”

“I immediately knew what he meant and told him if he would be okay, I’d go and get the old one. I did and as I began reading, he began reciting with a big smile on his face.

“When we were done, he said, ‘I saw so many memories.’ And so did I.”

Using the prayer book

Today, Doctor uses both the 1928 and 1962 editions of the BCP in her morning devotions, carrying each version of the prayer book on her Kindle.

Dr. Paul Dyck, English professor at Canadian Mennonite University and a lay reader and preacher at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, begins each day with an abbreviated BCP morning prayer.

“These words of encounter set the conditions for the rest of the day,” said Dyck, who also finds himself drawn to the Coverdale psalter with its “strikingly tangible character” and “strangely concrete and dramatic” words.

Having become an Anglican through the Church of England, Billett uses the 1662 prayer book for his daily office. Like the BCP itself, the daily office was historically one of the unique hallmarks of Anglican identity.

“I would love to see more places use [the BCP] and rediscover it with its own integrity,” Billett said. “If a parish is interested in restoring the daily office, I hope they’d have a look at the prayer book and at least learn how to use that before deciding whether or not to use it moving further.”

“I think that seminaries like here at Trinity College are going to have a lot to do with that,” he added, noting that students at the college alternate every six weeks between the BCP and the Book of Alternative Services.

For his part, Turtle exclusively uses the BCP in his own devotional life, drawing strength from the daily office and psalter and praying variations of Compline with his two young daughters each night before bedtime.

Referring to the preface in the Canadian prayer book—which reads in part, “The Book of Common Prayer is a priceless possession of our church”—he noted, “We would do well to recover the sense of its pricelessness, that we may become more truly that which we already are, the People of God.”

Learn more about the historical roots of the Book of Common Prayer.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 21, 2017

Mental health care a challenge for Quebec’s Anglos

Posted on: February 19th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By André Forget on February, 16 2017

Judy Ross, founder of Mental Health Estrie, says the church is “in a good position to combat stigma [against mental health].”  Photo: Lynn Ross

An Anglican in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is standing up for mental health services for Anglophones, and calling on the church to play a greater role in supporting this work.

English-speakers in rural Quebec face major obstacles in receiving mental health care, according to Judy Ross, founder and executive director of anglophone mental health support and education group Mental Health Estrie (MHE),

In fact, treatment can be so hard to receive that many anglophones “go without,” Ross said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.  

This is because most of the improvements made to mental health care in the townships are available exclusively in French, said Ross.

“The English sector of [mental health care] has been left behind,” she said. “Until we started MHE [in 2005], there was no support of any kind for a family needing assistance with a mental health issue.”

While many anglophones in the townships are functionally or fully bilingual, in order for mental health care to really be effective, it should be offered in the patient’s native language, said Ross.

“Dealing with mental illness is a difficult thing to do [even] in your own language,” she said, noting that fully bilingual people may also not be able function in their second language when a mental health crisis hits.

The issue gained national attention in January, when Ross asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to comment on the “lack of mental health services to the minority [English-speaking] population” in rural Quebec during a January 17 town hall in Sherbrooke, Que.

According to Ross, Trudeau raised the ire of many anglophones at the event by responding in French, explaining that he was doing so because Quebec is a French province.

Ross said she left feeling “really disappointed…disrespected and insulted” by Trudeau’s response.

“I thought that if I could word a question about English services, he could hopefully say something thoughtful and meaningful concerning mental health care,” she said, noting that Trudeau has been a vocal supporter of mental health initiatives.

Since then, Ross has received an apology from Trudeau, which, she said, she was “happy to accept.” She was also pleased to hear that the federal government has earmarked $5 billion to be spent on mental health care across the country over the next 10 years.

But she said the struggle to provide adequate care to the anglophone community continues.

Ross said the MHE, which she co-founded with her husband, Archdeacon Lynn Ross, is the only one providing “comprehensive” services in English, including support groups both for individuals living with mental illness and for their friends and family. (Some French-language mental health organizations in the Sherbrooke area do provide service in English, but only on an individual basis.)

However, as a small organization with very limited funds (MHE receives $27,000 a year from the provincial government), Ross says the MHE is limited in what it can do. This is where she believes her fellow Anglicans have a role to play.

“The church is in a good position to combat stigma [against mental health],” she said.

Because of its presence in anglophone communities across the townships, Ross said the church can encourage those working at the local level to be more open about issues around mental health that exist in the congregations themselves.

“With proper training, the clergy could be more sensitive to the fact that mental health problems are prevalent in our society, and the church needs to be welcoming,” she said in an email following her initial interview with the Anglican Journal.

Vicar General and Archdeacon of Quebec Edward Simonton, who is based in the Eastern Townships, said the diocese has already been active in promoting workshops on mental health for clergy, and in providing resources to help them deal with parishioners suffering from mental illnesses.

