Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine of Discovery’

An open letter to all Anglicans from the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice

Posted on: December 9th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments



Dear Friends

We write to you as brothers and sisters in Christ, as relatives in the Anglican Church of Canada.  We are members of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation, and Justice.  We are First Nations, Inuit, Métis, settler and newcomers.  We come from all across the country and have had the privilege of becoming community across our differences by gathering together.  In striving to be community, we have shared the incredible pain of Indigenous communities—the reality of intergenerational trauma, and injustice so much deeper than what is expressed in newspaper headlines. We have felt the challenge of living genuine repentance experienced by settler and newcomer Anglicans who are striving to live out solidarity.  We have witnessed the hope and challenge presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action and our church’s commitment to adopt and comply with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).  What we hold deeply, and in common, is our belief that God’s dream for our church, and for our country, is reconciliation.

And so we write you—church to church, people to people—asking that we join together in a common movement to foster and contribute to reconciliation.  Reconciliation is daily individual spiritual practice and communal conversion, the transformation of the whole church.  We know that many of you are on this path, but we hope to link our efforts to yours, so that we as a whole church might embrace the promise of reconciliation, walking together with other churches, and with others of faith and conscience in persistence and in hope.

In our experience, four directions come to mind to strengthen and deepen this common vocation towards reconciliation—pray, learn, build relationship, and act.


We ask that in your daily and weekly prayers you lift up the experience of Indigenous communities across the country that continue to struggle with the injustices imposed upon them through residential schools and the broader process of colonization.  We ask that in worship in non-Indigenous communities, you include traditional territorial acknowledgements and create space for Indigenous voices, teachings, and ceremonies.  We invite you to periodically reflect on our church’s apology and the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, as well as our commitments to the TRC Calls to Action and the UN Declaration, in services of lament, repentance, hope and commitment.


Many of us have been educated in a society that perpetuates racism and so there is a time of unlearning required before right learning is possible.  We invite you to commit to that process of unlearning, and then of learning, through talking circles, bible studies, book clubs, and film viewings that open you to Indigenous voices and world views.  Participate in processes like the KAIROS Blanket Exercise and PWRDF  Mapping Exercise to unlearn and relearn the history of Canada.  Study the 94 Calls to Action of the TRC and commit to read the TRC Summary report, as well as the critical volume, The Survivors Speak.  Learn about your own congregation’s history, including related to land, or that of your family or community: what relationship existed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in your family, church or community?  In learning, there is a particular urgency to support Elders who are teaching youth language and culture.

Building Relationships

We fear that we still don’t know each other well enough in this church of ours. We hope for better relationships—of depth and honesty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans.  Beyond making personal friendships, we invite churches to get to know each other.  We urge non-Indigenous and Indigenous church communities to consider collaborative events and activities, reaching out pastorally to support one another or prophetically to engage in worship and action together.   We know distance sometimes gets in the way, but we hope that even churches in urban settings, who are far from Indigenous communities, will build relationships, such as with and thru local friendship centres, and by seeking to partner.


The courage of residential school survivors and the clarity of the TRC Commissioners have given 94 answers to the question—“what can we do?”  We ask you to make a 3-year commitment as a congregation to lift up, through education and advocacy, one of the 94 Calls to Action.  Or to join in solidarity with a local Indigenous rights struggle in your community.   The KAIROS Winds of Change campaign, with its current focus on Education for Reconciliation (i.e., calling for TRC 62i for mandatory public school curriculum on treaties, residential schools and contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canada), represents another option to join in action.

One important place of action is our church itself.  We encourage you to support Indigenous self-determination in our church as witness to our commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  This means respecting the ways the Creator gave Indigenous peoples to make decision for themselves and their communities.  It is our call to not only do justice in the world but to strive to live justice as a church community.  We need to live together as good relatives.

We want to know about your ministry in common commitment to reconciliation.  Please feel free to be in touch with those of us who are close to you to share your challenges, successes and hopes.   If we can be of assistance, we will strive to do so.

We know that the Christ feels our lament, knows our repentance, embodies our justice, and goes before us in genuine hope of resurrected, reconciled community.  As the Body of Christ, let us live together in truth and strive towards the reconciliation that is the Creator’s deepest desire for each one of us.

Members of the Commission

Jonas Allooloo

Janaki Bandara
Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Traditional territory of the Neutral Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples

Dixie Bird, Diocese of Saskatchewan,
Montreal Lake Cree Nation Territory (Treaty 6),

John Bird, Lakefield, Diocese of Toronto
Traditional Territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabek, the Huron-Wendat and the Haudenosaunee

Sidney Black
Blackfoot Confederacy
Treaty 7

Ginny Doctor, Staff Liaison to the Commission
Member of the Mohawk Nation living on the Six Nations Reserve on lands granted to the Mohawk Nation through the Haldimand Proclamation

Terry Finlay, Diocese of Toronto,
Territory of the Haudenosaunee

Verna Firth, Diocese of the Arctic.
Beaufort Delta

Jennifer Henry, Diocese of Toronto,
Traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Seneca, and Mississaugas of the New Credit

Fred Hiltz
Traditional territory of the  Huron-Wendat, Seneca and Mississaugas of the New Credit

Laverne Jacobs, Diocese of Huron
Bkjewanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation), traditional territory of the Ojibwe
Potawatomi and Ottawa Peoples

Ellie Johnson, Oakville, Diocese of Niagara
Anishnawbe  territory

Mark MacDonald
National Indigenous Bishop
Traditional territory of the Huron, Wendat, Seneca and Mississaugas of the New Credit

Lydia Mamakwa, – Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh
Nishnawbe- Aski Nation – Treaty 9

Solomon Sanderson
Treaty 6

Bud Smith, Territory of the People
Traditional Territory of the Secwepemc

Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Diocese of Toronto
Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit

Andrew Wesley, Diocese of Toronto
Mushkegowuk Territory

Amos Winter
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation – Treaty 9


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, December 09, 2016

Anglican church seeks ‘reconciliation animator’

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on November, 20 2016

The Rev. Andrew Wesley (left) and Archbishop (ret.) Terence Finlay, co-chairs of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice. Photo: André Forget

Mississauga Ont.

The Anglican Church of Canada is looking for a “reconciliation animator” to help continue its work on reconciliation and justice with Indigenous peoples, and to support the work of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.

At the November 17 meeting of Council of General Synod (CoGS), the commission’s co-chairs, the Rev. Andrew Wesley and Archbishop (ret.) Terence Finlay, asked CoGS make funds available to hire a full-time staff person to support the commission’s work.

Wesley said that in order to fulfill its mandate to work on the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, explore what reconciliation means and address injustices in Indigenous communities, the commission requires more support.

“We need somebody that can do the legwork, all the administration work, and the networking that needs to be done,” he said. “Without this person, it’s going to be hard to carry on the [commission’s] work.”

Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, responded by telling CoGS that General Synod had already allocated resources in the 2017 budget for a position that would support both the commission itself and the office of the National Indigenous Bishop.

This “reconciliation animator” would report to the National Indigenous Bishop, and work on engaging Anglicans with the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and support implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Thompson said the synchronicity between the commission’s request and the national church’s resources was an example of  “the grace and purpose of God’s Holy Spirit moving among us so that we’ve arrived a place where the resources are available for the kind of work you’re describing.”

Thompson explained in an interview that over the past year and a half, he has come to believe that the work on reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples should not be part of the portfolio of the director of public witness for social and ecological justice (a role filled by Henriette Thompson until her resignation earlier this year). A separate position was needed to deal with this work, he said.

Several dioceses passed money on to the national church following a return of funds under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and Thompson said this money would be put toward funding the new position.

“It [is] probably time for us to recognize that reconciliation is going to be a central ministry of our church for some years to come, and give it the attention and resources it deserves on the staff team,” Thompson said.

The primate’s commission was established by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, following General Synod 2013, and was originally expected to present a final report at General Synod 2016.

Finlay told CoGS the task had simply been too large for the commission, which is composed of 18 Indigenous and non-Indigenous members and meets twice a year, to complete in a single triennium.

Instead, the commission presented a draft report to General Synod 2016, and was given permission to extend its mandate for another three years.

However, Finlay said that following synod, the commission realized that there had been several important omissions from the report, which it has rectified or is working to rectify.

The most glaring problem, Finlay said, was that the report has not been translated into any Indigenous languages.

“If we’re going to talk about being on the same playing field with one another, we’ve got to be conscious of the need for translation,” Finlay said.

The updated report also now includes an invitation for the primate to invite the deans of theological colleges to enter into a consultation with the Indigenous leadership and elders regarding “Indigenous ways, worldviews, spirituality and theology.”

It also includes a suggestion that non-Indigenous churches recognize the Indigenous people whose traditional lands they are on.

Serious concerns were also raised about finances.

“We discovered that several Indigenous clergy are living on welfare to support their ministry,” Finlay said. “To us, that is not just.”

