Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Companion relationships tell a different story

Posted on: May 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


Bishop David Torraville, diocese of Central Newfoundland, spends some time with children before the Sunday church service at St. Alban’s Cathedral, Dar es Salaam.           Photo: Andrea Mann

Bishop David Torraville of the diocese of Central Newfoundland first met Bishop Francis Loyo of the diocese of Rokon, South Sudan, at Lambeth in 2008, and they established a companion relationship between their dioceses. The two bishops have also built a friendship that, Torraville said, was a joy to renew in person when they met at a Companion Diocese Consultation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from May 14-17.When they saw each other, Loyo presented Torraville with a cane—for his dad. “Over the years, in chattering back and forth in email, we’ve talked about one another’s families,” Torraville told the Anglican Journal after his return to Canada. “My dad was ill a little while ago. He’s an elderly man.” The cane, said Torraville, was “a wonderful, wonderful gift!”

It was also a manifestation of what Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, had noted about the nature of relationships that exist within the Anglican Communion.

“For some people, when they think of the [Anglican] Communion, they immediately think division, dissension,” but a very different picture was evident in the companion relationships represented at this consultation, Hiltz said. He described these relationships as honest, healthy, vibrant and growing.

Although the bishop of the diocese of Central Buganda did not attend the meeting due to tensions between the church in Uganda and other parts of the Communion, Hiltz said that other clergy within that diocese attended “enthusiastically, really looking forward to the opportunity to be together and to talk across relationships.” Differences over contentious issues such as human sexuality weren’t part of the discussion “or even the subtext,” he told the Anglican Journal in an interview after he returned to Canada.

The meeting was the first time that representatives of Canadian and African companion dioceses have come together to discuss their relationships. It was organized by the Anglican Church of Canada’s global relations department and the Rev. Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator.

In his address to the group, the Rev. John Kafwanka, director for mission in the Anglican Communion Office, traced the roots of such relationships back 52 years to a congress on the future of the Anglican Communion held in Toronto in 1963. There, the idea of missional relationships characterized by a spirit of mutual responsibility and interdependence was first put forward.

Hiltz said that one common theme that emerged from discussions was the desire for companion relationships to grow beyond connections between bishops and steering committees, into one involving “the diocesan family.”

Torraville said that is one of his goals. “What I haven’t done, and I really need to do, is to broaden that relationship so that other folks in the diocese get exposed to folks in South Sudan.”

In addition to connections such as cycles of prayer and supporting particular projects and ministries, Hiltz said the merits of parish-to-parish connections were discussed. “In some cases, some of that kind of activity is already happening, but there was a sense in which they’d like to see a lot more of it happening.”

Bishop Donald Phillips of the diocese of Rupert’s Land noted that almost all the parishes in Central Buganda in Uganda have a sister parish in his diocese. “Some of those are more active than others,” he said. One other major focus of the companion relationship, which is now almost 20 years old, is an “orphan project,” he said, noting that Rupert’s Land made a commitment to provide about $20,000 per year to help support the Bugandan diocese to provide housing and schooling for about 154 orphans. “It’s their program…we’re just helping to fund it,” he said.

Although Bishop Jackson Matovu of the diocese of Central Buganda did not attend the consultation, he welcomed Phillips and Sean Carlson, chair of the Rupert’s Land companion diocese committee, for a visit to the diocese prior to the meeting.

The Rev. Canon Geoffrey Monjesa, diocesan development officer for the diocese of Masasi in Tanzania, wrote in an email to the Journal that he was “really impressed by the emphasis on commitment” in Hiltz’s opening address and his point that prayer should be the first priority in companion relationships.

Feedback from participants was very positive,  said Kawuki-Mukasa, though they expressed regrets that some of their colleagues could not attend. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, primate of Burundi, Bishop Sixbert Macumi of the diocese of Buye and Bishop Paisible Ndacayisaba were unable to travel because of a coup in Burundi. It also prevented Canadian bishops Jane Alexander of the diocese of Edmonton and Robert Hardwick of the diocese of Qu’Appelle from visiting those dioceses.

