Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Anglican voices heard at UN Status of Women meeting, Canadian delegate says

Posted on: May 24th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Tali Folkins on May 23, 2017

“I think especially in a world where people wonder if religion is relevant, this is just one example that yes, we are very relevant,” says the Rev. Laura Marie Piotrowicz, the Canadian member of the Anglican Communion’s delegation to March 2017’s session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: Contributed


The Canadian member of the Anglican Communion’s delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) session this spring says she feels that, despite the enormity of the event, her group was able to have some effect on its outcome.From March 10-24, the Rev. Laura Marie Piotrowicz, rector at St. John’s Anglican Church (Port Dalhousie), in St. Catharines, Ont., was in New York City for the CSW’s 61st meeting. Piotrowicz was attending with a group of 20 delegates from across the Communion.

The CSW itself is composed of 45 members, but the event attracted a total of about 8,000 people, Piotrowicz says—many of them representatives of a great number of other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across the globe.

But the Anglican group was able to involve itself in the process by, for example, submitting its thoughts on successive drafts of the CSW’s Agreed Conclusions—the summary document it releases at the end of each annual session.

“I believe that [the Anglican Communion delegation] did make a difference,” she says. “We could provide feedback to the folks who were in the room working on those conclusions…Just about every one of us was present and contributing to those conversations. So that was really quite exciting.

“I think especially in a world where people wonder if religion is relevant, this is just one example that yes, we are very relevant, we are very much tapped into issues and concerns that impact all of us.”

The primary theme of this year’s session was women’s economic empowerment. The CSW’s 45 agreed conclusions include recommendations to governments, companies and other organizations for achieving this—strengthening existing laws, improving education and putting a range of new economic and social policies in place, for example.

Piotrowicz says that, on behalf of Canadian Anglicans, she drew attention to Indigenous rights, human trafficking and also the Anglican Church of Canada’s recent humanitarian work. She and a small number of other Canadian Anglicans attending the session also met Cameron Jelinkski, a member of Canada’s permanent mission to the UN, to discuss these and other issues.

The delegation also released a statement on the meeting to the Anglican Consultative Council, the body that facilitates co-operation among members of the Anglican Communion.

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 24, 2017

Episcopalians, Methodists propose full-communion agreement

Posted on: May 19th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee met in April in Charlotte, North Carolina.


 

A group of Episcopalians and Methodists has released its proposal for full communion between the two denominations.

Full implementation of the proposal will take at least three years. The Episcopal Church General Convention and the United Methodist Church General Conference must approve the agreement, which culminates 15 years of exploration and more than 50 years of formal dialogue between the two churches. General Convention next meets in July 2018 in Austin, Texas. The General Conference’s next meeting is in 2020.

The 10-page proposal, titled “A Gift to the World, Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness,” says it “is an effort to bring our churches into closer partnership in the mission and witness to the love of God and thus labor together for the healing of divisions among Christians and for the well-being of all.”

Montana Bishop Frank Brookhart, Episcopal co-chair of the dialogue, and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, United Methodist co-chair, wrote in a recent letter that “the relationship formed over these years of dialogue, and the recognition that there are no theological impediments to unity, pave the way for this current draft proposal.”

In the coming months, there will be opportunities for feedback, regional gatherings and discussions on the proposal, according to a May 17 press release.

“We encourage you to reach across denominational lines to establish new relationships and deepen existing relationships by shared study of these materials and mutual prayer for the unity our churches,” Brookhart and Palmer wrote. “We believe that this proposal represents a significant witness of unity and reconciliation in an increasingly divided world and pray that you will join us in carrying this work.”

Additional related information, including historical documents, is available here.

The Episcopal Church defines “full communion” to mean “a relation between distinct churches in which each recognizes the other as a catholic and apostolic church holding the essentials of the Christian faith.” The churches “become interdependent while remaining autonomous,” the church has said.

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee, which developed the proposed agreement, says the two denominations are not seeking a merger but that they are “grounded in sufficient agreement in the essentials of Christian faith and order” to allow for the interchangeability of ordained ministries, among other aspects of the proposed agreement.

“We are blessed in that neither of our churches, or their predecessor bodies, have officially condemned one another, nor have they formally called into question the faith, the ministerial orders, or the sacraments of the other church,” the group said.

The Episcopal-Methodist proposal also benefited from the fact that Anglicans across the Communion and Methodists elsewhere in the world have an ongoing dialogue, the group said. The dialogue launched a report in 2015, “Into All the World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches,” describing its progress. The launch highlighted a then-new relationship of full communion between Irish Anglican and Methodists churches, and the historic concrete steps towards an inter-changeable ministry.

The Episcopal-United Methodist full-communion proposal acknowledges that the United Methodist Church “is one of several expressions of Methodism” and notes that both denominations have been in dialogue with the historically African American Methodist churches for nearly 40 years. They have also worked with African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, (AME Zion) and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) in various ecumenical groups.

