Friday, February 28, 2014

A Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada

This is the sixth installment in a series of posts that celebrate Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family. This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America.

in the Anglican Church of Canada
A working document of General Synod

The following was received by the Council of General Synod in March 2004 as a working document and a basis for further education with the committees, councils, and boards of General Synod.  The Anti-Racism Working Group has modified it slightly since.  It is intended to complement a more detailed policy for employees and members of General Synod, its committees, councils, and boards. 

RACISM is the belief, reinforced by power and privilege, that one race is innately superior to other races.[1]  Systemic racism occurs when the power and privilege of one racial group results in the exclusion, oppression or exploitation of other groups of different racial origin. Racism also manifests itself in individuals in the form of racial harassment when a person or persons belonging to a privileged group behaves in ways that intimidate, demean, or undermine the dignity of others on the basis of their race. A consequence for victims is that racism becomes internalized as deeply engrained feelings of self-hatred and low self-esteem.

AS MEMBERS OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA, we strive continuously to be faithful to our life in Jesus Christ that we embraced at our baptism.  We are learning that one of our strengths as a church lies in our diversity and in our commitment to eliminate systemic and individual racism, whether intended or not.  We are called to be a church where people will have the assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect, and where they will find a community that is determined to be free of racism.

God created the world and saw that it was good, and created human beings in God’s own image.
Jesus in his life and teaching actively sought to be in loving, right relationship with others, embracing those who were pushed out by society, while challenging the structures of his day that separated one group from another.
God’s Holy Spirit breathes and gives life to all humanity, and moves within God’s people to overcome separation and sin.

In baptism we are given a new life of grace, a life of mutuality and community; and are incorporated into the Body of Christ, one body with many parts. In accepting the new life in Christ, we affirm that divisions of race have been put aside and that all come before God as equals.

In our baptismal covenant, we promise to “persevere in resisting evil”, and whenever we sin, “to repent and return to the Lord”, and thereby commit ourselves to make a new beginning when we discover that we have offended God or injured others.

Our struggle for racial justice requires new attitudes, new understandings and new relationships, and these must be reflected in the policies, structures, and practices of the church, as well as in the laws and institutions of society.

  1. to eliminate racism and all forms of discrimination by identifying and removing the barriers based on race, and transforming the structures of power and privilege that favour White people and prevent others from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Church of Canada.
  2. to ensure that the policies, procedures and practices of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada reflect the principle of equity for all.
  3. to educate ourselves and receive training in anti-racism practices and find ways of modeling these to the wider church and society
  4. to increase awareness of and appreciation for the diversity of race, colour, and culture within the Anglican Church of Canada and in Canadian society
  5. to support and participate in the world-wide struggle for racial justice in church and society, as advocates and activists
  6. to monitor our progress by listening to the evaluative comments of people oppressed by systemic and individual racism
  7. to endeavour to ensure that human and financial resources are allocated to enable these commitments to be fulfilled.

From the onset of colonialism, racism has been manifest throughout Canadian history and continues into the present.  The assumption of racial difference and inequality was the basis of much of Canada’s social legislation. For example, as a result of the Indian Act, First Nations people were confined to their reserves and their lands, and made susceptible to exploitation and take over. Immigration policies restricted Black, Asian and Jewish immigrants. Canadians of Japanese and Ukrainian descent were rounded up and interned during World War Two. Labour legislation dictated who could and couldn’t work for whom, and who could do what kind of work. At moments in Canada’s history, certain groups of people were denied access to professions, higher education, vote, or secure citizenship because of their racial origin. Racism was explicit in the theory of Social Darwinism, which was commonly taught and accepted until the 1960’s; racism was implicit in science, art and literature; and racism shaped our demography, history and national self-image.

The consequences of such racist beliefs are with us in the present.  Systems of power and privilege still favour White Canadians more than others.  In times of public fear or perceived scarcity, restrictions on economic and social mobility, or immigration on the basis of race, are still commonly accepted.  Practices of immigration and certification of professionals still screen out people along racial lines. Some Indigenous peoples are still dispossessed.  Other peoples still live with the cumulative effects of centuries of discrimination and exploitation.
Racism has been and continues to be no less present in the Anglican Church of Canada. Aboriginal and other non-White congregations in our urban centres are more likely to be resisted or marginalized than to be welcomed and supported to become full and equal partners in a multicultural parish.  Church governance systems of decision-making and power do not reflect the diversity of Anglicans in our synods and parishes. The struggle to build a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is teaching Anglicans how our church has been complicit in Canada’s history of racism and how we have to change.

