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How Anglicans and partners are confronting human trafficking

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

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How Anglicans and partners are confronting human trafficking

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A renewed focus across the worldwide Anglican Communion to tackle human trafficking kicked into high gear in 2012 when the Anglican Consultative Council passed Resolution 15:10 on the Trafficking of Persons. The resolution urged provinces in the Anglican Communion to learn about and raise awareness of trafficking in their respective countries and to work towards its elimination.

The Anglican Church of Canada’s contributions to the fight against human trafficking have taken a variety of forms. General Synod’s Director of Global Relations, Dr. Andrea Mann, is currently coordinating the church’s work in combating human trafficking. Mann said that Resolution 15:10 gave a “green light” for work in this area by providing a framework for Canadian Anglicans to tackle the issue.

“I can say with confidence that it’s something that the church has worked on for some time,” Mann said.

“Certainly locally, people who are maybe not in paid accountable church ministry as clergy, but [are] certainly church members—as social workers, as teachers, as front-line workers, in urban ministry—are working with traffic-vulnerable or traffic-rescued people in the programs that they have in shelters and food kitchens and places like that.”

Church initiatives against human trafficking encompass dioceses, religious orders, Mission to Seafarers, the Anglican Military Ordinariate, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, and the General Synod.

At the national level, Anglicans work through ecumenical organizations such as KAIROS and the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) to coordinate their efforts with other denominations.

Part of the CCC Commission on Justice and Peace is the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada, formerly known as the Working Group on Human Trafficking in Canada. The working group brings together representatives of different churches to share information and identify areas each church is currently working on, as well as areas where they might further collaborate.

At the moment, the working group is focused on four key areas: advocacy, education, theological reflection, and worship resources.

Where advocacy is concerned, the CCC working group is committed to a focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women and children. Members have written letters to federal ministers asking them to take women and children who have been ensnared in the sex trade into consideration as they move forward with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The working group also continues to engage with Bill C-36, which was passed under the last Conservative government and amended the Criminal Code regarding sex work in Canada.

“There have been rumblings that maybe the Liberal government will re-evaluate this law,” said Jennifer Lucking, working group chair and coordinator of human trafficking outreach for the Reformed Church in America. “So we’re keeping our eye on that.”

A major resource released by the working group is Human Trafficking in Canada: A Leadership and Learning Kit for Churches. Members are currently working on updating the resource and providing further worship resources for theological reflection.

Since 2013, the Rev. Carolyn Seabrook, regional dean for Carleton and incumbent at the Parish of Kars-Osgoode in the Diocese of Ottawa, has served as the Anglican representative on the CCC working group. She first became active in combating human trafficking through her involvement with the International Anglican Women’s Network.

“It has been somewhat challenging to fully participate in the work of this group, given that our Anglican Church is not quite as far along as many of them are on this issue,” Seabrook said.

“We have not yet had a broad conversation that might lead us to be able to make statements on behalf of our church on this topic. Therefore we participate in discussions, but are not always able to sign on to the letters that get forwarded.”

Many Anglicans are taking action at the parish and diocesan levels. In Ottawa, working with the group Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking (PACT), Anglicans have worked with local women’s organizations to take grassroots action to raise awareness of human trafficking.

One project to raise awareness involved volunteers creating rag dolls for an art display in order “to show how easily women’s lives are discarded through trafficking,” Seabrook explained.

“That art installation then would lead to an opportunity to provide education and resources and whatnot, just to raise awareness.”

To effectively coordinate Anglican responses across Canada, Seabrook points to the need to map out what individuals, parishes, and dioceses are doing in the fight against trafficking.

“It would be great to gather this information so that it can be shared,” she said. “No doubt there are Anglicans who are engaged and feel strongly about these issues and some have started taking action but we don’t currently have a handle on it in any comprehensive way.