According to Simonton, the church plays an important role as a “distributor of information” about services, programs and rights available to the anglophone population, and that the church has worked to advertise consultations on health-care issues facing the anglophone community.

However, while the church can raise awareness about the work others are doing on mental health issues in Quebec, he does not believe the church has the personnel to take a leadership role.

“We can co-operate, but we do not have the resources to be the old social service system that we used to be,” he said. “We’ll do whatever we can, but to be the active catalyst for that? I don’t think we’re there.”

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

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


Anglican Journal News, February 17, 2017

The historic heritage of the Book of Common Prayer

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

A 1760 printing of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The historic heritage of the Book of Common Prayer

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To fully appreciate the impact of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) on Anglican thought and worship, one must first understand the sixteenth century world from which it emerged.

For Anglican scholars and academics, careful study of the origins and evolution of the BCP reveal a text that evoked early Christian worship and drew upon medieval Catholic doctrine, while embracing aspects of doctrinal change that characterized the Protestant Reformation and paved the way for modern evangelical approaches.

Dr. Jesse Billett, assistant professor in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, teaches a course on the BCP that highlights the many ways in which the prayer book straddled divisions not only between Catholicism and Protestantism, but also within the Anglican tradition itself.

“The old joke is that Anglicanism is evangelical software trying to run on Catholic hardware, which is why we get so many system crashes,” Billett said. “You can see that operating in the prayer book itself, because the prayer book retains a lot of the medieval Catholic hardware.”

First published in 1549, with subsequent revisions leading up to the 1662 edition, (that today remains the official prayer book of the Church of England), the BCP retained structures of Catholicism, including the ancient orders of bishop, priest, and deacon—to the dismay of groups such as the Puritans, who desired a more “thoroughgoing” Reformation more reflective of the ideas of John Calvin, with an undifferentiated order of pastors.

Though it recognizes two sacraments of the gospel, baptism and Holy Communion, the BCP also preserved rites equivalent to the medieval seven sacraments. The other five are: confirmation, marriage, visitation of the sick, the sacrament of order, and provision for private confession to a priest with absolution.

The retention practices from the medieval age, albeit with less specific language, embodies what Billett considers “the key to understanding the BCP.”

“It retains as much of the tradition as possible that is agreeable to Scripture,” Billett said. “But it will only say about those rites what Scripture actually says, and this can lead to a certain amount of ambiguity [for some]. It can also lead to a lot of misunderstanding of the book today, because people are not nearly as scripturally literate as they were in former generations.”

Language of the prayer book

If the language of the BCP can sometimes appear perplexing to modern readers, for early English-speaking audiences it represented a marvel of clarity—the first time in which the entire liturgy of the church had been written in the English language.

“It is the moment when the English language acquires a liturgy,” Billett said. “I like to think of it almost as a missionary moment, because we see the same thing happening much earlier, for instance, with Saints Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized the Slavic peoples.”

Equally crucial to the prayer book’s success was the quality of its language.

“I think that the beauty of its language and the seriousness of its theology is in part what can account for its longevity and influence,” the Rev. Jonathan Turtle, assistant curate at the Church of St. Mary and St. Martha in the Diocese of Toronto, said of the BCP.

“The language is clearly English, but it is an unfamiliar English. You wouldn’t speak this way with your friends down at the pub, and that’s precisely the beauty of it. What we have here is a prayer language, holy language reserved for the worship of a holy God. Moreover, it is theologically serious and deep.

“It is thoroughly steeped in Scripture and it takes seriously things like the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our salvation. In its lectionary, it challenges us to take in more Scripture than we thought we could manage. In these ways and more, it honours the ‘Reformed Catholic’ identity at the core of Anglicanism.”

Dr. Paul Dyck, professor of English at Canadian Mennonite University and a lay reader and preacher at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Edmonton, noted that the language of the BCP is almost never simply metaphorical or symbolic, but rather grounded in the real conditions of bodily existence.

He characterized the sixteenth century as attuned to verbal and rhetorical effects in the same way that we are attuned to visual effects today.

“The gripping strangeness and beauty of the language is not simply because it is old and that we are not used to it, but because it is a product of a very highly accomplished verbal artfulness,” Dyck said. “People went to Shakespeare to be dazzled by speech, not spectacle, and they would stand for an hour outside at Paul’s Cross to listen to a sermon.

“When we read the BCP now, with some sympathy for what it is doing, allowing it to work upon us, we enter into the art of worship in a unique way. It does not seek to settle us, but to unsettle us and move us toward God. It doesn’t begin from a place of righteous consensus, the way some modern liturgy does, but from a place of encounter, in which the very act of worship, the very possibility of holy language, is entirely conditional upon the present gift of God.”

Canadian editions

The 1662 version of the prayer book, which altered its biblical quotations to reflect the King James Bible, served as the standard edition for Canadian Anglicans until 1922, when the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada authorized a new version with minor clarifications and corrections.