Finlay recommended an audit be made to see if this is, in fact, the case, and to see how widespread this is among Indigenous clergy in the Anglican Church of Canada.


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.


Anglican Journal News, November 20, 2016

Peace and violence at Standing Rock

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on November 16, 2016

Protesters from the Standing Rock camp face off against police outside the governor’s residence in Bismarck, N.D.
Photo: Laurel Dykstra

On November 3, her first day at Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota, in the midst of a massive push to stop the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, a stranger came up to the Rev. Leigh Kern and gave her a doughnut.

It was a small thing, but for Kern, a Métis priest from the diocese of Toronto, it perfectly encapsulated the experience of living in the camp.

“Everybody just takes care of each other,” Kern said in a phone interview from Standing Rock. “There is such peace here—which is strange, because…it’s like we’re in a war zone.”

The day before, Kern, alongside National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and the Rev. Laurel Dykstra, of the diocese of New Westminster, had arrived in Standing Rock on the invitation of Canon John Floberg, supervising priest for The Episcopal Church for the North Dakota side of Standing Rock.

On October 23, Floberg had called for “at least 100 clergy” to join him and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in resisting the construction of the pipeline. According to MacDonald, however, the actual number of responders was more than 500.

“They stopped counting at 524,” he chuckled. “This particular issue has caught the imagination of a lot of people.”

On November 3, the clergy assembled by the camp’s sacred fire, and all the denominations that had repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery—a group that includes both the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church—reiterated their renunciation in front of the camp and its elders.

Clergy and Indigenous “water protectors” prepare for an inter-faith service at the Standing Rock camp. Photo: Laurel Dykstra

They then marched down to the Missouri River to hold an interdenominational and interfaith service for the “water protectors,” as the diverse group of protestors and activists at Standing Rock prefer to be called.

As the clergy made their way to the Missouri River, Kern said she could see Hummers, military jeeps and row upon row of police barricading the bridge; on the hills above, she had been told, there were snipers.

While the service (which the police had been informed of beforehand) took place peacefully and without interruption, that has not been true of all the camp’s actions.

Kern recalled seeing a number of injuries in her first day in camp, and had already heard stories about protesters being beaten with batons and shot by rubber bullets. Several news reports have described protesters being faced with sound cannons, beanbag guns and pepper spray.

But Kern also described a strong sense of spiritual fellowship oriented around prayer, worship and the sharing of food and resources.

“In the midst of such violence and over-the-top militarized brutality, such disrespect for life, there are people making these acts of beauty and love and kindness and goodness,” she said.

The Rev. Leigh Kern. Photo: Contributed

However, while Dykstra—the only non-Indigenous member of the Canadian delegation—also spoke of the camp’s moving sense of welcome and deep spiritual focus, she noted a stark difference between the way police treated her compared to the treatment Indigenous people received.

“Praying Indigenous water protectors were pepper sprayed, shot with beanbags and rubber bullets, dragged partially clad from a sweat lodge, assaulted with sound cannons and housed in dog kennels,” she said. “[The] mostly white faith leaders were offered the option of ticket or arrest, handled respectfully and physically unharmed.”

In an interview with MacDonald following his return to Toronto, he said it was “difficult to put into words” what the experience had been like for him.

“It’s rare to be in a place where the pain of the past and challenge of the future is so clearly present,” he said, noting that one of the reasons the Standing Rock resistance has garnered so much attention is because it is a “convergence” of human rights issues, Indigenous issues and environmental issues.

“I think that this has just captured the consciousness and conscience of people in a way that very few things have in recent times,” he said.

He noted that there are things Anglicans in other parts of North America and the world can do to support the Standing Rock camp.

The Rev. Laurel Dykstra. Photo: Contributed

Large solidarity protests have been held across Canada, including in cities such as Winnipeg and Toronto, and in Toronto, two Anglican priests chained themselves to a railing at the headquarters of the Toronto Dominion Bank to protest its role in funding the pipeline.

Several petitions have also been circulated online asking government and business leaders to respect the protesters’ requests.

MacDonald argued that the “primary issue” in the Standing Rock situation—as in similar protests against pipelines and resource development projects—is about the rights of Indigenous nations and tribes to have a say in what happens in their territories.

“I think it is critical that we demand that the free, prior and informed consent part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP] be a central part of the way in which both business and government deal with First Nations people,” he said. (Canada is a signatory to UNDRIP.)

For her part, Dykstra encouraged Canadian Anglicans to get to know the issues facing Indigenous people before crises such as the Dakota Access pipeline arise.

“Conflict [over development projects] will only continue, and so the more prepared we are, and the more pre-conversations we have with Indigenous communities about how they want faith communities to show up—if they want faith communities to show up—then the better capacity we have,” she said.

Dykstra, who was the Anglican Church of Canada’s representative on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) planning team for the Vancouver event in 2013, added that she has seen a “significant rise in awareness” about issues of Indigenous rights in recent years.

But she also noted that there is a danger of growing complacent now that the TRC has released its final report.

“I think we really need to be clear about what our commitment to the Calls to Action by the [TRC] actually mean on the ground,” she said.

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.


Anglican Journal News, November 17, 2016

‘Forces at play’ threaten reconciliation in Canada

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments


By Art Babych on November 17, 2016

(L to R): Christ Church Cathedral dean, Shane Parker, Senator Murray Sinclair and Ottawa Bishop John  Chapman, diocese of Ottawa, pose for a photo at the Cathedral Arts dinner lecture Nov. 14. Photo: Art Babych

Senator Murray Sinclair, who was chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), praised the Anglican Church of Canada for it efforts to further reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, but says more needs to be done.

There are “forces at play” in the world that are pushing back against such efforts, Sinclair told guests at the Cathedral Arts Dinner Lecture Series, held at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa November 14. He referred to the recent election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the June 23 vote by Britain to leave the European Union and to “other places that have elected similar kinds of leaders.”

Those forces see reconciliation as a threat to their sense of self, their sense of the right to control and “the right to predetermine the lives of others and to refuse the right of others determining their lives for them,” he said.

“You will not be surprised to hear that it could happen here, too,” Sinclair added. “Reconciliation is not a given. It requires dedication from people like you.”

Sinclair, the first Aboriginal judge in Manitoba, was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March and sits as an independent.

He told the gathering most of his colleagues in the Senate are “looking for a good party” next year during the 150th anniversary of confederation.

“They think we’re going to have 12 months of constant celebration,” he noted.

But Sinclair said he told them, “At the end of next year, you’re going to wonder what the hell’s going on in this country.” Indigenous people are not going to join the party, said the senator, citing reasons given to the TRC by young people. They include: Indigenous children not receiving an adequate education, high suicide rates, the apprehension of children by the child welfare system that exceeds the number of children taken away and placed in residential schools, and high incarceration rates for crimes that need not result in jail time.

“They will tell you that if things don’t change, there may be actions taken by the young people in future generations that this country is not going to like,” said Sinclair. Pipelines, public infrastructure and other property may be in jeopardy, he said. “That’s what we heard from young people during the course of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and it’s in our report. That’s why we say things need to change.”

Sinclair applauded the work of churches in promoting reconciliation, saying most of the efforts he has seen since the TRC report was issued came from Protestant churches and some Roman Catholic entities. “But the Pope remains silent,” he said. But Sinclair said he remains optimistic. “Sources tell me we might be hearing something, relatively soon,” he said. In Bolivia in July 2015, Pope Francis apologized for sins and “offences” committed by the Catholic church against Indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas. “I think that gesture forebodes what we might be hearing in this country,” Sinclair said.

The senator also applauded the Anglican Church of Canada for taking a leading role among churches in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, calling it a “magnificent gesture.” General Synod passed a resolution in Halifax in 2010 repudiating the doctrine, which deals with non-Indigenous government claims to legitimacy over Indigenous lands and territories.

He acknowledged the church’s “effort and energy” in educating Anglican congregations about the work the church did “to contribute to this problem and accepting responsibility for that.” The “most significant” apology by the Anglican church, he said, in an apparent reference to the church’s formal apology delivered in 1993 by then-primate Michael Peers, “was heartfelt, it was generous, it was kind, it was true and it was meaningful for those who heard it.”

Sinclair’s talk was preceded by a traditional Algonquin buffet prepared and served by Wawatay Catering of Maniwaki, Que.

Cathedral Arts celebrates and promotes the visual and performing arts by offering concerts, dramatic productions, educational dinner lectures and exhibits.

About the Author

Art Babych

Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.
Anglican Journal News, November 17, 2016

Peaceful, prayerful solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux

Posted on: November 9th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


The Rev. Stephanie Spellers (middle), canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism and reconciliation, and California Bishop March Andrus, right, join more than 500 interfaith clergy and laity in showing solidarity to opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Cannon Ball, North Dakota 

“We knew you were coming; that one day you would come here and start asking questions about your government,” said elder Regina Brave, her long, gray braid falling over the word “navy” written in yellow, capital letters across the top of her black, leather vest. “We are all children of God. Black, red, yellow, white, are all represented.”