“We need to pull people together from across the church to have some conversations about human trafficking from a theological perspective,” Seabrook added. “We would do well to include related issues such as prostitution, for example, because there is a range of opinion, with some considering it sexual exploitation while others consider it to be legitimate work.

“We know there is a range of opinion on these issues, and it would be a very good thing if we could gather around a table and talk about these issues from a faith perspective.”

View a list of resources related to human trafficking.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 28, 2017

So-kaa-de-se-win* (The power of language)

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Marites N. Sison on March, 07 2017

“Our Creator put us here on earth. He gave us different languages to use,” says John Mosquito of the Nekaneet First Nation. Image: Goldenarts/Shutterstock 

Esther Wesley once attended a Sunday service at St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral in Prince Albert, Sask., and could hardly believe it when she heard the entire congregation sing The Doxology in Cree.

“I mean, they sung it in Cree!” says a visibly excited Wesley, co-ordinator of the national church’s Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation. “And, I’ve been told they’ve continued to do so every Sunday.”

Wesley’s excitement is understandable. Such a feat had been made possible, in part, by Cree language classes held at the cathedral, which in 2014 received a $15,000 grant from the healing fund. Initiated by the dean of St. Alban’s, Ken Davis, and taught by the Rev. Samuel Hackett, the classes had attracted a mix of students—ages 7 to 70—Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, Anglican and non-Anglican. 

The classes were one of about 70 language and translation projects across Canada that had received grants from the fund since its inception in 1991. Established to support initiatives that help Indigenous people heal from the harmful legacy of Indian residential schools, the fund has so far disbursed $7,359,209, of which roughly $960,000, or 13.04 per cent, has gone to language-related projects. 

Wesley, who has been fund co-ordinator since 2000, firmly believes that most of the issues confronting Native communities are tied to loss of language. “Language work must continue. If we don’t support language, then all the children that are coming up are going to lose their identity,” Wesley told Council of General Synod (CoGS), the church’s governing body between General Synods, last November. 

Loss of language was one of the devastating consequences of the Indian residential school system and other assimilationist policies of the colonial government. From the mid-19th century to the second half of the 20th century, Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and sent to federally funded, church-run residential schools, where they were forbidden from speaking their mother tongues. 

At Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings, former students shared experiences of physical and emotional abuse endured as a consequence of speaking a language other than English or French. While some dared to use their mother tongues in secret, many eventually lost their ability to speak them. Unable to communicate, they were cut off from their families and communities and lost the ability to bequeath their ancestral language to succeeding generations. Denigration of Aboriginal languages also inhibited many from relearning them.

The results have been devastating. Today, many of the 60-90 surviving Aboriginal languages in the country are “under serious threat of extinction,” according to the TRC’s final report released in 2015. Only 14.5 per cent of Canada’s 1.4 million Indigenous population report an Aboriginal language as their first language, the TRC noted, citing Statistics Canada’s 2011 census report. 

“In the previous 2006 census, 18% of those who identified as Aboriginal had reported an Aboriginal language as their first language learned, and a decade earlier, in the 1996 census, the figure was 26%,” said the TRC. “This indicates nearly a 50% drop in the fifteen years since the last residential schools closed.” 

There is hope, however. In recent years, there have been sustained efforts by Indigenous peoples and many other sectors to revive and rebuild Aboriginal languages. A 2011 survey from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) showed that about 88 per cent of First Nation schools offered Indigenous language programs. Despite a lack of funding, about 58 First Nation schools across Canada are finding ways to offer Indigenous language immersion programs for children, it added. 

The Bible has also been translated into several Aboriginal languages, with support from various church agencies. 

Last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a plan to implement a new law to protect and preserve Indigenous languages in Canada. Adequate financial and logistical support are key if this law is to have substance. 

The Anglican Church of Canada wasn’t far behind: on December 23, CoGS voted to dedicate this year’s undesignated proceeds of General Synod’s annual fundraising campaign, Giving with Grace, to the Healing Fund. Campaign organizers hope to raise $1 million, which will allow the fund to continue supporting projects—particularly those aimed at language preservation—for the next five years. 