A more substantial revision emerged in 1959 that significantly modernized the language of the BCP. Reflecting the diversity of opinion among Anglicans in Canada, the revision committee included two key figures—Ramsay Armitage, principal of Wycliffe College, and Father Roland Palmer, superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist—respectively representing the Anglo-Catholic “high church” and evangelical “low church” traditions.

“They wanted a really strong evangelical and a strong Anglo-Catholic, because at the time, those were the polarizations in the church, whereas now it would be more liberal versus conservative, I think,” Billett said.

While representing a particular historical moment in scholarship and attitudes to worship, the 1959 revision of the BCP—which received final authorization from General Synod in 1962—managed to balance different perspectives in the Anglican spiritual tradition. Armitage and Palmer exemplified the spirit of dialogue that prevailed, consulting with each other before meetings to iron out points of discussion and sitting together throughout the revision process.

“The book as it was revised was really acceptable to people across the whole spectrum of churchmanship in Canada, which was quite a remarkable thing,” Billett said.

“Things have become much more adversarial in how change proceeds, and I think we can really look to the example of that time as fairly encouraging.”


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 14, 2017

Joy Skjegstad: Developing lay leaders for community ministry

Posted on: February 9th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Connecting with people and institutions outside the walls of the church isn’t a job for professional staff alone, says the author of “7 Creative Models for Community Ministry.”

Congregations do amazing things in their communities. From tutoring programs and legal clinics to health care and food drives, I’ve seen the way churches can help meet community needs.

The stakes are high. Our communities — urban, rural and suburban — are facing tough issues. Churches can help. But they have to do it in ways that are careful, effective and sustainable.

Strong lay leadership is critical for those ministries. Rather than launching and running them with paid staff alone, churches can empower lay leaders to add the gifts, perspectives and hours of labor that are needed to truly serve the community well. Strong lay leadership can also keep ministry sustainable and growing even when the professional staff changes.

I’ve spent many years helping churches develop and launch new ministries, and I can attest to the importance of strong lay leaders. One church I served was located a few blocks from an elementary school that was the lowest-performing school in the state. Out of conversations within the church and with people at the school, a reading skills tutoring program was born.

Volunteers from our church went into the school each week to work one-on-one with students. The result was that, on average, students were improving their reading scores by two grade levels each year they were in the program.

Lay leaders played critical roles in designing the program, recruiting and training the volunteers, working with the school to set it up, promoting the program in the church and the community, and evaluating progress. When I left my job at the church several years later, the program continued without a hitch, largely because of the passion, skills and investment of lay leaders.

What could your congregation do to develop lay leaders in community ministry? Here are a few thoughts.

Create a culture of service. In my experience, the churches that are most effective at community ministry have made service a way of life. Great ideas often spring up in a climate where generosity is emphasized and there is regular teaching on our call to service as Christians.

In addition to preaching and teaching, many ministries of your church can incorporate the call to serve — youth service projects, small-group studies, an advocacy focus for women’s ministry, to name just a few. Make service a theme you always come back to.

Engage leaders in the community. Community ministry leaders are most effective when they understand the issues, assets and struggles of the people who live in the neighborhood. By going out into the community to listen, your leaders will be more informed and possibly more motivated to respond to the needs and opportunities that they see.

Form a small group to start a “listening process” in your community. Group members can conduct short interviews with institutional representatives such as school personnel, law enforcement officials, and business and nonprofit leaders, as well as informal leaders who may not have titles but who know a great deal.

Interviews should focus on three short questions: What are the top concerns in this community? Who is addressing them? How can our church help?

Invite leaders to develop ideas. This can be difficult for staff-driven organizations, but it’s important to invite laypeople to come up with new ministry ideas to respond to the needs and opportunities in the community. Staff may be used to asking for input late in the process, but they should understand that lay leaders are often much more engaged when brought to the table early on and, as a result, are more willing to put in the hard work to launch a ministry. They are also much more likely to be “evangelists” for the ministry in the congregation, drawing in other laypeople as volunteers.

The role of staff in this situation is to help lay leaders shape their ideas to fit the church’s mission, vision and values and then to develop a plan for moving forward.

Create opportunities. If you really want to develop leaders, give them something to lead! Lay leader involvement ought to be much more than rubber-stamping staff efforts. Empowered lay leaders strengthen ministry by bringing their many gifts and perspectives to it.

Laypeople can serve in many roles, including leading planning processes; serving as liaisons to community organizations; planning events; speaking; writing; posting on social media; working on a website; recruiting and leading teams of volunteers; handling logistics like setup, tear-down and transportation; leading a prayer effort; and raising money.

Set clear roles and goals. Choose a few straightforward goals to pursue each year. Be focused and be strategic; a goal like “Involve 50 percent of all church members in volunteering” might not be realistic, but “Recruit 50 volunteers for three pilot projects” or “Teach about service and justice through small-groups ministry” might be both motivating and attainable.