As an institution, we are committed to advocate for and comply with human rights and other legislation aimed at eliminating racism among people and in organizations, within Canada and globally.  As people of faith, our prayer is to see God’s Spirit moving in our church, public institutions, and society, finding expression in a growing desire to eliminate racist structures and behaviours.

  • Prejudice is a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.
  • Discrimination is unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice.
  • Racial prejudice and discrimination is the partiality and unfair treatment or a person or group on the basis of race.
  • Racism is the belief, reinforced by power and privilege, that one race is innately superior to other races.
  • Systemic racism occurs when one racial group misuses its power, privilege or discriminatory attitudes to exclude, oppress or exploit another racial group.
  • White privilege refers to the benefit or advantage given to or enjoyed by White persons beyond the common advantage given to all others.
[1] The concept of “race” is a social construct.  But racism, which evolves from the construct, does exist and is real. It is our belief and assumption that there is only one race: the human race.

The First Black Bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada

This is the fifth installment in a series of posts that celebrate Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family. This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America. 

In becoming the Anglican Church of Canada’s first Black Bishop, Barbadian-born Peter Fenty has made it clear he intends to use his historic position to advocate for the marginalized and voiceless and contribute to any community collective to stem youth violence.

In 2013, Fenty was elected suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto on the seventh ballot.

“Given the recent history in the city of violence in the Black community, I would hope that I would be able to offer to whatever collective wisdom or work that has been done to give some hope to young people in our society,” said Fenty. “I believe that the violence is a symptom of something that’s greater, including the lack of jobs and opportunities for leadership. I feel many of our young people feel a sense of hopelessness and unfortunately rather than seeking an alternative to use their energies for good, it’s been used in a very negative and destructive way.”

This was the sixth time in 10 years that Fenty ran for the Bishop position. He said he was extremely reluctant to put his hat in the ring.

“I felt that maybe God wanted something else for me to do in the life of the church and I was always willing to serve wherever the church wanted me to serve,” he said. “On this occasion, a number of my clergy friends encouraged me to give it some serious prayerful consideration and in mid-January I made the decision to enter.”

The product of a strong Christian family, Fenty attended St. Leonard’s Secondary Boys School where he was the head boy, and was a Sunday School teacher prior to entering Codrington College to pursue theology studies. Ordained a priest in Barbados in 1975, Fenty was the rector of three parishes before accepting an invitation in 1992 to come to Canada to be the rector of St. Lawrence Church in the Diocese of Montreal. He was appointed the incumbent of St. Joseph of Nazareth in Brampton in the Diocese of Toronto in 1997.

Over the last nine years, Fenty has been the archdeacon of York and the executive officer to the Bishop of Toronto. As the executive officer, he has worked closely with the College of Bishops that provides episcopal oversight of the diocese. He oversees the diocese’s Fresh Start and Momentum programs and is the co-chair of the diocese’s postulancy committee. In addition, he has served the church at the national level as a member and advisor to the multicultural ethics committee and co-chair of the Partners in Mission and eco-justice committees.

Canon Stephen Fields welcomed Fenty’s appointment.

“He’s a man of substance who brings many years of experience to the position,” said Fields, who is the pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Thornhill. “This appointment is important at this time as young people that look like him will now know that they can aspire to be in his position. It gives them hope.”

Bishop Fenty was consecrated at St. James Cathedral on June 22.

Source: Share News

Chronological History of African American Contributions to the Episcopal Church (1624 - 1970)

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts that celebrate Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family.  This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America. 

Here is an abbreviated summary of the long and inspiring history of African American clergy and congregations in the Episcopal Church. This 346 year historical review begins with the Baptism of the first African slaves in an American colony in 1624 and ends with the ordination of the first African American Bishop in 1970.