It’s a campaign that deserves generous support from Anglicans, who are on a continuing journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

We all know the importance of language. Language is the essence of a people’s culture—allowing them to pass on their values, beliefs, heritage and histories from generation to generation. It is also a tangible expression of a people’s right to self-determination. 

In a 1994 study of the impact of residential schools, the AFN, quoting  First Nation elders, says that  “a First Nation world is quite simply not possible without its own language. For [elders], the impact of residential school silencing their language is equivalent to a residential school silencing their world.”

Elder and cultural educator Mary Lou Fox (Odemin Kwe), of the Ojibwa First Nation, Manitoulin Island, summed it up when she once said, “Without the language, we are warm bodies without a spirit.”

For John Mosquito of Nekaneet First Nation, it is simply this: “Our Creator put us here on earth. He gave us different languages to use. He put us here to love and respect each other.” (Source: Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre website.)

*Mushkegowuk Cree language 

About the Author

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison

Marites N. Sison is editor of the Anglican Journal.


Anglican Journal News, March 09, 2017

Congregational development: Mission and organizational health

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Ministry resource associate Tasha Carrothers facilitates consultation at a parish in the Diocese of New Westminster. Submitted photo by Randy Murray

Congregational development: Mission and organizational health

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

A longtime trainer at the Diocesan School for Parish Development in Vancouver, B.C., Tasha Carrothers is familiar with a wide range of models for congregational development.

Currently ministry resource associate for the Diocese of New Westminster, Carrothers describes congregational development as “finding a fit between the component parts in a congregation” through collaboration between clergy and laypeople.

“It’s about mission, but it’s about more than that,” Carrothers said. “It’s about organizational health.”

“When we talk about there being a fit, what we mean is, yeah, you have a mission,” she added. “But your mission is a good fit with the people who are in your parish, the people who are around in the neighbourhood, with your financial means, with your buildings. You can have a mission that is just disconnected from reality, or doesn’t stretch you enough.”

Carrothers was initially hired at the diocesan synod office to resource a specific program around parish revitalization and reorganization. The program was designed to facilitate conversations between parishes in the face of declining church attendance and the need for repairs on many buildings—two common challenges facing churches across Canada.

In her experience as a layperson, Carrothers has encountered many parishes and congregations that have worked on strengthening different aspects of their organization, which in turn improves their ability to carry out their ministry.

As an example of where the process might start, she recalled a small rural congregation in which the priest had identified a lack of connection and engagement with the surrounding neighbourhood.

“They’re starting with something that the priest has identified as a need, based on her understanding of what it is that a parish church should be doing … So you could say that that’s about clarifying their mission.”

In identifying the most pressing needs faced by a congregation, one area of focus will often lead directly into others. Carrothers pointed to a frequent instance of clergy approaching her and suggesting that their congregation needs to work on visioning—creating a compelling vision of goals and objectives to help guide it.

“After interviewing them for a while, it turns out it isn’t really visioning for the whole system that they need to work on,” she said. “It’s more that the leaders don’t understand their roles. The wardens don’t really know what they’re supposed to be doing, or there’s this jockeying back and forth between the authority of the priest and the role of the laypeople.

“So we could work on that, just developing clearer boundaries [and] clearer understandings around decision-making that’s going to make things go more smoothly. Then the place will be happier, and then visitors might stick around. It can be that basic.”

Following a series of town hall meetings to identify mission priorities in the next five years for St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Vancouver, Carrothers ran a workshop with members of the congregation to clarify the role of parish councils, which had not been clearly articulated canonically.

To help improve the effectiveness of parish councils at St. Paul’s, she asked council members as individuals to reflect on why they chose to serve on council. Rather than out of a sense of obligation, Carrothers indicated that serving on parish councils should represent a form of participation in Christian service.

