Archive for the ‘General’ Category

A Celtic pilgrimage

Posted on: December 7th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Canon Lorne Mitchell on December, 05 2016

The author at Iona Abbey. Photo: Contributed


At the beginning of May, I took a deep breath, stepped out the door and began a Celtic pilgrimage. Ringing in my ears were the words of Bilbo Baggins: “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to…”

Well, I had done quite a bit of reading, thinking and planning before I started this pilgrimage. But I can tell you that nothing prepared me for the mental, emotional and spiritual places I was swept off to… The currents and eddies of the flow conspired to touch me in ways that were personal, prophetic and pastoral.

Personal, in that I’ve reconnected with my Gaelic ancestors; prophetic, in that I feel the need to keep a sharper eye out for when something is not life-giving; pastoral, in that my prayer relationship with God is now in and through creation—not reaching somewhere above and beyond creation.

When I was planning this pilgrimage, I knew that there were certain places I wanted to see, and certain things I wanted to do. But I also knew that it was important not to have a full and rigid itinerary. It was important to allow mental and temporal space for chance encounters—space to follow the unexpected opportunities that presented themselves.

For example, I knew that I needed to stay overnight in Edinburgh, but I had no idea that the bed and breakfast I was staying in would be owned by a Muslim family from Morocco. It was wonderful to hear how they came to Scotland a generation ago, and now their older son is heading off to university.

Another example. I knew that I wanted to go to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, but I had no idea that I would have a chance to visit with one of the authors from the Northumbrian Community. He writes Celtic prayers and his wife does wonderful Celtic artwork.

Also, at my Lindisfarne bed and breakfast, the first morning there I discovered that the person in the room next to me was the suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Diane Jardine Bruce. It just so happened she was on sabbatical, too. Being a fan of St. Cuthbert, she had just done the long walk from Melrose Abbey to Lindisfarne. The next day we went for a walk and talked about why the Celtic tradition is now so important for the church. She and Terry Dance and Linda Nicholls all went to Bishop’s School together in the U.S., and she was delighted to hear that Linda was our new bishop!

Here is another example of a chance encounter. In order to get to the Isle of Iona, first you take a train from Glasgow to Oban, then a ferry from Oban to the Isle of Mull, then take a bus along a narrow, twisty road to the other end of the island, and then finally you take a little ferry across to the Isle of Iona. Well, on the train from Glasgow to Oban a woman named Clare came and sat in front of me and we started talking about the logistics of all these connections. It was her first time to Iona as well. It turned out that she worked for the British organization Christian Aid and was leading a workshop on current strategies for social justice—“Being Change Makers.” She was interested in what I was reading, and we have been emailing and sharing ideas with each other ever since I got back.

These are all examples of why it is important on a pilgrimage to leave space for chance encounters—and let the currents of the river of life touch you in unexpected ways.

Now, once I reached the Isle of Iona, there was one thing that truly caught me by surprise. Yes, the abbey was lovely and historic—and the community inspiring. But as I walked up and down this three-mile island, I had a strange feeling, as though everything on the island was speaking to me—the rocks, the plants, the animals, the sky and sea. Because of this, I spent a great deal of time walking the island and being open to what it was saying to me. It was truly an amazing experience.

Towards the end of my sabbatical, I starting writing down some things that I felt were important. Here are a few of the characteristics I focus on as a Celtic Christian.

                                                                            Being a Celtic Christian

  • All created things in the universe are sacred; there is something of God in all things.
  • Therefore, all created things deserve to be shown respect:  rock, earth, sky, stars, sun, moon, clouds, plants, animals, people.
  • All created things are in a personal relationship with each other and their Creator.
  • If you slow down, stop and be still, your relationship with creatures and all created things becomes more clear.
  • When you slow down, look and show respect for the created things around you (rather than charging around and showing no respect), then created things, in turn, take more notice of you, and can speak to you,
  • A pilgrimage is very different from a trip or vacation; a pilgrimage is not about checking off the list the beaches, gardens, castles and cathedrals seen. It’s about leaving on a walk and letting yourself be deeply touched by the people you meet; by the places in which you dwell; and by the created world all around that can speak to you.
  • I am created by God, in the image of God, and therefore when God looks and sees the deepest part of my being, behold, God sees that “it is very good.”
  • At the same time, I must take very seriously the reality of sin and evil that can over time grow within and without of me, like weeds and thorny bushes. I must be vigilant first about this reality in myself, and then about this reality in the world around me.
  • There is no duality of matter and spirit. One is not bad and the other good. The worlds of matter and spirit are deeply intertwined. The challenge of sin and evil is a challenge both for matter and spirit.
  • The realms of heaven and earth are not as far apart as many think. There are many places and moments where they touch and interact with each other. Not just in prayer, but in moments of everyday life. We simply need to practise paying attention.
  • Christ has come to reveal the essential love relationship between the Creator and created and to end all feelings of being alone, alienated and unloved.

When I arrived home in Canada, I started reflecting on my journey and started to write things down. For some reason, the words that came seemed to take the form of poems. And so I would like to finish this reflection by offering you one of those poems.

