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Iona Report outlines new vision for diaconal ministry

Posted on: November 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Deacons walk together at the 2014 meeting of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada. Submitted photo

Deacons walk together at the 2014 meeting of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada. Submitted photo

Iona Report outlines new vision for diaconal ministry

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What is the diaconate and where is it going?

More than 25 years have passed since significant reflection on the nature of diaconal ministry within the Anglican Church of Canada took place at the national level. In the ensuing decades, a wide discrepancy in the practice and understanding of the diaconate across the country had developed.

The formation of the Task Force on the Diaconate by the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee in 2014 emerged from growing urgency to develop standards or uniformity among dioceses to address this discrepancy. Yet paradoxically, as noted by task force member the Rev. Deacon Maylanne Maybee, “the essence of the diaconate is to be responsive to changes and differences of context, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Enter The Iona Report. Produced by the task force after close study of existing resources, the document is available free online and is named after the Iona Drive boardroom at the University of British Columbia where members held their major drafting meeting. The report presents a vision of the diaconate in the Anglican Church of Canada that Maybee said “aims to identify areas of skill, knowledge, and attitude that can be adapted to local circumstances” while providing “a thread of consistency in how deacons are selected, used, and understood across Canada.”

iona-reportA key part of the report is its preface, which defines the role of a deacon by centring it in terms of the ministry all Christians undertake through baptism. The Greek word diakonia, meaning service, applies to the universal responsibility of the baptized to serve God in the world, while ordination identifies specific leadership roles for individuals in the church.

In their own role as leaders, deacons encourage the rest of the baptized into ministries of services, healing, and justice by reflecting these ministries in his or her actions. The Rev. Deacon Kyn Barker, a task force member who serves as coordinator of deacons for the Diocese of Toronto, described deacons as “encouraging everybody else to live out their diaconal ministry … A deacon serves as an example, as a prompt for everybody else.”

The Very Rev. M. Ansley Tucker, rector and dean at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, B.C. who also served on the task force, described the role of deacons theologically as one of servanthood and proclamation of the gospel.

“They’re bringing the Good News—as all Christians should—but bringing the Good News outside of the doors of the church into the world … The deacon has to be someone who has the gifts to actually make some change, to get people together, to advocate, to collaborate, and so on.”

The competency model presented in the Iona Report offers a framework for deacons and aspiring deacons to demonstrate the appropriate skills, understanding, and character they will require in the context of ministry.

Each competency has three levels—at selection, at ordination, and through lifelong learning—to qualify deacons at different stages in their careers.

“We talk a lot about lifelong learning,” Tucker said. “But this actually gives content to what that might look like.”

Barker highlighted the validity and flexibility of the competencies by pointing to their usefulness in two very different models of deacon selection. In Toronto, which practices a parish-first model, deacons are raised up out of the congregation and tend to stay in that location. But in Victoria, where the process is more centralized, deacons are raised in the community at large and could be assigned to any parish where the bishop determines they may be of use.

“The fact that [the competencies] work in two extremely different models of process leading to ordination is, I think, significant,” Barker said.

Maybee said that the Iona Report is a “working document” designed to encourage further conversation. She encouraged dioceses to set up study groups to assess the report against the actual experience of deacons and guidelines already in use, pointing to the “Lively Questions” section as a possible framework for conversation.

“The Church’s discussion about the diaconate is not closed, and digging deeper into the issues will bring us into a new place of understanding regarding baptism and all the orders.”

View and download The Iona Report.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 29, 2016

Advent focus on Christians of Mozambique and Angola

Posted on: November 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Gavin Drake/ACNS on November 29, 2016


Ana Matalika’s story will feature in week four, when Manna’s Stories of Love Coming are inspired by Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Photo: Manna


The stories of Christians from Mozambique and Angola who have “been quietly getting on with building and being the church” will be published over the next four weeks as part of an Advent campaign by Manna – the Mozambique and Angola Mission Association.