Along with reflection at the individual level, the workshop also asked council members to reflect on their goals as a council.

“That intervention is going to make council more effective,” Carrothers said. “It’s going to make the church experience more fulfilling for those individuals, and that’s congregational development … It helps strengthen the mission, but it’s one of the building blocks.”

Key to successful congregational development, however, is maintaining a sense of proportion regarding the long-term success of implementing different plans and ideas.

“It’s not where I go in one Saturday and run a workshop … and everybody feels good at the end of the workshop, but then nobody’s actually able to do it, or the opportunities don’t arise, and so there’s no membership growth,” Carrothers cautioned. “Let’s just be realistic about what the outcomes are going to be as well.”


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, March 08, 2017

Ottawa ministry to provide affordable housing for women

Posted on: March 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Art Babych on March, 06 2017

Roman Catholic “Mother House” to be converted to affordable housing for women. Photo: Art Babych

Cornerstone Housing for Women—a community ministry of the diocese of Ottawa—has launched a $6.8 million project to convert the former “Mother House” of a Roman Catholic religious community into a home for 42 women needing safe, affordable housing.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful project,” said Sue Garvey, Cornerstone’s executive director, in a telephone interview with the Anglican Journal March 3. “The government money made all the difference in us being able to do it.”

Cornerstone received $3.97 million from the federal government and $1.3 million from the Ontario government through the Canada-Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) agreement, to be administered through the City of Ottawa’s “Action Ottawa” program.

The funding announcement was made at a news conference March 3 in the lobby of the Sisters of Jean D’Arc Institute at 373 Princeton Avenue, the building that Cornerstone plans to redevelop. Among those who spoke in support of the project were Ottawa Bishop John Chapman, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, corOntario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

“The Anglican diocese [of Ottawa] has a strong commitment to building healthy and inclusive communities,” said Chapman. “We are proud of Cornerstone’s track record in developing safe, affordable housing, and we are especially thrilled to see this new project in Westboro moving forward.”

“Thanks to the combined efforts of our partners, we are able to give a helping hand to women in need, and in doing so, we are contributing to the economic and social well-being of the entire community,” said McKenna.

“What a perfect way to pass on the Mother House from the Sisters to our community,” said Naqvi. “Cornerstone’s new development will act as a refuge and support system to women who need it in our community.”

“The City of Ottawa greatly appreciates the contributions of both our federal and provincial partners towards this important project for Cornerstone Housing for Women,” said Watson. “These investments are helping us make strides to prevent homelessness by ensuring that more individuals and families in Ottawa have a safe and inclusive place to live, along with the support they need in order to remain housed.”

Along with the grant approvals, Cornerstone has started a capital campaign called “Building the Dream” to raise another $1.5 million through a variety of means, including individual donations and sponsorships.  “We have a pile of things going on to raise that money,” said Garvey. “Every room and every space in the residence, hopefully, will be sponsored by a particular group who will come and help us with the funding for that room, but also to develop a relationship with the women who will be using the services.”

Meetings are being held regularly with a Cornerstone team to discuss issues such as design, construction and zonings, and “working together on all the partnerships to help us provide service for the women who will live there,” she said. “So it’s just partnership building.”

The impressive complex in which Cornerstone will build its bachelor unit apartments was owned by the Sisters of Jeanne D’Arc who, since the 1930s, operated a private school and provided affordable housing for women in the Westboro community of Ottawa. The size of the community of sisters has declined steadily over the years and many have retired, leading to the decision to sell the building and move to other quarters.

According to the CBC, Garvey had met one of the nuns back in 2014 and shared stories about Cornerstone Housing. In 2016, the nun phoned her and said the sisters were ready to sell the Mother House and a vacant lot in the property. The property was sold to Cornerstone for $2 million; the cost of renovating the building is about $4.5 million.

“The Sisters of Jeanne d’Arc wanted to have a legacy in the community and they really wanted to leave their home to a group who had some of the same values and goals,” said Garvey. “They’ve always had such a strong commitment to women and social justice, and that’s who Cornerstone is.”