Developing job descriptions for lay leaders is another essential step. These descriptions should specify the leaders’ volunteer duties, when they are expected to serve, where, and how often. Volunteers are more likely to come through for you when they know what’s expected.


Alban Weekly, Faith & Leadership, January 17, 2017

Church appoints new social, ecological justice staffer

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Tali Folkins on February 07, 2017

Ryan Weston will begin his role as lead animator of public witness for soci
al and ecological justice at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office March 1.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s newly named lead animator of public witness for social and ecological justice says he’s looking forward to supporting the church’s social and environmental work on a local level.

“There’s appeal in…getting an opportunity to see the church in other parts of the country, and see what the culture is, and to be a part of supporting local efforts around the country—particularly dioceses that don’t have the kind of resources that somewhere like Toronto has,” says Ryan Weston, who who has served in a similar capacity—social justice and advocacy consultant—at the diocese of Toronto since mid-2014.

Weston will begin his new job March 1. He will be succeeding Henriette Thompson, who stepped down March 31, 2016.

Thompson’s actual title was “director of public witness for social and ecological justice.” Archdeacon Michael Thompson, the national church’s general secretary, says the title was changed to emphasize that the position is not chiefly about coming up with church policies or statements on issues, but rather “encouraging, supporting and resourcing local attention to the church’s public witness.”

Weston says he sees a big part of his job as bringing the voice of the primate on social justice issues “into other pockets of the church, and creat[ing] opportunities for that voice to speak.”

The position has traditionally included work in a range of areas, including the environment, homelessness, peace and Indigenous-non Indigenous reconciliation. Last November, however, the church announced plans to hire a “reconciliation animator,” and Weston will not be directly responsible for reconciliation work, Thompson says.

Weston says his commitment to hear what people have to say will be a key strength he brings to the role.

“One of the things that I hope will be valuable is that I am committed to listening—to getting the lay of the land,” he says. “I think a new person coming in creates opportunity for evaluating what’s working and what’s not…Part of doing that is to be listening, asking the right questions and hearing what the successes and concerns are.”

Weston’s previous jobs included animator for Central Ontario of Développement et Paix, an international development agency; and recruitment co-ordinator for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a Roman Catholic charity. He has also served as an instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University and Sheridan College. He completed a PhD at Wilfrid Laurier University, with a thesis on Canadian gospel music.

Both his studies and work, Weston says, have been shaped by his interest in “sacred-secular crossover points”—in answering the question, “how does religion still inform a wider culture even in this sort of secular society, or post-Christian society?”


About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

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


Anglican Journal News, February 08, 2017

Lorne Calvert: The point is to serve the community as best we can

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Photo courtesy of St. Andrew’s College

The Canadian politician and seminary president talks about how the gospel shaped his political leadership and how time in public life helps him run a seminary.

Lorne Calvert has followed two paths in his professional life: religion and politics. He has moved from one field to the other over the past 40 years, as a United Church of Canada minister, a Canadian political leader and now the leader of a theological seminary.

His faith and his training as a minister has influenced his politics — indeed, Calvert got into politics in 1986 running on a platform of opposition to a proposed local casino.

But he says his return to the institutional church has been a fulfilling one.

“In elected office, you can have a profound impact on individuals and communities, but not in the deeper meanings in life,” he said. “We need people from our theological schools who will walk across that cold cemetery with you.”

A former premier — or head of government — of Saskatchewan, Calvert is currently the principal of St. Andrew’s College (link is external), the United Church of Canada seminary on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and the site of Calvert’s own theological education.

Prior to his time in public office, Calvert served as minister in several small rural congregations throughout the province of Saskatchewan.

Jason Byassee, the Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at Vancouver School of Theology, spoke with Calvert about the differences between leadership in public office and in small church ministry, and about the executive’s role in a small theological college.

Q: How does your theology matter for how you lead?

I share this notion, widely written on, of “servant leadership.” If it’s good enough for the pope to be servant of the servants of Christ, then it is for us.

I’d remind myself all the time in public office that the whole point here is to serve the neighbor, the community, as best we can. If a moment comes, when running for office or occupying a pulpit, where it’s supposed to serve me, then you better look for something else.

I love the scene at the Last Supper where they argue who’s the greatest, and the answer is, “It must be the servant of all.” To carve that into the desks of legislatures would be a good idea.

Q: Why did you return to church work rather than something more remunerative or leisurely after your political career ended?

When I was first encouraged to seek public office, it was by some of the exact same people who’d encouraged me into the ministry. When I entered, I was of the view that if elected, I would serve four or eight years maximum — two terms — and I presumed I’d come back to some form of congregational ministry. Well, I ended up there for 22 years, but I never lost a notion that I’d at some point re-engage with the church.