 

Iona

As you walk, tread gently,

Breathe deeply, and quiet the body like a sunset

Let the cares of the mind flow out like a river

Let the birds of the air speak to you

Let the ancient rock of the island speak to you

Let the sheep of the field speak to you

Let the clouds and rain speak to you

Let the distant mountains speak to you

Let the sea and sky speak to you

Let the wind and waves speak to you

 

Let each pilgrim you meet on the way speak to you

 

For the Kingdom of God is near

Let the God of all life speak to you

 

About the Author

Canon Lorne Mitchell

Canon Lorne Mitchell is a priest in the diocese of Huron.

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Anglican Journal News, December 06, 2016

40 years after the first ordination of women, achievements and challenges

Posted on: December 5th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Tali Folkins on December, 02 2016

Forty females priests gather at St. James Anglican Church in Stratford, Ont.,  for the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church of Canada. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


Stratford, Ont.
Four decades after the first women were ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada, much progress remains to be made, say female priests who profess to have struggled with everything from unequal pay to inappropriate touching by some parishioners.

From November 28-December 1, 40 female priests from the Anglican Church of Canada gathered at St. James Anglican Church for “Unmasking the Feminine,” a conference marking the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the church. For participants, the event seemed an occasion both for celebrating the achievements made in advancing the rights of women and being mindful of the challenges many say yet remain.

“The progress we’ve made over those years has made life significantly better than it was for our mothers and grandmothers, but oh my, it has been a very hard row to hoe,” said Canon Judy Rois, executive director of the Anglican Foundation, in a keynote address opening the event. “All of us know the strain of a white collar around our neck, and all of us know the sting and the pain of opposition. But thank God, thank God, we also know the indomitable spirit of hope.”

 Diocese of Huron Bishop Linda Nicholls celebrates the anniversary Eucharist. Assisting her is Huron’s Archdeacon, Tanya Phibbs. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


“We have much to be grateful for in Canada,” Linda Nicholls, installed as Bishop of Huron the previous Saturday, said in her introduction to a conference workshop. “It doesn’t mean we’re finished, but it means we’re on the way.”

Asked what they felt were the continuing challenges of women in the church, some noted that female priests are still being paid less than their male counterparts.

For example, said the Rev. Trish McCarthy, of All Saints Anglican Church in Regina, many locally-ordained priests are women. Such priests, she said, are normally compensated for their mileage, and they’re entitled to other benefits, but otherwise their positions are unpaid.

“In the west, that’s pretty dominant,” she said. “There’s a major pay equity problem.”

One participant said that female priests are more likely to be working part-time, in small parishes, and another said that women priests tend to lose out because they’re less inclined to negotiate salary than men.

In a brief interview with the Anglican Journal, Nicholls voiced some similar concerns.

“I think some of the women do find that in places, there’s been the experience that women serve in smaller churches, and more women are in non-stipendiary roles,” she said.  “That’s also true for Indigenous communities and others, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to have equality in terms of those kinds of things.”

For participants, the event was an occasion to celebrate the achievements made in advancing the rights of women and be mindful of the challenges that remain. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


Many parishes in Canada, some participants said, still will not accept women priests. The Rev. Karen Laldin, of St. Andrew’s on the Red Anglican Church, Man., said she came close to leaving the Anglican church after what she calls a “terrible experience” priesting for an especially resistant parish in the 1990s.“They made no bones about it—they wanted a man,” she said. After serving the parish for five years, she decided to quit. The announcement of her imminent departure, she said, was greeted with jubilation by some in the congregation.

“There was a certain amount of applause and the comment was, ‘Now we’ll get a man,’ ” Laldin said.

As it turned out, Laldin was succeeded not by a man, but by several female priests in turn, before a male priest finally arrived.

“God, in her infinite wisdom, has a fabulous sense of humour,” said Laldin.


At the celebratory banquet. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


Nicholls, who, like Rois, was ordained in 1985, told conference participants she was spared some of the “absolutely atrocious” behaviour of some people toward the first female priests, such as heckling and walking out during sermons. But she’s still had to endure sexism, she said.“Things like clergy jokes about what you were wearing,” Nicholls said. “Sexist comments. Inappropriate hugs,” she said with a wince, to murmurs of agreement from numerous participants.

Nicholls cautioned participants, however, against focusing on gender equality to the exclusion of God. As priests, she said, they ought to try to work out conflicts “in a way that does not make gender the battleground, but makes the gospel the place that we’re heading for.

“I think that’s ultimately what we want—we want a church where that is at the core, not where women have won,” she said.


 Bishop Barbara Andrews, of the  Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (Territory of the People),  preaches at the anniversary Eucharist. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


In an interview, Rois said she believed it would be a long time before the church reaches full gender equality.“I think lots of people still don’t feel that a woman can stand in the place of Christ—that Christ had 12 disciples, and they were men,” she said. “I think a lot of people still feel just a little more comfortable if a man is in charge…Women can do this and be just as capable, but a lot of people don’t want to take that chance.”

Rois is also the co-author of a 2013 study, Why is the Stained Glass Window a Stained Glass Ceiling? Organizational Perspectives on Female Bishops in the Anglican Communion. The study explores how gender bias has worked against female priests becoming bishops.

According to Anglican Church of Canada statistics, 406 out of 1,139 active clergy—35.5 per cent—are women; of retired clergy, females number 369 out of 1,750, or 21.1 per cent.