Kawuki-Mukasa added that there was a useful discussion about the terms of companion relationships. The African delegates questioned the typical practice of signing agreements to be companions for five-year terms. They felt, he said, that “relationships should be allowed to grow, flourish, and if there are mistakes, correct them…You become friends.” The Canadians were saying that the five-year terms didn’t mean that the relationship would end, but that it was a time to review and evaluate how it was going and decide whether to continue it formally or on the more informal basis of the real friendships that have formed.

When the attendees discussed other ways they would like their relationships to grow, Hiltz said they wished for more opportunities for clergy and youth exchanges and international theological student internships. The Anglican Church of Canada used to have an internship program for theological students and a Volunteers in Mission program, which were cut due to funding issues in recent years. Some expressed hope that funding for these programs could be restored, he said.

The delegates also discussed pragmatic concerns around obtaining visitor visas to Canada, because several planned diocesan visits were cancelled when the Canadian government rejected African applications for visitor visas. Torraville said that his diocese has been trying to sponsor a visit from Loyo for years, but his visa applications have been rejected twice. “We got some good ideas from people who have had similar problems as to how we might go about approaching applying for a visa, the kinds of things we need to assure the government about,” he said.

They also talked about the ways that social media has helped and can help facilitate ongoing communication, he said.

Torraville marvelled at how much connections exist today in the world. When consultation participants were introduced at the worship service at the cathedral in Dar es Salaam, a man came up to him and told him that his two daughters live in St. John’s. Torraville is going to try to contact them. “It was a thrill. The fact is as big as we think we are, the church is a very small place,” he said.

Other bishops who participated in the consultation were Bishop Wilson Kamani, diocese of Ibba, South Sudan; Bishop James Almasi, diocese of Masasi, Tanzania; Bishop Matthias Badohu, diocese of Ho, Ghana; Bishop Fraser Lawton, diocese of Athabasca; Bishop Jane Alexander, diocese of Edmonton; Bishop Robert Hardwick, diocese of Qu’Appelle; and Bishop David Edwards, diocese of Fredericton.


Anglican Journal News, May 25, 2015

Admitting challenges and working together are key for a mission-centred Companion Link relationship

Posted on: May 23rd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bishop Jane Alexander and the Revd Yohana Mtokambali at St Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam

Bishop Jane Alexander and the Revd Yohana Mtokambali at St Alban’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam

Mission-centred relationship and openness about the challenges faced in both the global north and global south of the Anglican Communion were the key needs identified in the Companion Link consultation involving 25 Anglican/Episcopalian leaders from 11 dioceses in Canada, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania that took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 14-17 May.

Companion or Church links are relationships among Anglican Communion churches that agree to work together to enhance their local and global mission by sharing resources, exchange visits, work and cultural experience. “Companion Link relationships should become the heartbeat of each diocese,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada pointed out at the Tanzania meeting.

Meanwhile, political instability in the country prevented Burundi Anglican leaders from two dioceses and their Primate from participating in the consultation. Those who gathered expressed profound sadness and solidarity with their counterparts and the whole nation, and prayed for peace and co-existence among Burundians and the ability to settle differences and remain united.

The delegates discussed Companion Link achievements and areas for improvement to enhance cooperation among companion dioceses and parishes. The meeting provided an opportunity for the dioceses to know more about each other’s work and develop even closer partnerships.

Diocesan bishops shared personal stories of mission experience lived out in their contexts and across Companion Links. Bishop Jane Alexander from the Diocese of Edmonton in Canada talked of a church partnership with the local government to end poverty and homelessness, and highlighted the diocese’s vision to deal with the challenge to keep youth and young people in the church beyond confirmation.

Bishop Wilson Kamani of the Diocese of Iba in South Sudan talked about the high illiteracy levels and the role of the church in providing education, pointing out that the first school in the area was started by the church in 2007. Bishop Kamani also highlighted the vision for self-sustainability where more locally educated people and infrastructure support the work of the diocese so there is less need to depend on support from outside.