I realized at the conclusion that to enter congregational ministry directly from the premier’s office would be a challenge, because no matter what, you’re labeled partisan. There’d always be the question, “Is this gospel or is this partisan?” “Do I want that fellow whom I detested in public office officiating at my grandmother’s funeral?”

When you’re premier, thousands of people love you who don’t know you from Adam. Thousands of people absolutely hate you and don’t know you either. If both got to know you, they’d probably both change their minds.

The woman serving at St. Andrew’s before me was in her third year as an interim after agreeing to take it on for six months. She invited me to come talk to her, and I assumed she wanted others’ names to recommend.

[But accepting the post] just felt right. I had offers to work for oil companies, but that didn’t feel right.

The time here has a horizon, too. The Spirit works. And I’ve enjoyed it.

Q: Tell me about the differences between working in government and the work you do now as head of a small institution.

I’ve facetiously said that the difference is the number of zeroes in the budget. Both are very human institutions. They both rely on a team of people working together. In the role of a premier, one chairs a cabinet and a caucus. The parallels at a seminary are the faculty and staff. In government, time is spent ensuring we have the right people doing the right work. The same is true in a small theological school.

There are also some significant differences. I now have no power to tax! Persuasion is the only fundraiser. On most days, we’re not subject to the media scrutiny of public life.

In government, you know a lot of people on the surface, whereas in the church, you know a lot smaller group much more intimately. In elected office, you can have a profound impact on individuals and communities, but not in the deeper meanings in life.

We need people from our theological schools who will walk across that cold cemetery with you.

Q: Did you campaign and govern differently for having pastored small churches?

Those of us who serve in pastoral ministry learn to work with a variety of people; we don’t choose with whom we work.

A premier does not choose who is elected, and just because we share political persuasion doesn’t mean that we’re easy matches personalitywise.

In the church, we know we’re here, not with people we choose, but with people who have chosen to share their journey with us.

Q: I’ve heard it proposed that the decline of mainline churches has something to do with the rise of angrier politics.

It may not simply be our churches. Many of us used to be involved in service clubs, which we also see diminishing. Such communities demand that we learn civility.

But now we parse ourselves into small communities where I can have friends who think precisely as I do. I can control my Facebook feed and not ever listen to someone from another point of view. I can say anything about that other without any challenge.

Q: What hope do you see for rural churches and small theological institutions?

On the Prairies, most things happen out of necessity and pragmatism. Communities were formed here within a day’s horse-and-wagon ride from a [grain] elevator collection point. We built a school and church around that collection point. Those days are long gone in the age of large corporate farms.

There are some marvelous things happening. Across the Prairies, congregations are coming together: Anglican-Lutheran, United-Lutheran, and in many other combinations, sharing buildings.

The congregation not far from here is where Jordan Cantwell (link is external) (the moderator of the United Church of Canada) ministers and shares a building with Catholics.

We’re going to have to discover new models of ministry and how we serve. It’s like Yogi Berra’s “It’s déjà vu all over again.” We have itinerant, “saddlebag” types of ministry, which is where we started 120 years ago.

Q: Where do you still see traces of the social gospel?

I see it all over. I see it in many community-based organizations apart from the church. Many people who give these movements life have come from the church.

In the city of Saskatoon, for instance, many agencies engaged in hunger issues may no longer be housed in church basements, but the people who started them in church basements are now working in public venues. Some of the work done in AIDS, I’ve seen, comes directly from people engaged in church who now have a broader base in the community. That’s exciting — that’s salt and light.

One challenge for the social gospel in our province is we grew a political movement out of a social gospel. But as soon as your political movement becomes the status quo, there needs to be salt and light from somewhere else.

The almost inevitable disease of government is to become management. Maybe this explains Donald Trump: our political parties have become management, and working people don’t like management all that much. It’s hard to generate prophetic passion when you’re in management.

Q: Is it possible still to move back and forth from church to politics, as you’ve done?

“The separation of church and state” may be American language, but the realities are more distinct in practice in Canada. You nearly have to declare some allegiance to Christianity to get elected in the U.S.; Canadians are more nervous when folks declare religious motivation.

I still believe that someone who is engaged in ministry can and should stand for public office. I’ve never argued that clerics should be a majority of a legislature, any more than farmers or lawyers or teachers. A healthy society needs a legislature that reflects your community.

There are challenges I lived with every day in elected office. I had political or ethical positions as a result of my faith, and had to ensure that I not impose them on my neighbor by virtue of power invested in the office. I was frank with voters that those positions informed my thinking – I didn’t hide from that — but I should not and would not take any of my ethical or moral or religious positions and impose them as legislated law or policy.

For example, this province is quite accepting of casinos. My church takes quite a different point of view, and my own view is not supportive. But I cut the ribbon on more casinos than any premier going! That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’d say publicly that was a challenge for me.

Q: How do you think about fundraising?