Cornerstone currently has four residences in Ottawa including an emergency shelter, two affordable and supportive housing communities and a transitional home.

Construction on the Westboro project is to start at the end of July 2017 and be completed in March 2018.

About the Author

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
Anglican Journal News, March 06, 2017

Anglicans offer refuge to asylum-seekers

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

By André Forget on March 02, 2017

Toronto Anglicans Murray McCarthy and Martha Asselin opened their home to asylum-seekers because “there was a need, and there was a call by the church to do what we could.” Photo: André Forget

On January 11, Hiyab, Arsema and Kidisti* stood outside the Red Cross building on Randolph Avenue in Toronto, facing a hard decision. 

It was 8 p.m. They had just arrived from Montreal, and thought the Red Cross could provide them with shelter—instead, they found a sign telling them to return in the morning. It was their first night in a city they had travelled a great distance to take refuge in, and it seemed possible they might spend it homeless. 

They had arrived in the United States on December 23, fleeing what they described as a difficult existence in Saudi Arabia. As Eritreans, they had no right to citizenship. As women, they were expected to conform to the nation’s rigid laws governing female behaviour. As Christians, they were forced to practise their faith in secret, and risked severe punishment if their beliefs became known, according to Arsema. 

Afraid that their refugee claims would be rejected in the U.S., but unable to secure visas that would allow them to fly directly to Canada, sisters Hiyab, 22, and Arsema, 26, arrived in Seattle and stayed in hotels while they researched the best way to enter Canada. Their friend, Kidisti, 26, had flown into Washington, D.C., in early December. 

The three women met up in Plattsburg, N.Y., on January 10 and said they managed to enter Canada, unauthorized and undetected,  by crossing the Champlain/Lacolle border—which connects Champlain, N.Y., and St. Bernard-de-Lacolle, in the town of Blackpool, Que. 

They later filed inland refugee claims at the local Quebec police station.  (The Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States prohibits asylum seekers entering Canada from the U.S. to make a refugee claim at the border.) 

But when they arrived in Toronto, the city’s shelter beds were full. Collectively, they had $350. None had a credit card. It was getting dark, the temperature was dropping and they had nowhere to go.  

A perfect storm

Every year, thousands of asylum seekers arrive at Canada’s ports of entry and file refugee claims. 

The  majority of refugees who come to Canada —roughly 40,000 in the past year—come through private or government sponsorship. But as a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, Canada has a responsibility to provide asylum to those who would face a serious threat to their life or their freedom were they returned to their countries of origin.

As anti-immigrant rhetoric has flared south of the border, an increasing number of asylum-seekers are opting to come to Canada. Those who arrive in this manner, however, often face greater challenges than sponsored refugees. Unlike sponsored refugees, claimants do not have immediate access to government services or the support of a sponsoring community.  They often turn to community refugee settlement organizations such as Toronto’s Romero House, an organization founded by Catholic human rights activist Mary-Jo Leddy to help refugee claimants find support, legal aid and shelter. 

“We have people constantly showing up at our door, and our capacity to house them at Romero House is quite low,” Romero House director Jenn McIntyre said. She noted that the organization’s 10 apartments are “nearly always full.”

Homeless shelters are often packed and unable to accommodate refugees. As Toronto housing costs have gone up, it has become more difficult for people to move out of shelters and into market rate housing, said McIntyre. Some shelters had occupants staying an average of three months before moving on, she said. Recently, those wait times have doubled.

For asylum-seekers arriving in the city, this has created a perfect storm.


A room to spare

On the night of January 11, however, Hiyab, Arsema and Kidisti got lucky. After a good deal of searching, they found a hotel that would rent them a room for $144, and let them cover the deposit in cash.

When they returned to the Red Cross the next day, they were told their only option was a homeless shelter. The three women, afraid this would mean separation and already far outside of their comfort zone, said they would go anywhere else, even a police station.