Leaders from 11 Companion Links dioceses in Canada, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania met in Dar es Salaam on 14-17 May

Leaders from 11 Companion Links dioceses in Canada, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania met in Dar es Salaam on 14-17 May
 Some of the areas identified for future cooperation included regular communication of good practice stories and information as well as the crucial role of personal visits and exchange of theology students and young people to break down misconceptions and learning from each other’s culture.


Speaking at the meeting, the Revd John Kafwanka, Director for Mission of the Anglican Communion Office, implored the delegates to look at Companion Link as a means of “serving together” as disciples of Jesus Christ. “Companion Link provides a platform for common witness to Christ’s love in God’s world, expressed through the common voice, vision, mission, and unity of purpose in a world that is so divided by sin,” he said.

Mr Kafwanka also pointed out: “The Five Marks of Mission provides an avenue in which Companion Links can be intentional in serving together as partners in mission, and as global disciples.”


Anglican Witness, May 22, 2015

Visit further cements APCI-Montreal partnership

Posted on: May 21st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

The Rev. Isabel Healy-Morrow (L) and Bishop Barbara Andrews (R) of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) present Montreal partners Lynn O’Donnell and the Rev. Andy O’Donnell with gifts at the APCI assembly. Photo: André Forget

A Montreal priest’s visit to the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) timed to coincide with the parishes’ assembly at the beginning of May has served to further cement a companionship relationship first established in 2008.

Reflecting on the value of the trip, the Rev. Andy O’Donnell, rector of the parish of Bedford, Phillipsburg and Farnham in Québec’s Eastern Townships and member of the diocese of Montreal’s partnership committee, said that it was very helpful to “come out and put a face to names and places I’ve talked about but never been.” The insight gained from visiting APCI communities and meeting their members would be helpful in putting parishes in contact in the future, he added.

“When I go back and we have our discussions about who would be a better fit – would Holy Trinity Church in Cowansville be a better fit with maybe Merritt, or something like that…. Well, I met the clergy and I met some of the members, so I can say ‘yeah, that would work well’ or ‘maybe you should talk to someone in Ashcroft,’” he said.

The Rev. Isabel Healy Morrow, rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in Kamloops and chair of APCI’s companion relationship committee, welcomed O’Donnell and his wife Lynn, who accompanied him, and spoke positively about the work that has already been put into fostering the companion relationship.

“We’ve been walking with the diocese of Montreal as companions for over six years now, and it’s been a voyage of discovery, a voyage of joy, a voyage of deep sharing,” she said in an address to the APCI assembly. “Despite the geographical and contextual differences, we have discovered during our shared journey that we have much in common.”

In particular, Healy-Morrow noted a shared commitment to programs for youth, citing active involvement of youth from Montreal and APCI in Canadian Lutheran and Anglican Youth (CLAY) events, and a 2012 visit from Montreal youth to APCI during which “For a too-brief period, our young people worshipped, played, worked and learned side-by-side.”

Healy-Morrow said that in a further step towards relationship, profiles of every parish in APCI have been sent to the diocese of Montreal.

“Montreal has met several times, and its committee has carefully matched our parishes with ones in the diocese of Montreal that have similar characteristics in some way,” she explained. “The Montreal committee is presently meeting with each of the proposed parishes to see if they are willing to participate…. Invitation-to-participate letters will be sent out shortly from Montreal to APCI congregations, so watch your mailboxes.”

O’Donnell said a highlight of the trip was the time spent in APCI communities before the assembly.

“I really enjoyed being in the parishes I was in, particularly Lytton and Shacken,” he said. “Shacken was a beautiful blend of recognizing the aboriginal background of the parish, and they are a very nice bunch of people to break bread with.”

The partnership has already seen a visit from Montreal Lytton and Shacken, who attended a previous APCI assembly in 2011, and from a youth delegation from Montreal in 2012, while Healy-Morrow visited and preached at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, with which her own congregation is paired, in 2014.