Their #StoriesOfLoveComing social media campaign is a follow-up to their Lent campaign this year when they published 40 stories from the region using the hashtag #Good2BAnglican.

“Manna is running this campaign to try and raise awareness of the thousands of stories of individuals in Anglican churches across Mozambique and Angola who have, over the years been quietly getting on with building and being the church and essentially being#StoriesOfLoveComing,” the association’s executive officer, Elizabeth Thomas, said.

“Advent is about waiting for the story of love coming,” she said. “The grand story governing and redeeming all of our stories. And yet God calls each of us to be part of this story and to be #StoriesOfLoveComingwherever we are, in the communities we find ourselves and in other communities, near and far.”

Over the course of the next four weeks, Manna will publish a series of stories of individuals, inspired by the four Advent themes of Patriarchs, Prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

“The first week – Patriarchs – will focus on individuals who have been instrumental historically in growing the church,” Elizabeth Thomas said. “The second week – Prophets – will look at some individuals who have driven social justice and community development issues in the churches. The third week – John the Baptist – will look at evangelists and priests spreading the gospel; and the last week – Mary, the mother of Jesus – looks at inspirational members of the Mothers’ Union.

“These short stories will be of individuals young and old, well-known and unknown, male and female. Individuals who chose to be a part of that ‘love come down’ and whose communities are changed because of it.”

Among the stories to be told in the coming weeks is that of Padre Alberto, a 69-year-old community priest who travels his parish on a bike to serve his sprawling congregations; and Ana Matalika (pictured), a 78-year-old woman “whose simple prayerful life has impacted many in her community,”  Thomas said.

Manna raises funds from churches, dioceses and individuals in the UK to support the work of the churches in Mozambique and Angola, helping them to “grow and thrive”.

You can follow the #StoriesOfLoveComing on social media or through the Manna website.

 

About the Author

Gavin Drake/ACNS (Anglican Communion News Service)

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Anglican Journal News, November 29, 2016

Gifts for Mission: Help a farmer replant after an emergency

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Peter Frisus, who fled fighting during South Sudan's civil war to Mundri where he has relatives, prepares the ground for planting peanuts and corn with the help of agricultural tools provided by the Mundri Relief and Development Association, which is supported by the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund. Photo by Paul Jeffrey

Peter Frisus, who fled fighting during South Sudan’s civil war to Mundri where he has relatives, prepares the ground for planting peanuts and corn with the help of agricultural tools provided by the Mundri Relief and Development Association, which is supported by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. Photo by Paul Jeffrey

Gifts for Mission: Help a farmer replant after an emergency

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When disaster strikes—whether natural or human-caused—one of the biggest risks to people living in the affected areas is food security. Floods and hurricanes can quickly wipe out farmers’ crops, while refugees fleeing from war and conflict find themselves in new and unfamiliar lands, often without tools to grow food.

As a member of the ACT Alliance, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) seeks to help those impacted get back on their feet. Working through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, PWRDF supports small-scale farmers by providing seeds, tools, and education in new farming techniques to help them recover after emergencies or conflict.

By purchasing a gift through the Gifts for Mission 2016 gift guide, Canadian Anglicans can help a farmer replant after an emergency. Each $50 gift supports PWRDF’s work to enable a family in need to restart their farm.

To ensure resources go where they are most needed, PWRDF humanitarian response coordinator Naba Gurung consults with affected communities and partners after receiving concept papers and proposals.

Partners on the ground must conduct a proper assessment to ensure that the response is timely and effective. After Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, for example, aid efforts had to take into account whether seeds could be planted in the current season.

In some cases, such as the aftermath of a flood in Bangladesh, providing seeds is the most important way that PWRDF can help farmers replant. But they must ensure that the seeds are used for their intended purpose, which can be an issue when food security is particularly dire.

“If there is no food, then the seed might be then consumed as a food,” Gurung said. “So that is one thing that we need to be careful about.”