Brave, an Oglala from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, took the microphone at a gymnasium in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Nov. 2, the night before more than 500 interfaith clergy and laity joined opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline in a show of prayerful, peaceful, nonviolent and lawful solidarity and witness.

The Nov. 2 meeting served as a warm up. On the morning of Nov. 3 – as the sun came up, the temperature in the mid-30s – the interfaith allies entered the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the largest of the three camps, and formed a circle surrounding the sacred fire that burns 24 hours a day in the camp’s center.

The 524 interfaith allies representing 20 faith traditions answered the Rev. John Floberg’s call for faith leaders to stand in solidarity and witness with those protecting the tribe’s land and water supply.

Floberg is the supervising priest of the three Episcopal missions on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Reservation; there are six more mission churches on the reservation in South Dakota.

Opponents, or “water protectors” as they prefer to be called, have for months camped in three sites on federal land, just south of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s reservation in south-central North Dakota. Native Americans representing 200 national and international tribes have camped alongside environmentalists and climate activists who’ve joined in their protection protest.

In his Oct. 23 call for solidarity, Floberg asked that 100 clergy from across the Episcopal Church join in the protection protests. By Nov. 3, the number surpassed 500. The official count of 524 is significant in that it represents the number of years since the Doctrine of Discovery gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they discovered.

On the morning of Nov. 3 in the center of Oceti Sakowin Camp, Christian religious leaders from Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Baptist churches – all representing denominations that have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery – testified to their traditions’ rejection of the 15th-century document. When they finished, they asked tribal elders to come forward and asked that they burn a replica of the Doctrine of Discovery and the elders did so in pots and a bucket near the sacred fire.

“We had to do our business publicly before we could ever come out here and say we are standing in solidarity,” said Floberg, in an interview with Episcopal News Service later in the day. “We had to be as right as we could with the nations that are represented in that camp, and we don’t expect everybody to accept our apology, accept our renunciation, we have to live into that.”

One way Episcopalians and others can live into that is to ask the U.S. government to honor its land treaties with Native Americans, he said. The standoff near Standing Rock centers around two issues: water quality and sacred lands.


The interfaith witness formed a huge Niobrara Circle of Life just south of the backwater bridge where on the other side law enforcement officers kept watch. Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline have held the bridge since law enforcement on Oct. 24 cleared a newly set up protest camp. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The interfaith witness formed a huge Niobrara Circle of Life just south of the backwater bridge where on the other side law enforcement officers kept watch. Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline have held the bridge since law enforcement on Oct. 24 cleared a newly set up protest camp. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

When Floberg issued the call to solidarity and witness to Episcopalians, he called it a “powerful opportunity to exercise our shared baptismal ministry.” As the passing of the peace made its way around the Niobrara Circle, Floberg explained what he meant.

“In the Episcopal Church, when we baptize we take vows that say we are going to respect the dignity of every human being and human beings make up nations,” he said. “So for the church to say that it respects a Sioux it is to respect their nation. And if it respects their nation, it’s going to respect the rule of law.

“You hear a lot about law and order from the other side of that bridge, and I want to turn this conversation to the real rule of law which is that the United States of America has never fulfilled the treaty obligations of any treaty that it has ever made with any tribal nation,” Floberg continued.  “…so if we are going to say we respect, we are going to call our government to task and to accountability that as citizens we are going to speak from within and say we are not respected. And according to another identity that I have, a citizen of the kingdom of God, as a child of God, as a citizen there, I am calling upon this government to honor and fully fulfill [and redress] its treaty obligations.”

The Standing Rock Sioux argue the pipeline would cross treaty lands, disturb sacred areas and threaten drinking water for 8,000 members who live on the tribe’s nearly 2.3 million-acre reservation, located just south of where the pipeline would cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. The lake is the reservation’s drinking water source. The sacred sites fall outside the reservation’s boundaries, but the tribe argues they were part of an 1851 land treaty.

The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry up to 570,000 gallons of oil per day across 1,134 miles from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota, bisecting Iowa from its northwest corner to its southeastern corner to Patoka, Illinois, for transport to refineries. The Bakken field is the largest oil deposit discovered in the United States since Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay in 1968; the Bakken created an oil boom in North Dakota in 2008 which has since slowed. Bakken oil has been shipped by rail, a costlier alternative to pipelines.

Challenges to the proposed pipeline route began with Iowa farmers in 2014; a previous route that brought the pipeline closer to Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital and second largest city, was scrapped over concerns to protect the city’s drinking water.

On Nov. 2, President Barack Obama said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was considering an alternative route. An online petition is circulating to asking Obama to honor his commitment to protect the people of Standing Rock.

In September, federal officials stopped construction of the pipeline on lands bordering or under Lake Oahe belonging to the Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for permitting on public lands and waterways. Since then, the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Partners, the company building the pipeline, has purchased private lands near the proposed route and continues construction on the pipeline. Some say the land belongs to the Sioux Nation, where opponents of the pipeline set up another protest camp. On Oct. 27, law enforcement cleared that camp and arrested 141 people. Since then, unarmed opponents of the pipeline have been in a standoff with law enforcement officers at the backwater bridge on Highway 1806, just north of the Oceti Sakowin Camp.

Last week’s arrests came on the same day antigovernment protesters were acquitted on federal conspiracy and weapons charges in the armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. The protesters held the federally owned refuge for 41 days in early 2016.

Firewood from this pile keeps the sacred fire burning around the clock in the center of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Firewood from this pile keeps the sacred fire burning around the clock in the center of the Oceti Sakowin Camp. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

After the interfaith allies witnessed the burning of the Doctrine of Discovery, they formed a single line and received a smudging, a ritual act of purification, as they exited the camp and reassembled on Highway 1806 to march toward the backwater bridge. There they spent hours sharing testimony and gathering in a Niobrara Circle.

“As I’m looking around the circle of 524 faith leaders from all over this country, I feel like I’m watching reconciliation,” the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism and reconciliation, told ENS. “What we say is that reconciliation is the embodiment of Good News …. This is what the love of God enacted looks like. And the fact that we are doing it together, the fact that the spirit has drawn us together is one more of those signs that this is what God looks like and this is why it’s reconciliation.”

California Bishop Marc Andrus attended with 10 Episcopalians from his diocese.

“I think we witnessed the end of an age,” he said with tears in his eyes, after the Niobrara Circle closed. “While we were here, by burning copies of the Doctrine of Discovery we were signaling an end to a past that has affected millions and millions of people. People who have been colonized and people who have been enslaved, but also the enslavers and the colonizers, it’s affected us all.”

Virginia Theological Seminary students and supporters join the Nov. 3 show of interfaith support and solidarity. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Virginia Theological Seminary students and supporters join the Nov. 3 show of interfaith support and solidarity. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Floberg’s call, initially targeting Episcopalians, went far and wide, drawing Christians, Muslims, Jews and others. Judith Lee, a Buddhist from Colorado Springs, drove to North Dakota on her own to participate. Friends of Wendy Johnson, a writer and Zen lay teacher from San Francisco, California, paid for her to come. Sandi Carter, a member of Christ Church in Puyallup, Washington, drove 20 hours and slept in her car outside St. James’ Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball because there wasn’t enough space to sleep inside. She decided to make the trip on Sunday, after hearing the Rev. Brandon Mauai, an Episcopal deacon serving St. James’, speak about the protection protest near Standing Rock at the Diocese of Olympia’s convention.

Carter posted her intention to come to Standing Rock on Facebook, where her son saw it and called her. “I told my son, ‘I want my grandchildren to know that I stood for something,’” she said.

The cause has resonated with Episcopalians who have stood with the Dakota people since their exile from Minnesota during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. There are nine Episcopal churches on the Standing Rock reservation, three in North Dakota and six in South Dakota.

“It’s profound to see so many people of different faiths gathered to stand with the people of Standing Rock in their mission, which is to have their lands respected and water protected and to have indigenous people be consulted in the future … and [to] be equal partners in the determining of development that affects their life and their destiny,” said South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant.

The burning of copies of  the Doctrine of Discovery sent a strong message, said Mauai.

“I think it’s a statement from not just Episcopalians but all denominations and religions that they do stand with Standing Rock and it’s a statement that needed to be made,” he said. “I’ve lived on Standing Rock my whole life; I’m from Standing Rock. And it’s a statement from not just the Episcopal Church but all denominations and faiths, religions.”

During the Nov. 2 briefing in the Cannon Ball Community Center, Floberg reminded participants that the events of Nov. 3 were to be prayerful, peaceful, nonviolent and lawful. There were some who called for a more aggressive front-line approach. Following the five-hour long day of testimony, marching and singing, some people left for Bismarck and a rally at the capitol. The Bismarck Tribune reported 14-people were arrested.


