Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Ottawa parish dedicates first scattering garden

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

 
“I’ve always been interested in the environmental impact of cemeteries and burial, and thinking about how we need to look at different ways to take space for burial in sacred spaces,” says the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of St. James Anglican Church, in west Ottawa.
Photo: Art Babych


St. James Anglican Church in the diocese of Ottawa has opened the first scattering garden for cremated ashes in Eastern Ontario.

The garden was dedicated June 12 during the church’s annual cemetery service in the Carp village community in west Ottawa. Located at the back of the church’s tree-shaded heritage cemetery behind St. James, the garden is open to people of all denominations.

Common in Europe, scattering gardens for cremated remains have only recently been offered in Ontario. They are more affordable than traditional burials and are environmentally friendly. “Ashes will enable the plants that are here to grow,” said the Rev. Monique Stone, rector of St. James, in an Anglican Journal interview. “Its certainly not detrimental. It’s beneficial to the growth and transformation of the plants that are here.”

Stone came up with the idea of opening a scattering garden on the church’s consecrated land three years ago after doing some research. “I’ve always been interested in the environmental impact of cemeteries and burial, and thinking about how we need to look at different ways to take space for burial in sacred spaces,” she said. Before becoming a priest, Stone worked as a public engagement and organizational change specialist in the areas of environmental and social sustainability at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

But the congregation of St. James, one of the churches of the Parish of Huntley, soon realized the project was bigger than imagined. “Thankfully, we had a family that was willing to dedicate some memorial funds to do it properly,” said Stone. The beneficiaries, Kenneth and Roma Lett, offered the garden “to the glory of God,” as engraved on the base of the memorial stone wall erected at the site. Those who choose the option may have the names of their loved ones in the garden also engraved on the memorial wall.

“Most people, I think, will have the name of the deceased and the date of birth and the date of death engraved on a communal memorial stone and when that stone is full we’ll add another stone to the garden,” said Stone.

Those wishing to have an outdoor service at the site can be accommodated. “We can bring chairs out here, we can have a standing service, and that’s why

we have a little altar that we can use for an outdoor service.”
Common in Europe, scattering gardens for cremated remains have only recently been offered in Ontario. Photo: Art Babych


The cost for use of the scattering garden is not as much as having a regular grave, said Stone. “The cemetery burial costs are incredible,” she added.  Stone also said there has been no opposition from funeral homes because most of the work they perform is completed by the time the remains are turned over to the cemetery for burial. The funeral home used by the church has been “very supportive,” she said.

Stone also said people have already shown interest in the scattering garden, including two people, both Anglicans, who were not able to return to Europe to bury the ashes of their loved ones. “They’ve never been part of our church at all and they came and said, ‘Wow could we be part of this community and bury the ashes of our loved ones here?’” said Stone.

Among those present at the dedication service were relatives of Kenneth and Roma Lett including nephews Mark and Murray Bowes and their spouses, Sandy (Mark) and Sheila (Murray).

For further information visit huntleyparish.com or email [email protected]

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
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Anglican Journal News, June 24, 2016

Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue finds unity in diversity

Posted on: June 23rd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Bishops from North America, Africa, and England meet at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue in Accra, Ghana. Submitted photo

Bishops from North America, Africa, and England meet at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue in Accra, Ghana. Submitted photo

Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue finds unity in diversity

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Introduced by the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante as an ecumenical contribution from the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Akan concept of sankofa served as a guiding framework for the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. The gathering brought together bishops from Canada, Ghana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Zambia, England, and the United States.

Sankofa—literally, ‘It is not a taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’—refers broadly to the unity of past and present, where the narrative of the past is a dynamic reality that cannot be separated from consideration of the present and future.

The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue emerged after the 2008 Lambeth Conference as a way for bishops from different backgrounds to continue an ongoing, respectful dialogue in the midst of significant disagreements, primarily over the issues of human sexuality and same-sex marriage.

The document that emerged from the latest meeting, A Testimony of Unity in Diversity, highlights the growing sense of understanding among the bishops of each other’s experiences. Referring to the self-examination and presence of the past inherent to sankofa, the testimony notes: “It is this sense of history and tradition that informs and guides us … In our Anglican tradition this means unity but not uniformity. Unity in diversity is a distinctive feature of Anglicanism throughout the Christian world. Such unity always brings about dialogue and self-examination.”

Among the members of the Anglican Church of Canada in attendance for the seventh consultation were Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz; the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, African Relations Coordinator for Global Relations, who has coordinated and staffed each of the consultations since 2010; Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara; Bishop Jane Alexander of the diocese of Edmonton; and Bishop Michael Ingham (ret’d), formerly of the diocese of New Westminster.

Bishop Ingham, who has attended all six of the previous consultations, described the Accra gathering as “very much a continuation of what we have experienced before,” which allowed the bishops to build on trust and friendships they had established and model a way of active listening and respectful exchange of views.