Tools are another significant form of aid. In South Sudan, where internally displaced people were able to find land in host communities but did not possess the necessary equipment for farming, PWRDF and its partners provided tools such as axes, spades, and machetes. In Nepal, tools such as hammers helped repair damaged infrastructure related to farming.

Education in different farming techniques, such as encouraging farmers to grow more vegetables alongside their staple crops, varies depending on each case. PWRDF and partners may help gather people from the neighbourhood together, or encourage them to visit and learn from individuals overseeing what Gurung described as “model farms”.

“It’s someone who is a little bit ahead of the game,” he said, adding, “If I am a kind of lead farmer and I’m doing something better, then the project encourages others to come there and see what that farmer has done in terms of producing vegetables … That way they learn from each other.”

The ACT Alliance is currently planning to expand efforts to help Burundian refugees in northwest Tanzania. In recent years, UN agencies in East Africa that provide the majority of support to refugees have faced notable funding cuts.

Through ongoing aid efforts, PWRDF and its partners hope to maximize their impact on improving the well-being of area refugees, Gurung said.

“More and more, there are common strategies to help refugees to become self-sufficient … in terms of food, and to help them integrate with the local economy.”

Help a farmer replant after an emergency through Gifts for Mission.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 23, 2016

Restorative Justice Week 2016 (Resources)

Posted on: November 22nd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Restorative Justice Week 2016: November 20-27, 2016
For Restorative Justice Week 2016, The Church Council on Justice and Corrections encourages you to join us as we inspire new ways of thinking about justice.
Resources: http://ccjc.ca/restorative-justice-week/
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The Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC) e-mail, November 21, 2016

New study explores growth and decline in the Anglican Communion

Posted on: November 22nd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Posted on: November 15, 2016

The Eglise Anglicane du Congo (the Anglican Church of Congo) is the subject of one of 12 case-studies in a new study into growth and decline in the Anglican Communion. This photo is the cover-image from the published report.
Photo Credit: The Revd Dr David Goodhew

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A new academic study into growth and decline in the Anglican Communion will be marked by a day conference and the publication of a new book. Edited by the Revd Dr David Goodhew, director of ministerial practice at Cranmer Hall, part of St John’s College at Durham University, Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion – 1980 to the Present, is described by publishers Routledge as “the first study of [the Anglican Communion’s] dramatic growth and decline in the years since 1980.”

Prepared by an international team of researchers based across five continents, the study provides a global overview of Anglicanism alongside twelve detailed case studies of Anglican churches in Australia, Congo, England, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, South America, South India, South Korea, and the US.

“This book is a critical resource for students and scholars seeking an understanding of the past, present and future of the Anglican Church,” Routledge say. “More broadly, the study offers insight into debates surrounding secularisation in the contemporary world.”

The day-conference will take place at Whitelands College of the University of Roehampton in London on 24 February 2017. Speakers include Professor David Voas, professor of social science at University College London (UCL); Dr Emma Wild-Wood, lecturer in world Christianities at the Cambridge University Faculty of Divinity; the Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, mission theologian in the Anglican Communion; and study editor the Revd Dr David Goodhew.

“The essays in this book invite readers to further discourse on growth and decline within the respective provinces of Anglicanism in particular, and within Christianity in general,” Professor Jesse Mugambi, from the University of Nairobi in Kenya, said. “The book is worth reading as a whole, and informative in its wide range of contributions.”

Grace Davie, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Exeter, described the book as “a veritable goldmine”, adding: “it contains a huge amount of mostly numerical information on the Anglican Communion in all its fullness.

“Quite rightly it eschews easy generalisations, probing instead the complex and evolving mosaic that constitutes modern Anglicanism. Almost every reader will be surprised about something.”

Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion – 1980 to the Present is available for pre-order ahead of its publication by Routledge on 9 December 2016 in paperback (£24.99 GBP) and hardback (£85.00 GBP).