About the Author

Lynette Wilson, Episcopal News Service

Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.
Anglican Journal News, November 04, 2016

Presidential Address: 41st Session of the General Synod Richmond Hill, Ontario July 7-12, 2016

Posted on: July 11th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


Presidential Address: 41st Session of the General Synod Richmond Hill, Ontario July 7-12, 2016

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook203

Bless this holy meeting.
Make it, O God,
a base for holiness and hospitality,

Make it
a base for grace
and generosity,

Make it
a base for peace
and unity,

Make it
a base for mission
and ministry

Through Jesus Christ
our Lord
and in the power
of the Holy Spirit”

(Adapted Prayer for Lambeth Conference 1998)

From all over this great country we have gathered to be the 41st Session of the General Synod of our beloved Church. We come from dioceses that are largely urban and ones that are largely rural—some nestled in great mountain ranges, some spread across prairies, some surrounded by the sea and some sprawling across vast expanses of the North. We come from a variety of historical and cultural contexts. We come as First Peoples and as Settlers, deeply aware of the need to reset our relationships in the mutual respect to which the Creator calls us. We come together mindful of the diversity of theological perspectives for which our Anglican Tradition is known. We come ever mindful of the unity with which we confess “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6).

We come together to worship and work, the thread through this Synod being that magnificent and daunting call of God, “You are my witnesses”. It is uttered by the prophet Isaiah in a time of hope for return from exile for the people of Israel. Jesus uses the same image as he sends his apostles into the world with the gospel of love and life for all. This call is both inviting and instructive. Inherent in it is our obedience to Christ, and his charge that we bear witness to his love, a love so generous as to be extravagant, a love so gracious as to be radically inclusive, a love so sacrificial as to spend itself on the cross, a love so splendid as to reveal itself in Resurrection and in making all things new.

I am glad we are here and I know you are too. If we are to be absolutely honest with one another, we will acknowledge that we have arrived with a mix of feelings—delight, angst and yearning.

Allow me to say something about each from the perspective of what it is to be Church—to be the Body of Christ.

First—The Delight.

With you I am much heartened by the commitment of our church to have its work and witness in the world continually shaped by the Marks of Mission – preaching the good news, nurturing people for life long discipleship, tending the poor and vulnerable, building a just society, and caring for the earth. These Marks of Mission are the very template for a number of initiatives in parish renewal, the primary reference point for many diocesan strategic planning processes, and the very back-drop for the program priorities of our General Synod.

Across our Church people were pleased to know that the Primates of the member Churches of the Anglican Communion spoke with absolute clarity on the subject of evangelism at their January meeting in Canterbury. “We affirm together” they declared “that the Church of Jesus Christ lives to bear witness to the transforming love of God in the power of the Spirit throughout the world. It is clear God’s world has never been in greater need of this resurrection love and we long to make it known. We commit ourselves through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel”.

I carried this message home and I’m glad to see the vigour with which it has been received.

Across the Anglican Communion there is much renewal in our commitment to intentional and life-long discipleship. In fact the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka received a major report on this topic. Here are some excerpts from the introduction:

“Discipleship can never be about a single aspect about of our lives…it is about the whole of our lives…intentionally following Jesus Christ places demands on individuals, family relationships, the way we handle money, our attitude towards work and leisure, our political choices and our care of the environment and much more.”

In the Foreword, Archbishop Ng Moon Hing writes, “A narrow pietistic attachment to Jesus, whether individualistic or ecclesial, was never what God intended and it will not serve us well today”. Our discipleship does not separate us from the world; it immerses us in it. Hing says, “To follow Jesus of Nazareth into his cosmic reign is simply challenging, the most beautiful, the most costly, the most rewarding journey we could ever choose to begin”.

In the spirit of intentional discipleship, there is in our Church an amazing enthusiasm and energy for renewing liturgy, for examining and refreshing our rites for Christian initiation. Record numbers of people from a growing number of Anglican dioceses and Lutheran synods have participated in National Worship Conferences, National Gatherings for Vital and Healthy Parishes, National Youth Gatherings and for initiatives that help our churches give with grace and generosity to support mission initiatives that are local, national and global. All of these events serve in their own way to help us more effectively live out that ancient call, that great commission, “You are my witnesses”.

Across this country I see so many ways by which the Church is making such a difference in the lives of the poor—from hot breakfasts for kids before school to help with homework after school, from soup kitchens to community meals, from out-of-the cold to out-of-the heat programs, and from the conversion of parish halls to overnight shelters with breakfast to-go. All of these ministries are a wonderful witness to the compassion and mercy of Christ, a faithful response to that ancient call, that great commission, “You are my witnesses”.

Our ongoing work with the ELCIC in addressing homelessness and affordable housing is evidence of our commitment to the fullness of diakonia in that we not only care for the homeless, but indeed endeavour to get at the root causes and to effect public policy that addresses them.

Like many of you, I am heartened by the response of Canadian Anglicans to the massive wild fires in Northern Saskatchewan last summer and in Fort McMurray this spring. Over $100,000 has been given to PWRDF to assist with recovery efforts in Fort McMurray. How wonderful to see the neighbouring dioceses of Edmonton hosting in one of its city churches a gathering for people displaced by fires. Here is a partnership that is a fine reflection of our commitment to this ancient call, this great commission, “You are my witnesses”.

Across our Church there has been an extraordinary response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Numerous are the stories of parishes working hard to raise the necessary funds to sponsor a family. Many have partnered with other churches, synagogues, mosques or social agencies in this effort. Numerous are the stories of arrivals of the refugees at two, three, and four in the morning with lots of people on hand to welcome them to their new home and an opportunity for a new life, free of oppression and the chaos of war.

Numerous are the stories of teams of people helping them to set up house, to accompany them in getting oriented to local transportation systems, access to English Second Language programs, vocational training and employment opportunities and healthcare services. One of the learnings in all of this is that many refugees are suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the trauma they have experienced in risky escapes by sea and in over-crowded conditions in holding areas and camps as they await processing of their applications for sponsorship. Sadly a large preponderance of women and girls has suffered horrific sexual abuse. An important part of helping them settle here is ensuring access to good counselling services.

We celebrate this extraordinary response—not only of our Church—but of many other Canadians too. We celebrate it knowing of course that beyond the current commitments of the federal government to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees, there is a huge backlog of many others still waiting in hope for a new life in Canada.

What a wonderful testimony to that ancient call, that great commission from the one who himself was a refugee from Egypt while he was yet a child.

How moving to see in the video this morning, Dean Michael Sinclair of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Regina tell of the ringing of the bells as a memorial of love and prayer honouring Canada’s 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. How moving to see the devotion with which so many cathedrals and parish churches across the country rang their bells. It was an act of breaking the silence around this national tragedy and honouring the call for a National Inquiry. It was an act of solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in their cries for fair policing, protection, emergency healthcare, safe housing and enhanced counselling services. It was in fact the most important thing we did in the Twenty-two Days between May 31, 2015, the opening of the final National Event of the TRC in Ottawa, and June 21, National Aboriginal Day.

Among all the matters that draw us together as a church at this time in our history and in this Synod, none is perhaps more far-reaching and hope-filled than the emerging relationship with Indigenous Peoples, a relationship marked by an abiding commitment to truth and reconciliation, and a genuine respect for the desire of Indigenous people to build a truly Indigenous church.

I am so grateful for the commitment of our church to honour and support the mandate of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and I want to say how much I appreciate the interest of so many Anglicans showed in the work of the Commissioners, Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild, as they travelled the country hosting seven National Events and numerous Regional and Community Gatherings. I want to acknowledge with the greatest of respect, all those survivors of the Indian Residential Schools who found the courage to tell their stories to share their experiences of loneliness and years of lost love, of ridicule and abuse—physical, emotional, and sexual. I want to acknowledge the respect with which many heard those stories and wept. I want to acknowledge all those who offered gestures of reconciliation at the TRC Gatherings on behalf of our Church local and national.

I want to acknowledge the leadership of our General Secretary and his staff, our Archivist and her staff, the Coordinator of the Anglican Healing Fund and her staff, the former Director of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice, the Director of Communication and her staff, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and his staff and the Primate’s Special Envoy for the Residential Schools. They worked very hard in keeping our Church very close to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in challenging our Church to give careful attention to the 94 Calls to Action in the Final Report of the Commissioners.

Call to Action #48 summons all the churches to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and by March 31, 2016 to have declared their commitment with plans for complying with its norms, values, and practices. I am glad to say we were able to make such a statement on March 19 at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks on Six Nations Territory. I titled the statement “Let our ‘yes’ be yes”. Here are a couple of excerpts:

  • “I call on every diocese and territory of our Church to ensure opportunity for learning about the history and lingering legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery.
  • I commend resources produced by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice and the highly participatory Blanket Exercise designed by KAIROS and the Mapping Exercise designed by PWRDF and the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation.
  • I commend the growing practice across our Church of beginning meetings, Synods and Assemblies with an acknowledgement of the peoples on whose traditional lands and territories we gather with respect for the sacredness of the land.
  • I request that on National Aboriginal Day, June 21 or the Sunday closest there be a public reading of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every parish across Canada accompanied by prayers and ceremonies in keeping with Indigenous Spiritual customs. I am very grateful with the good response to this request.
  • I intend, in consultation with the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, to establish a Council of Indigenous Elders and Youth to monitor our Church’s honouring of its commitment “to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the UN Declaration.”