1624 First Baptism of African Slaves in American Colonial (Anglican) Church 
1695 Episcopal Ministry to African Americans is Organized at Goose Creek, South Carolina
1702-1780 Society of the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG)
1776-1781 The American Revolution
1784 Samuel Seabury Consecrated First American Bishop by Scottish Bishops
1789 Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America Established
1789 William White (Pennsylvania), Presiding Bishop
1789 Samuel Seabury (Connecticut), Presiding Bishop
1792 Samuel Provoost (New York), Presiding Bishop
1794 St. Thomas African Episcopal Church Established and Accepted into Union with the Diocese of Pennsylvania
1795 William White, Presiding Bishop
1804 First African American Episcopal Priest Ordained
1818 The Cardinal Black Parish of St. Philip's Church in Harlem, New York is Established
1821 Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (PECUSA) Formed, the ChurchÂ’s Corporate Form and Missionary
1824 The Cardinal Black Parish of St. Philip's Church in of St. James Lafayette Square in Baltimore, Maryland is Established
1835 General Convention Votes to Send Bishops as Missionaries
1836 Alexander Viets Griswold (Massachusetts), Presiding Bishop
1843 Philander Chase (Illinois), Presiding Bishop
1845 The Cardinal Black Parish of St. MatthewÂ’s in Detroit, Michigan is Established
1849 The Cardinal Black Parish of Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina is Established
1852 Thomas Church Brownwell (Connecticut), Presiding Bishop
1853 Alexander Crummell Becomes a Missionary and Teacher in Liberia
1854 The Cardinal Black Parish of the Good Shepherd in Mobile, Alabama is Established
1863 Birth of The Reverend George Freeman Bragg
1865 The Protestant Episcopal FreedmenÂ’s Commission Formed
1865 John Henry Hopkins (Vermont), Presiding Bishop
1867 St. AugustineÂ’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute Founded in Raleigh, North Carolina
1867 The First Meeting of Anglican Bishops is held in London at Lambeth Palace
1868 Benjamin Bosworth Smith (Kentucky), Presiding Bishop
1871 Women’s Auxiliary Formed
1874 James Holly Consecrated Missionary Bishop of Haiti
1874 First Ordination of a Black Churchman in Mississippi
1878 Bishop Payne Divinity School Founded
1883 Brotherhood of St. Andrew Founded in Chicago
1883 "Sewanee Conference" of Southern Bishops
1884 First African American Congregation, St. AugustineÂ’s, Galveston, Established in Texas
1884 First African American Delegates Sent to General Convention
1884 Alfred Lee (Delaware), Presiding Bishop
1885 Church Commission for Work Among Colored People (CCWACP)
1887 John Williams (Connecticut), Presiding Bishop
1888 St. Paul Normal and Industrial School Founded in Lawrenceville, Virginia
1889 United Thank Offering Established by the WomenÂ’s Auxiliary
1891 Phillips Brooks Elected Bishop of Massachusetts
1897 Voorhees College Founded in Denmark, South Carolina
1899 Thomas March Clark (Rhode Island), Presiding Bishop
1903 Daniel Sylvester Tuttle (Missouri), Presiding Bishop
1904 Discussion of Suffragan Bishops Commences
1906 American Church Institute for Negroes Established
1910 Amendment of Canon Law
1918 Bishops Demby and Delany Consecrated Suffragan Bishops for Colored Work
1919 Church Missions House at 281 Park Avenue South Becomes Center for Mission Program and Administration of the New National Council.
1919 General Convention Adopts the First Churchwide Anti-lynching Resolution
1923 Alexander Charles Garrett (Dallas), Presiding Bishop
1924 Ethelbert Talbot (Bethlehem), Presiding Bishop
1926 John Gardner Murray (Maryland), Presiding Bishop
1929 Charles Palmerston Anderson (Chicago), Presiding Bishop
1930 James Dewolf Perry (Rhode Island), Presiding Bishop
1930 6,304 Clergy and 1,939,453 Baptized Members
1931 Black Churchmen in Virginia Granted Voting Rights
1935 Diocese of Southern Virginia Gives Vote to Black Clergy
1938 Henry St. George Tucker (Virginia), Presiding Bishop
1940 6,335 Clergy and 2,171,562 Baptized Members
1943 Bi-racial Joint Committee on Minorities Formed in National Council
1946 Federal Council of Churches Condemns Discrimination
1946 Black Churchmen in Southern Virginia Granted Voting Rights
1947 Black Churchmen in South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas Granted Voting Rights
1947 Henry Knox Sherrill (Massachusetts), Presiding Bishop
1949 Bishop Payne Divinity School Closes
1949 Pro-Civil Rights Clergy Begin Ministry in Inner City
1950 6,654 Clergy and 2,540,548 Baptized Members
1951 John Walker is Admitted as the First African American Student to Attend Virginia Theological Seminary
1952 General Convention Adopts Resolution on Racial Discrimination
1952 Dr. Caution Presents Report on Post-war Negro Work
1952 Seminary Upholds Exclusion on Grounds of Race
1953 Seminary Reverses Decision under Protest
1953 Diocese of South Carolina Allows Blacks to Participate
1955 General Convention Changes Meeting Site from Houston to Honolulu
1956 National Council Aims for Total Desegregation
1956 National Council Creates the "Southern Project"
1957 The Era of the Racial Episcopate Ends
1958 General Convention Supports Equal Opportunity and House of Bishops Releases Pastoral Letter
1958 Arthur Lichtenberger (Missiouri), Presiding Bishop
1959 Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU) Forms
1960 ESCRU Supports Church Demonstrations
1960 9,079 Clergy and 3,444,265 Baptized Members
1961 ESCRU Addresses Intermarriage and Alienates Much of Southern Church
1961 15 Clergy Arrested on Prayer Pilgrimage
1961 Church Declares Prejudice to Be Inconsistent with the Gospel
1961 Episcopal Hospital Targeted for Protests
1962 Episcopal Day School Denies Entrance to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Son
1962 African-American Elected Suffragan Bishop
1963 Presiding Bishop Commits Church to Action
1963 Religious Groups Join March on Washington
1963 National Council Staff Members Arrested at Protest
1964 National Council of Churches Establishes Delta Ministry
1964 General Convention Adopts Policy Prohibiting Racial Discrimination in Churches
1965Seminary Students Work in Selma
1966 “Negro Churchmen" Support Black Power
1966ESCRU Brings Attention to Global Racism
1966 ESCRU Charges the Church with Heresy for Continued Racism  
1969 Special Convention Addresses Racism
1968 Union of Black Clergy and Laity (UBCL) Forms
1969 Special Convention Addresses Racism
1970 ESCRU Disbands
1970 First African American Bishop of the Episcopal Church Consecrated