Throughout all seven gatherings, he noted, there has been one constant: “The fact that we are united by mission more than we are divided by controversy.”

Promoting understanding

With more bishops attending the consultation than ever before, this year’s gathering was the first at which the Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, was present. Both Bishop Curry and Archbishop Hiltz, who was present for approximately one and a half days, spoke about recent developments in the U.S. and Canadian churches on the question of same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, speaks at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. Submitted photo
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, speaks at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue.

“The value in having the two of us there, I think, was that the issue that originally brought people together—that is, our challenges and our differences over matters of human sexuality—was actually put right on the table,” Archbishop Hiltz said.

Bishop Ingham noted that despite the bishops present holding many different theologies on marriage, sexuality and biblical interpretation, “we’re not divided by these differences. Rather, we’re spurred to be curious with each other and to hear how these matters play out in our different parts of the world.”

“We’re all very aware that mission is contextual,” he added. “And I think most of the African bishops who attend understand that social and legislative challenges have taken place around homosexuality in Western countries.

“That doesn’t mean that they agree with it, but they understand that we are placed in that situation and must respond to it. And I think by the same token, the Western bishops … have a deep sense of respect for the way African churches are trying to deal with this, because all of the Africans know that they have to deal with it. It’s not an issue just for the West.”

Global and historical contexts for mission

The major focus of the meeting was on bishops sharing their stories and experiences with each other, reflecting the wide variety of contexts for mission around the world.

“There is a growing awareness of the different missional demands of the participants’ contexts and greater recognition of one another’s faithfulness in addressing the particular demands of their mission fields,” Canon Mukasa said. “There is no agreement on issues of human sexuality. But there is a greater willingness to listen and learn from one another’s testimonies.”

In the case of the diocese of Kondoa in Tanzania, as well as the church in Zanzibar, bishops learned about the difficulties of Christian mission and evangelism in a context where the vast majority of the population is Muslim.

Illustrating the continued impact of the past on the present, speakers from the diocese of Oklahoma in the Episcopal Church described the effects of the forced relocation and disenfranchisement of Indigenous people during the formation of the United States. The diocese of Liverpool—a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century, from which the city derived much of its wealth—described its efforts to promote social justice through the establishment of food banks and by providing advice for getting out of debt and poverty.

The legacy of the slave trade—also visible at last year’s consultation in Richmond, Virginia—has impacted much of West Africa, including Ghana. During the consultation, the bishops journeyed to the diocese of Cape Coast to visit one of forty “slave castles,” large commercial forts built by European slave traders.

“It was a particularly solemn moment to walk through the ‘gate of no return’ that was the portal through which the slaves were led out to the ships that carried them to North America and to other parts of the world,” Bishop Bird said.

“I believe that this experience reinforced in all of us the importance of the work that we have been engaged in that has focused on reconciliation, and the gift we have been given in our common life together.”

Read A Testimony of Unity in Diversity.

Read a historical background to the Bishops in Dialogue Consultations.

Read a paper on the concept of sankofa presented by Prof. Emmanuel Asante.

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

Mutual learning thrives at Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation

Posted on: June 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Participants converse in table groups at the third Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation, which took place from June 6-8 at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Submitted photo

Participants converse in table groups at the third Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation, which took place from June 6-8 at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Submitted photo

Mutual learning thrives at Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation

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The third annual Vital and Healthy Parishes consultation saw a record turnout, as 79 Anglican and Lutheran church leaders gathered at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg from June 6-8 for discussion on how to build strong missional congregations.

The Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry and a key organizer, described the consultations as embodying the idea of the church as a community of mutual learning.

“The most important thing that [Vital and Healthy Parishes] has done is bring together people who would not normally be in conversation with each other,” she said, noting that the 2016 consultation saw more diverse participants with an increased presence of young and Indigenous church leaders.

‘There is a deep value in sharing our stories’

The heart of Vital and Healthy Parishes lies in its open space “marketplace” format, in which participants create discussions based on their respective interests.

“I thought the breadth of topics was amazing, ranging from the very practical ‘how to’ sessions to the erudite theology dialogue,” said Canon Christyn Perkons, director of congregational support and development at the Anglican diocese of Niagara.

Canon Perkons previously attended the 2014 consultation. This year, she attended marketplace discussions on the School for Parish Development in the diocese of New Westminster, which she plans to participate in this July, and how social media can be used to support various ministries.

Returning to her diocese, she brings back a renewed sense of solidarity, an appreciation for similarities and differences between Anglican and Lutheran faith communities, and the feeling that her diocese is “not alone in its struggles, nor in its successes”.

“There is a deep value in sharing our stories,” Perkons said. “Shared stories deepen our sense of identity, strengthen our call to be part of the body of Christ, reinvigorate our ability to imagine outside our own boxes, and allow us to ‘see’ a way forward in others’ experience without having to reinvent the wheel.”