Tickets for the day conference on 24 February 2017 cost £80 GBP, with a 50 per cent reduction for students.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 15 November 2016

Anglican World focuses on reconciliation

Posted on: November 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Posted on November 18, 2016

The cover photo of the latest edition of Anglican World depicts a one of the priests attending the enthronement of Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit as the new Primate of Kenya – one of many stories covered in the magazine.
Photo Credit: Bellah Zulu / ACNS

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Reconciliation is the theme of the latest edition of Anglican World, which contains an in-depth interview with Canon Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new advisor for reconciliation. The quarterly magazine of the Anglican Communion also has interviews with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lahore and the Anglican Bishop of Sialkot, two of the pairs of 19 bishops sent out for mission by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby last month. It also takes a look at Arkan (corners), a cultural centre located in St Mark’s Anglican / Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, which is helping to “draw together young people of different faiths and enable them to build bridges through the creative arts.”

“I see reconciliation as being the hands and feet of God to glorify him by modelling love of Him to our neighbours,” Canon Snyder told Anglican World. She explained the her first taste of poverty and inequality was while she was growing up in Bermuda where her father worked as a lawyer and was also a churchwarden. As a child, she joined her parents in giving out food parcels to those without enough to eat. “That early experience instilled a passion for justice and reconciliation that has never left me,” she said.

Her first experience of mediation came in 1989 when she and her husband John took a sabbatical to cross the Sahara in an old Land Rover. Anglican World takes up the story: “After an unnerving experience crossing the Algerian border, when they ended up drinking mint tea with the armed guards who had been demanding a bribe, they lived with the Tuareg tribes for more than a year.

“They produced a film for European schools, highlighting the richness of African culture and hospitality of nomadic life. They also helped mediate over the issue of forced settlement for the Tuareg nomads, helping others recognise their inter-dependence with the desert environment.

“Sarah said, ‘That was my first exposure to mediation and to Islam. We became deep friends with our Tuareg hosts, and witnessed Islam and the Muslim way of life from the inside. I left with a huge respect for Muslims – their prayer life and dedication to trying to live every aspect of their life for God has never left me.’”

Speaking about the Arkan centre, its founder and director, Nader Wanis, told Anglican World of the scepticism that exists before the centre opened five years ago, with people telling him that it would never work. “A church opening its doors to Muslims and Christians to come together does not happen here,” he said. “We are dealing with the grass roots poor areas and this has never happened before.

“All the dialogue between Christians and Muslims happened between the elite in their offices, never in the streets, it was always between leaders in offices and at conferences. But we are in the streets of the city – this is where the art and creativity happens.

“They told us we would be killed the second day we opened, if Muslims came inside the church. They said we would be burned or killed or shot. Now we have been running over five years and we are the only church in the country that doesn’t search Muslims when they come to the door – if you go to any other church you will be searched by the police.”

The theme is continued in the interviews with the two bishops from Pakistan, where reconciliation between Christians and the majority Muslim population is essential.

“In the remote areas, where there is more or less no education, people live with a very ghetto mentality,” Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, the Roman Catholic bishop of Lahore, said. “In that area, Christians who go to school are discriminated against and persecuted – for example, they cannot drink water from the same glass (as muslims).

“And there is a big problem with hate material in text books. In some books, minority students are considered lower . . . like a lesser human being . . . they are described as ‘infidels’. We are talking to the government about this again and again.

“So if there are three Christian students in a class of 30, they will read in the text book that they are infidels. If they are reading this in their text books, how can we have a harmonious society? The solution is interfaith dialogue. We try to make imams and Islamic scholars see what needs to be changed.

Bishop Alwin Samuel, the Anglican Bishop of Sialkot, added: “The imams and the scholars are receptive but reconciliation is an ongoing process. You cannot achieve your targets in six months or a year.

“Reconciliation is required in Pakistan on all levels – even among Christian denominations as well as between people of different faiths and creeds.”

In his editor, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, explained that Anglican churches “are dealing with extraordinary challenges across the world today.”