I am very pleased to announce that this Council has been named and that on Sunday afternoon Bishop Mark and I will commission them for their work. It will be witnessed by Tina Keeper, a highly respected award-winning actor, producer and director, activist for aboriginal rights and bridge-builder between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Manitoba. She is one of the very prominent Honorary Witnesses of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We are humbled and honoured by her acceptance of our invitation to be present for this historic and sacred moment. It is one of several, on what we are describing in this Synod as Indigenous Ministries Sunday.

We begin that day with worship led by our National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and a host of other Indigenous leaders and partners. In the afternoon, Synod will hear a progress report from the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice. Then the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) will present a Mission Statement for Indigenous Anglican Spiritual Ministry. The statement is grounded in the 1994 Covenant—a Journey of Spiritual Renewal in which the principle of a truly self-determining Indigenous Church was named and the hand of partnership extended to all who would help that vision be fully realized. This statement is the fruit of much conversation in ACIP and at Sacred Circle last summer, among elders, youth, Indigenous bishops and other community leaders. It is crafted to address the economic, social, and pastoral crisis that mars the life of so many Indigenous communities across Canada. It is a ministry plan rooted in the hope of transformation and renewal. It is truly inspiring and I hope the Synod can whole heartedly celebrate and support it.

As evening comes, we will be gathered in a Gospel Jamboree, featuring teaching and testimonies, songs and stories, drumming and dancing. As we will learn, Gospel Jamborees are an important part of Indigenous culture and a powerful means of evangelism and nurturing people in their life with Jesus.

All these matters to which I refer delight and draw us together as a church, as the company of those who seek to live by Christ’s commission “You are my witnesses”—witnesses to my love, compassion, reconciliation and justice for all the world to see.

Pray with me that our witness always be strong and spirited and steadfast!

All of what I have said thus far has been about our domestic life. But our church, as we know, is part of a large extended family called the Anglican Communion. We are 85 million people living in 165 countries. We are 38 autonomous self-governing churches, all of whom are in Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and one another. At our very best we see ourselves as formed by Scripture, shaped by Worship, ordered for Communion, and directed by God’s mission. We seek to live by the time-honoured principle of MRI—Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ—adopted at the great Anglican Congress of 1963 here in Toronto.

In this worldwide family of churches, we speak of bonds of affection with which we uphold one another in prayer, in statements of solidarity through times of hardship and persecution, in commitments to partnerships between provinces and companion relationships between dioceses, and in dialogues among bishops across vast political, cultural and theological differences. This affection for one another in Christ and in his Gospel for the world is reflected too in the many networks of the Communion focussed on family life, healthcare, Safe Church, Indigenous Peoples, and care of the environment to name but a few. The Anglican Alliance, of which PWRDF is a founding partner, draws together all the relief and development agencies of the member churches of the Communion.

We are particularly blessed in this Synod to have as a guest for a couple of days the Secretary General, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. He will address Synod tomorrow and I am sure we will get a picture of the life and vitality of the Communion and its commitment to bear a faithful witness to Christ.

Following his remarks we will be privileged to hear from our delegates to the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, gathered as it was under the theme “Intentional Discipleship in a World of Differences”.

I and countless others took great heart in Bishop James Tengatanga’s sermon at the closing service for ACC-16. He said, “The rumour about the demise of the Anglican Communion is greatly exaggerated”. Not wishing however, to have us be seen and heard as boastful, he reminded us that we are “a human enterprise trying to be obedient to our Lord and Saviour in God’s mission”. “We are” he said, “only an approximation of what God intends”. A fitting commentary on our need to grow more and more into that ancient call, that great commission, “You are my witnesses”.

And now, dear friends, the angst.

With you, I am aware that for many throughout the Church, the issue of this Synod is the proposed amendment of the Marriage Canon to make provision for the solemnizing of same-sex marriages in our church. This matter is before us as a result of deliberations on Resolution C003 at General Synod 2013, passed in our accustomed way of voting as bishops and as clergy and laity voting together; and then by request of each of the Orders voting separately – bishops, clergy, and laity. This resolution directed the Council of General Synod (COGS) to bring forward the necessary amendments to the Marriage Canon. As you will hear in some depth this evening, COGS appointed a Commission on the Marriage Canon to address the request. The commission honoured in full the amendments to the original Resolution C003, including broad consultation across our church, with the Anglican Communion and within ecumenical circles in the Church Catholic.

The commission produced a report entitled, “This Holy Estate” which included substantial reflection on the subject of Covenantal Love in a marriage relationship and an invitation to consider some models for understanding same sex marriage. The Report was presented at the September 2015 meeting of the Council of General Synod and commended for study throughout the Church. At the special meeting of the House of Bishops in February, I did a cross-country check as to how the Church was engaging the report diocese by diocese. It appeared that the level of engagement had been nowhere near what had been hoped. I regret that and to be honest it has left me wondering what that says about our Church.

I am grateful that over the course of the next couple of days, members of Synod will have opportunity in Neighbourhood Groups to talk about the report.

I want to make an appeal to Synod that in these conversations and then in debate, we be especially and gently mindful of all those whose lives and loves and longings we are discussing – all those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning. They are members of our families and extended families; they are our neighbours and our friends. They are members of our parishes. They are our clergy. They bear on their brow the same cross all the rest of us do. They pray with us. They hear the Word of God with us. They break bread with us. They are sent like the rest of us to live by that ancient call, that great commission, “You are my witnesses”.

I hope we will all enter into these conversations in the spirit in which they have been designed. I trust they will draw us together in a good way, preparing us for the consideration of the Resolution on Monday, July 11. I take this opportunity on behalf of Synod to thank our Chancellor for the time and care he gave in preparing a memo for all members of Synod with respect to “Issues in Dealing with Resolution A051”. Drawing on the Declaration of Principles in the Handbook of the General Synod and the Rules of Order and Procedure with which we carry out our work, the Chancellor helps us understand all that can happen to a resolution once it is before the Synod. The memo speaks not only to how the Synod handles the resolution, but also to things we need to bear in mind should the resolution pass or not. The Chancellor will speak to his memo at the outset of our legislative session on Monday. I am convinced as I am sure many of you are that it will be enormously helpful with respect to our need for clarity in order and procedure.

The companion absolutely necessary to clarity in this matter before Synod is charity, charity one toward another. I recognize that much is at stake in our deliberations, including how we understand the authority of the word of God, the nature of tradition and the defining of doctrine. How we understand what constitutes responsible pastoral care of LGBTQ persons. What is at stake for some is our Church’s commitment to dignity, inclusion and fair treatment of LGBTQ persons in our midst, inclusion meaning full and equal access to all ministrations of the Church including the solemnizing of their marriages.

For some, an issue at stake is our capacity to remain in communion with one another in the face of deeply held differences of conviction over this matter. “How big is our Church?” was a question posed to me in recent days. It was quickly followed by two more. “How committed are we to making room for one another? Can there be in the spirit of pastoral generosity a place for us all?”

For some an issue at stake is the catholicity of the Church and the impact of decisions we make on our relationships with other churches within the Anglican Communion and with churches with whom we are in ongoing or emerging dialogue.

For some what remains at stake is a continued wrestling with the conclusion of the 2005 St. Michael Report that “the blessing of same sex unions is a matter of doctrine” (para 42), but “not a matter of what is often referred to as core doctrine in the sense of being creedal, it is a matter of doctrine that does not hinder or impair our common affirmations of the three historic creeds” (para 42). The commission concluded also that such blessings are not “a communion breaking issue”. For some what is at stake is their continued wrestling with the significant dilemma named in the St. Michael Report and within which the Church is deeply immersed (nationally and internationally). The dilemma is articulated in the following questions;

Is it theologically and doctrinally responsible for one member church of the Communion to approve a course of action which it has reason to believe may be destructive of the unity of the Communion?

Is it theologically and doctrinally responsible to accept unity as the value which transcends all others, and therefore for a member church of the Communion to refrain from making a decision when it believes it has an urgent gospel mandate to proceed?

In our deliberations about this matter which is clearly divisive, I hope we can embrace the principle of what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls “good disagreement”—that is, disagreement in which we will not dismiss, despise, or demonize the other, but rather turn to one another with a commitment to speak graciously, listen intently and learn of the perspective from which another thinks. While we acknowledge the strain in our relationships, let us not get to a point where any of us says to another “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21). On the contrary, let us never forget our call “to make every effort, to maintain the unity of the Spirit to the bonds of peace”. (Ephesians 4:3)

My appeal to the members of this Synod is that we exercise holy manners, conducting ourselves in such a way that reflects that ancient call, that great commission “You are my witnesses”.