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church have taken some interim steps toward full communion in recent years. In 2006, they entered into Interim Eucharistic Sharing, a step that allowed for clergy of the two churches to share in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper under certain guidelines.  In 2010, the dialogue group issued a summary of its theological work called “A Theological Foundation for Full Communion between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church.”

The proposal for full communion outlines agreements on the understanding of each order of ministry. The ministries of lay people, deacons, Episcopal priests and United Methodist elders or presbyters (elder is the English translation of presbyter) would all be seen as interchangeable yet governed by the “standards and polity of each church.”

Both churches have somewhat similar understandings of bishops, according to the proposal.

“We affirm the ministry of bishops in The United Methodist Church and The Episcopal Church to be adaptations of the historic episcopate to the needs and concerns of the post-[American] Revolutionary missional context,” the dialogue says in the proposal. “We recognize the ministries of our bishops as fully valid and authentic.”

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church would pledge that future consecrations of bishops would include participation and laying on of hands by at least three bishops drawn from each other’s church and from the full-communion partners they hold in common, the Moravian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Episcopal Church currently is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India; Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; the Philippine Independent Church; the Church of Sweden and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. It is also engaged in formal bilateral talks with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Roman Catholic Church via the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

More information about the Episcopal Church’s dialogue with the United Methodist Church is here.

The work of the Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue is enabled by two General Convention resolutions: 2015-A107 and 2006-A055.
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Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. 

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Anglican Journal News, May 19, 2017

Scripture connects environmental destruction with idolatry, says bishop

Posted on: May 18th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Art Babych on May, 15 2017

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald gives the keynote address at the Green Churches Forum at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, May 11. Photo: Art Babych


The environmental threat posed by today’s “principalities and powers” is one of the great spiritual issues of our time, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald says.

“We live in a society where greed has become normal,” MacDonald said in a keynote address at the daylong, ecumenical Green Churches Forum at Saint Paul University in Ottawa May 11. “In fact, it’s one of the animating factors in the way our culture and the way our economy works.”

When the apostle Paul wrote about the struggles against “principalities and powers,” he was referring to evil rulers, authorities and dark forces of the day, MacDonald suggested. Today, those are the corporations, governments and the way culture has been structured, he said.

“All these principalities and powers are conspiring against the environment” and are creating a climate of injustice, MacDonald said. “This climate of injustice is something that we, as religious people, have to say is one of the great moral and spiritual issues of our time.”

In his talk on the forum’s theme, Celebrating the Spirit of Creation, the bishop said Scripture connects environmental destruction with idolatry. “It is absolutely essential that we understand this component of our progressive alienation of the environment around us.”

Some Christians say their theology needs to be updated to “make it more green,” he said. “I’m all for that. But what I’m saying is that it fails to recognize the progressive alienation.”

Christians, “with the gifts that the Creator has given us,” are called to “live our lives in a fundamental, powerful, intimate, courageous, compassionate commitment to the world that God has created for us,” he said.

MacDonald has been involved in environmental issues throughout his adult life and has contributed to many publications, including Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation.

His talk was followed by a series of theme-based workshops throughout the afternoon. The forum, which was attended by about 200 people, ended following an ecumenical service.

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna was scheduled to say a few words at the opening of the forum, but was unable to attend due to scheduling. Instead, she appeared in a brief video.

“As you know, Canada is all in when it comes to climate change,” she said. “We know it’s the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren.”

McKenna also said that as a Catholic, she was “very pleased” with Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical calling for action to protect the environment and to combat climate change.

As well, she said, “I think there’s a huge opportunity for churches across the country, for faith groups and faith leaders to work with our government to do what we need to do to protect the planet for future generations.”

The Green Churches Forum was the fourth organized by the Green Churches Network [INSERT LINK: http://www.greenchurches.ca] and follows those held in Montreal (2010), Drummondville (2012) and Quebec City (2015).

The Green Churches Network was launched in Montreal in 2006 and includes more than 60 churches of various denominations.

Among its partners is the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa, KAIROS: Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, and Citizens for Public Justice.

Organizers said the National Capital region was the best choice for a meeting site this year since it is an anniversary year.

“We want to celebrate in conjunction with the celebrations taking place throughout the National Capital for Canada’s 150th anniversary,” the group said in a statement.

“As believers, we see Creation manifested in abundance in our home and native land.” The forum event “will also be a testimonial of thanksgiving for the beauty and greatness of God’s work in our country from coast to coast to coast.”

The Green Churches Network is steered by a board of directors with representatives from diverse churches.

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
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Anglican Journal News, May 17, 2017

Vision keepers: Primate’s council of Indigenous elders and youth holds first meeting

Posted on: May 16th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, presents the six members of the Council of Elders and Youth—now known as the Vision Keepers Council—at General Synod in July 2016. L-R: Aaron Sault, Judith Moses, Laverne Jacobs, Tina Keeper (not a council member), Hiltz, Sidney Black, Danielle Black, Leigh Kern, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald.