The Rev. Dr. Neil Mancor—parish priest at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Que., located in the diocese of Montreal—attended the first two Vital and Healthy Parishes consultations. At this year’s meeting, he was able to share new insights about organizing a Messy Church program in his parish, which was still in its early stages at the time of last year’s consultation.

An alternative for families unable to attend traditional Sunday worship, Messy Church typically runs one weeknight per month and explores a theme from the Bible through arts, crafts, games, and a celebration through song or prayer.

“We’ve [now] had a year of Messy Church, and so I was able to come with stories, but also questions, because having a successful Messy Church brings a lot of questions with it,” Mancor said.

“It was great to talk to people from across the country and hear a bit about what other people were doing.”

Mancor also gained insight into ministry among First Nations communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and participated in a discussion exploring the Godly Play approach to Sunday school.

Newcomers reflect on experiences

The consultation left a positive impression on many participants who were attending Vital and Healthy Parishes for the first time.

The Rev. Norm Wesley, incumbent at St. Thomas Church in Moose Factory, Man. and Church of the Apostles in Moosonee, said the event exceeded his expectations due to the sheer variety of topics—highlighting a session on the use of music in parishes in particular.

“I would go again if I was asked … You get that chance to have this free-flowing discussion with your peers, with others within the church, with your brothers and sisters in Christ, at a very, very level playing field,” Wesley said.

“That I found to be very, very engaging and very interesting and a very good use of my time when I was there. I really enjoyed it.”

Leslie Giddings, child, youth, and adult learning facilitator for the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, praised the idea of a learning model in which “all the wisdom is in the room” and conveyed through discussion.

“The meaning comes out of the relationships that you develop in hearing the stories,” Giddings said. “I’m not sure it would have felt as meaningful if we’d just been hearing presentations.”

Douglas Doak, executive officer for the Anglican diocese of the Arctic, attended a discussion convened by sociologist Joel Thiessen and theologian Bill McAlpine on their project to gain insight into features shared by flourishing congregations. He left impressed by their high level of research.

“I just took away the value of a sustained examination of any topic—fieldwork, reflective thought on the fieldwork, and the conclusions that they drew from it,” Doak said. “We’ll be staying in touch with that project and hoping to benefit from it.”

Future plans

Thus far, Vital and Healthy Parishes has been supported with a grant from the Ministry Investment Fund, which has now run its course. Yet such has been the degree of positive feedback that Faith, Worship, and Ministry now plans to integrate the program into its core ministries.

“It’s become that important,” Scully said, noting, “The feedback that we have gotten consistently is that it needs to continue.”

As an example of the potential of the Vital and Healthy Parishes learning model, she pointed to the creation of new liturgical texts in recent years, and the attendant need to form good liturgical leaders.

“There are all kinds of things that I see this model being able to be adapted for, and it’s exciting.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, June 17, 2016

The Anglican Communion’s spymaster general

Posted on: June 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Anglican Communion’s spymaster general? Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, reads a lesson during a special service of choral evensong at Westminster Abbey, marking the centre’s 50th anniversary.
Photo Credit: The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders were joined by senior figures from other Christian denominations last night at a special choral evensong in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders were present at the service, which was sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir. In his sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the work of the Centre, and its director, Archbishop David Moxon, joking that the centre was seen by some as the Anglican Communion’s spy station in Rome.

“Those are the first time I heard those words this evening,” Archbishop David told ACNS afterwards, “but I think in terms of intelligent reporting, in terms of a careful look at each other, in terms of good communication and awareness of each other, it is a humorous and anecdotal description which I enjoy.”

The service, he said, summed up “50 years of faith, hope and love”, and he added: “The Anglican Centre is a bit like a fiddler on the roof: it needs funding every year, it can’t guarantee its existence, but it tries to play a tune of faith, hope, love; to try to suggest that what unites us is greater than what divides us. That’s the point.

“And we stand on that roof, playing that tune, saying to people ‘look up! The Holy Spirit is trying to build bridges all the time.’ We are part of that process, part of that energy,” he said, adding that God gives the courage and hope needed to build bridges between the denominations.

Wabbey _acr 50_Ch Ldrs

Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders at a service of choral evensong at Westminster Abbey marking the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. .
Photo: The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey

“Sometimes people get a little cynical about ecumenism. Sometimes they wonder what the point is,” he said. “But living and working in Rome you can see the point. And now, especially, with this Pontificate – with Pope Francis and with Archbishop Justin – there is all kinds of evidence that it is worth it.

“The Pope and Archbishop Justin are saying Let’s behave as if we are one where we can, even though we haven’t agreed on everything. And in some cases the differences seem quite significant, but let’s behave as if we are one for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for justice and peace.”