This summer the favour will be returned when the Rev. Neil Mancor, rector of St. George’s in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, diocese of Montreal, visits Healy-Morrow’s congregation at St. George’s Kamloops.


Anglican Journal News, May 20, 2015

Primate focuses on challenges of ‘work of the Spirit’

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

“In the promised gift of the Spirit, the disciples are called to trust…I think it is the call to the followers of Jesus now,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz said during his reflection at the spring meeting of Council of General Synod. Photo: L. Williams

Mississauga, Ont.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, began the spring meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) with a reflection on the theme of “trust in the coming of the Holy Spirit,” and what that means for Anglicans across Canada as they face challenges, including decisions about amending the marriage canon and standing with Indigenous people as they seek reconciliation and justice.

Starting with passages from the Gospel of John, in which after the last supper and washing of feet, Jesus speaks to the disciples about what it means to abide and dwell in him, Hiltz said: “in the promised gift of the Spirit, the disciples are called to trust…that was the call to the followers of Jesus then, and I think it is the call to the followers of Jesus now.” And he noted that the theme for this meeting of CoGS is “trust in God, trust in each other.”

Hiltz went on to describe some of the ways he sees the Spirit at work in the church, mentioning the creative ways Canadian Anglicans have embraced the Anglican Communion’s Marks of Mission. “That’s a work of the Spirit, reminding us of who we are and what we are called to do as a church—proclaiming good news; teaching the faith; nurturing believers; helping people in need, wherever they may be; transforming unjust structures of society and challenging violence; pursuing peace and reconciliation, and caring for the earth.” They remind Anglicans, he added, that “we are called to be the church in the world and for the world.”

He also mentioned that the council has been entrusted with the work of helping the church align its ministries with the priorities and practices outlined in its guiding document, Vision 2019, and that progress has been made.

Some of the work that General Synod directs to CoGS is welcomed and received with joy and enthusiasm, Hiltz said, while other work is received with “varying degrees of angst…[with] an acute awareness of the burden of responsibility that lies upon us and…an acute awareness of our call to be attentive to the movement of the Spirit through a difficult conversation.” Council members know that the church is watching what they will do, he said. “In this work, that can be pretty heavy…we embrace it in a spirit of trust, in the Spirit’s guidance.”

However it is viewed by others, the primate said he thought that the way CoGS has handled the resolution to amend the marriage canon—as directed by General Synod 2013—has been “a work of the Spirit.” He noted the care that has been taken in how to appoint a marriage canon commission “and the care that we are going to have to take once we receive the report as to the process of how we engage the conversation on the floor of General Synod.”

Hiltz said he also saw the work of the Spirit in the creation of the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Healing and Reconciliation, which was inspired by discussions with members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP).

And referring to ACIP’s call to the church to reform church structures and move toward self-determining Indigenous ministry within the church, he also called it “a movement of the Spirit.”

Following meetings with Indigenous bishops and priests the previous day, Hiltz said he had not sleep well. “I have to confess that the first time I heard the call, my eyes got kind of stuck on the last couple of pages and the challenging invitation that is within those pages about structures and finances and borders,” he said. But as he listened yesterday, he said his “mind and heart were caught by the urgency of a plan for Indigenous ministries across the church…[and] the crisis in the communities they serve.”

One of the things that kept going through his mind, Hiltz said, was a reference in the Mississauga Declaration of 2011, in which it says: “empowered in faith we will live and work to overcome the crisis that brings overwhelming death to the peoples of this land.”

“We are a people called to proclaim life: new life, abundant life, life that is good, just and right for everyone,” he said.

Hiltz reminded the council to “never forget the pastoral context: who is our neighbour?” That, he said, is a fundamental question that sometimes gets overlooked or pushed aside in discussions of constitutional issues.

But, the primate added, he knows there is a genuine will in the church “to stay focused and try to address the crisis that if the rest of the country can’t recognize, we as church will. We have to because we belong to Christ.”