And now dear friends – the yearning – the deep longing within the hearts of so many, that we strive to be less and less focussed on ourselves and more and more a Church “In and for the World”. I borrow that image from the 2013 WCC Publication, “The Church: Towards a Common Vision”. We yearn to be a Church not turned in on itself, but rather turned inside out, working not so hard at turning the world upside down, but rather as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says, “right side up”.

The Gospel of Christ compels the Church in every age to not remain silent in the face of the real life/death issues of its time. In our time these include:
– Human trafficking
– Gender-Based Violence
– Violence that is racially motivated
– Violence that is religiously motivated
– Child labour, Boy and Girl Soldiers
– Drug Wars
– Gun Control
– Criminalizing of people for their sexual orientation
– Extreme poverty
– Starvation unto death
– Refugees in the millions
– Environmental degradation

It would be impossible to comment on all of these, but let me comment on a couple.

Human Trafficking
This is the second largest criminal activity in the world following illegal drug sales and just ahead of arms sales. Close to one million persons are trafficked every year across the world most of which are girls and women. No country in this world is immune to this crime. Canada is both a transit and a destination country. It is also now known as a source country for the trafficking of young Aboriginal women who leave their communities in the hope of an education or employment opportunities. Traffickers who prey on these women are known to offer them opportunity, but then exploit them. As a billboard sign featuring a young women and a man looming over her reads “She sees her future in medicine. He sees her as a slave.”

Nationally and globally our Church laments and condemns this modern form of slavery. Tremendous work has been undertaken to address this crime against humanity by the International Anglican Family Network and the International Anglican Women’s Network that is dedicated to eradicate all forms of violence against women including human trafficking for sexual or other forms of exploitative labour. I commend the resources they produce for programming related to the annual Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (November 25—International Day for the elimination of violence against women, and December 10—International Human Rights Day). This is not just a women’s issue, it is an issue about the dignity and sanctity of human life. It is an issue for all of us.

Religiously Motivated Violence
The world is on edge, indeed on high security alert in the wake of the tactics used by ISIS terrorists in attacks on civilian populations in recent months. Sadly the targets are schools and medical centres and hotels in the heart of business districts, shopping malls, and airports. In recent weeks it seems that I and other church leaders no sooner issue a statement and call to prayer in the aftermath of the carnage and havoc wreaked by suicide bombings in one place in the world, before another is urgently needed.

At the Primates’ Meeting earlier this year, the subject of religiously motivated violence was discussed at some length. The Archbishop of Nigeria spoke of churches, mosques, markets, schools, and conference centres under threat of burning or bombing. Indeed he said, “There is in some places a need for security checks as people come into worship”. There was a passionate plea from a number of the Primates, not only for enhanced efforts in interfaith dialogue particularly Christian Muslim, but also for new dialogue between religious and political leaders. As one of our colleagues remarked, “Governments are fighting terrorists but not terrorism and the ideology that drives it”. And in and of itself that ideology is an affront to any and all of the world’s major religions. On this matter and others including our response to corruption in governments, the point was made that faith communities, civil society, and governments must find ways so speak and act together.

Climate Change
Again at the Primates’ Meeting a host of voices clamored for our attention to the plight of their people in the face of environmental degradation of one sort or another. The Archbishop of Polynesia spoke of Pacific Islands drowning as sea levels continue to rise. The Archbishop of Kenya spoke about the impact of unbridled foresting. “As the forests disappear” he said, “the desert is expanding”. The Archbishop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo spoke of the hunger of many nations for the underground resources in the Congo and of the ruthless and reckless measures taken in extracting them. I spoke about the impact of the melting Ice Cap in the Arctic and the impact on peoples who live in Canada’s North. The Acting Archbishop of Melanesia spoke of eroded lands, sinking islands and polluted waterways. He made a passionate plea saying “What’s next?…Who causes it?…Who stops it?” He called for a robust theology of creation. The Archbishop of Southern Africa spoke of the Climate Talks in Paris, the agreement struck with respect to lowering the pace of global warming, and the huge amount of unwavering political will required to make this agreement functional. A number of other Primates from very diverse situations reminded us through story after story, of how the poor are the most vulnerable with respect to climate change. With no choice but to abandon home and livelihood they have to keep on the move with little more than what they can carry. As we have been often reminded, climate change is really about climate justice.

These are real life and death issues in our world and they demand our Church’s attention, our very best efforts and our unwavering commitment in partnering with others to address them. If we are to answer our call, “You are my witnesses” we will get behind the Global Goals for Sustainable Development:
1. No Poverty
2. No Hunger
3. Good Health
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Renewable Energy
8. Good Jobs and Economic Growth
9. Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life On Land
16. Peace and Justice
17. Partnership For These Goals

These Goals represent so much hope for humanity, so much hope for the redistribution of wealth in the world, so much hope for political order that proves to be just and peaceful for all, so much hope for the just and proper use of creation with regard not only for ourselves, but also for those who come after us. These Goals must become a priority in the ministry of our Church and in our relationships with our global partners. They must continue to inspire and inform the work of the Anglican Alliance and many of the Networks across the Anglican Communion.

I pray these Goals shape the legacy of our labours as a Church striving to be faithful in that ancient call, that great commission “You are my witnesses”.


“I want us to look outward and forward”, said the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in his Presidential Address at ACC-16. “I want us to look outward and forward because in the end we are not here for ourselves, not for making Anglicans better, but for seeking to serve the work and mission of God in the world”. What a poignant reminder of the theme of our Synod, “You are my witnesses”.

At the outset of this address I referenced the measures of delight, angst and yearning we carry into this Synod. With the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit, I trust our delights will be multiplied, our angst handled with grace and our yearnings fulfilled. Amen.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July 08, 2016

Church outlines steps to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

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

Archbishop Fred Hiltz hugs Canon Ginny Doctor, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, following the Mohawk Chapel service. National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald watches over Hiltz’ shoulder. Photo: André Forget

“Let your ‘yes’ be yes,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, quoting James 5:12 as silence descended over the congregation gathered at the Mohawk Chapel.

“This strikes me as good counsel for the church of our day, as it seeks to act on decisions made at General Synod 2010 repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Hiltz. “Here we have a call to let our ‘yes’ in that historic moment be a resounding and continuing ‘yes.’ ”

The light filtering in through stained glass windows depicting events from the history of the Six Nations and their relationship to Christianity fell on a diverse group—including former Indian residential school students, bishops and clergy. All had gathered to hear what Hiltz would say in response to the 48th of the 94 Calls to Action released following the close of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in June 2015, requiring, among other things, that religious denominations and faith groups in Canada issue a statement no later than March 31, 2016 “as to how they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In a ceremony that began with drumming, smudging and a prayer of welcome in Mohawk by Mike Montour, a teacher from the nearby Six Nations on the Grand River territory, Hiltz read a statement outlining some of the steps the Canadian church will take to show its commitment to the declaration’s 46 articles—from anti-racism training, to education about the harmful legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, to renewed support for “lasting self-determination for the Indigenous church.” (The 46 articles cover rights to land, language, culture and religious practice, among other matters.)

Hiltz also suggested that the UNDRIP be incorporated into the liturgical life of the church through inclusion in the General Synod Handbook, integration into preparation materials for baptism and confirmation, and an annual reading of the document in every parish across the country on the Sunday nearest National Aboriginal Day (June 21).

In order to ensure that the church continues to “comply with the principles, norms and standards of the U.N. Declaration,” Hiltz announced that, in consultation with National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald and General Secretary Archdeacon Michael Thompson, he would commission a Council of Elders and Youth to monitor the church’s commitment to the declaration.

But in order for such changes to gain traction in the church, Hiltz acknowledged that they would need to be adopted by the bishops.

“By virtue of their office, they are a unique position to help us,” he said, noting that bishops can speak not only to their own dioceses but also to the secular authorities within their communities. “I will be inviting the bishops to share initiatives in this regard at our meeting this fall.”

The need for a more general buy-in from across the church was a point stressed by Donna Bomberry, former Indigenous ministries co-ordinator for General Synod, secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network and Cayuga nation member, in her formal response to Hiltz’s statement.

“It is critical that the bishops get on board with this,” she said. “I agree that, as you say, the bishops are in a unique position to provide that leadership and guidance to encourage their dioceses, territories and municipalities to endorse the declaration.”

In an interview following the service, Bishop Robert Bennett of the diocese or Huron, whose jurisdiction includes the Mohawk Chapel and a number of First Nations territories, said he agreed with the need for co-operation from bishops and noted that his own diocese has an Indigenous council that is helping it move to a “new relationship.” He conceded, however, that many regular parishioners have not been adequately prepared for these conversations.

Bennett stressed the importance of “consciousness-raising” at the grassroots level to educate parishioners.

He also noted that some of the specific suggestions Hiltz outlined—in particular, the idea of having the UNDRIP read during a Sunday morning service—struck him as being somewhat impractical, but he said he supported the “principle,” and would work to find more “reasonable” ways to incorporate it into parish life.