He continued: “People in more than half the provinces of the Anglican Communion are enduring conflict or recovering from recent conflict or facing persecution and so the need for peace and reconciliation is inevitably at the heart of what we do.”

He said that at Christmas, “we are reminded that Jesus Christ comes to us as the Prince of Peace – a sign of the hope of reconciliation with our Father God.” And he said that in the new edition of Anglican World “There are so many shining examples of how the Church is working towards unity from assisting in peace talks in South Sudan to bringing Muslims and Christians together in the Middle East.”

Subscriptions to Anglican World cost £10 GBP (US $16, €14) per annum. Individual editions can also be purchased.

  • Please click here to subscribe and to access a free shortened web-only preview edition.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from ACNS on Friday 18 November 2016

Gifts for Mission: Install a solar suitcase in a health clinic

Posted on: November 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Solar suitcase demonstration at a medical clinic in Mozambique. Submitted photo by PWRDF

Solar suitcase demonstration at a medical clinic in Mozambique. Submitted photo by PWRDF

Gifts for Mission: Install a solar suitcase in a health clinic

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Women in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa face a range of challenges during childbirth. One of the most significant is a lack of electricity that powers critical equipment—a loss that can strike at the most critical moments.

During a 2008 trip to Nigeria, Dr. Laura Stachel, an obstetrician-gynecologist,  witnessed night-time deliveries that were often carried out in almost total darkness. The purpose of her trip was to find ways to reduce maternal deaths during childbirth, and Dr. Stachel found out first-hand that precarious electricity and the lack of light can lead to tragic consequences.

With her husband Hal Aronson, an educator in solar energy in Berkeley, California, Stachel co-founded WE CARE Solar, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving maternal health outcomes in regions without reliable electricity. Its signature product is the solar suitcase, a portable power unit that draws energy from sunlight to provide light for clinics.

In Mozambique, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is providing solar suitcases to clinics across the country, with 28 of 30 solar suitcases installed in August and September. Through the 2016 Gifts for Mission gift guide, Canadian Anglicans can purchase a $600 gift to help purchase and install a solar suitcase in a health clinic, improving the well-being of the whole community and potentially saving lives.

The solar suitcase consists of a hard yellow plastic exterior that when shut is both dust-proof and waterproof. Inside the suitcase is a control panel and lithium battery with four lamps to help provide light during births. Users can put in rechargers for AA and AAA batteries as well as cellphones. The suitcase also contains a fetal Doppler for measuring the heartbeat of the foetus inside the womb.

Installation of solar panels on the roof of of a health clinic to power solar suitcase. Submitted photo by PWRDF

Installing solar panels on the roof of a health clinic to supply power for the solar suitcase. Submitted photo by PWRDF

Solar panels installed on the roof of clinics capture sunlight and convert it into electricity in a box underneath it. PWRDF external funding program manager Richard Librock said that the solar suitcases—which cost approximately $2,860 apiece—serve “to enhance the working conditions of the people there so they can do their work properly and deliver babies, and particularly for the health of the woman.”

Librock travelled to Mozambique during the summer to help oversee the installation of the solar suitcases. He recalls episodes in which doctors and nurses conducted deliveries at night with only the light of a cellphone, or a crude light source resembling a Bunsen burner. In some cases where women giving birth at night suffered tears during the delivery, they had to wait until daylight for surgery to be performed.

But in clinics where the solar suitcases have been installed, Librock said, “for the first time, the operation there has light in all places where babies are delivered.”

Training is a key part of using the solar suitcases—provided by “solar ambassadors” who help teach staff members in health clinics how to use the equipment, which requires relatively little maintenance after installation. Both a full curriculum and an abbreviated user manual have been translated into Portuguese.

“With the solar equipment, everything has to be in balance.” Librock said. “The amount of sunlight you’re capturing with the solar panels has to be accommodated by the size of the batteries. If you have too much energy coming through with not enough capacity in the battery, it can fry the whole batteries and the control panel, and this did happen.”