This is a skill I learned in church first, and not in public life.

In public life, I got to meet a lot of people. It gives you a certain confidence to ask. If you come from public life, you can assume someone will take your phone call. You may still not get anything, but at least you get a conversation.

If we have a passion for the gospel, and for the body of Christ, and for ministry, we should not apologize for seeking support for that passion. No one is insulted by being asked.

One other skill from public life: you have to learn to take a no. “No, I’m not voting for you; I don’t like you or your policy.” On a good day, 50 percent of the people didn’t want me to have the job! We’re not comfortable with that in the church, but rejection in public life is just part of it.

I always hated to think that your skin gets thick. But the work demands that you live with it. If our gospel pleases all, it surely is not the gospel. If our policies in public life please all, they’ve become so innocuous that they are not going to reap change.

Our public, by definition, was a government that proposes and an opposition that opposes. In that crucible, one hopes the best emerges.

I’m not recommending we set up an opposition in the church. But there is one; we just don’t name it! When it’s there, I don’t rue it. I don’t see it as wrong.

Read the gospels — there’s debate and controversy. If everyone agrees every Sunday, then I’d better check what I’ve been saying. In academia, too, we have difficulty disagreeing, so disagreements get pushed beneath the surface, where I don’t think it’s healthy. A good, healthy legislature will debate fiercely on the floor — and even say things they shouldn’t — but later that day attend a function together and be quite collegial.

I remember once saying, “You’re wrong!” in a faculty meeting and realizing, “I guess I wasn’t supposed to say that!” In public life, you learn to say that and hear it.

Maybe this is more possible in a smaller, British-style parliamentary system, where decisions are made by a government or a caucus rather than by individuals.

Q: How do we inculcate in seminaries the virtues you learned pastoring small churches?

We try to do it very intentionally at St. Andrew’s. We have an integrative program, with two years of academic study, two years of pastoral work in a ministry site, and then we return for learning circles, where we have real conversations about how it’s working.

We bring in folks with very specific expertise — say, in volunteer recruitment. That’s a key role, to get the right people in the right work, and there isn’t a textbook for it! We always have uncongenial saints out there. My own view is you just have to love them into submission. Just love the people, and they’ll come along.


Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership, January 24, 2017

Volunteers and the future of prison ministry

Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Chairs laid out for Bible study group. Photo by Monkey Business Images, via Shutterstock

Volunteers and the future of prison ministry

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The following is the fifth and final instalment of a multi-part series detailing the work of Anglicans involved in prison ministry. Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

In the face of budget cuts to the federal correctional system, many chaplains increasingly work on a volunteer basis. The Rev. Tim Smart, for instance, a prison chaplain at Cowansville Institution in Quebec, is paid for four hours per week, and volunteers equal unpaid time.

The Rev. Peter Huish (deacon) did not renew his contract this past April after 18 years of chaplaincy, but received permission from Correctional Services Canada to continue his work with federal inmates on a voluntary basis. Twice a month, Huish visits correctional institutions “with a band of volunteers, the way I always have, simply because the willingness is there to do it, as part of my life and the life of the volunteers that go with me.

“It’s also something that the guys who we go [visit] at that particular institution are keen to have continue,” he added.

Volunteer help is a major asset to all prison chaplains. On Monday chapel evenings at Cowansville, Smart brings in volunteers from various churches and denominations to meet with prison inmates, sing and pray together, socialize, and engage in Bible study and discussion.

On Friday mornings, volunteers help him with English and French literacy programs for inmates.

“The guys are so appreciative of the volunteers who come in,” Smart said. “They kind of expect paid chaplains to be there, but when somebody comes of their…own volition to spend their Thanksgiving Monday at chapel to talk to [them], to pray with them, to sing with them—this really means a lot.

“Especially for many of the men who no longer have family visiting them because they’ve been cut off…or who have few visits…it means a lot…that they’re not forgotten and…can be treated with some kind of care and interest. That’s all part of the rehabilitative process.”

With the institutional relationship of the church to prison chaplaincy now less direct—a private contractor, Bridges of Canada, currently oversees the hiring and pay of chaplains, while in the past, Anglican dioceses held direct contracts with Correctional Services Canada—volunteers serve as a vital pillar enabling the work of chaplains to continue.

Even so, Huish said that Anglicans tend to be underrepresented among volunteers he works with. As founder of the restorative justice group Communitas, Huish reports every month on activities involving 50 to 60 volunteers working with past and present inmates in the greater Montreal area. Of these volunteers, about six or seven are Anglican.

“It’s not an easy or particularly attractive pursuit for your average pew-sitting Anglican, I think,” Huish said.

Ongoing service and budget cuts, however, mean that the need for volunteers in prison ministry will continue to grow.

Smart encouraged Anglicans to support prison ministry by supporting Anglican chaplains who are part of the national chaplaincy network, and by encouraging volunteers to become involved in the prison system.