Bishop Michael Bird of the neighbouring diocese of Niagara, who was also present at the service, said that while his diocese has “neglected” urban ministry to First Nations and Indigenous people, when the question of how they should respond to the TRC’s recommendations came up at the diocesan synod, he was “overwhelmed” by the number of people who wanted to get involved.

“We are ready and willing to comply fully with what the primate is asking us to do,” he said. “I sense that there will be a great deal of interest and follow-through in the diocese.”

But how will this statement be received in Indigenous churches and communities? The Rev. Norm Casey, a Mi’kmaq priest serving the Anglican churches on the Six Nations on the Grand River territory, said it will partially be a matter of how it is communicated.

“Everything that happens in our community is in relationship,” he explained. “They view the church through me. So it depends on how I am going to continue to share this information with my people in our community—how they hear that, how they digest it, what they are going to do with it, happens mostly from what I’m going to do.”

Casey said the primate’s message “really enforces everything that [Indigenous Anglicans] have been talking about for the last 15 years.”

Bishop Mark MacDonald said that while he thinks that Indigenous people are “far from where we need to be,” he has a lot of hope for the future.

“We’re at, I think, a tipping point, in terms of people’s perception and consciousness and this spiritual revolution that needs to happen in order to make Canada what it is destined to be in God’s eyes,” he said. “We’re on our way.”

In addition to Bennett, Bird and MacDonald, the service was attended by Archbishop (ret.) Terry Finlay, co-convenor of the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Diocesan Indigenous Bishop of Missinipi Adam Halkett, Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh Bishop Lydia Mamakwa and former Bishop of Montreal Barry Clarke.


Anglican Journal, March 22, 2016

Let our “yes” be yes

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

Let our “yes” be yes on

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook315

What follows is a statement from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action # 48 on behalf to the Anglican Church of Canada. The response was presented at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, Six Nations of the Grand River on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Let our “yes” be yes
(Based on James 5:12)

In response to Call to Action #48 from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I speak today on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada.

My heart is heavy with the burden of our many sins against the Indigenous Peoples throughout Turtle Island. For every way in which we insulted their dignity and took their lands, silenced their languages and suppressed their culture, tore apart their families and assaulted their children, I must never weary of saying on behalf of our church, “I am sorry”.

My heart is humbled by the call to honour – in word and action – the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

With many others, my heart yearns for that future in which – in the sight of the Creator – we are walking together in ways that are good and holy, right and just for all.

Contemplating what I would say today and how I might say it, I found myself drawn to the Letter of James and his word of counsel, encouraging the church of his day to be steadfast in its witness to the Gospel. This strikes me as good counsel for the church of our day, as it seeks to act on decisions made at General Synod 2010 repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and endorsing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Here we have a call to let our “yes” in that historic moment be a resounding and continuing “yes”.

In renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery that drove colonial expansion – regarding “discovered lands” as empty lands; and treating the First Peoples of the land as savages to be conquered, civilized, and Christianized, our church described that doctrine “as fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Christ and our understanding of the inherent rights that individuals and peoples have received from God”[1].

I remain deeply committed to enabling our church to let its “yes” in repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery be a resounding and continuing “yes”.

While much has been written about this doctrine, it is clear there is much more education required if we are to understand the political and spiritual arrogance inherent in it, and the force with which it was upheld through strategies aimed at systemic cultural genocide. In Canada, the so-called “Indian problem” was addressed through federal policies of assimilation, forced confinement in Residential Schools established by the Government and run by the churches. History has revealed how flawed this policy was, how horrific the experience of some 150,000 aboriginal children and how lasting the impact of so much loss in their lives – loss of identity, language, and culture; loss of community and learning the ways of their ancestors, loss of “their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies”; loss of their dignity through assault of every kind – emotional, physical, and sexual; and perhaps most profoundly of all the many years of lost love “for the child taken and for the parent left behind”.

I call on every diocese and territory of our church to ensure opportunity for learning about the history and lingering legacy of this doctrine.  I commend the growing practise of beginning meetings synods and assemblies with an acknowledgement of the traditional territories and lands on which we gather and an expression of thanks. I commend resources produced by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.  I also commend the highly participatory Blanket Exercise designed by KAIROS, and the Mapping Exercise designed by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation.

It would be an oversight not to remember also that in the General Synod Resolution of 2010, there was a clause requesting her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II “to disavow and repudiate publicly, the claimed validity of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery”. That request was formally acknowledged and the matter referred for consideration by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. My hope is that there be a response in time for the commemorations marking the 150th Anniversary of Confederation next year. I am therefore requesting the General Secretary to write a letter of encouragement to that effect.

In the same session of General Synod that our church repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, we also endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Six years later, we are challenged by Call to Action #48 to declare a plan for how we will implement that Declaration.

By way of introduction, I reference the counsel given me by the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice. It reads as follows:

UNDRIP must be approached and applied with a set of expectations that will inform strategy, process, and practice…There must be time for teaching and reflection that demonstrates those connections – guided by direct input from Indigenous People. …We will need to have a gradual acceptance and acknowledgement that Church institutions and members were involved in serious violations of UNDRIP and core Christian teaching over a number of centuries. The process of compliance to Call to Action #48 should be strategically planned to be progressive, on-going and reflective.

Mindful of this counsel, I believe the full text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be included in the Handbook of the General Synod and regarded as a guiding document in our relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

I am requesting that on National Aboriginal Day, June 21 or the Sunday closest there be a public reading of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every parish across Canada. This should be accompanied by appropriate prayers and ceremonies in keeping with Indigenous spiritual customs.

I am calling for reference to this Declaration, among others issued by the United Nations, to be included in programs of preparation of candidates for baptism and confirmation in our church, in keeping with our vows “to strive for justice and peace among all people”. The Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw of Bolton, Ontario is developing such a program and it promises to be a very good resource. I am recommending that the UN Declaration be the subject of learning for education days in parish settings, deanery gatherings, diocesan synods and national councils of our church.

I also call on our church in every circle of its life and work to an unwavering commitment to anti-racism training, in the spirit of equipping all of us to honour our baptismal vow “to respect the dignity of every human being”.

A key resource for setting the United Nations Declaration in both an historic and a present-day context is the timeline entitled “Indigenous Peoples and the Anglican Church in Canada: Timeline of an Evolving Relationship”.  It is the inspired work of Esther Wesley, the Coordinator of the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation, in cooperation with the General Synod Archives, Indigenous Ministries, Public Witness for Social Ecological Justice, and Communications.

I intend to hold the United Nations Declaration before the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada. By virtue of their office they are a unique position to help us honour one of the clauses in the General Synod Resolution to endorse the UN Declaration, that is “to encourage dioceses and parishes to urge their municipalities, provinces and territories to endorse the Declaration”. I will be inviting the bishops to share initiatives in this regard at our meeting this fall.

In the interest of building genuine partnerships, I have issued a call for a special joint meeting of the Council of General Synod and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples within the next year.  We are learning that genuine partnership depends on knowing one another at greater depth.

Our National Indigenous Anglican Bishop has written, “while each of the articles of the Declaration is important, the guiding thread is the right to self-determination…The Anglican Church of Canada has had moments where, coming close to such a recognition, there have been steps forward towards realizing a new relationship within this understanding…Fully complying with the UN Declaration will mean more consistent and genuine progress toward lasting self-determination for the Indigenous church, in such a way that can nurture creative relationships of equity and mutuality across the whole church.” I think Bishop Mark MacDonald is calling our church to let its “yes” be a resounding and continuing “yes”.

Along with the General Synod, two other national ministries associated with the Anglican Church of Canada are also deeply committed to the UN Declaration. One is the Anglican Foundation of Canada, which is inviting proposals for funding for community-based projects aligning with the TRC Calls to Action. The other is the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund and its commitment – enshrined in its 2015-2018 Strategic Plan – to deepen relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.

The Anglican Church of Canada has a long history of association with KAIROS and its commitment to Indigenous Rights. In 1987, we signed “A New Covenant”, an ecumenical pastoral statement that was based on the principles, norms and standards now lifted up in the UN Declaration. Today, through KAIROS the commitment is shifting to working with Indigenous Peoples to better reflect a nation-to-nation relationship.

I draw this statement to a close with an announcement. In consultation with the National Indigenous Bishop and the General Secretary, I will establish a Council of Elders and Youth to monitor our church’s honouring in word and action our church’s commitment “to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. It is my intention to commission this Council for its work on Sunday, July 10 at General Synod 2016.

The last word in this statement is appropriately that of our National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. He writes “may the UN Declaration be our prayer, dedication and discipline in the coming years. Perhaps, our new Covenant”. I heartily concur. His word speaks to the patience and perseverance we will need in making the Anglican Church of Canada’s “yes” to the UN Declaration a resounding and continuing “yes” for all time.