Participants  join the  Blanket Exercise, an interactive way of learning about the history of colonialism in Canada. Photo: Jesse Dymond/The General Synod


The first ordination of women in the Anglican Church of Canada took place in 1976, following the approval by General Synod of a resolution authorizing the ordination of women in 1975. Six women were ordained in four dioceses: Cariboo, Huron, Niagara and New Westminster. As of 1991, every diocese in Canada has permitted the ordination of woman.

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.

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Anglican Journal News, December 02, 2016

Mission to Seafarers confronts human cost of shipping

Posted on: November 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Tali Folkins on November 28, 2016


Representatives from Missions to Seafarers stations across Canada gather at their annual conference in Toronto November 15-17.
Photo: Tali Folkins


Serving with Mission to Seafarers, says the Rev. Eric Phinney, can be an eye-opening experience in many respects—down to the way you see items on a store shelf.

“When you become a chaplain, you suddenly get exposed to this whole new world,” he says. “You begin to see and understand how stuff moves around the planet, and at what cost.”

Often, he says, people don’t realize that there’s a hidden cost behind the low prices of many imports—the toll taken on those who work in the shipping industry. But it’s something he says he sees frequently in his work as chaplain at the Missions to Seafarers station in Saint John, N.B.

“Why could you buy that pair of pants…for $12.95 or whatever? Well, there’s a cost to that…We’re relying in some cases on slave-like conditions.”

Phinney, along with a dozen of his counterparts from Missions to Seafarers stations across Canada, was in Toronto November 15-17 for the organization’s annual conference. Many spoke of the challenges faced by the seafarers they minister to—and of the difficulty they themselves experience in trying to help so many people on limited time and finances.

To minimize their costs, freight ship companies typically hire crew members from the poorest countries, Phinney says—people who will work in extremely poor conditions out of economic necessity. Their jobs typically require them to be away from home from seven to 12 months of the year at a time, working long hours in sometimes dangerous conditions. Food may be scarce on the ships, and their employers may be behind in paying them. Or their employers may bar them from returning home for family funerals or other important events.

Since 2006, seafarers have been guaranteed certain rights—to decent work conditions, accommodations, food and medical care, for example—under a set of international regulations, the Maritime Labour Convention. In practice, however, crew members are often afraid to exercise these rights for fear they’ll be fired or blacklisted, Phinney says.

“I remember going on one ship and asking, ‘How are things going?’ and they said, ‘Well, all the paperwork says it’s going well, but nothing really happens that way,'” Phinney says. “They were trying to say things are really bad on the ship.”

Typical Missions to Seafarers ministry consists of chaplains visiting ships in port and speaking with crew members to offer them prayer, material support and advocacy when needed. It’s also a goal of the organization, Phinney says, to offer seafarers a place of real welcome at their stations when they come ashore.

“They want somebody who’s going to make them a cup of tea,” he says. “We’re trying to give them a home away from home, and a bit of a respite.”

Sometimes the company that owns a ship may go bankrupt and suddenly leave the crew stranded in a foreign country—without food and other necessities, or pay.

Earlier this fall, the Rev. Maggie Whittingham-Lamont, chaplain at the Halifax station, visited one such vessel in Cape Breton, to find unpaid and hungry crewmembers huddling around tiny space heaters. She and colleagues supplied them with food for the night and warm clothes.

“We sort of panic when we’re faced with something like that, because it’s not really budgeted for,” she says. It usually means she has to scramble for funds from donors. In 2012, she and her colleagues were able to amass enough airline travel points to send eight crew members from an abandoned tugboat home to Honduras and Guatemala.

Probably the biggest challenge faced by seafarers, Whittingham-Lamont says, is their isolation. Serving on a ship thousands of kilometres from home for a good part of the year can be difficult enough, but sometimes, on top of this, crew members face linguistic problems as well. A single ship’s crew today may consist of people from several different nationalities; sometimes, there may be no one else on the ship who speaks the crew member’s language.

Much of her work, she says, consists in a ministry of presence, trying to be there for seafarers and support them emotionally.

But the heavy demands of having to minister to so many people, she says, can lead to the chaplains themselves feeling overstretched.

“We never have enough time to visit all the ships we want to visit and help everybody we want to help,” she says. “It’s a pretty hectic job.”

Sometimes the chaplains’ work has them witnessing not only the hardships but the joys of sailors’ lives also. The Rev. Judith Alltree, executive director and chaplain for Oshawa and Toronto mission stations, says one of the most unforgettable experiences she’s had as a chaplain occurred this summer when the Hamilton station allowed one young seafarer from the Philippines to see the birth of his first child. The station had granted him its Wi-Fi password, and when his wife went into labour, he sat outside the closed building all night helping coach her, using an online video messaging service.

“He could Skype into the delivery room with her and witness his daughter’s birth 12,000 km from where he was, 12 time zones away,” Alltree says. “And after the baby was born, he went back to the ship and announced the news. The captain shut all the work down, and they had a party.

“So you have those phenomenal stories as well as the difficult stories.”