Vision keepers: Primate’s council of Indigenous elders and youth holds first meeting

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The Council of Elders and Youth held its first formal meeting from April 30 to May 3 at a small airport hotel near Winnipeg. The Council was established by Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, and confirmed at General Synod 2016, to monitor how the Anglican Church of Canada would honour its commitment to adopt and comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The six Indigenous council members, comprising individuals of First Nations and Métis backgrounds, include Ms. Judith Moses, bishop-elect Sidney Black, Canon Laverne Jacobs, Ms. Danielle Black, Mr. Aaron Sault, and the Rev. Leigh Kern. Both Archbishop Hiltz and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald attended part of the initial meeting.

One of the first decisions of the elders and youth who made up the council was to change their name.

“There were some people who were very uncomfortable with being called a council of youth and elders, especially the elders part,” Moses said. “People are [not] just named an elder; it’s a life-long process and there are identification ceremonies.”

Henceforth, the group will be known as the Vision Keepers Council. Archbishop Hiltz said the council’s desire to change its name was “entirely appropriate” from his perspective, describing it as “a sign of them claiming their mandate and shaping it in a manner that will work for them”.

Members designated Moses and Kern as chair and note-taker, respectively, using Aboriginal titles. In her role as chair, Moses is known as Kahentinetha, a Mohawk term meaning “she who makes the grasses wave”, while Kern as note-taker is referred to as Asinakii, a Blackfoot name referring to the person “who records the story”.

The council meeting opened with prayer, drumming, tobacco offerings on the lawn of the hotel, and recognition of the traditional territories it stood on. During the meeting, members made decisions on key aspects of organization, decision-making, and overall vision, while brainstorming potential recommendations they may make in the future.

The Vision Keepers discussed the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers as a guide for their values and behaviour. They also created the following mission statement for their work: “To enable Settlers and Indigenous people to become all that the Creator has called us to be, in harmony with each other and the land.”

In an brainstorming session, council members discussed a number of potential steps by which the church might live out its commitments to the UN Declaration. Some early suggestions included:

  • Identifying a need for on-going anti-racism training in Indigenous cultural sensitivity for clergy and lay leaders, likely every four years;
  • Strengthening links with other Indigenous organizations and structures in the church including the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice; the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples; and new reconciliation animator Melanie Delva;
  • The need for dioceses to develop their own plans for responding to the UN Declaration.

Of the latter, Moses noted, “I think that it’s very important that the church not rely on the Indigenous community to help them to do their outreach, their learning … Obviously, Indigenous Anglicans are happy to help. But we need to see the actions being taken by others, both as a demonstration of their real commitment as well as to do their own learning.”

Further suggestions included:

  • Responding to different communication needs in both the Indigenous and settler communities, such as improving translation of key documents into Indigenous languages and communicating progress;
  • Thinking beyond introductory tools such as the Blanket Exercise to find other tools and mechanisms for helping parishes move dialogue, understanding, and engagement forward;
  • Coordinating work of the council with the Church calendar and prayer calendar to integrate it naturally into the life cycle of the church, e.g. reflections and pastoral resources to help parishes in the lead-up to National Aboriginal Day;
  • Opening worship services with acknowledgement of traditional territories;
  • Recognizing local Indigenous chiefs or nations in the Prayers of the People;
  • Rethinking the practice of swearing allegiance to the Queen in episcopal ordination rites;
  • Producing worksheets on values of “cultural safety” to help parishes undertake outreach on the UN Declaration and engage in respectful, meaningful relationship-building across cultures;
  • Building an inventory of Indigenous projects that the Anglican Church of Canada is undertaking at a local level across the country.

“There’s a sense that there is a lot of really great stuff going on, but we just don’t know about it from coast to coast to coast, because there’s no mechanism of sharing the learning, of sharing networks,” Moses said. “It’s something that we would like to talk to the new reconciliation animator about … In order for us to assess progress on the United Nations Declaration, we have to know what it is we’re assessing.”

Precise details of how recommendations from the council might be received and implemented remain to be worked out, as do the respective tenure of the members and duration of the council itself. For the moment, the Vision Keepers Council remains accountable to the Primate for its mandate.

Going forward, council members will hold two face-to-face meetings per year and conduct the rest of their business via phone or video chat. Early indications suggest solid chemistry among the council, with Moses praising the “excellent dynamic in the group”.

The National Indigenous Anglican Bishop left with a similar view.

“I was impressed with the passion, energy, and commitment of the Vision Keepers,” Bishop MacDonald said. “They will be a great help in tracing our church’s work in reconciliation.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, May 16, 2017

Archbishop of Canterbury’s praise for “bridge-building” Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

Posted on: May 15th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Posted on: May 15, 2017

Justin Welby prays at tomb of Abraham in Hebron
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,  has concluded his longest pastoral visit to a diocese outside the Church of England by praising the Archbishop of Jerusalem’s “bridge-building” work between Israelis and Palestinians.

Archbishop Justin’s 11-day “pastoral pilgrimage” was designed to provide an opportunity for him to hear from beleaguered Christians in the Middle East and to witness the Diocese of Jerusalem’s work in the area of reconciliation.