Anglican Journal News, May 02, 2015

Easter, the Joy of the Resurrection, in communion with the suffering of the world

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Over Easter more than 6,000 young people spent a week or few days on the hill.  Many visitors from the region around Taizé also came to join the brothers and the young people for the Easter celebrations. This year, before the Eucharist of the Resurrection, a great fire was lit outside the Church of Reconciliation. The pascal candle was then lit from the fire and everyone followed it into the church, singing. There was yet another innovation at the end of the Eucharist: as it was the women who, having found the tomb empty, went to announce the resurrection to the disciples, it was the sisters of the different communities present in Taizé who announced the traditional pascal greeting “Christ is risen” in more than 20 languages.

Spring has arrived on the hill and many young people continue to come, especially from Germany and France. An orthodox group from Moscow is also here, as every year at this time, a few weeks after hosting the pilgrim brothers and young people in their parish for Easter.

During the prayers that he offers aloud each day during the midday prayer in Taizé, Brother Alois has recently mentioned many situations of suffering: the war in the east of Ukraine, refugees drowning in the Mediterranean sea, the earthquake victims in Nepal. This attention to the world prepares the young people to return home. As a young French man, Timothy, wrote – he is indeed living the week in Taizé “with a view to going back to our lives, which are less smily and bright than they are in Taizé, so that we can share that flame that we received at home, and make it shine in the daily gloom.”


News from Taizé by Email – 30 April 2015

Bible translation workshop focuses on First Nations languages

Posted on: May 12th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bible translation workshop

For five days in April, First Nations translators gathered together in Guelph, Ont., for a workshop on developing the knowledge and skills to translate the Bible into their native languages.

Conducted by Wycliffe Bible Translators in partnership with the Canadian Bible Society and the Anglican Church of Canada, the Mother Tongue Translator Workshop brought together residents from First Nations communities engaged in the work of translating the Bible into Naskapi, Oji-Cree, and Plains Cree.

Translation project facilitators Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz helped lead the workshop, which took place from April 20–24 in the Guelph Bible Conference Centre as part of the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity Building Initiative.

“In recent days, there have been more and more First Nations people who, in reclaiming their language, or doing education in their language, or…worship in their church, [are] finding that they need to have the Scriptures in their mother tongue—in their local language,” Bill said.

The workshop made extensive use of the collaborative translation software program ParaTExt, which provided source translation and resource documents to help participants check their work.

Bill and Ruth

Among the participants was a five-person Oji-Cree Translation Committee from Kingfisher Lake, Ont., which included Ruth Kitchekesik, deacon at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church.

“I think language being a big part of our culture…and God being a central part of our lives, we want God to speak to us so we can understand him better,” Kitchekesik said, adding that it was only natural to want to translate the Bible into one’s own language to experience the word of God more directly.

Underscoring the need for new translations, Indigenous Anglicans in Kingfisher Lake are still currently using a 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer in the Cree language.

The Naskapi contingent at the workshop hailed from the community of Kawawachikamach, Que. and included representatives from the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach (NNK), and Jimmy Sandy Memorial School.

Cheyenne Vachon, project co-ordinator for the Status of Women in Canada for NNK and lay reader at St. John’s Anglican Church, noted the difficulty of maintaining a balance between English or French and Naskapi, as projects such as translating the Bible into Naskapi aim to reinforce the native language.

“I don’t favour one or the other; I think both [languages] are very valuable in our lives now,” Vachon said. “But in our community, we should enforce our language first and [help] the kids to have a very good foundation before they move on to English or French.”

Plains Cree speaker Gayle Weenie—who travelled from Saskatoon, Sask., to attend the workshop—was well aware of the need to preserve one’s indigenous tongue.

As a youth, Weenie attended a residential school where she was permitted to speak only English. She recalled her sister picking her up from school, and the two siblings being unable to understand much of what the other was saying. Only later in the year did Weenie begin to pick up her Plains Cree again.