The contributions of African Americans in the Episcopal Church continue to this day. For more information click on the link below.

Source: Episcopal Church

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meet the Community: St. Philip's Parishioners' Reflection on Black History Month

This is another installment of the “Meet The Community” interview series. Through this series we invite you to get to know the people that comprise our community at St. Philip's Church. As part of this series we will be interviewing different people in the church in a mixed media format which will include text interviews and videos. This edition of the Meet the Community series is the third installment celebrating Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family.  This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America. 

Black History Month (BHM) takes place in February each year and it is an opportunity for all people to celebrate those who have championed civil rights, to remember some very disturbing facts about the past and to acknowledge the social justice work that still needs to be done.

In this article several parishioners from St. Philip's church explain what this month means to them.

Joy has been a member of St. Philip's for 17 years. She explained that for her BHM celebrates people that have worked for equal rights in schools and in the wider society.

Paul has been coming to St. Philip's for a quarter century. He was born in Uganda and for him BHM is a celebration of where you come, it "honours those who have fought for your liberation and your freedom."

Sam is another long time parishioner at St. Philip's he succinctly explained that BHM, "means a lot."

Andy has been coming to St. Philip's for decades, he reviewed his experience as the only mixed race person in school and later in his job. He stated that there should be no such thing as BHM and it should be something we remember and celebrate all the time.

He recounted that when Black people came to Canada, many were not welcome in predominantly White churches. He explained that one of the first churches to openly welcome Black people was the Union United Church.

Una came to Canada from Barbados in the 1970's she recounted her personal story about being Black both in Barbados and in Montreal.

Some of Una's ancestors were slaves. She explained that while slavery has been abolished there are still remnants of racism that persist to this day. "We have to remember the past," she said. Growing up, "white people never looked at us," it was as though we were invisible. However, she noted that in some department stores she felt very visible. White sales clerks would follow her around as if to ensure that she did not steal anything.