The Red Cross called Romero House and asked if anyone could house the women.

By day’s end, Romero House found them a caseworker, who whisked them north to Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood, where they were met by Murray McCarthy and Martha Asselin on the front steps of what would become their first home in Toronto.

Sitting in their living room several weeks later, Asselin and McCarthy said that they first heard about the problem of refugees facing homelessness while reading The Anglican, the diocese of Toronto’s newspaper.

Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop of Toronto and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, had written an impassioned plea in the January 2017 issue, asking Torontonians if they “had a room to spare” to temporarily house recently arrived asylum seekers.

In his column, Johnson related an incident in which a refugee family had ended up sleeping in a park, and urged Anglicans to open their homes.

“We need this emergency response now, even as we continue to work for more accessible and affordable housing for all,” he wrote.

Johnson named Romero House as one of the key organizations helping refugees settle in the city, and encouraged those interested to get in touch. The diocese also released a video making the same appeal.

With their three children no longer living at home, McCarthy said it was an easy decision to make.

“There was a need, and there was a call by the church to do what we could, and we felt we had the capacity to do that,” he said.

The arrangement is temporary—Hiyab, Kidisti and Arsema hope to move into their own apartment in the near future—but it has allowed them space and room to take their bearings and prepare for their refugee hearing.

“We are lucky and blessed to be here,” said Hiyab. “Not a lot of people get this chance.”

McCarthy and Asselin are not the only ones so far to have opened their homes. McIntyre said three Anglican individuals and families have also taken in temporary refugees, including an Anglican priest, the Rev. Jeffrey Metcalfe, who was instrumental in orchestrating the diocesan call-out.

Metcalfe, who has a 17-year-old Afghan refugee staying in a spare room in his apartment, said that the experience is much less disruptive than he had expected it would be.

“He just feels like part of the family, to be honest,” he said, adding that the young man has become good friends with his own 18-month-old daughter.

Metcalfe and McIntyre both said that while the initiative has borne fruit, longer-term solutions are needed. The city needs to provide more shelter spaces, but it also needs to create more affordable housing.

“It is a national crisis, and to solve it is going to take planning,” said Metcalfe. Zoning changes that require developers to build more diverse forms of housing, and provide more affordable housing, might be a way of laying the groundwork, he said.

Uncertain future

For Hiyab, Arsema and Kidisti, the future is not yet secure. Like all asylum-seekers who make claims on Canadian soil, there is a chance that the judge hearing their case will decide it is unfounded, and order them deported back to Saudi Arabia.

But despite this uncertainty, all three are preoccupied with their plans for the future.

Hiyab wants to go to university to study design and fashion. Arsema holds a degree in business administration, but hopes to continue on to higher education while working. Kidisti wants to be a nurse.

“Being Christian, to live there [Saudi Arabia] is like hell on earth,” Arsema said. “Every day we wake up and thank God…People [in Toronto] are so friendly and helpful—it’s a beautiful city.


*Names have been altered and no photos taken of the interviewees at their request. At press time,they had not had their hearings at the Immigration and Refugee Board, and were concerned about being identified should their claims be rejected and they be deported to Saudi Arabia.

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, March 03, 2017

Rupert’s Land Urban Indigenous Ministry promotes traditional and Christian healing practices

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

Parishioners sing at the opening service of Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church in Winnipeg on Feb. 12, which saw the installation of the Rev. Vincent Solomon (centre, wearing green stole) as Incumbent. Submitted photo

Rupert’s Land Urban Indigenous Ministry promotes traditional and Christian healing practices

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As urban Indigenous ministry developer for the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, the Rev. Vincent Solomon plays the lead role in ongoing work to bolster Indigenous Anglican ministry in the city of Winnipeg—work that has three major components.