“At one time, I almost lost my language…Now today I’m so happy that I am able to speak it and use it with the elders,” Weenie said.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh (which encompasses Kingfisher Lake) each visited the workshop during the week.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, May 08, 2015

Bishop urges Anglicans to protest dumping

Posted on: May 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Heather Shuter shares stories from the front lines of the blockade against biosolid waste being dumped in the Nicola Valley while the Rev. Danny Whitehead looks on. Photo: André Forget

Valemount, B.C.
At the assembly of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) on Saturday, May 2, APCI Bishop Barbara Andrews invited Anglicans from across the Central Interior to join the ongoing First Nations-lead protests against biosolid dumping in the Nicola Valley.

The bishop’s invitation came after the tabling of a resolution from APCI’s Indigenous Council, which called the assembly to “reaffirm its commitment to the preservation of all of God’s creation and acknowledge the example set by our First Nation brothers and sisters to protect the water, land, and other natural resources.” The resolution also urged the assembly to “support…the current efforts by members of our faith communities and their neighbours to protect the Nicola Valley from toxic waste.”

While the bishop thanked the Indigenous Council, and the Rev. Danny Whitehead and Heather Shuter for moving and seconding this “good piece of work,” she also suggested that a stronger stand was needed. “It didn’t call us to enough action,” she said.

The bishop promised to meet with the council in the “near future“ to co-ordinate an APCI-wide response. “I will put out a message to the community inviting you to join me so we can do something more than pass a motion,” she said, “but that we can stand together and protect God’s creation, as we’ve been invited to do by the Indigenous Council.”

The protests in the Nicola Valley have come in response to the dumping of biosolids—mostly sewage sludge—from cities in the lower mainland and the Okanagan Valley on a 320-acre parcel of land adjacent to the homes of several valley residents.

Several members of the Indigenous Council have been active in blockading roads into the valley to try to stop the high volume of biosolid waste from being spread near their land. Many valley residents have complained of an intolerable smell—“like a really stinky outhouse,” according to Shuter—and of negative effects on wildlife and fish in the area.

While attempts have been made to contact the provincial government, Shuter said that both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous protesters, who together call themselves Friends of the Nicola Valley, have been ignored.


Anglican Journal News, May 05, 2015

‘Governance follows mission’

Posted on: May 11th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

General Synod chancellor Canon (lay) David Jones. Photo: Leigh Anne Williams

Asked for his thoughts on how the structures of the Anglican Church of Canada might change in order to respond to the needs and goals for Indigenous ministry outlined by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), Canon (lay) David Jones, chair of the governance working group, acknowledged that huge challenges are involved. But, he expressed his confidence that “our church is up to it.”

Jones said in an interview that he starts from the premise that “mission comes first.” This means identifying the needs for mission and how they can be met, “and from that may come some governance changes.”

Conversations about different issues and dimensions of governance are going to take some time to develop, said Jones. ACIP raised the idea of creating a fifth ecclesiastical province within the Canadian church, but he noted that it has also told CoGS about the possibility for an association or confederacy of Indigenous ministries. “We have to find ways to make our structures work for our mission. I just don’t want prejudge how that will turn out,” he said.

So far, Jones said there is a commitment to continue the conversation between the officers of General Synod and the Indigenous leadership circle, which took place on April 30, before the CoGS meeting. Following Indigenous discussions of the issues and ideas at Sacred Circle in August, Jones said he expects that the next conversation with the officers would be more focused.

He added that leaders must identify the most pressing needs and prioritize what can be done and in what time frame. “We must not wait until we have a perfect package that is all gift-wrapped, because then nothing will happen.” Budgetary provisions should be target specific and tied to missional priorities, he added.

Jones also spoke of the need for “abiding trust in the Holy Spirit to take us where we need to go.”


Anglican Journal News, May 05, 2015

Ecumenical event highlights missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls

Posted on: April 29th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Monica Goulet

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon joined other denominations on Saturday, April 18 for a day-long ecumenical response to the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Taking place in the city’s Mayfair United Church, Voices of Our Sisters: Standing Together in Hope brought together a range of speakers, and included panels and discussion along with musical performances.