Missions to Seafarers, now in its 160th year, is a network of Anglican mission stations in 200 ports around the world, organized in eight regions. Its Canadian region, which has stations in St. John’s, Halifax, Saint John, Lasalle, Toronto, Oshawa, Hamilton, Windsor, Sarnia, Thunder Bay and Vancouver, is currently in the process of establishing itself as an organization. At its first annual conference last year, it adopted a constitution and bylaws. A critical next step will be incorporation, says acting regional manager Ed Swayze.

The November meeting was presided by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who will also attend an annual Christmas service this year at the international headquarters of Missions to Seafarers in London, U.K.

 

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.

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Anglican Journal News, November 29, 2016

Mothers’ Union march on Downing Street for victims of domestic violence

Posted on: November 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Gavin Drake/ACNS on November, 29 2016


Members of the Mothers’ Union deliver their petition to 10 Downing Street.
Photo: Rachael Arding/Mothers’ Union


Members of the Mothers’ Union (MU) in Great Britain have delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street – the official residence of the UK Prime Minister – calling for changes to child maintenance rules for victims of domestic violence. Current regulations say that unless child maintenance payments are made direct to the parent with responsibility for bringing up the child, a four per cent levy is imposed under what is known as the “collect and pay” system. This “could force survivors of domestic abuse to engage with a former partner, the very perpetrator who carried out the abuse against them,” the Mothers’ Union said.

“Figures show that one in three applicants to the Child Maintenance Service has experienced domestic abuse,” the MU’s social policy manager, Rachel Aston, said. “Under this system survivors of abuse will pay an automatic four per cent levy, equivalent to an average of £130, which may not sound a lot to some but may be a tipping point for a mum who then struggles to pay for her child’s school uniform and PE kit for the year.

“The new system puts pressure on women to use the family-based arrangement, or direct pay, which may result in continuing contact with an abusive ex-partner.”

The campaigners left the Mothers’ Union’s Westminster headquarters, Mary Sumner House, this lunchtime (Friday) and marched past the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall before arriving in Downing Street.

Earlier , Mothers’ Union members from around the world lit candles and took part in a “Global Moment” to stand alongside and support and pray for the millions of women who suffer domestic violence in its many forms, which has reached endemic proportions in many parts of the world.

“Mary Sumner, who founded the Mothers’ Union 140 years ago, refused to accept injustice for women,” the MU’s CEO, Bev Jullien, said. “Similarly, in this generation, women, families and communities are suffering because of practices that fuel prejudice and result in hardship for thousands of vulnerable women.”

Today’s activities form part of a major Mothers’ Union campaign, to shine the light on gender based violence [GBV] with the clear message that “It’s Not OK.” The campaign will highlight the many forms that GBV takes from controlling behaviour by a partner to rape as a weapon of war.

Globally, the campaign will call on governments and leaders to ensure that national, local and customary laws prohibit all forms of violence against women. The campaign will also call for survivors to have access to justice and support services, and that perpetrators are prosecuted.

“I have been in that position, and it can be hard to manage on a limited income,” one mother told the MU. “My ex told social services that he gave the children pocket money and this amount was promptly taken from my support. I lost out and he thought it funny.”

Another mother said: “I know how long it takes in many cases of relationship breakdown for any chance at respectful communication to take place and it is certainly not right at the beginning when maintenance arrangements are needed.”

The march and presentation to 10 Downing Street took place on the first of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence.

 

About the Author

Gavin Drake/ACNS (Anglican Communion News Service)

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Anglican Journal News, November 29, 2016

Churches should do more to end racism, says Lutheran partner

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on November 25, 2016

Pat Lovell (right),  of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, says the Lutheran and Anglican churches should engage in grassroots activism to fight racism.  Beside Lovell is Shannon Cottrell, executive secretary for governance. Photo: André Forget


Anti-racist activism could be an excellent opportunity for Lutheran and Anglican congregations to engage in grass-roots ecumenical action, says Pat Lovell, representative to Council of General Synod (CoGS) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

“We have this close relationship, we have power together, and I’d like to see us do more work together at the grassroots,” Lovell told CoGs in a November 19 partner’s reflection, noting that while both churches are involved in initiatives around responsible resource development, homelessness and poverty, there has been less co-operation on anti-racism.

Lovell said the recent defacement of a synagogue, a church and a mosque in Ottawa, is a reminder that racism and anti-Semitism remain problems in Canada.

Lovell began her reflection by joking that in the ELCIC National Church Council she is known as a “Luthercan” due to her long-term ecumenical involvement with Anglicans.

And while she praised the close relationship that exists between the two churches, which have been in a full communion relationship since 2001, she noted this partnership doesn’t always filter down to the parishes and congregations.

“While we work together at the national levels, at the staff levels, there are so many more things that we could do at a congregational level,” she said. “I think it’s time for us not just to focus on how we deal within our houses, but how we show and express ourselves to the world.”

Lovell’s report was followed by a reflection from Cynthia Haines-Turner, prolocutor for the Anglican Church of Canada and the CoGS representative to the ELCIC’s National Church Council (NCC).

Haines-Turner said that is “a lot that delights me with the Lutherans, and a fair bit that amazes,” noting that for such a small church—according to its website, the ELCIC counts approximately 114,592 baptized members—the ELCIC is quite active in global ministries as well as domestic social justice efforts such as sponsoring refugees.