Signature - Fred

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate, The Anglican Church of Canada

[1] General Synod, 2010,


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, March 19, 2016

CoGS members map out Indigenous history at interactive workshop

Posted on: March 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Council of General Synod (CoGS) members take part in “Mapping the Ground We Stand On,” an exercise developed by PWRDF staff.  Photo: Anglican Journal

Not all meetings of Council of General Synod (CoGS) are about sitting at tables and listening. On Thursday, March 10, sock-footed CoGS members moved across a massive map of Canada spread out on the floor as they took part in an interactive workshop recently designed by national office staff.

“Mapping the Ground We Stand On,” developed last fall by staff of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation, is a teaching tool not unlike the “Blanket Exercise” developed by Kairos Canada, an ecumenical social justice group. Like the Blanket Exercise,  PWRDF’s mapping activity is an interactive workshop intended to teach and inspire reflection among non-Indigenous Canadians about the settlement of Canada by Europeans and other non-Indigenous peoples—in particular, ideas such as the Doctrine of Discovery and of Terra Nullius (the Empty Land).

The ultimate aim, said PWRDF executive director Adele Finney, is to explore Indigenous and non-Indigenous history in such a way as to “help us take responsibility and positive action, to make us more aware of our history, of modern-day actions that continue that history, and of how we need to work together to change our attitudes and actions.”

Workshop participants began by sitting in a large circle around a massive map of Canada, drawn by marker on numerous large pieces of paper taped together. They listened as Finney first introduced the exercise, then asked them to imagine the land and ponder how they had been shaped by it. She talked about how long Indigenous peoples have lived in Canada and asked participants to sit in silence for 41 seconds, each second representing a millennium that First Peoples had lived in the land before the arrival of Europeans.

Finney then outlined five waves of immigration into Canada, from the first arrival of Europeans until the present day. As she narrated each wave, participants entered the map at a time and spot representing where and when their ancestors had arrived. They were  invited to talk with their neighbours on the map about the arrival of their ancestors, and to ponder their own identities.

Participants then listened as Anglican Healing Fund co-ordinator Esther Wesley described the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius, ideas, she said, which were formative in the first settlement of Canada by European Christians.

European notions that North America was essentially unknown and empty before their arrival, and that natural resources are only commodities to be bought and sold, were part of a historic “dehumanization” of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, Wesley said. These concepts and other ideas like them displaced the traditional knowledge of these peoples, making them seem no longer valid—and continue to have profound effects today, she said.

“The concept of ‘empty land’ usurped and destroyed much of the Indigenous peoples’ way of life,” Wesley said.

It’s important for people to learn about these ideas and their effects, she said, because improving relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will require each to understand the other better.

Speaking as an Indigenous person to non-Indigenous people, Wesley concluded, “One thing you need to know about us is that we are resilient peoples. And that gift comes from God.”

After the activity, Suzanne Rumsey, PWRDF’s public engagement co-ordinator, asked participants to gather in groups of three or four and ponder how the exercise made them feel, how they intend to respond, and other questions.

Participants described emotional reactions ranging from anger and guilt over Canada’s history to gratefulness for being part of a culture in which this episode of history, however unfortunate, is at least openly discussed.

Henriette Thompson, director of witness for social and ecological justice, said that, far from being a dead historical concept, Terra Nullius lives on in the way many people today conceive of the Arctic—one of the places on the earth, she said, now most threatened by climate change.

“Countries, governments, people in general tend to think of the Arctic as an empty place with no people in it,” Thompson said. “The people of the Arctic in our church, and the people of the Arctic across this whole land, beg to differ. The will say, ‘We’re here.’ ”

National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald said that although he loved the exercise, he hoped it would encourage people to feel not just sadness for what happened in the past but also concern for the future.

“One of the dangers of an exercise like this is that people feel sad about what happened and don’t notice what’s happening,” MacDonald said. “I think that the larger population in North America, perhaps around the world, thinks about what happened to Indigenous people as being a sad thing, something that happened in the past.” But, he said, “The reality is that for Indigenous people it’s ongoing and accelerating” in the form, for example, of today’s child welfare and prison systems.

In response, Rumsey said PWRDF is hoping to develop a resource guide for its own use that would look at some of its current work with First Nations people in Canada, and consider where it should go next in that regard.

“Stay tuned for that—that’s the next chapter of this,” she said.


Anglican Journal News, March 10, 2016

B.C. bishop plans Sacred Journey for repentance and reconciliation

Posted on: February 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Bishop Logan McMenamie (left) trains for his 480-km walk across Vancouver Island, referred to as a Sacred Journey, which is set to begin on March 6. Submitted photo

Bishop Logan McMenamie (left) trains for his 480-km walk across Vancouver Island, referred to as a Sacred Journey, which is set to begin on March 6. Submitted photo

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook130

When he became bishop of the Anglican diocese of British Columbia almost two years ago, one of the first charges Bishop Logan McMenamie gave to his diocese was to determine how it could work to de-colonize the church by looking at its colonial history and its relationships with Indigenous peoples.

At the 2014 diocesan synod, Bishop McMenamie spoke about the idea of “re-entering” the land, which had occurred to him but had yet to take concrete shape. Consulting with Indigenous elders in the following months and years, the bishop began to learn about the concept of the vision quest, inspiring him to make his own journey “to take some time with the Creator.”

A major part of the vision quest is removing oneself from worldly goods, which Bishop McMenamie felt to be particularly appropriate for Lent. Perhaps even more significant was its focus on repentance—a need felt deeply across the Anglican Church of Canada as it strives for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, following a colonial past symbolized by the Doctrine of Discovery and the church’s role in the residential school system.

“We came as if we were bringing God here,” Bishop McMenamie said. “But the Creator was already here—in the land, in the sea, in the sky, in the teachings, in the language, in the traditions of the First People.”

In an act of repentance for himself and all Anglicans in his diocese, the bishop will be making a Sacred Journey starting on March 6, walking across Vancouver Island from Alert Bay to Victoria to symbolically leave the land and re-enter it in a new spirit rooted in right relationships and the discovery of God in Indigenous teachings. He has invited others in the diocese to get involved by joining him on the walk, learning a First Nations language, or reading a planned Lenten Bible study.

Along with guidance from some local First Nations, Bishop McMenamie found biblical inspiration for his 480-km journey, which is expected to last until March 27. He recalled the crossing of the Israelites over the River Jordan in the Old Testament, and the subsequent baptism of Jesus as the one chosen to lead the re-entry of a morally purified Israel into the Holy Land.

“Israel entered the land as conquerors,” he said. “And I really believe that what John the Baptist was doing was, if you want, a vision quest … taking the people out of the land so they could enter into a new relationship with the land and the peoples who were there.”

The spirit of reconciliation

Key to the proper unfolding of the Sacred Journey will be following the proper protocols as the bishop seeks to enter First Nations land. In preparation, he has been actively consulting with elders, one of whom is his friend and mentor Alex Nelson, a member of the Musgamagw-Dzawada’enuxw First Nation of Kingcome Village.

As a child, Nelson attended the Anglican-run St. Michael’s Indian Residential School beginning at age seven in Alert Bay. He established a relationship with Christ Church Cathedral in 2010, when the cathedral and its then-rector McMenamie helped raise funds for Kingcome after it experienced severe flooding. Later Bishop McMenamie invited Nelson and his family to his consecration ceremony as bishop.

“When he talked about the re-entering and in the spirit of reconciliation, I caught on right away … It’s one of those undefined moments where you just know it’s good and right,” Nelson said.

The elder quickly offered his resources to help with protocol, drawing on his relationships with major leaders of First Nations on Vancouver Island, including chiefs and tribal councils, to help the bishop seek permission to enter their territory. Nelson also plans to walk with Bishop McMenamie during parts of the journey.

Meanwhile, the bishop turned to a member of the congregation at Christ Church Cathedral, retired volunteer Wayne Stewart, to serve as trip project manager and help tackle logistical challenges.

With only two months of preparation time, Stewart has been busy on a number of fronts, organizing transport, accommodations and food and opening communications with different First Nations.

Simplicity and humility

Throughout the journey—during which Bishop McMenamie will walk a maximum of 30 km per day—volunteers in shifts will drive a rented motor home to accompany the bishop, who will sleep in motels and billets when possible and in the motor home on secluded forestry roads when no other options are available.

Along the way, the bishop will connect with First Nations communities and participate in Anglican church services. In Victoria, he plans to appear at a First Nations soccer tournament and the Tent City that has sprung up in front of Christ Church Cathedral. But not seeking attention, his trip is guided by two central principles: simplicity and humility.

“There will be no triumphal entries into any of the communities,” Stewart said. “That’s not what this is about.”

In the lead-up to his journey, Bishop McMenamie has been avidly training, walking greater distances each day.

He stressed that the Sacred Journey is not an end, but merely another step in a much longer journey towards reconciliation, suggesting that the next step might be responding to the Calls to Action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The bishop invited Anglicans across Canada to pray for those on the journey and consider how they might promote reconciliation in their own communities.

“The spiritual and cultural challenges of this journey will end,” he said, “at the day [we can] be a different people and a different church.”


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, February 24, 2016