Approximately 200 people attended throughout the day, with the majority non-Indigenous. Among those in attendance were Anglican Bishop of Saskatoon David Irving and diocesan Truth and Reconciliation Commission representative and Aboriginal outreach co-ordinator Mary-Ann Assaily, with the latter helping to organize the event.

“Locally, we are hugely organized around advocacy of this issue [of missing and murdered Indigenous women],” Assaily said, noting that there was increasing recognition about the impact of colonialism and the Indian Act in precipitating the crisis.

The event kicked off at 8 a.m. sharp with a traditional pipe ceremony followed by a series of presentations. The first featured speaker was Professor Winona Wheeler, who teaches native studies and human rights at the University of Saskatchewan.

Bishop Irving noted of Wheeler’s presentation: “A lot of people said afterwards that they really weren’t aware of how within First Nations that all worked—the looking after the young people by the grandparents, and how when the government and the churches stepped in to [teach]…the young people…it changed their whole community.”

Glenda Abbott and Winona Wheeler

Wheeler and the next speaker, Wanuskewin Heritage Park visitor services manager Glenda Abbott, each shared personal stories and offered insight into circle teachings.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking presentation came from Pauline Meskego, the mother of Daleen Bosse, a 25-year-old University of Saskatchewan student and mother who was murdered in 2004.

The trial of Bosse’s killer, who was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder in 2014, received substantial media attention and the audience was familiar with the case, leaving many in an emotional state as Meskego displayed photographs of her daughter from infancy until the last days before her murder.

Her presentation also touched on the financial impact that searching for Daleen has had on Bosse’s family, and the struggles of her brothers with alcoholism resulting from the prolonged search and disturbing details about her fate.

“The story was so close to everyone, highly personalized, that we went through a lot of Kleenex,” Assaily said.

With a drum and strong voice, Abbott taught audience members to sing The Strong Woman Song, a tune created by inmates at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ont., to protest solitary confinement.

The afternoon saw further contributions from a panel that included:

  • Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte and Myrna LaPlante, co-chairs of the Iskwewuk E-wichiwitochik (Women Walking Together) network that seeks to raise awareness of missing and murdered Aboriginal women;
  • Monica Goulet, Aboriginal relations consultant for the Saskatoon Police Service;
  • Marcel Petit, producer and director of the 2008 film Hookers—A Documentary; and
  • Kiona Sanderson and Maggie Eastman, Grade 10 students from Oskāyak High School who have extensively researched the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The audience then broke into 12 groups to discuss what they had learned and how churches could respond. The day closed with a performance by the drumming group Young Thunder.

Along with Anglicans from across Canada, members of the Diocese of Saskatoon will continue their focus on Indigenous issues going forward with the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the church’s subsequent #22Days project.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, April 29, 2015

Christian Zionism a ‘heresy,’ says Anglican priest

Posted on: April 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Neale Adams

The Rev. Naim Ateek heads the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem. Photo: Neale Adams

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, the Palestinian Anglican who heads the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem, told a conference in Vancouver April 23 that Anglicans were instrumental in developing the doctrine of Christian Zionism over hundreds of years, and should now work to curb its political influence.

British Anglicans as early as the 16th century promoted the belief that the Jewish people must be restored to the Promised Land of Palestine to fulfill a biblical prophecy before the Second Coming of Christ, said Ateek.

His speech began a three-day conference organized by the Canadian Friends of Sabeel at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale in Vancouver. The conference, Seeking the Peace of Jerusalem, was co-sponsored by the Anglican Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada and Friends of Sabeel North America

Ateek said it was an Irish Anglican priest, the Rev. John Nelson Darby who developed a theological reading of the Bible that sets out a series of the ages that will lead to the “End Times.” It is termed Dispensationalism. Darby later left the Church of Ireland, but his ideas were popularized in the 1909 Scofield Reference Bible published by the British Oxford University Press.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, an Anglican politician and social reformer in the 1800s, had been the first person (in 1838) to propose resettlement of Jews in Palestine. Later, Anglican priest the Rev. William Henry Hechler, a close friend of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was the only non-Jewish person at the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897—and probably the first person called a “Christian Zionist,” said Ateek.  “The Anglican church in Jerusalem was started by people who wanted the return of Jews to Jerusalem,” said Ateek. “The people of Palestine did not matter. No one was thinking of them.”