“The work they produce is incredible,” said Haines-Turner. “It speaks of their commitment to their church, to their faith and to their mission.”

In particular, Haines-Turner spoke highly of the work the ELCIC has done in advance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The ELCIC has issued a “Reformation challenge,” which involves sponsoring refugees, raising money for scholarships for schools, planting trees, and contributing to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) endowment fund.

Haines-Turner said that the plan as brought to the NCC was to sponsor 50 refugees, provide 50 scholarships, plant 50,000 trees, and raise $50,000 for the LWF fund, but the NCC decided to multiply each figure by 10.

It has already met and surpassed the new target for refugees, having sponsored more than 500 since the challenge began.

“I think, for a small church, that actually sums up who the Lutherans are,” said Haines-Turner. “It is better to aim high and fall short than to undersell ourselves.”

 

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.

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Anglican Journal News, November 25, 2016

Trump’s election a ‘betrayal’ of Christian values, says TEC representative

Posted on: November 25th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on November 25, 2016

Canon (lay) Doreen Duncan says Donald Trump’s victory was made more difficult for her by the fact that so many of his supporters identified as Christians. Photo: André Forget


Mississauga, Ont.
The election of Donald Trump has caused pain and uncertainty in The Episcopal Church (TEC), says Canon (lay) Noreen Duncan, TEC’s representative to Council of General Synod (CoGS).

Addressing CoGS on November 19, Duncan spoke of the sense of “betrayal” she feels as someone who immigrated to the United States and now sees the values she had always associated with her new home “slipping out from under us.”

In nearly a year of campaigning, Trump was frequently criticized for stirring up animosity toward immigrants, Muslims, and religious and ethnic minorities, as well as for his derogatory comments toward women.

Duncan said Trump’s victory was made more difficult for her by the fact that so many of his supporters identified as Christians. According to the Pew Research Centre, 58% of Protestants, 60% of white Catholics and 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump.

“As part of the Jesus Movement, we are not just people of faith: we are Christians; and the people who apparently seem to have chosen [to vote for Trump], also identify as Christians,” said Duncan. “[But] the values of Christianity are not the values that have been espoused in this election, and that is part of the reason I feel so betrayed.”

Duncan said that while she hadn’t planned on spending so much time talking about the U.S. election while in Canada, many CoGS members had asked for her opinion on it.

However, she also spoke about what she had admired in the CoGS meeting, such as the Canadian Anglican church’s commitment to grappling with the challenges of reconciliation—issues that she finds receive less airtime in TEC.

“I am grateful that you can have the conversations, that you speak of reconciliation out of your heart, and you struggle with issues like this,” she said.


Melanie Delva says the Canadian church could learn from The Episcopal Church’s willingness to involve itself in secular politics. Photo: André Forget


Duncan’s comments came after a report from Melanie Delva, the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative on the Executive Council, the equivalent of CoGS for The Episcopal Church.  CoGS is the Canadian church’s governing body in between General Synods.

Delva noted that she had already participated in a meeting of the council this year, and that the election had weighed heavily over the proceedings.“I assured the Episcopal Church…that they have our prayers and our support,” said Delva. “I let them know that we watch very carefully what happens, because what happens in one part of the body of Christ happens to us all.”

One of the things Delva said impressed her most about her visit to TEC, and which she thought the Canadian church could learn from, was its willingness to involve itself in secular politics.

“I was really impressed with the way the council was not afraid to get political,” she said. “They did not seem to have the hesitation I sometimes feel the [Canadian] Anglican church has around taking that next step to taking what could be seen as a political stance, whether for something that is happening in society or against something that is happening in society.”

 

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.

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Anglican Journal News, November 25, 2016

Unity is witness, says church’s general secretary

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on November, 22 2016


Archdeacon Michael Thompson says in a time of rising “nativist and nationalist movements,” the church must be a witness to co-operation and respect across deep differences.
Photo: André Forget


While recent years have seen much talk of “unity” in certain quarters of the deeply divided Anglican Church of Canada, unity is not just an end in itself, says Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a November 20 presentation to Council of General Synod (CoGS), Thompson described the unity of the church as “not just about getting along with each other for the sake of getting along,” but being a “part of our ministry and witness.”

Thompson said that in a time of rising “nativist and nationalist movements…in which people are narrowing their vision to what they perceive to be their own good, even while ignoring the reality that if the common good fails, personal good is hard to achieve,” the church must be a witness to co-operation and respect across deep differences.

In the wake of a particularly fractious General Synod in July, where a controversial motion to allow the marriage of same-sex couples passed its first reading, Anglicans need to work to understand each other better, he said.

In response to frustrations voiced at General Synod regarding the legislative structures and processes of the church, Thompson sounded a note of caution about the idea that changes to the church’s decision-making process would foster a greater sense of unity.

“We still have not listened to one another to the point of building understanding of those differences among us that trouble us most,” said Thompson. “If we do not take the time it takes…to understand that diversity as a dimension of our faithfulness, then there is no process of discerning and deciding that will allow us to avoid the consequences that we experienced at General Synod.”

Instead, Thompson said, it is a matter of “the whole church understanding the whole church as legitimately the church.”