For Una BHM is an opportunity for Black people to express themselves. She stated that she is glad to see that we have come a long way, but, she concluded, we still have further to go.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Oldest Black Church in Montreal

This is the second installment in a series of posts that celebrate Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family.  This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America. 

 The Union United Church is the city of Montreal’s oldest Black congregation. It was founded in 1907 by several members of Montreal’s Black community who experienced racial conflict and were banned from entering all-White churches. Union was started with a treasury of just $1.83. The church has gone on to have a long and rich history, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007.

Some noted former and current members of the Union United Church include some of Canada’s high-profile Black Canadians. This includes, but not limited to, Kenneth and Rufus Rockhead (owners of the jazz club Rockhead’s Paradise), the late jazz great Oscar Peterson, actor Percy Rodrigues, bestselling novelist Mairuth Sarsfield, the Honourable Judge Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Victor Phillips, and Brenda Paris.

Over the years, Union United Church has also welcomed high-profile visitors into its sanctuary. Among those are Stokely Carmichael, Rosemary Brown, Sydney Poitier, Dr. Carrie Best, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bernadette Allen, Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.

For more information about the church see the book Proud Past, Bright Future.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Celebrating the Black Heritage in the Anglican Church of Canada: A Historical and Theological Reflection

This is the first installment in a series of posts that celebrate Black History Month. Like many Anglican and Episcopal churches, Black people are an important part of St. Philip's parish family.  This series is offered in respectful appreciation of their esteemed place in our Parish as well as a deferential acknowledgement of the important role of Black people in churches across North America.

This 2011 article celebrates Black heritage in the Anglican Church of Canada. It is an excerpt from the book, "Black and Anglican in Canada? A Womanish Response," written by Rev. Dr. Sonia Hinds, an Anglican priest in the diocese of Toronto. She emigrated from Barbados in 2001 and this article was written while she was completing her doctoral degree at Trinity College.


Each year, hundreds of Anglicans, many of them Blacks, come to give thanks to God for the rich heritage of Blacks in Canada and for the many gifts they share. Always in the presence of a Toronto-area bishop, this inspiring service of prayer and praise to God includes story-telling, drumming, dancing and preaching.

As a baptized member of the Christian church and as a Black Anglican priest in the diocese of Toronto, I view this milestone occasion as an opportunity for theological reflection. I invite all my sisters and brothers to join me in conversation.

In the opening chapter of Genesis, we read that God created human beings in the image of God. As Christians, we believe this to be the fundamental truth of our existence. What an awesome truth—because, from a Christian perspective, Christ is the image of God, and as followers of Jesus Christ, we are “in Christ.” This means all barriers are broken down; as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “We are a rainbow people of God.” St. Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians, affirmed “we are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is in the celebration of our diversity that we come to a deeper understanding of that great truth: Jesus came to save us all. The church, as the body of Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, shows God’s love to the world.

As human beings created in God’s image, we need to ask: how does our church celebrate that diversity, particularly as it is expressed racially and ethnically? How do we see ourselves, how do we see others and how do others see us? These questions lead us to consider the reasons for the celebration of Black heritage in our Anglican church. To speak of the celebration of Black heritage in our Anglican church without speaking about racism, however, would be inauthentic. I admire the boldness and compassion of Bishop Torraville of Newfoundland, who, in an article on racism in the October 2010 edition of Anglican Life, asked his readers to challenge and defeat racism by obeying their baptismal promises.

Indeed, the annual diocesan celebration is held during Black History Month, which was born out of the realities of racism and can cause us to imagine racism as being inauthentic—a virus that endangers the health of the Body of Christ.

The Anglican church in Canada, and particularly those who celebrate Black heritage during the annual service, need to face some truths. First, we must recall a dark period in the history of Canada—slavery existed in Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1767 census of Nova Scotia, 104 enslaved Africans were listed. This number remained “small” until the United Empire Loyalist influx after 1783. During that period, the church played a pivotal role.