The diocese, in the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.  Archbishop Justin began his visit in Jordan, where King Abdullah assured him that the country would continue to speak out for the presence of Christians in the region. After that meeting, Archbishop Justin asserted that Christians “are the past in the Middle East, they are the present, and they must be the future.”

During the following days he visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, the two Anglican hospitals in Gaza and beleaguered communities in the West Bank – including the divided city of Hebron. He met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other political leaders.

Archbishop Justin stressed that he was not there to “lay down the law” to local politicians, saying it would be “daft” for outsiders not to be careful about what they said. He repeatedly recited a phrase that he had heard during his visit: “If you come to the Holy Land for two weeks, you think you understand the situation. If you come for two years, you understand that you know nothing about the situation.”

But that did not stop him from raising the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular and the wider problems for Christians in the region – including those who fled the advance of Daesh in Iraq and Syria and who felt that the refugee camps were unsafe areas for them to be. Following his meeting with the political leaders, Archbishop Justin said that he was optimistic that next week’s visit of US President Donald Trump to the region could have “surprising” results in  kick-starting the moribund peace process.

“I believe the Archbishop’s visit to the area was a very successful one” the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, told ACNS at the end of the visit. He said that Archbishop Justin’s affirmation of the Christian presence in the region carried a very “spiritual” message and he was encouraged by the Archbishop’s “push for the future” to continue the work that the diocese was doing in reconciliation, education and healthcare.

In an interview, Archbishop Justin praised the work of the Anglican Diocese in Jerusalem, under the leadership of “one of our great archbishops, Suheil Dawani.” He recognised that Anglicanism in the region was a minority group within the already-minority Christian community but said that this did not prevent the diocese from undertaking a significant ministry.

“There are a number of things that lead [the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem] to doing some quite important work,” Archbishop Justin said. “Firstly, they have a very clear focus: reconciliation, education, health – and they are not afraid to take risks. They understand the role of Jerusalem as the great gathering point of Christians, perhaps more than anywhere else  and they are incredibly hospitable. Archbishop Suheil is brilliant about not feeling threatened by groups but holding out his arms and welcoming everybody. And I think that is marvellous. It is a church that, because it is linked to a global communion, has a louder voice than its local presence would imply” he said.  “And those three things, together with the personal gifts that [Archbishop Suheil] brings, and many of his clergy bring, mean that – as in many provinces around the world – the Anglican church is a bridge-builder. A quiet, helpful presence. It is very striking how in all the meetings we have had, how warmly [Archbishop Suheil] was welcomed by all the politicians from both the Israeli and Palestinian communities.”

When he arrived in Israel, Archbishop Justin was accompanied by the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. The two of them prayed together at the Western Wall, standing side-by-side, in a move that Archbishop Justin described as “unprecedented.” Throughout his visit, Archbishop Justin also met other Christian leaders in the region,  including at Qasr el Yahud, the traditionally accepted site of Jesus’ baptism, where he and a number of different Orthodox leaders received a briefing from members of the Halo Trust on their efforts to de-mine the West Bank area and release eight abandoned booby-trapped churches for re-use as worshipping centres.

There are no Anglican churches amongst the eight, but Archbishop Justin, a patron of the Halo Trust, has made a donation from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s discretionary funds to support the de-mining operation. Archbishop Justin encouraged more Christians to visit the Holy Land, saying a pilgrimage to the area provided “the most marvellous opportunity for reflection on the common truths that all Christians hold that bring us before the face of Christ.”

“It is not simply the dramatic, the grand; it is not simply looking at the views at which He looked in the Galilee. It is the reality of the incarnation, that God walked about in this place and you could have bumped into him at the right time,” he said, “that he took on humanity – the full humanity without anything missing – and that is extraordinary” he said.

“I come here because you meet the whole range of world Christianity here in micro. And it is the most extraordinary experience of seeing things and thinking ‘I don’t even begin to understand what is going on here’, and then, as you listen to people, as you, if you are willing to,  put aside your pre-conceptions, and listen to what they say about Christ, you think “the God who we worship in Jesus Christ is so infinitely bigger, and greater, and more astonishing and more wonderful than I ever realised.”

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Anglican Communion News Service,  Daily update from the ACNS on Monday 15th May, 2017

Diocese of British Columbia sells church site for affordable housing project

Posted on: May 12th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Tali Folkins on May 10, 2017

The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association, a local charity, plans to build a 30-40 unit affordable housing complex on the site of the former St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Ladysmith, B.C. Photo: Diocese of British Columbia


A disestablished Anglican church in Ladysmith, B.C., has been sold to a local community organization that plans to build affordable housing on the site.

The diocese of British Columbia announced earlier this month it had sold a site in the Vancouver Island town that was formerly the property of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. The parish voted to disestablish in April, 2016, and soon thereafter, the diocese was approached about the property by the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA), a charity that provides a range of social services to people living in and around the town.