Thompson also offered a concrete example of one way he thinks the church has been successful in this.

He related a conversation between himself and the Rev. Eileen Scully, director of faith, worship, and ministry at General Synod, about a conversation she had had with the Rev. Robert Oliphant, a United Church minister and Liberal MP who served as chair of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.

According to Thompson, Oliphant had told Scully that the Anglican Church of Canada was the only organization to make a submission to the committee raising the question of how legalizing assisted dying would affect Indigenous communities.

Thompson said that was “a moment in which we, I think, heard and spoke…to who we are trying to be and become.”

Thompson also drew attention to the written report he had submitted to CoGS, which consisted mostly of brief summaries of the work being done in the departments of the national church.

He also encouraged synod members to read a second report he had sent to CoGS explaining the voting errors at General Synod 2016.

In his report, Thompson explained that the error was caused by a failure to record Thompson, MacDonald and Canon (lay) David Jones, chancellor of General Synod, as voting members in the database that was used by Data-on-the-Spot (DOTS), the company hired to facilitate electronic voting at synod.

While Jones realized that an error had been made regarding himself and Thompson, he did not realize MacDonald had been left off as well. And when Thompson was coded into the system, he was registered incorrectly as a member of the laity.

Three other members, two clergy and a layperson, also reported that their votes in favour of the motion had not been recorded, but the report says there is “uncertainty” as to whether this was due to errors on their own part or problems with the devices they used in voting.

Thompson concluded his report by noting that electronic voting will only be used in the future if these issues can be addressed in a satisfactory manner. However, he said he has been in contact with DOTS, and they have proposed measures to ensure greater assurance that votes have been properly recorded, such as assigning a number to each voting device, or providing visual proof that a particular member’s vote has been registered.

Thompson said that CoGS’ Governance Working Group would explore the problem further and propose additions to the handbook to govern electronic voting, including, for example, whether clergy and laity should vote at the same time, as opposed to separately.

 

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.

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Anglican Journal News, November 24, 2016

Anglican-United Church dialogue recommends more collaboration in mission

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Tali Folkins on November, 23 2016

Members of the 2012-2016 round of the Anglican-United Church dialogue. Back row (L-R): the Rev. Donald Koots, Brenda Simpson, the Rev. Gordon Jensen, the Rev. Sandra Beardsall, Bishop Michael Oulton, the Rev. Elisabeth Jones, Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton. Front row: the Rev. Stephen Silverthorne, Gail Allan, the Rev. Andrew O’Neill, the Rev. William Harrison, Bishop Bruce Myers. Photo: Contributed


The Anglican Church of Canada and United Church of Canada ought to work more closely together in the here-and-now despite their outstanding theological differences, a recently released report by an ecumenical panel of the two churches recommends.“Acknowledging our fundamental agreement in a common faith, our churches must engage more deeply in common mission,” concludes Called to Unity in Mission, the report of the Anglican Church of Canada-United Church of Canada Dialogue, released this fall.

To achieve this goal, the dialogue recommends the creation of a national co-ordinating committee for looking at possible new ways of collaboration between the two churches, and potentially other churches as well.

It also recommends that the churches continue to work together on reconciliation, particularly with Indigenous peoples; invite each other’s members to take part in their committees; and share physical and human resources at the local, regional and national levels—including pursuing the idea of a common national office.

The report also clarifies that actual union is no longer a goal of the dialogue, however.

To a great extent, the shape of future collaboration between the two churches remains to be worked out by the co-ordinating committee, says Bruce Myers, co-adjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec and, as former co-ordinator of ecumenical relations for the Anglican Church of Canada, a member of the dialogue. But the possibilities are many, he says, and exist at all levels—local, regional and national. Already, says Myers, the national offices of both churches share some staff, in areas such as resources for mission, philanthropy and human resources.

The report summarized the work of the latest round of dialogue between the Anglican and United churches, which lasted from 2012 to 2016. The previous round, which ran from 2003 to 2009, was the first since negotiations toward the formal union of the two churches collapsed in 1975.

The first was essentially a “getting to know each other again” round, Myers says. With the second round, there was some hope that the dialogue would make progress on theological differences between the two churches—around their different understandings of the sacraments, the ordering of ministry and the concept of episkopé, or oversight, for example. In parishes where there are ecumenical shared ministries between the two churches, differences on areas such as these result in limits to what United Church ministers can do in terms of administering sacraments to Anglicans, Myers says.

While some progress was made in these areas, the dialogue recognizes that work still needs to be done, he says. But dialogue members also realized that this shouldn’t keep the two churches from working together.

“It’s really about getting to the nitty-gritty, practical expressions of ecumenism,” says Myers. “That’s not to devalue the theological ecumenism that needs to continue to happen so that we can achieve the full visible unity to which we’re called, and which is a gospel imperative. But in the meantime, we need to be giving more visible expression, here and now, to the unity that we already acknowledge that we share—at every level of the church.”

In addition to its recommendations on collaboration, the report calls for more theological work between the two churches. It recommends the two churches continue to strive for mutual recognition of ministry, including discussions of episkopé and renewing the Ecumenical Shared Ministries Task Force.