He said that collaborative work on issues of justice, people trafficking, refugees and city missions were “all ways in which the world needs our solidarity, our co-operation [and] our partnership.”

This was, he said, a new kind of ecumenism which was driven by mission. “Rather than just trying to close the dogmatic gaps – which are important to close – these two [Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin] are saying let’s generate a sense of communion now, where we can, on the ground.

“The more you walk together the better you talk together. A lot of people think you can only walk together once you have talked together enough. I think it is often the other way around.”

Last night’s service was one of a number being held this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the centre. In October, a €500-per-head (approximately £395 GBP) two-day gala meeting will be held at the centre. The proceeds will be used to create an endowment fund to secure the continued presence of the Anglican Communion’s permanent representation to the Holy See.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Wednesday 15 June 2016

Green Churches Network turns 10

Posted on: June 10th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Illustration by Didou/Shutterstock


Members of environmentally conscious parishes of several denominations gathered in an outreach mission house in Montreal June 3 to commemorate a venture that began in the same place 10 years before.

While the first pioneers in what is known today as the Green Churches Network were unable to make it to the 10th anniversary gala dinner, Norman Lévesque, executive director of the network, said several of them told him they were amazed by what has grown from their first modest efforts.

It all began in 2006 with a small group of members and supporters of the United Church of Canada at St. Columba House, a United Church outreach to residents of the Point St. Charles district of Montreal, a low-income area now attracting some more upscale residents and development. The mission hired a student, Fannie Couture, who organized projects in recycling and composting as well as a garden along the side of the building.

The Green Church project became a priority for Patricia Murphy, then director of St. Columba House, and the project gradually drew in local United Church congregations and groups, with support from the local United Church governing body, the Montreal Presbytery. Several United Church congregations in the Montreal area came on board in various ways.

At the same time, an Anglican parish in the West Island suburb of Dorval, St. Andrew and St. Mark was launching a project that would make it a pride and joy of the Green Church coalition, which by then had become an ecumenical group. A geothermal heating system replaced three oil-burning furnaces, ending a source of winter pollution and saving on heating costs. Eight wells were drilled about 150 metres deep and polyethylene pipe was installed, through which a fluid is pumped that brings warmth in winter and the reverse in summer.

From 2009 on, the Green Church network became even more ecumenical. Lévesque, a Roman Catholic layperson, became co-ordinator of the project. The ecumenical aspect of the program was highlighted at the first Green Church Conference, attended by 150 people in early 2010 at Église St-Charles, a Roman Catholic church in “The Point,” not far from St. Columba House.


Norman Lévesque, executive director of the Green Churches Network. Photo: Contributed


Later that year, the project became Green Church Program of the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, a Montreal-based organization with national and international outreach (which celebrated its 50th anniversary a couple of years ago). The two organizations operated from the same quarters and Lévesque was on the staff of both; at one point, he was both Green Churches co-ordinator and interim director of the Centre for Ecumenism.

Projects of the network have included a Green Church Toolkit with ideas for parishes that want to go green. It has also helped get a Quebec wine accredited as a mass wine, so that parishes—often Catholic, with strict rules in this regard—don’t have to import wine, usually from California. A second Green Church Conference was held at Église St. Nicéphore in Drummondville, east of Montreal, in 2012; it was attended by about 130 people. A third conference, in Quebec City in 2015, included the Roman Catholic archbishop of Quebec (the diocese in and around Quebec City) among its speakers.

Along the way, the Green Church program continued to broaden geographically and ecumenically, picking up parishes from Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and some Quaker and evangelical members.

Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s encyclical last year on the environment and human ecology, was a shot in the arm for the Green Church program. Lévesque and others put together a leaflet summarizing the main points of the leaflet in illustrations. Lévesque said the network is still receiving inquiries because of Laudato Si’.

The Green Church Network and the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism decided last year to go their separate ways. The network became an autonomous charity again and moved its headquarters into the basement of a Catholic church in Laval, just north of Montreal.

Just in time for the anniversary celebration, the network received its federal charity registration number, which allows it to receive donations from individuals, religious communities and foundations and to qualify for government grants.

Harvey Shepherd is about to retire as editor of Anglican Montreal.

 

About the Author

Harvey Shepherd

Harvey Shepherd

Harvey Shepherd is editor of the Montreal Anglican.

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Anglican Journal News, June 10, 2016

Equipping churches to respond to Human Trafficking

Posted on: June 6th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Bishop Eraste Bigirimana of the Anglican Church of Burundi talks with Major Margaret Stafford of the Salvation Army in South Africa.
Photo Credit: Anglican Alliance

[Anglican Alliance] Representatives from Anglican and Salvation Army churches across Africa met in Cape Town last week to share insights and build a common vision on how to tackle human trafficking and modern day slavery.