The diocese sold the property to LRCA April 28. The diocese is not disclosing the price, since this was a condition of the sale. Bishop Logan McMenamie says other parties were willing to pay more than what LRCA paid, but the diocese liked LRCA’s goal of using the property for an affordable housing complex.

“This organization approached us right away, and so we started working with them and tried to work out a deal that was kind of a win-win situation for both of us,” he says. “There were a couple of other people who wanted to put in larger bids and we said no, because we really picked up on this group of people. They’re local, and we know that they had the community at heart—and housing.”

As it works to discern a new role for the church, he says, the diocese will be asking itself questions such as, “How can we join other faith communities, and how can we join people who might not be in a faith community, that we identify as doing God’s mission to the world, and support them?” LRCA’s housing project is an example of this type of work, he says, because providing affordable housing to people is an important priority for the diocese.

The property includes a wooden church, the high cost of repairs to which was one of the reasons why the parish decided to disestablish, McMenamie says. LRCA plans to tear the church down and put up an entirely new building on the site, one with 30 to 40 units of affordable housing for seniors, adults with developmental disabilities and people unable to afford rents in the local market.

Since the disestablishment, most St. John the Evangelist parishioners are now worshipping at an Anglican church in the nearby community of Cedar, McMenamie says. But that doesn’t mean Anglican ministry in Ladysmith is over, he says. Parishioners continue to do a meal program and meet in one another’s houses for Bible study, for example. Meanwhile, the diocese is investing the proceeds of the sale and plans to use the investment income—roughly $7,000-$8,000 per year, at current rates of return—for ministry, McMenamie says. It hopes to work with LRCA in the future, although the details have yet to be worked out.

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 12, 2017

Experiencing Pikangikum

Posted on: May 12th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Asha Kerr-Wilson, PWRDF Youth Council Board Liaison

Drinking water gathered in homes in Pikangikum

Drinking water gathered in homes in Pikangikum

 

Before Christmas I had the incredible opportunity to visit the First Nation of Pikangikum where PWRDF and our partners have been working to equip homes with water and wastewater systems for the last several years. As I struggled to process and write about my experience someone prompted me with:

  • Tell us what you saw, what you heard.
  • What did you experience of the reality of the people of Pikangikum?

 

In my frustration my mind immediately listed all the challenging, difficult and heartbreaking things I’d seen:

 

I saw the state of poverty and the poor living conditions. Run down homes due to age and overcrowding; homes still heated by wood burning stoves; no running water and instead buckets and jugs and basins of water that had been fetched from the water stations, and sitting in corners for use for everyday activities like washing clothes and dishes and bodies.

 

Frozen pizza for sale in the "Northern Store" - the only grocery store in the community

Frozen pizza for sale in the “Northern Store” – the only grocery store in the community

I experienced the outrageous prices of food and other basic supplies and the isolation from other communities, and the challenges of weather for coming and going.

 

I saw the field of garbage with a road through it that was the landfill and a spot of discord on the peaceful landscape. I experienced the way, when asked about concerns of a changing climate, the people responded with a casual acknowledgment of the concern, but a sense that they had other things to worry about – the way they seemed to accept it as an impending reality they had no power to change.

 

I experienced a feeling of anxious resignation to this reality and the difficulties in overcoming it.

 

And I experienced the hesitancy of people to share their stories, realities, and traditions with outsiders and strangers…

 

Later I went back to my notes and in reviewing all of this in my head I realized there were also a lot of positives in the face of all this heartbreak:

 

The cafeteria at Pikangikum's newly opened high school. The students have been involved in painting the murals on the walls.

The cafeteria at Pikangikum’s newly opened high school. The students have been involved in painting the murals on the walls.

I experienced the joy of students with a beautiful new school, the passion of the police officers and community leaders working in the community as it seeks to grow and heal some of these long-standing wounds, and the continued practice of and connection to their language and cultural heritage.

 

I saw the way the community was built into the surrounding forest and existed in harmony with it. As we built trust and relationship, I experienced a sampling of the stories of their continued connection to the land and water and the wildlife that lives on and in it.

 

I learned about the resilience and strength of a people who know this land and their place on it better than anyone and who continue to celebrate their culture, language and people despite the many hardships.

 

Since Phase 1 of the Pikangikum Water Project started in 2013, PWRDF and partners have retrofitted 10 homes with clean drinking water and waste water systems. Phase 2 is now well underway, with plans to complete another 10 homes.

 

In coming home and grappling with what I had seen and heard during my short visit, I began to understand the struggle that this community faces. It was challenging and difficult. But in the midst of it I also experienced their hope. It was the kind of hope that keeps people going in times of difficulty. The kind of hope that drives people to make change. Whether it’s the people living in the community, or those of us outside of it, as we collectively work for a healthier world.

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Anglican Church of Canada, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Email Update, May 12, 2017

Meeting refugees in Jordan

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Meeting refugees in Jordan

Posted By Isobel Owen

09 May 2017

On a recent Anglican Alliance visit to Jordan, Janice Proud and I spent time with the local church to learn how they are working to help refugees with disabilities living in the refugee camps, and refugees living in the community.