Differences on the ordering of ministry can have unfortunate, on-the-ground effects for parishioners of both churches—effects that further theological dialogue might be able to prevent, Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton, an Anglican member of the dialogue, said in a news release from the national office.

“I think it’s a tragedy that in some small communities across Canada, there’s a United Church with a half-time minister and an Anglican church with a half-time minister, and as numbers diminish, both churches close,” she said. “Both churches want to offer the gospel, the Word and sacraments to nourish those communities. And sometimes we can do it together.”

One unusual feature of this latest round is that, while it was happening, the United Church was going through its own re-evaluation of how it orders its ministries. It currently has three orders of ministry, which have evolved for various reasons over the years, says United Church co-chair the Rev. Andrew O’Neill. But the church is now considering moving to a single order.

The United Church’s decision on whether or not to adopt a single order of ministry “will have a significant impact on whether and to what extent continued discussion concerning the mutual recognition of ministry, and therefore the orderly exchange of ministers with other denominations, might continue,” O’Neill says. A move to a single order, he says, will result in a much less complex system, and one in which the training and oversight of ministers would more closely resemble those of clergy in other denominations, including the Anglican Church of Canada.

The United Church is expected to decide on the matter this June.

The unpredictability of the outcome of the United Church’s debate on this issue, Myers says, made the dialogue more challenging. But it also presented an opportunity, in that the dialogue was invited to respond to the single ministry idea. In its response, attached to Called to Unity in Mission, the dialogue encourages the United Church to move toward a single order of ordained ministers, partly on the ground that it would help solve some of the problems now encountered in ecumenical shared ministries.

O’Neill says that, despite the outstanding differences between the two churches, he feels hopeful about the future of the Anglican-United Church dialogue.

“Overall, I think we have achieved much greater clarity concerning what we already share in common, and where we need to keep talking,” he says. “This is well beyond where we were as denominations when the first phase of the dialogue began.”

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.

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Anglican Journal News, November 24, 2016

Faiths applaud “unprecedented global consensus” on climate change action at COP22

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

Posted on: November 21, 2016

The Revd Fletcher Harper, a priest of the US-based Episcopal Church and executive director of GreenFaith, speaks about faiths, foundations and finance during a side event at the COP22 UN climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
Photo Credit: Ryan RoderickBeiler / Lutheran World Federation

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Last year’s Paris agreement on climate change is “irreversible and unstoppable”, the world’s political leaders said as they met in Marrakech for this year’s climate change conference (COP22). As they gathered, a significant number of Anglican leaders signed a joint inter-faith statement describing the agreement as an “unprecedented global consensus.”

“The landmark Paris Agreement set the course and the destination for global climate action,” the UN’s Patricia Espinosa, executive Secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, said. “Here in Marrakesh, governments underlined that this shift is now urgent.”

Amongst the agreements reached in Morocco, 47 of some of the world’s poorest states that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, pledged to switch to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.

The governments at the COP22 talks agreed to bring forward the writing of the “rule book” which would put the Paris agreement into action; and also “a significant boost of transparency of action, including for measuring and accounting emissions reductions, the provision of climate finance, and technology development and transfer.”

The inter-faith statement, signed by around 298 faith leaders from 50 countries, called on nations to justly manage the transition to a low carbon economy and urged a significant shift of investment from fossil fuels into renewable energy sources.

In it, the faith leaders ask states to uphold the obligations in the preamble of the Paris Agreement. In particular, they say: “we appeal to states to uphold their obligations on human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, a just transition, food security and intergenerational equity.

“We stress that the full and equal participation of women, indigenous societies and youth in addressing climate change will accelerate efforts towards a low carbon economy and significantly contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, that aims to end energy poverty by 2030.”

And they call on organisations, including from faith communities, “for more commitments to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy and targeted engagement with companies on climate change.

“We need to ground this work in pursuing a just transition to renewable energy.”

The letter was signed by a number of Anglican leaders, including Nicholas Drayson, the bishop of Northern Argentina in the Province of South America; Dr Lyn Arnold, chair of the Church of Australia’s Public Affairs Commission; Mark MacDonald, the bishop for indigenous peoples for the Church of Canada; Thomas Oommen, the Bishop of Madhya Kerala in the united Church of South India; Dr Agnes Aboum, moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and a member of the Church of Kenya; and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Church of Southern Africa and the chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).

“There is urgent need to scale up action on climate change as it is very negatively impacting on the very poor,” the Bishop of Bunyoro-Kitara, Nathan Kyamanywa, from the Church of Uganda, said. “Right now, many people in Uganda are dying of famine, drought, floods and storms. The seasons are erratic and unreliable.”

The Bishop of California in the US-based Episcopal Church, Marc Andrus, said that “all those who live on the Earth at this moment in time have been given the greatest possibility of being agents of transformation for future generations.

“To live into this possibility we must act on three levels: at the level of nations; at sub-national levels (cities, regions, religious bodies); and as individuals.

“At all three levels of action we must see the historic Paris Agreement of 2015 as a starting point, not as a static goal, and we must aspire to deeper, broader, more creative efforts.”

He continued: “the foundation of all our work in engaging climate change is spiritual – let the religious and spiritual traditions of the Earth bring our greatest spiritual values to bear in this crucial effort.”