When proper instruction is provided, parts are replaced as they wear out, and the solar panels are installed in a part of the roof to maximize sunlight exposure, each solar suitcase can provide a clinic with reliable, sustainable electricity for years to come.

Install a solar suitcase in a health clinic through Gifts for Mission.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 07, 2016

A call for prayer from the office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop

Posted on: November 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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A call for prayer from the office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop

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The Rev. Canon John Floberg, Presiding Priest on the Standing Rock territory issued a call for 100 clergy to come and stand with the Water Protectors; to pray and give witness to the Gospel at Standing Rock. They are trying to stop an oil pipeline that runs close to their territory and has already disrupted ancient burial grounds. A leak in the pipeline, and this is certainly possible, threatens clean water not only for Standing Rock but for all near the Missouri River and its tributaries. As of today, over 400 clergy are traveling to Standing Rock, among them is Bishop Mark. We ask you to join with us in prayer with special intention for the clergy gathering tomorrow. Pray that good minds will prevail and that all will be safe. Pray with sage, sweet grass, cedar, tobacco or whatever you use in your prayers. Pray this prayer, written by the Rev. Brandon Mauai, Dakota Sioux from Standing Rock:

Creator of all things living. On these lands of our people, our relatives and family, we ask you to be present. On these lands of our ancestors, we ask for your guidance. On these lands of our future generations, we ask for your protection. In all the chaos, humble our hearts and calm our minds. Draw us nearer to you, and build us up to stand in the shadows cast upon us. Strengthen us mentally, so that we might never scare. Strengthen us physically, so that we might stand for however long, to fight the good fight without waiver. Cast your breath upon us, and breathe our people back to life. Centuries have now passed, and now we stand – For all ages, races, and living creatures. Now we stand, for All Life.  This we ask, humbly and with humility, in your name. Amen.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 03, 2016

Advent Devotions 2016

Posted on: October 31st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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L-R: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church, National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and Primate Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada meet at the ELCA Churchwide Office in Chicago, Ill.

L-R: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church, National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and Primate Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada meet at the ELCA Churchwide Office in Chicago, Ill.

Advent Devotions 2016

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October 31, 2016

All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has giving us the ministry of reconciliation.
– II Corinthians 5:18

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ:

Today in Lund, Sweden, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church will inaugurate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. After five hundred years of division, and 50 years of dialogue, Lutherans and Catholics will publicly remember their history, and look to the future—together. For the first time, a centennial anniversary of the Reformation will take place in a spirit of reconciliation, for the whole world to see. In our broken world, this ministry of reconciliation is a faithful response to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

As churches shaped by the 16th century reformations—the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—we also participate in this ministry of reconciliation. Over fifteen years ago, our churches’ respective full communion agreements inaugurated new relationships in which we fully recognized each other “as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered” (Called to Common Mission), an achievement that “marks but one step toward the eventual visible unity of the whole Church catholic” (Waterloo Declaration). We are committed to working together toward reconciliation—of the church, and of the deepest social ills that plague our world. It is our hope, together with you, to be signs of anticipation—of the “already, but not yet” of God’s realm of reconciliation, justice, and peace.

In this spirit we have prepared a series of devotions for the season of Advent, which may be used as bulletin inserts. The Lutheran World Federation’s 500th anniversary theme and sub-themes provided a fitting framework: We are “liberated by God’s grace” and affirm that “salvation, human beings, and creation are not for sale.” The devotions can be downloaded from each of our churches’ websites, and shared broadly. May our prayers united be a modest but hopeful sign of what our churches can do together as we bear witness to the One who first reconciled himself to us.

In Christ,

Fred H - Black

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate
Anglican Church of Canada

susan-johnson-signature

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

elizabeth-eaton-signature-copy

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

michael-curry-signature-copy

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop
Episcopal Church (United States)

View or download the 2016 Advent devotions.