As of March 2017, 733,210 refugees have been registered in Jordan with UNHCR, with the large majority arriving from Syria (657,621 refugees) and the next largest group from Iraq (62,445 refugees). UNHCR data places Jordan as hosting the second largest number of refugees globally, relative to the size of its population, with 89 refugees for every 1000 inhabitants.

Travelling with staff from the Holy Land Institute for Deaf and Deafblind Children, we visited Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan where 80,000 refugees now live. The Holy Land Institute has been an “early responder” having been involved with assisting refugees with disabilities and their families since the formation of the camp in 2012.

The Holy Land Institute has been working with children with disabilities in Jordan for over 50 years after their foundation by the Episcopal Church in Jordan.  Pictured above is a speech therapy session at the centre.

We saw how the Holy Land Institute, together with four other organisations making up the disability Network, run a disability centre in the camp to provide hearing tests, hearing aids, eye tests and glasses to refugees. The organisations in the network complement each other to provide assistance to cover a range of impairments that cause visual, hearing, physical/mobility and intellectual disabilities, as well as neurological and medical issues.

Since work commenced at the centre more than 3,000 children, together with young and elderly people with hearing, visual or mental disabilities, have received help. Each day, 75 children come into the centre to receive help with hearing devices, therapy, education and even just support and friendship from Holy Land Institute staff and the centre’s 14 volunteers.  In the picture (right), a girl with intellectual disabilities shows a volunteer the calendar they have made.  Specialist staff from the Network of Jordanian disability-specific organisations regularly visit the camp.

Given the great needs that exist in the camp, we were very encouraged to see how the Holy Land Institute and the Network have responded to the most vulnerable, regardless of faith or nationality, and brought their expertise and skills in to close a gap in service provision in the camp.

Moving from Za’atari camp, Janice and I travelled to Amman where the local church is ministering and providing the assistance it can to refugees living in the community. We visited St Paul’s Ashrafiyeh (Amman) where we met with Iraqi Christian refugees who are part of the church congregation.

This part of our visit shone a light on those who have taken refuge in Jordan, not by living in the camps – where there is a greater degree of service provision and organisation – but in the community, where they are living in conditions of greater poverty and marginalisation.

Janice and I were able to meet with Iraqi Christian families in their homes and to hear their stories.  Pictured left is the hospitality offered by an Iraqi refugee family when we visited their home.  Many families had been internally displaced in Iraq since 2003 and have been on the move ever since, leaving major cities such as Baghdad after persecution and intimidation to take refuge in the north of Iraq, only to be driven out in 2014 by Islamic State. Many of the families we met had subsequently seen their homes bombed and had to abandon them, lost their possessions and spent their savings, and had come to Jordan as a final option to reach safety. These families feared living in the refugee camps due to persecution so were choosing to live in greater poverty in the community. In contrast to living in the official camps, many were missing out on access to healthcare and education for their children.

So many of the people we met had lost loved ones to conflict, were separated from extended family across the world and didn’t see any future for themselves as Christians in Iraq for fear of persecution if they returned.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visited this community last week and said of his visit:

“The Iraqi Christians I met yesterday say they feel the world has forgotten them, because the focus of the international community is now on Syria. Iraqis, they say, are at the bottom of the list when it comes to resettlement or support. One woman told me that she can endure persecution as a Christian because the Bible teaches that that is to be expected. What she did not expect was that the worldwide church would ignore their plight. As we left I prayed for God’s protection over their community. And I prayed that we, the Western Church, would be stirred up to do something”.

In the face of this context it humbled us to see how the local church was responding with what it had, trying to find options and possibilities, and giving hope to this community that had faced so much trauma and lost so much.

Having made this visit we at the Anglican Alliance have committed to advocating about the situation of Iraqi Christians in Jordan to UNHCR, NGOs and Catholic and Anglican agencies that operate in Jordan. We are also making links to disability organisations to see how refugees with disabilities living in the community can receive assistance in the way that there is provision in the camps. The Anglican Alliance is making further enquiries about refugee resettlement of Iraqis from Jordan where churches in the Anglican Communion are part of refugee community sponsorship schemes.

This blog was written by Isobel Owen, Programme Officer at the Anglican Alliance, after a recent visit to Jordan.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Tuesday 9th May, 2017

New Public Witness team finds its bearings

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Members of the Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice Coordinating Committee, joined by General Synod staff, meet at Church House on April 28. Clockwise from left: Ryan Weston, Rebecca Bates, Audrey Lawrence, Nancy Harvey, Michael Thompson, David Burrows, Barbara Henshall. Absent: Jane Alexander. Photo by Matt Gardner

New Public Witness team finds its bearings

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The Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice (PWSEJ) Coordinating Committee for the 2016-2019 triennium held its first face-to-face meeting on April 27-28 at Church House in Toronto.