The Bishop of Kingston in the Church of England’s diocese of Southwark, Dr Richard Cheetham, said that “care for the environment is one of the biggest moral and existential issues of our time. Combined and determined action for good stewardship of our planet earth is a central tenet of Christian faith.”

And the inaugural convenor of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), Bishop George Browning from the Church of Australia, commented: “We live in a relational world. Humans must learn to live within their limits, as well as their aspirations.

“Not to understand our limits is to court disaster. Being environmentally responsible is core business to people of faith and is ethically non-negotiable.”

Out of the 198 states that were party to the Paris Agreement, 112 have ratified it. The agreement passed its ratification threshold on 5 October this year and it came into legal force on 4 November. Next year’s Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23) will be hosted by Fiji, but held in Bonn, Germany.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Monday 21 November 2016

“Episcopal Evangelist” is not an oxymoron

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

Posted on: November 22, 2016

The Primate of the US-based Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Anglican Communion secretary general, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, address the Evangelism Matters conference in Dallas, Texas on Friday (18 November).
Photo Credit: Mary Frances Schjonberg

[ENS, by Mary Frances Schjonberg] The slogan on the conference bag read: “Episcopal Evangelist. It’s not an oxymoron.” While some people might think that an Episcopal evangelist is a rare breed, more than 400 evangelism veterans and fledgling practitioners spent Friday and Saturday (19-19 November) being inspired, finding camaraderie and learning new ways to live up to that slogan during the Evangelism Matters conference at Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, Texas.

Fighting the oxymoron perception begins with individuals, the Revd Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s canon for evangelism and reconciliation, said during Saturday’s plenary, asking “why do we need a conference to convince ourselves or to proclaim that evangelism matters?

“I think you know why,” she answered. “I think we know that, deep down, we’ve been ambivalent” about even the word “evangelism,” much less being evangelists.

When she asked people to shout out why that is so, some of the answers were “fear of rejection,” “fear of looking tacky,” “hurtful things that have been done in the name of evangelism,” “leave it to the clergy,” “people have to be gifted to do evangelism” and “I’m not sure; what is the Good News?”

Evangelism Matters, which quickly sold out its 400 spaces and then made room for 14 more, was co-sponsored by Forward Movement and the Presiding Bishop’s Office, and was hosted by the Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Transfiguration.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, during his keynote address and again during his sermon, both on Friday, set an ambitious agenda, gave a rousing call to action and clarified what Episcopal evangelism is and is not.

“Jesus did not go to the cross for a bigger church,” Curry said during his address, adding that, likewise, evangelism doesn’t have anything to do with making a bigger church; it has to do with a better world. It also has nothing to do with cultural or religious imperialism, the Presiding Bishop said. “This is not about conquering the world for Christ,” he said during his sermon. “It’s about saturating the world with love.”

Maybe, Curry suggested, the Episcopal Church is supposed to tell the world that Christianity’s foundation is the love shown in Jesus. And, he said, God is at work in this growing awareness. “I think we’re in one of those cultural moments in which we very well may be participating in God’s re-evangelisation of the western world and a re-evangelisation via a Christianity that resembles Jesus.”

Curry said “evangelism is about going home and helping each other find the way” and it is about helping people find God and build a relationship with God, who made them for love and longs for them.

“Evangelism matters because God didn’t make us for a nightmare,” he said.

Curry described his dreams for the church. In what he called a fantasised possibility and not a proposed program or an official statement, he asked the conference to imagine what it would be like if the Episcopal Church adopted the model of Doctors Without Borders by marshalling its resources and going anywhere there is a need.

“What if the churchwide budget – General Convention – said to heck with some of this structure, let’s just use this money for evangelism wherever there is a need?” he asked, adding the question of what if dioceses purposefully contributed to evangelism going on anywhere in the church.

Curry asked what would happen if every time a church had to close somewhere and the property sold “some percentage of that money were taken and put in a ‘new generation fund’ to start new churches anywhere in the Church “so that the death of one leads to the resurrection of another?”

The audience responded with loud and sustained applause.

One of the organisers, the Revd Frank Logue, Diocese of Georgia canon to the ordinary and Executive Council member, said that the size and mood of the conference was evidence of God at work. “We dreamed of something happening in the church and God did something more than we could have dreamed of,” he said.

But, he added, the conference has to be a beginning, not an accomplishment. It could be tempting to accept Curry’s self-declared role as “chief evangelism officer” and assume that is all that is needed.

“If we want to rely on our presiding bishop alone, as talented as he is, we will have made him into an idol and it would be better to ask him to step down,” Logue said.

Instead, as the Anglican Communion secretary general, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon suggested during short remarks to the conference, if Episcopalians become chief evangelism officers in their diocese, their congregations and in their families, “then we will have really joined the movement.”

Dr Idowu-Fearon praised the Episcopal Church for “re-evangelising this part of the Anglican Communion.” Later, during a press conference, he said that rest of Anglican Communion needs to know that the Episcopal Church talks not just about human sexuality; it talks about evangelism, too, and that it is setting an example of attempting to live together amid difference, contextualizing the gospel.

  • This is an edited version of an in-depth report by the Revd Mary Frances Schjonberg for the Episcopal News Service. Click here to read the full report.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 22 November 2016