Download this letter in PDF format.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 31, 2016

Gifts for Mission: Help in the battle against suicide

Posted on: October 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Rev. Norm Casey performs music with youth at the Iroquois Lodge seniors' residence during the second Music for the Spirit day camp in July 2015, which took place in the village of Ohsweken in the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ont. Submitted photo

The Rev. Norm Casey performs music with youth at the Iroquois Lodge seniors’ residence during the second Music for the Spirit day camp in July 2015, which took place in the village of Ohsweken in the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ont. Submitted photo

Gifts for Mission: Help in the battle against suicide

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The epidemic of suicide casts a shadow over many Indigenous communities across Canada. Young people are particularly at risk, with First Nations youth being five to seven times more likely to take their own lives than non-Indigenous youth, according to Health Canada.

The need to prevent future suicides and to heal grieving communities prompted the establishment of the Suicide Prevention Program within the Anglican Church of Canada. Initially launched by the Council of the North with funds from the Amazing Grace project, and subsequently managed by Indigenous Ministries, the program aims to teach suicide prevention in a manner suited to individual communities and reflective of their cultural and spiritual traditions.

Trained suicide prevention volunteers are a vital component of the program, working to determine which methods of prevention work best in a given context. By purchasing a gift through the 2016 Gifts for Mission gift guide, Canadian Anglicans can help in the battle against suicide and support the work of volunteers. A gift of $400 will cover the housing cost of a trained suicide prevention volunteer for one week to ensure proper mental health resources are available to an Indigenous community, while a $200 gift will cover half their housing cost for one week.

“Suicide is one of the most difficult, compelling, and urgent problems facing our communities today,” National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald said.

“It robs so many of our communities, not just of young people, but of hope [and] happiness. It’s an ongoing problem … This is one of the most urgent things that we do in terms of our work. We try to get a focus on this because we can see the kind of chaos and mayhem that this causes.”

Over the last several years, suicide prevention volunteers have spearheaded a number of programs in different areas with a focus on community resilience.

Participants in the 2015 music camp at Six Nations. Submitted photo
Participants in the 2015 music camp at Six Nations. Submitted photo

A major success have been music camps patterned after a program in the Diocese of Alaska, in which youth have the opportunity to learn to play various instruments and connect to their cultural heritage through traditional music. Bishop MacDonald pointed to a drop in suicides in communities where the music camps have taken place.

The Suicide Prevention Program also hosts groups where people come together and talk about experiences of suicide in their families or communities. Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor highlighted the program Breaking the Silence, Brightening the Spirit in the Six Nations of the Grand River as an example.

To aid the work of suicide prevention, Indigenous Ministries has produced a booklet and accompanying DVD, Suicide in Our Land: A Pastoral Care Resource, which contains stories, reflections, prayers, poems, and other resources for pastoral care providers.

“I think that the key for us, and as a church, is to deal with the spiritual aspects of suicide, and how we need to restore spirits of our young people,” Doctor said.

Along with inter-generational post-traumatic stress disorder rooted in the residential school experience and the loss of land, language, and culture, Doctor suggests that many Indigenous youth today face identity crises that can lead to thoughts of suicide.

“We have young people who don’t know about Jesus, who don’t know about God, who don’t even know their traditional ways,” she said. “I think that if we can find ways to teach them those things, then maybe they’ll begin to value themselves as people, and begin to see that they have a responsibility here while they’re on earth and they have to find a way to live into that responsibility.”

In reaching out to those at risk, suicide prevention volunteers are on the frontlines. Gifts from Anglicans to defray the cost of housing can go a long way in facilitating their work, since many do not have full-time jobs or work part-time.

“It’s really hard work, and so any kind of support we can give is appreciated … and will certainly help them to be in less stress,” Doctor said.

Bishop MacDonald aptly summarized the importance of providing housing for suicide prevention volunteers.

“Without it, we can’t do it,” the bishop said. “So I think it’s pretty important.”

Help in the battle against suicide through Gifts for Mission.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 25, 2016