Led by chair Nancy Harvey and facilitated by PWSEJ lead animator Ryan Weston, the meeting provided an opportunity for committee members to learn about their mutual commitment to social and ecological justice issues, set priorities for the current triennium, and identify engagement strategies with the wider church.

“Certainly there was a lot of energy that came out of it and a real commitment to connecting what’s happening in different parts of the church,” Weston said. “I think that’s how we all see our role going forward—to really be those connectors.”

Since taking on his current position on March 1, Weston has been making connections across the country with people active in various justice issues, discussing how to bring them into a wider conversation or support their efforts at the local level through the resources of the national church.

At the April meeting, which followed a teleconference in November, the coordinating committee identified several issues as their current priorities.

Creation Matters

One of the most active groups associated with PWSEJ is the Creation Matters Working Group, comprised of diocesan ecological justice representatives who share information related to environmental issues and engage Anglicans to live into the fifth Mark of Mission. Harvey currently serves as co-chair of the working group, along with Dean Ken Gray.

Weston described Creation Matters as “very well-established, so it’s ready to do some work and to build on some of what’s happened.”

Responsible resource extraction

One of the key issues outlined in the 2013 Joint Declaration between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, responsible resource extraction will continue to be a “big focus going forward, and particularly in our full communion relationship, but also in the larger church,” Weston said.

Many dioceses have already begun to take up the issue of responsible resource extraction on their own. Furthering that momentum, a working group on responsible investment established at General Synod 2016 has begun to meet to examine how the Anglican Church of Canada might use its investments as a tool for expressing its public witness.

While not confirmed, Weston suggested the possibility of future work with the Open for Justice campaign, a coalition of organizations seeking accountability for the mining, oil, and gas sectors.

“We want to be sure that the conversation around resource extraction and climate justice and care for the environment is not just about our investments—that while that’s an important conversation, that’s not the be-all and end-all,” Weston said. “We have to think about consumption issues. We have to think about some of the other impacts of that work, and how we can speak to that.”

Peace and conflict

Much of the church’s efforts to “challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation”, in the words of the fourth Mark of Mission, are centred around its participation in Project Ploughshares, a non-governmental organization that works with churches, governments, and civil society in Canada and abroad to prevent war and armed conflict and promote peace.

The Anglican Church of Canada continues to support Project Ploughshares, with Weston scheduled to meet Anglican board representatives in early May to discuss the church’s ongoing participation.

Justice and corrections

Anglicans are a founding denomination of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC). The current representative of the Anglican Church of Canada on the board is the Rev. Sharon Dunlop, who continues to serve as president.

The PWSEJ Coordinating Committee at its meeting discussed the church’s continuing participation in the CCJC, and potential new ways it might build connections and engage on issues related to justice and corrections.

Reconciliation

Where former PWSEJ director Henriette Thompson was heavily involved in working towards church reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the recent hiring of Melanie Delva as reconciliation animator frees up the PWSEJ lead animator to concentrate on other areas. Even so, the coordinating committee discussed reconciliation at its meeting and still lists it as a priority.

Homelessness and affordable housing

At this early juncture, Weston has yet to dive fully into the church’s work on homelessness and affordable housing, but continues to observe dioceses that have been particularly active on this issue, such as the dioceses of Ottawa and Toronto.

Human trafficking

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has often drawn attention to the struggle against human trafficking and modern slavery. One of the main avenues for Anglican contribution to this struggle is the church’s participation on the Working Group on Sexual Exploitation in Canada, part of the CCC Commission on Justice and Peace.

To supplement the CCC learning kit on human trafficking, Weston said, preparations are underway for a series of videos and other resources around human trafficking specifically targeted to the Anglican context.

“Part of what we’re doing is to see what is already happening in this church … trying to figure out how we can make the information as accessible as possible and bring the voices into the conversation … and also how do we get the education about human trafficking down to the parish and diocesan level.”

Interconnected issues

With so many issues to be discussed, Harvey said that members of the coordinating committee “almost felt overwhelmed” on the first day of the meeting because there were so many social justice areas that required attention. A common theme, however, was the interconnected nature of different issues, which may streamline and facilitate the church’s response.

Though still in its early days, Harvey offered a positive impression of the coordinating committee as “a group that’s going to be able to have good, honest, transparent conversations with each other and learn on an ongoing basis.”

“This isn’t an action group, per se,” she said. “It’s more of a group I think that is going to be aware and discover pockets of social and ecological justice activity across the Anglican Church of Canada, and look for ways to raise up those folks that are doing good work at the grassroots level.

“But it’s not going to be a top-down approach. I believe it’s going to be more of a grassroots approach, empowering folks and enabling folks.”

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, May 04, 2017

Three dioceses have married eight same-sex couples since General Synod 2016

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on May 03, 2017

Members line up to speak for or against the marriage canon motion at General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych


Eight same-sex couples have been married in three Anglican Church of Canada dioceses, ahead of General Synod 2019, when a resolution to allow same-sex marriages will be presented for second reading.

