The Anglican diocese of Toronto has established a scholarship fund to support clergy and laity for short-term study programs at St. George’s College, in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
The Most Reverend Frederick James Hiltz Scholarship Fund was named for Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, in honour of his upcoming retirement and in recognition of his “tremendous commitment to the diocese of Jerusalem over the time of his primacy,” says Bishop (ret.) Philip Poole, former suffragan bishop of the diocese of Toronto and vice president of the Anglican Communion Compass Rose Society.
Hiltz has “has been a strong supporter of the ministry” in the diocese of Jerusalem, Poole says, noting Hiltz’s establishment of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Companions of Jerusalem program and annual Jerusalem Sunday. Hiltz also co-ordinated visits to Canada by Archbishop Suheil Dawani, primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and has, himself, visited Jerusalem on a number of occasions
Hiltz will resign as primate on July 16, 2019, the last day of the 42nd General Synod.
Poole chairs the group that will be advisory to the bishop of Toronto on the awarding of the scholarship. Its other members are Bishop of Ottawa John Chapman—whose diocese has a companion partnership with the diocese of Jerusalem—Bishop (ret.) Michael Bedford-Jones, and Vice Chancellor for the diocese of Toronto Brian Armstrong. Poole says he is also grateful for the support of Archbishop Colin Johnson, bishop of the dioceses of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, who has attended courses at St. George’s.
The diocese of Toronto’s Our Faith, Our Hope: Re-Imagine Church campaign has set aside $250,000 for the scholarship. Poole says that he anticipates four or five scholarships will be awarded per year, depending on demand, which will likely cover the entire cost of a 10-day course at St. George’s College, along with a travel grant.
Poole, who has taken a 30-day program at St. George’s and been to the college on two other occasions, calls the experience “life-changing.”
Scholarship awardees will participate in a 10-day course entitled “The Palestine of Jesus,” a pilgrimage program which leads participants to sites connected with Jesus’ ministry, like Nazareth, Bethlehem, Bethany, the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. A scholar, who provides historical background, and a chaplain typically lead the course, says Poole.
Participants will also have the opportunity to worship at Biblically significant sites.
“I actually celebrated Holy Communion as the sun was rising on Mount Sinai, having gone up the mountain on a camel,” Poole recalls. Walking the areas where Jesus and his apostles once walked, he says, he “learned a depth of Holy Scripture” that he had never known before.
Participants will also learn about the current political situation in Israel-Palestine, Poole says, as they will see the Israeli West Bank barrier— a wall built by Israel after a Palestinian uprising in 2000—and experience moving between checkpoints in the area.
“Our hope is that the people who go over on pilgrimage to St. George’s College will then come back and share their stories with others,” he says. “I can’t imagine clergy not using the experience in their preaching. But my hope is that lay folks as well will be able to tell their story of Israel-Palestine.”
The scholarship will be open to any active clergy, members of religious orders, postulants, laity and diocesan and parish staff, subject to the approval of their supervisors, Poole says. Applicants from across Canada are eligible to receive the scholarship, though in its first instance, priority will be given to applicants from the diocese of Toronto.
The Anglican Diocese of Toronto Foundation will house and invest the funds, Poole says, which he expects will be paid out in scholarships over the next 10 to 15 years.
Poole says he is beginning to reach out to bishops across Canada to distribute application forms and hopes the first scholarships can be awarded as early as fall of 2018. Beginning in 2019, he says, applications will be received until March 31 and scholarships awarded and expected to be used in late 2019 or 2020.
Poole says that the desire to honour Hiltz for his work as primate and to create a scholarship to St. George’s aligned serendipitously. “We said, ‘this would be perfect for thanking Archbishop Hiltz, because of his passion for Jerusalem.’”
Poole calls the scholarship fund a “great gift from the diocese of Toronto,” that is “part of their commitment to the ongoing education of clergy and laity.”
“I think this is a marvelous opportunity for Anglicans in Canada to be able to experience what we call the land of the Holy One,” he adds.