The consultation aimed to create an Africa-wide understanding of the trends of human trafficking as well as trafficking to and from Africa. Participants listened to painful and courageous testimonies of survivors as well as engaging with government and UN officials to understand the unique contribution that churches can play in tackling human trafficking.

It is estimated that between 25 and 37 million people world-wide are caught up in modern day slavery.

The consultation was one of a series organised by the Anglican Alliance around the Anglican Communion to help share learning and equip provinces and their local churches to respond effectively to the issues. It was jointly convened with the Salvation Army and held under the auspices of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA). It was hosted by Hope Africa, the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

June Nderitu, Anglican Alliance Regional Facilitator for Africa, based at CAPA, said, “What strikes me most is the strength of partnership, because we realise that there is no church or organisation which can deal with this issue on their own. We have explored how we can bring our skills and resources into this partnership so that together we can tackle this problem of modern day slavery and human trafficking.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recognised the issue as a priority concern. In 2014 he, Pope Francis and other faith leaders signed a Declaration to End Modern Slavery. The Anglican Consultative Council has also repeatedly raised its concern, with voices from every part of the Communion.

The Revd Emmanuel Chikoya, from the Anglican Church in Zambia, said, “This meeting has galvanised me to think of ministry in a holistic manner. It is a wake-up call, especially with the silent issue of human trafficking.”

Dr Maged Yanny, Director of the Social Care programmes for the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt, highlighted the growing and sophisticated crime of trafficking in human organs. “We need to make our people and the Church aware of the challenge. I think the church can play a leading role in this area. The Anglican Alliance and CAPA can build an inclusive coalition to increase awareness of the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking and organ trafficking,” he said.

Representatives from the UK NGO Stop the Traffik introduced their new mobile phone initiative, called Stop App, being promoted to gather information on the routes and hotspots of human trafficking, which is vital to combat global organised crime.

The consultation concluded with a declaration, which lays out the vision of the participants, “calling on all our churches to include the issues of anti-human trafficking on their agendas in a significant way at local, national and global levels.”

One outcome of the consultation was a strategy of 6 Ps+1:

  • Prevention
  • Protection of survivors
  • Prosecution of perpetrators
  • Policy
  • Partnership
  • Participation of local churches and communities.

The Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, said:“These are all covered by the seventh P of Prayer. The consultation committed to promoting a ‘Freedom Sunday’ across their churches, adapting resources to their local context.”

She added, “It has been an inspirational week, hearing from churches across Africa on how they are tackling human trafficking. We will continue to work alongside CAPA and Hope Africa, helping to equip the provinces and churches in Africa to respond in their own context.”

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 1 June 2016

‘It is time to stand together in friendship’

Posted on: June 6th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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First Nations Professor Claudette Commanda holds an eagle feather as she speaks to CPJ gathering. Photo: Art Babych


A First Nations university professor struck a passionate chord in a speech at the annual general meeting of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) in Ottawa June 3, noting, “The days of the Indian agent and the missionary are over.”

“It is time now for people to come together, respect one another’s voice, stand together in friendship,” said Claudette Commanda, who teaches courses on First Nations issues at the University of Ottawa and is a granddaughter of William Commanda, a renowned Algonquin elder and spiritual leader. “It is time now for the formerly silenced people to be heard and it is time now to let First Nations people lead,” she said.

Commanda was asked to speak at CPJ’s annual general meeting in place of Senator Murray Sinclair, chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was unable to attend, as Will Postma, chair of the CPJ board told the crowd, “because of the need for senators to stay in the chamber and continue debating and discussing [Bill C-14, the assisted dying bill].” Sinclair was to speak on how reconciliation can reduce poverty among Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Commanda, who is also executive director of a national organization mandated to protect First Nations culture, languages and education, pointed out that Ottawa is part of the ancestral territories of the Algonquin people. “And if we are going to embark on the process of reconciliation, it is important that only the voices of the Algonquin people shall be heard and [be] giving direction of what shall become of our land and our territories,” she said. “I appreciate people standing up and helping us, but please do not do that without asking us what it is that we want from our land, what it is that we want here in this territory.” Commanda added, “Only we have the right to speak.”

The Inuit people and Métis people “have their own stories and their own voices as well, and I respect that in the same way that I respect all of your voices,” she said.

“We’ve been very loving and giving for the last 523 years, and we will continue to be very loving and giving forever more because we’re all in this together now as citizens,” she said. “And we’re all going to make Canada a better country, not only for us but, remember, for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren and the many descendants that are not here yet.”

A mother of four children and a grandmother of nine, Commanda said it was difficult for her to come and speak at the CPJ event because of the recent death of her mother. “I have a very heavy heart, a very heavy spirit,” she said, her voice breaking. “I’m in a time of grieving.”

Verna McGregor, an employment counsellor at Minwaashin Lodge – Aboriginal Women’s Support Centre, spoke briefly and sang an “honour song” she had intended to sing for Sinclair.