Since General Synod 2016 approved – on first reading – a proposed change in the marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriages, four weddings of same-sex couples have taken place in the diocese of Niagara, three in the diocese of Toronto and one in the diocese of Ottawa, according to the offices of the respective diocesan bishops. Several other same-sex couples in the dioceses of Toronto and Ottawa are also preparing to walk down the aisle.

In the diocese of Montreal, Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson said she is currently going through a discernment process with four same-sex couples considering marriage.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the diocese of British Columbia, announced at a diocesan synod in autumn 2016 that he will “move forward with the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese” on a case-by-case basis. When the Anglican Journal contacted his office in March 2017, no same-sex couples had yet approached the diocese about the possibility of marriage.

Since changing the marriage canon is considered a matter of doctrine, the motion requires a two-thirds majority vote at two successive General Synods. The second and final vote will take place at General Synod 2019.

Following the first reading of the motion to change the marriage canon—which was initially, but incorrectly, declared as being defeated in a vote—several bishops publicly announced they would nonetheless marry same-sex couples.

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird, Ottawa Bishop John Chapman, Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson, then Huron Bishop Bob Bennett and then coadjutor (now diocesan) Bishop Linda Nicholls all stated that they would marry same-sex couples as a pastoral measure, citing an opinion by General Synod Chancellor David Jones that the marriage canon as it stands does not actually bar same-sex marriage.

Following discovery of a voting error, which showed that the motion had actually passed its first reading, Bird, Chapman and Johnson said they would still go ahead with same-sex marriage. However, Bennett and Nicholls issued another statement,clarifying that their diocese was “committed to ongoing consultations,” as required by the same-sex motion. At press time, no changes to diocesan policy regarding the marriage of same-sex couples had been made.

Irwin-Gibson, who did not release a statement following the miscounted vote, sent out a pastoral letter upon her return from synod saying she would consider marrying same-sex couples on a “case-by-case” basis.

Several other bishops, including McMenamie, said they would discuss with their clergy and synods whether or not to offer marriages to same-sex couples immediately.

While McMenamie opted to move forward, other bishops who underwent similar consultations, such as Bishop Melissa Skelton, of the diocese of New Westminster, agreed to “abide by” the General Synod process.

In a November pastoral letter, Skelton—whose diocese was the first to offer same-sex blessings, in 2002—said New Westminster would “hold off” on letting clergy officiate the marriage of same-sex couples until the motion is approved.

However, she said she would convene a group to “create standards and develop or refine materials to assist all couples in preparing for their making monogamous, lifelong commitments of fidelity.”

Several other dioceses, including Huron, Rupert’s Land and Edmonton, have said they will continue to offer same-sex blessings, but will wait until the motion passes its second reading before offering marriage to same-sex couples.

Bishop Ron Cutler, of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said in a pastoral letter that the possibility of marrying same-sex couples before 2019 will be discussed at the diocesan synod in May 2017.

The announcement that some dioceses would marry same-sex couples despite the vote at synod was met with consternation from more conservative quarters of the church.

When William Anderson, then bishop of the diocese of Caledonia, was interviewed by the Journal following the announcement, he said offering marriage to same-sex couples before 2019 would cause a “period of chaos.”

However, the Anglican Church of Canada’s primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, maintained at the time that he has “no authority”to tell his fellow bishops what they can and cannot do in their own jurisdictions.

When contacted by the Journal about the marriages that have taken place and are being planned, several bishops pointed to statements they made following General Synod last year.

Bird said his thoughts on the matter have not changed since he told a reporter for the Niagara Anglican that he was committed to “continue[ing] to walk along the path of full inclusion and to immediately proceed with marriage equality” with LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited) Anglicans in his diocese.

But the process for marrying same-sex couples differs slightly among the dioceses that have agreed to do so.

While Bird simply requires priests marrying same-sex couples to inform him in advance, Irwin-Gibson told the Journal she has so far only permitted such weddings to happen in churches where the congregations and clergy are on board, and only for couples who are active in their congregations.

“This is meant to be a pastoral measure for members of the church where it is important to be done,” she said, adding that she has turned down some same-sex couples seeking to get married.

The diocese of Toronto requires parishes to receive authorization before marrying same-sex couples.

In November 2016, Johnson released a set of guidelines for how parishes can become eligible for authorization, and how same-sex couples in parishes that have not received authorization can pursue solemnization of their marriages.

Twelve parishes are now authorized to perform weddings of same-sex couples in the diocese of Toronto.

As the Canadian Anglican church has not yet authorized liturgies for marriages between members of the same sex, weddings that have taken place have adopted liturgy for celebrating and blessing as well as for witnessing same-sex marriages created by the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, which has allowed same-sex marriage since 2015.

 

Editor’s note: The first two paragraphs of the story have been changed for greater clarity. 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the diocese of Ontario had said it would continue to offer same-sex blessings. The diocese does not offer blessings, but it does allow civilly married gay and lesbian couples to have their marriages received by the parish through a special Eucharist service. This practice will continue in advance of 2019.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

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Anglican Journal News, May 03, 2017