“We’ve got prisons in every large and medium-sized town across the country,” Smart said. “Find out who those chaplains are. See if you feel called to be a part of their activities.”

Huish highlighted the need for church members at all levels—up to and including councils and bishops—to learn more about prison ministry to gain a greater appreciation of the work of chaplains. He praised Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz as “a very great example of someone who has a heart for that kind of ministry.”

“When we choose our ministers and our leaders,” he added, “I think we need to discern the people who have the right kind of heart, to ensure that the [forms of] ministry that are less popular and less attractive do not get neglected.”

Learn more about how to volunteer in support of prison chaplains.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 01, 2017

Quebec diocese to explore new approaches to Indigenous ministry

Posted on: February 6th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By André Forget on February, 02 2017

St. John’s Anglican Church in Kawawachikamach is home to one of largest parishes in the diocese of Quebec. Photo: Bruce Myers

When outsiders think of Quebec, they often fall back on the old stereotype of a province divided between the “two solitudes” of the English and the French.

But this formulation ignores the degree to which the province’s oldest European populations have become much more intertwined in recent decades. It also erases the reality that in geographically large parts of the province, First Nations make up the majority of the population.

This is true for the Anglican diocese of Quebec as well: hundreds of kilometres north of Quebec City lies the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, on the Quebec-Labrador border. It is one of the diocese’s largest parishes, with a membership of over 100.

Due to its remoteness from the centre of gravity in the south, Kawawachikamach is a marginalized parish in what is, in some ways, already a marginalized diocese. For this very reason, it may also be a place where new approaches to Indigenous Anglican ministry can be tested and forged, say church leaders.

When the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and the national church’s Indigenous ministries laid out plans for self-determination at the November 2016 meeting of Council of General Synod (CoGS), they emphasized the need to come up with new models for training Indigenous leaders. They said they were considering testing new models in a handful of Indigenous communities across the country before attempting more widespread changes.
Then-Archdeacon Bruce Myers poses with parishioners at St. John’s Anglican Church during a visit in 2009, seven years before he was consecrated coadjutor bishop of Quebec. Photo: Contributed

Coadjutor bishop of Quebec Bruce Myers asked at that time if Kawawachikamach might be considered as one of them.

“I’m hoping I can work with [National Indigenous Bishop] Mark MacDonald and others to see what Indigenous self-determination might look like for Indigenous Anglicans in the diocese of Quebec,” he says in an interview.

Historically, most of the priests at Kawawachikamach have been non-Indigenous people from the southern parts of the province. While the most recent priest, the Rev. Martha Spence, bucked the trend as an Indigenous woman, she was still an outsider to the community, hailing as she does from Manitoba’s Tataskweyak Cree Nation.

The minister currently in charge of the parish and its church, St. John’s, is the Rev. Silas Nabinicaboo, a locally trained deacon who has been active in the church for years as a translator.

The Rev. Silas Nabinicaboo, deacon-in-charge at St. John’s Anglican Church in Kawawachikamach, is also part of a group working to translate the Bible into Naskapi. Photo: Bruce Myers

Although Nabinicaboo is the ecclesiastical leader, having many of the same duties as a priest, when he speaks about his ministry it quickly becomes clear that in his community, the elders play a huge role in providing leadership in the church.

“They are the ones who keep the language going…who keep us going in our faith,” he says, noting that preserving the language and keeping the church vital are closely related activities.

In particular, Nabinicaboo praised the work of Joe Guanish, an elder and churchwarden with a deep knowledge of Naskapi who has often filled in as a preacher when the need arose, in addition to serving as a lay reader.

With the help of elders like Guanish, Nabinicaboo has played an outsized role in linking the preservation of the Naskapi language to the ministry of the church. For nearly 20 years, he has been part of a group working on a translation of the Bible into Naskapi. The New Testament in Naskapi was published in 2007, and translators are currently working their way through the Old Testament.

“When the language dies, the nation dies,” he says. “It is important for us to keep our language and teach our young people.”

Services at St. John’s are in Naskapi, but Nabinicaboo says that some of the younger members of the congregation have difficulty reading the Naskapi syllabics, and so an English text is provided alongside.

When asked whether there is a desire in his community for a greater degree of self-determination, Nabinicaboo says he sees little interest among his parishioners for any kind of formal separation from the diocese of Quebec.

In Kawawachikamach, the Anglican church is active in the preservation of the Naskapi language. Photo: Bruce Myers

According to Nabinicaboo, the diocese “is a big help,” and he is hopeful that Myers will be supportive of the parish’s work.

He notes that he, like many other Indigenous priests in northern communities, is serving on a non-stipendiary basis. And because he is not licensed to administer all the sacraments, his parish often goes for long periods of time without a regular service of the Eucharist.

Myers says the diocese hasn’t yet found a solution to this problem, and hopes that the work ACIP and Indigenous Ministries are doing will provide a way to raise leaders within the community who can offer sacramental ministry.