Many of those attending the meeting arrived moments before the keynote address by Sinclair was scheduled to begin, and some expressed disappointment he was unable to attend.

At its business meeting, CPJ approved a budget for 2016 of $764,264. It expects a deficit of $56,048. The proposed deficit in part allows for a loss of a $90,000 grant that expired.

The actual budget for 2015 was $875,465 with a surplus of $148,835. More than expected individual donations—including one for $50,000—along with under-budget expenses made it a good year for the organization.

CPJ is “a go-to agency…a faith-based and faith-inspired advocate for public justice,” board chair Postma told the gathering. “We respond to God’s call for love and justice in this world.  We seek the integrity of creation. We seek human flourishing.”

CPJ is a national justice organization and an affiliate member of the Canadian Council of Churches, of which the Anglican Church of Canada is a member.

 

Art Babych

Art Babych is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
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Anglican Journal News, June 03, 2016

KAIROS ‘blankets’ Parliament Hill

Posted on: June 6th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Parliament Hill was the site of one of several KAIROS blanket exercises held in Canada from May 28 to June 5 to mark the first anniversary of the TRC’s  Call to Action. Photo: Art Babych


KAIROS Canada brought its popular blanket exercise to the steps of Parliament Hill May 31 to help people understand Canada’s history from an Indigenous perspective.

“I think the idea of having it on Parliament Hill is excellent for many reasons… it’s where the people of Canada are represented, and this is Algonquin territory,” Gwynneth Evans, an active parishioner of Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, told the Anglican Journal.

KAIROS is a faith-based social justice organization of 11 Canadian religious organizations and churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada.

The event was part of a series of blanket exercises held at seven provincial and territorial legislatures as well as Parliament Hill from May 28 to June 5. The “Mass Blanket Exercise” marks the first anniversary of the release of the 94 Calls to Action by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) June 2, 2015.

“What the blanket exercise is all about is teaching people a history that we don’t learn in school,” said KAIROS program manager Ed Bianchi in a Journal interview. “Education is identified by the TRC and Royal Commission [Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples] as key to a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. If we can add to that, if we can contribute to helping people learn the history that they need to know to foster reconciliation, I think we’ll have achieved something.”

Before the exercise began, First Nation Algonquin Barbara Dumont-Hill, who was born on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve, smudged those who came forward to take part in the Aboriginal purification tradition.

Before the exercise began, First Nation Algonquin Barbara Dumont-Hill, who was born on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg reserve, smudged those who came forward to take part in the Aboriginal purification tradition.

For the exercise on Parliament Hill, colourful blankets were laid on the main walkway to the Centre Block to symbolize the lands of what is now Canada. Participants, representing First Peoples, removed their shoes and positioned themselves on the blanket of their choice. Narrated scripts were then used to help them imagine being transported back through time, to the arrival of the Europeans. As the dates progressed through contact with Europeans, the making of treaties, colonization, resistance and the establishment of reserves, the number of blankets diminished, leaving very little of the land for Indigenous peoples.

The blanket exercise was developed as a result of the findings of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples more than15 years ago; it was last updated in 2013. “It’s evolved over the years to what we like to call a humble workshop into a community-building reconciliation movement,” Bianchi said.

For some participants and observers, the exercise can trigger strong emotions. “I participated in a blanket exercise a few weeks ago, and it was incredibly informative and emotional,” the Rev. Monique Stone of the diocese of Ottawa told the Journal. “It made me want to do more about how my own journey is responding to the TRC,” she said.

KAIROS offers advice on how to use the blanket exercise: “The Blanket Exercise itself takes about half an hour to 40 minutes, and should always be followed by a talking circle of at least half an hour. It often raises deep emotions and we strongly encourage you to work with your head, heart, and spirit whenever doing the Blanket Exercise.”

Those wishing to use the blanket exercise for their faith community, classroom, workplace or other group should contact KAIROS.

More information about the blanket exercise can also be found here.

 

Art Babych

Art Babych is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
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Anglican Journal News, June 03, 2016

 

Dismantle tent city, house residents: Victoria cathedral

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


Tent city residents protest Victoria’s affordable housing shortage. Photo: Super InTent City Facebook page


In a May 15 sermon at Victoria, B.C.’s Christ Church Cathedral, Dean Ansley Tucker announced she would be calling for the homeless camp—pitched across the street from downtown Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral since October 2015—to be dismantled and alternative accommodation found for its residents.

“For several weeks, as some of the more stabilizing leaders of the [tent city] community have departed, we have witnessed the devolution of the campsite,” she explained. Matters that had been relatively well in hand, such as non-violence, tidiness, respect for safety and general neighbourliness, she noted, have “spiralled out of control.”