Canadian-born Rev. Denise Gillard writes of the arrival of Blacks more than three centuries ago:

For example, most Blacks believed that baptism in the Anglican Church would make them “one and equal with Whites.” However, even when Dr. John Breynton, Rector of St. Paul's, baptized many hundreds of them, Blacks found that while they could attend services and receive communion, they were segregated from White parishioners and forced into galleries set apart for Blacks, the poor, and soldiers. By 1815, Black worshippers were kept behind a partition. Ultimately, Blacks were excluded when White parishioners grew in numbers. Furthermore, they were advised to gather in their own private homes. This displacement left Black lay leaders with little supervision or instruction. To add insult to injury, in 1784 the Anglican-related Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had some Blacks displaced because after years of waiting for the property promised to them, they had settled on an area of land reserved for church and school.

Apart from arriving as Loyalists, however, thousands of enslaved Africans between 1840 and 1860 travelled the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada. They did not always find the freedom they sought in a place they might have considered “the promised land.” Though they often met abolitionists sympathetic to their cause and were aided in escaping harsh treatment in the United States, often these Underground travellers were disappointed when they arrived at their Canadian destinations. While Canada and most English colonies had no slavery after 1834, discrimination was still common. Many of the new arrivals to Canada had great difficulty finding jobs, in part because of mass European immigration, and because of overt racism. For example, the charter of the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, was amended in 1785 specifically to exclude Blacks from practising a trade, selling goods, fishing in the harbour or becoming freemen. These provisions stood until 1870.

Despite this bleak past, Blacks have played outstanding roles. As the third-largest visible minority group in Canada, and with half of Blacks having been born in this country, their contributions and achievements are remarkable. They include the gifts of composer and jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson; former governor general Michaëlle Jean; Olympic medallist Donovan Bailey; inventor and engineer, Elijah McCoy; entrepreneur and activist, Viola Davis Desmond; and activist Donald Willard Moore. All make the 400-year presence of Blacks in Canada great reasons for celebration at any time.

In addition, the active involvement of Blacks throughout our dioceses, as clergy and lay persons, highlights the myriad gifts offered by those of African descent. Many parishes in the diocese of Toronto would be unsustainable if not for the gifts and contributions of their Black members.

The annual service, though, need not be viewed as a celebration for Black Anglicans by Black Anglicans—for, in the context of the racial and ethnic diversity in Canadian Anglican dioceses, the attendance and participation of all ethnic and racial groups must be recognized as a celebration of a loving God who created that diversity.

Let us remember that the history and rich traditions of Blacks in the Anglican church were shaped by the Church of England. Given the historical contexts of the Caribbean Province of the West Indies, for example, many Anglicans in the diocese of Toronto who emigrated from the English-speaking Caribbean were spiritually nourished in the Church of England, long before immigrating to Canada. It is because of this reality that Black Anglicans, particularly those from the Caribbean, bring different perspectives to Anglican worship. As immigrants with a rich Anglican heritage that has socialized us, Blacks are able to bring an Anglican sensibility to how Anglicans worship and how worship with a clear understanding of culture can be integrated. Coming out of a historical context where some English Anglican clergy were owners of enslaved Africans, Caribbean Blacks baptized in the Anglican church have remained faithful to God as active members in Canadian dioceses, particularly in the diocese of Toronto. Blacks in Canadian dioceses are proud to be Anglican Christians.

When this reality is captured within the annual celebratory service (or when done at the parish level), we help to create distinctive ways of conceptualizing and speaking about ultimate concerns. The story-telling, hand clapping, the singing of gospels and Negro spirituals, the drumming and dancing, the preaching and the responses to the preacher, are all parts of the big story—that we are part of one church and serve the One Lord who created all humankind. In the worship, an African-derived worldview and the complexities of our ancestors’ slavery experiences converge; oppression, survival and harsh daily realities are mixed with a faithful and compassionate God. In our celebratory services, we are deeply aware of the quest for freedom, a freedom that is found only in our Saviour Jesus Christ. While it is true that love will keep all together, and hope will provide us with the fuel to keep going on, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that will lead all who are Jesus’ followers on the course that God has charted for us.

Within this context, I appreciate the efforts of the diocese of Toronto to recognize the racial and ethnic diversity, and the attempts that have been made to address it by instituting, in the past, a Multicultural/Diversity position. We also await recommendations from the Diocesan Ethnic Ministries Committee, chaired by Canon Matthias Der. In making these important steps, we must remember there is no quick or easy way to navigate the gifts God has given so generously, to the diocese of Toronto in particular and to the Anglican Church of Canada in general. The annual celebration of the Black History Service—as it is commonly called—causes us to reflect because it is an invitation to all Anglicans in Canada, especially in the most populated areas of the diocese of Toronto, to look again at who we are and where we going, and to experience in the celebration of our gifts that we are indeed celebrating the love of God who offers gifts freely to everyone.