The Balfour Declaration in 1917 confirmed the British government’s support for the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jewish people. It was a “stark, colonial project,” said Ateek.

American President Woodrow Wilson’s acquiescence to the Balfour Declaration—despite Wilson’s professed belief in the self-determination of peoples—contributed to the eventual result about 30 years later, the nakba, or catastrophe, said Ateek. That is the term used by Palestinians to describe their displacement in 1948 during the war that followed the establishment of the State of Israel. “But for Christian Zionists, the End Times had already begun.”

In recent years, Christian Zionism has been supported more by influential fundamentalist preachers than mainline churches. Influential preachers have included the Americans Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey and several others. Ateek said that their political influence has led American administrations to tone down any criticism of Israeli policy.

Theologically, Ateek said he objects to Christian Zionism—which he labelled “a Christian heresy”—on several grounds. It violates Christ’s message of love, justice and peace, he said. Its prophecy of the world ending in violence contradicts the view of a loving and merciful God. And it accepts, unquestionably, a tribalism evident in some parts of the Old Testament that is based on racial exclusivity.

The Palestinian speaker concluded by suggesting there are hopeful signs that Christian Zionism is losing its influence, especially among younger U.S. evangelicals. Recent surveys and conferences have shown this, he said. The response to several documentaries showing the plight of Palestinians has been positive. And there is growing support for a boycott of Israeli goods to pressure the Israeli government to change its policies.

“We want Israel to be secure,” said Ateek, “but we want justice and peace for the Palestinians.”

He suggested several actions that Anglicans could take. First of all, they should be engaged in the issue. “Whenever possible, we need to reach out to our Christian Zionists with love and care.”

He said that Anglicans should use the biblical text “as Jesus used it,” to convey messages of justice and love. He said that Jesus never quoted from books in the Hebrew scriptures of Numbers, Joshua or Judges or any passages that were “punitive, imperialistic or exclusionary.” Texts that appear to promote tribalism should be used carefully, if at all, said Ateek. He encouraged visits to Palestine and Israel so that people can “discover for themselves the reality on the ground.”

Anglicans should encourage their religious as well as political leaders to speak out against discrimination and racism in any form, be it anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, he said, adding that international law should be upheld.

Whatever is done, actions should be non-violent, Ateek emphasized. “Non-violence is the most radical challenge we can give to injustice,” he said. “And we must never give up—we must never despair.”

Ateek was introduced by retired Bishop Michael Ingham, whose support of a resolution that asked Anglicans to be aware of Christian Zionism greatly helped its passage at the last General Synod, according to conference organizer the Rev. Robert Assaly.

A response to the speech came from the Rev. Jay Olson of South Burnaby United Church, who asked the conference to work on the question: “What does it mean to reach out to the Christian Zionists in love and care when I would rather avoid all that?”

About two dozen pickets from Vancouver and Fraser Valley area churches and organizations, which object to how the Sabeel organization characterizes Christian Zionism, greeted participants who attended the conference. Also present were five black-uniformed members of the Jewish Defense League of Canada, who said they came from Montreal and Toronto to monitor the proceedings.

Several of the pickets stowed their signs and leaflets, and entered St. Mary’s Kerrisdale to listen politely to Ateek’s speech. The evening’s address was public, although most of the rest of the sessions of the conference were open only to registrants with nametags.

Betty-Lou Loewen of Abbotsford, B.C., a representative of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, a Christian Zionist group, said the speech was difficult to listen to, especially the accusation of heresy.

Present also were four Vancouver police officers, who stood silently near the church entrance. The police were present at later sessions, too. Both representatives of the conference organizers and the pickets said they had notified the police of the event, concerned about possible violence from the other side.


Anglican Journal News, April 27, 2015