But Myers notes that decisions about self-determination and leadership training would need to be made by the community itself.

“I don’t want to impose ready-made southern solutions,” he says. “I have a lot to learn about how Indigenous communities conduct their lives in general, knowing that there is no one way.”


About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

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


Anglican Journal News, February 02, 2017

Douglas Cowling remembered as passionate ‘connector’ through liturgy, music

Posted on: January 27th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Tali Folkins on January, 27 2017

Douglas Cowling, composer and four-time Juno Award winner, is being remembered for his contributions to renewing liturgy and worship. Photo: Contributed

On a Sunday in the Easter season, not too long ago, many among the congregation at All Saints Kingsway, Toronto, preparing to sing a psalm, suddenly noticed something familiar about the tune.

The priest had used a musical setting for the psalm devised by a former musical director of his, Douglas Cowling. The music was not from church. It was the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—a song that, in typical Cohen fashion, starkly interweaves sacred and secular love.

The priest, the Rev. Andrew Sheldon, now associate priest at St. George’s on-the-Hill, Etobicoke, Ont., says the congregation’s reaction was unforgettable.

“They suddenly raised their heads—it was like, ‘Whoah,’—they recognized that music, and then, when they had the opportunity to sing the refrain, which was the chorus, ‘Hallelujah,’ that we’re all familiar with—I mean, they were just belting it out,” he says.

“It was proof to me of the wisdom of taking familiar music, and in a sense consecrating that music by adding the sacred lyrics to it.”

Setting the Easter psalms to Cohen’s tune, Sheldon says, was one of the most beautiful things Cowling ever did as a musical director, and it also showed off one of his greatest talents—gathering together resources from diverse sources to create amazing music and liturgy.

“His particular gift was that rather than relying on what was in the book, he would look at each piece of the liturgy…and think of ways to innovate around it,” says Sheldon, who knew Cowling for nearly 25 years.

Cowling died Monday, January 23 at age 66 from heart failure, after a short period of ill health. Though he won recognition outside the church mostly for his work in music—he was a four-time Juno Award winner—Sheldon and others within the Anglican Church of Canada say Cowling will be remembered most of all for his contributions to liturgy.

“He was a very important figure in our church,” says Sheldon, who worked particularly closely with him when Cowling served as his musical director at a Toronto-area church from around 1997 to 2006. “His legacy is fundamentally what I would call renewed liturgies and a renewed worship life in many congregations, and beyond.”

“He had such a heart for worship, and for worship to be beautiful, and for worship leaders to do that heavy lifting of attending to every single detail so that the worship could just soar,” says the Rev. Martha Tatarnic, rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in St. Catharines, Ont.

Tatarnic says she got to know Cowling partly from working with him to prepare for General Synod last summer. Tatarnic was chair of the General Synod worship committee, and Cowling served as music director. She remembers especially his fondness for details and his great generosity.

“He was so generous with his time, and his energy, and his humour and his creativity,” she says. “He was a funny, funny person—but also very passionate, and opinionated, and he had very high standards in terms of how things should be.”

The Rev. David Harrison, rector of Toronto’s Church of St. Mary Magdalene, where Cowling was a parishioner, shared with the Anglican Journal the sermon he was to preach at a requiem service for Cowling Friday, January 27. In it, Harrison praises Cowling’s erudition and above all, his role as a “connector” of people, joining them in music and worship.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Douglas was instrumental in forming a whole generation or two of clergy and lay people in his particular vision of liturgy and music,” the sermon reads. “Above all else, it seems to me that Douglas connected the people of God with their voices. He gave voice to those gathered for the liturgy.”

The details of the requiem, according to the sermon, had actually been specified by Cowling himself, and sent to Harrison almost exactly a year before his death.

Canon Peter Walker, rector of Grace Church on-the-Hill in Toronto, director of Toronto’s Tallis Choir and brother of Cowling’s wife, Elizabeth, remembered him as “a brilliant and gifted layman—a funny, larger-than-life, sometimes Falstaffian figure…an artful, cultivated renaissance-man—loved by many, especially kids—who served Christ’s reign.”

Born in St. Catharines in 1950, Cowling earned an MA in music at the University of Toronto. He would go on to serve as musical director at a number of Toronto churches, and gave numerous talks and workshops on church music.

His contributions to the world of music, however, went well beyond these roles. In addition to composing, Cowling undertook numerous projects for Classical Kids Music Education, a non-profit organization, including writing five of its audio productions; he won four Juno Awards for this work. He was a regular contributor on CBC Radio.

Cowling also co-authored Sharing the Banquet: Liturgical Renewal in Your Parish.

On January 1, Cowling was named to the Order of the Diocese of Toronto in recognition of his work in music and ministry.

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

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


Anglican Journal News, January 27, 2017