After months of advocacy on behalf of Super InTent City—the community of more than 100 that sprung up on the lawn of the Victoria courthouse on the corner of Quadra Street and Burdett Avenue—Tucker said that a “dramatic” increase in incidents” had caused cathedral leadership to reconsider its approach.

Things came to a head when a naked person was found in one of the cathedral washrooms, another individual began exhibiting symptoms of “excited delirium” and, on two occasions, children witnessed intravenous drug use on the cathedral precinct.

Given the presence of Christ Church Cathedral School within a block of the camp, Tucker said the cathedral needed to act in the best interests of the children.

Tucker reaffirmed the cathedral’s support for the tent city residents, but argued, “No one, including the campers, is being well served by the current state of affairs.” She said she plans on speaking with B.C. housing minister Rich Coleman and Victoria’s mayor, Lisa Helps, about the situation.

An attempt was made to reach residents of Super InTent City via Facebook, but no comment was forthcoming as of press time.

However, the cathedral’s deacon to the city, Nancy Ford—who has worked closely with the camp’s residents over the last eight months—said responses have been mixed.

While many in the tent city were “upset” about the announcement, others have been understanding of the cathedral’s position.

“Not everybody seems to think that the cathedral has turned against them, but they know that the relationship has changed,” she said. “I’ve said all along to folks that I’m still here…I’m going to do what I can, but there are boundaries.”

Super InTent City began when a small group of homeless Victorians learned that the courthouse lawn, being provincial rather than municipal land, is not subject to city by-laws that require individuals sleeping in public parks to decamp by 7 a.m. But since the first tents were pitched, the site has become a lightning rod for controversy in Victoria, whose high housing prices and 0.6% vacancy rate have made homelessness a major problem.

The camp has spurred government investment in housing alternatives—in the Mount Edwards Court housing project on Burdett Avenue, run by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, for example, or the Choices Transitional Home, run by the Our Place Society. But already there are waiting lists for both facilities.

C.J. Reville, once a prominent member of the tent city community, secured a spot before the lists filled up. He relocated to Choices, a renovated youth detention centre in the Victoria suburb of View Royal, which has space both for campers looking to build their own micro-housing and rooms in repurposed jail cells.

“It’s been decent,” he said of his experience so far. “They’ve got the ball running, and it looks as if they’re trying to implement as much as they can for structure and programs.”

Reville—who is still in touch with the tent city residents—was candid about the stress the community is under.

“After months and months, a lot of people experienced burnout—a lot of darker elements started moving in as things became aggressive, and you have to choose your battle,” he explained. “I saw myself bumping heads—a lot of other people did, too. And then other opportunities came up, with Choices.”

Housing and access to land are primary concerns, Reville said, but issues around addiction and mental health have played a huge role in the problem of homelessness.

“It’s a Band-Aid,” he said of transitional housing options like Choices. “We still haven’t seen the doctor.”

Stephen Portman, advocacy lead for the Victoria-based Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS), agreed. He noted that many of those remaining in the tent city are the “highest-barriered”—those facing the most significant challenges in finding actual housing—due to criminal records, substance addictions, and mental and physical health.

Portman said he doesn’t view the tent city as a long-term solution. Instead, he thinks the province should meet with the residents themselves and offer sustainable alternatives.

“We haven’t had a solution offered by the province,” he said, pointing out that affordable and temporary housing has been snapped up as soon as it is made available.

Instead, B.C. housing minister Coleman announced May 27 that the office of the fire commissioner had found the camp to not be compliant with a safety order issued May 11, and an interim injunction would be sought to evict the campers.

While the B.C. Supreme Court denied the provincial government a similar injunction earlier this year, the ruling had allowed for the issue to be reopened should circumstances deteriorate—which, Coleman argues, has been the case.

Portman disagrees with this approach, arguing that removing the tent city will cause “significant harm” to the campers, but he did commend the cathedral for taking a “nuanced and reasonable approach” to the issue.

“They feel that the safety of the children in their school is at risk, and they are going to take steps to mitigate that risk, and I think that’s entirely appropriate,” he said.

Tucker and Ford both confirmed that, in the meantime, tent city residents will continue to have access to cathedral washrooms, water and other services—such as recharging electronics—the cathedral has been offering.

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, May 30, 2016

 

Henri Nouwen’s gift to Anne Lamott

Posted on: May 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Writer Anne Lamott, in Toronto Friday, May 13, says reading Henri Nouwen’s writings helped her begin a new life by assuring her of God’s infinite love. Photo: Tali Folkins


When Anne Lamott found herself, at age 31, a self-loathing drug and alcohol addict, it was the idea of “radical self-love,” as expressed by Henri Nouwen and writers like him, that allowed her to turn a corner on her life, the 62-year-old American writer told a Toronto audience last week.

“Little by little by little, I started being a resurrection story, and…it was self-love,” Lamott said. “I found out who I was, the Beloved…It loved me back to life.”