Responsible for growing and ministering to a new worshipping community, Solomon was installed as Incumbent at the opening service of Epiphany Anglican Indigenous Church on Feb. 12. The Rt. Rev. Donald Phillips, bishop of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land presided and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald preached at the ceremony.

To deepen healing and reconciliation within the diocese, local events are currently being planned to bring members of the community together—as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, as Anglicans—for joint worship services, feasts, and conversation.

Perhaps the most critical component, in Solomon’s view, is a focus on healing by providing a safe place for Indigenous people who have endured trauma. Primary among the sources of this suffering is experiences in Indian residential schools—many of which were run by the Anglican Church of Canada—and the resulting intergenerational trauma.

Since September 2016, Solomon has provided pastoral care at St. Francis Mission Centre in north Winnipeg to those who have asked for it, providing a forum for people to talk through painful experiences within the context of traditional Indigenous and Christian forms of healing.

Clinical counselors, pastoral care workers, and elders, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are now in place and ready to hold regular talking and healing circles as more people in the Winnipeg community hear about the ministry being offered.

“The elders will be teaching on our traditional cultures, traditional values,” Solomon said. “That’s part of the healing process, I believe, for Indigenous people.

“We need a lot more of that, because it’s been taken away, and it had been taken away by the church, and so we need to replace that … in order for Indigenous people to get back to where we were before, which was a place of health and wellness.”

Bishop Don Phillips described the Indigenous ministry work spearheaded by Solomon as the “bringing to fruition” of work that has been going on in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land for decades.

The bishop said that the vision of a flourishing Indigenous worship community was first realized in the 1980s and 1990s, but gradually subsided as financial support dried up. It found new life about 10 years ago when the Rupert’s Land Indigenous Council and its program arm “Wechetowin” (Cree for “people helping people”) launched a full-time Indigenous Mission Developer position, until funding once again ran out three years later.

“The launch of Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church provides a secure foundation from which Indigenous-led programs (in partnership with non-indigenous Anglicans) can flourish and help persons find healing and wholeness appropriate to their own journey,” Bishop Phillips said.

“An important part of accomplishing the spiritual restoration that must take place is the opportunity to experience mutual learning and reconciliation with non-Indigenous persons, and the talking and healing circles provide for this. Because this is a ministry immersed in the middle of our diocesan community, our whole diocesan family will be affected by its presence and invited to grow and learn from the wisdom and healing that emerges.”

Solomon’s efforts to promote urban Indigenous ministry in Winnipeg recently received a boost in the form of two $10,000 grants from the Anglican Foundation.

One grant will pay for items such as office furniture, computers, and a baptismal fount at Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church. The other will cover the cost of honorariums and gas money for the counselors, educator training in traditional Indigenous and Christian forms of healing, pastoral care workers, and elders who often travel long distances to take part in the healing circles.

An Indigenous-led group called Rising Above recently provided training to the six counselors, pastoral care workers, and elders, half of whom are Indigenous and the other half non-Indigenous.

The session focused on the background of residential school experiences and the trauma that must be dealt with in terms of healing and counselling, which Solomon noted includes sexual, physical, and emotional abuse that took place within the residential schools.

“You compound that [abuse] with being stripped of your culture and your language, at the same time being told that you’re a worthless Indian … the trauma of having your culture taken away from you and your language taken away from you … [Being] taken away from the home of your parents and from learning about your heritage, and those kinds of things that people also need healing from.”

With the last residential school in Canada only closing in 1996, and the persistence of intergenerational trauma, demographics of people who have attended the healing circles will encompass a wide age range, from youth to seniors.

Solomon described the reception of the healing program within the Winnipeg community as “very positive” thus far.

“There is an interest out there for the services and the ministry that we will be providing and are providing … But it will be a very positive thing for the people who do come and talk through their own trauma,” Solomon said.

“Of course, it’s not all positive,” he added. “They’re in pain and they need to work this stuff through, and so the positive part of that is that they are willing and needing and asking for help, which is hopefully what we are giving them.”


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, March 02, 2017

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