Lamott, author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually) and Plan B, was speaking at a talk, “Henri & Me,” presented by the Henri Nouwen Society Friday, May 13.

Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest, was born in the Netherlands but lived much of his adult life in the U.S. and Canada. A professor and author of 39 books, he often wrote openly of his loneliness and other inner struggles. He was also, like his friend Jean Vanier, involved in L’Arche, a network of communities for disabled people.

In her talk, Lamott, whose non-fiction often deals with her own life struggles and spiritual life in a frank, humourous way, delivered, in somewhat stream-of-consciousness fashion, a loose spiritual and psychological autobiography of her earlier years, with a liberal mixture of often-dark wit that drew frequent laughter and, ultimately, a standing ovation from her audience.

From the beginning, Lamott said, she and her siblings faced the challenge of being born to mismatched parents.

“I had parents who never should have gotten married. They were married 27 years—they would have been better off raising orchids,” she quipped. “They didn’t love each other; what were they going to teach us?”

She and her siblings grew up “starving” to be loved for who they were, she said.

She developed her wit as a child, Lamott said, as a way of trying to hold the family together. “I got funny early on because it made everybody happy. It made my mum and dad laugh, and you’ve got to keep the parents alive—you’ve got to keep the ship afloat or you’re going to go down.”

Her parents were atheists, she said, and she was taught that religion and everything associated with it was stupid. “Spirit was just very suspicious,” she said.

Her mother and father filled the home with poetry, literature, jazz, classical music and gourmet food, but did not have “anything to fill a God-shaped hole,” Lamott said. They placed high demands on their children; growing up, Lamott was taught to see B+ as a bad grade.

Her parents, she said, were also alcoholics—but she felt she could not recognize their misery openly. As a child of alcoholics, she said, “you agree not to see what’s going on, because it makes your parents so miserable for you to notice how they treat each other, how they quibble, how contemptuous they feel toward each other.”

At age five, she said, she started to get migraine headaches; at 14, she began to be addicted to drugs; at 23, when her father was diagnosed with brain cancer, she developed bulimia.

Meanwhile, she was on a spiritual quest. She began associating with the family of a Christian Scientist friend, and secretly praying. But her search was fraught by the suspicion, planted in her by her parents, that she might not be lovable.

“I kind of, sort of, believed God loved me, but I also had this heavier message,” she said. “It’s hard to find God when you basically believe that your parents are mortified…by who you actually are.”

Alcohol and drugs—including cocaine and methamphetamines—actually gave her a taste of the spiritual, she said, in that they represented a wider reality than that of her troubled family.

At 31, a Jesuit friend told her that Americans are taught to feel shame if they can’t convincingly pretend there’s nothing wrong with them. It made her realize the fundamental loneliness of herself and those around her, and changed her life.

“That is what broke me open and gave me life…that we were all on the same boat, and were coming back from a very, very long distance away, in total isolation, separated not just from life and God, but from ourselves,” she said.

She realized the importance of seeking help—something that had been very difficult for her before—and began to ask for it. Friends began to suggest books to her, including those of Henri Nouwen.

Nouwen’s honesty about his own inner struggles and his conviction that we are all loved by God more than we can imagine helped her begin a new life, she said.

“He wrote about despair, and it was ‘me too,’ and he wrote about self-loathing and it was ‘me too,’ and it was about what life was like before he realized the truth of his spiritual identity.

“He was so honest about what a mess he was. It gives you life, for someone that you love to say ‘me too’…That’s what I understand Jesus’ message to be—‘me too.’ ”

She realized, also, that the success she had already enjoyed as a writer had not brought her happiness—this, she discovered, could only be the result of an inner transformation.

“The only thing that will work is Spirit, the universal donor,” she said. “It was all going to be an inside job…It was recognizing my truth, the truth of who I am. Not who I am, but whose I am.”

Nouwen’s admirers include Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who says he has almost every book Nouwen wrote, and likes to bring them with him on retreat.

Nouwen’s importance, Hiltz says, lies in his exploration of what it means to be fully human and to be fully alive, both to God and to other people—and in his openness.

“Nouwen wrote extensively about his own vulnerability, to depression and so on, and he speaks out of experience,” Hiltz said. “He knows of what he speaks, and he helps people realize that they can come through this, that there’s hope.

“I’m a great believer in Jean Vanier and a great believer in Henri Nouwen, and I really, really believe that anyone—anyone—in our church who is seeking ordination must know their writings.”

Lamott’s talk is not the only event planned this summer by the Henri Nouwen Society. From June 9–11, the society will hold an international conference, in Mississauga, Ont. Speakers will include author and activist Shane Claiborne, Anglican author Esther de Waal and Sister Sue Mosteller, one-time leader of the International Federation of L’Arche.

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, May 19, 2016