The United Nations’ designation of 2011 as International Year for People of African Descent is in line with what God has told us from the beginning: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness….’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26a–27). As all humankind is created in the image of God, and therefore created equal in the eyes of God, let us together, as the body of Christ, work for the transformation of humanity in the power of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Source: Anglican Journal 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

St. Philip's Church Presents a Reading of the Dylan Thomas’ Play, "Under Milk Wood"

You are invited to come to a secret place – a quiet place, comfortably nestled in amongst the rafters of an old Welsh attic, deftly suspended over a day in the life of the citizens of Llareggub. We are neither seen nor heard, but from our attic vantage point we can observe in intimate detail the most private dreams, hopes and disappointments of the townspeople below.

What we see from our attic is not beautiful. Although it is never ridiculous and never flattering, it is starkly honest to all who care to watch. We see alcoholics, people consumed by bitterness, people who have given up, people in denial. Even the children are less innocent than one might expect.

So why should we watch these Llarreggubian lives play out below us like this? Like a Norman Rockwell painting, “Under Milk Wood” shows some of our foibles and allows us to smile at them. Milk Wood foibles though, are darker and grimier than what we all love to see in a Rockwell painting. They challenge us to accept what is real, but even more, to strive to make life all that it can be in this dark context. Life is not hopeless – it is just full of disappointments. If we can see ourselves in Llareggub (and in this attic we will have no choice) we can own ourselves as we are, and perhaps even allow this newfound grubby-handed honesty to enrich our own lives a little.

The attic will be opened at St-Philip’s Anglican Church on Saturday 22 Feb, at 19h. Coffee and desserts will be provided. Admission is free, but you are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the NDG Food Depot if you are able. For more information, please call the Church Office (514-481-4871).

Come on out and enjoy a fun evening with us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Online Education for Anglican Youth Workers Launches Today

Young people have deep questions about life, the universe, and God. Many youth leaders probably wish they had a little more support and background knowledge to help guide them.

"Not everybody can drop everything and go to seminary," says Andrew Stephens-Rennie, member of the Anglican Church of Canada's National Youth Initiatives team, "but we can help them using the power of online education."

For the past year, Stephens-Rennie has led the development of Trailblazing-a site dedicated to connecting and educating Anglican youth workers across Canada. The site launches today (February 4, 2014).

A one-year subscription gives users access to all courses on the site, as well as links to external resources and bibliographies. The site also features forums, providing a place for youth workers from across the country to connect-discussing their lives, work, and courses.

"In the beginning, I went out for coffee with youth ministers to tell them a bit about Trailblazing and to get their feedback," says Stephens-Rennie.

"The thing they kept saying was, ‘I need a safe place to talk about the realities of my ministry-the challenges that I'm facing, the joys that I'm having.' They were looking for a broader connection with other people doing the same kind of ministry."

Four courses are available immediately (Intro to Theology, Worldview and the Gospels, Youth Ministry Foundations, and Belief and Practice), and more will be coming soon. Currently in the pipeline are resources from the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and a faith and film module.

Stephens-Rennie expects the course list to grow and change as the site matures and receives feedback from its users, helping Anglican youth workers feel more comfortable and confident in their roles.

"I continue to have conversations with folks who say, ‘I'm really just happy to have young people come, and every now and again I try to slip in the God stuff.' But I really think that as the Christian church, it's good to start with that as our frame-that we're inviting young people to a particular kind of community and helping to form them. We're not just trying to slide God stuff in."

"People-especially young people-can see when you're trying to sell them something. But to be able to do it authentically, and integrate it into the way we live our lives, and the way in which we minister with them, to them, and amongst them-all of that is hugely important."

Diocesan youth workers from across the country got a chance to test drive an early version of Trailblazing in September 2013 at their annual conference, Stronger Together.

Su McLeod, family ministry facilitator for the diocese of British Columbia, is keen to get started.

"I'm really excited to use it in the diocese," says McLeod. "It's something that people have been looking for. We have people in our diocese who want to be youth workers, and it's really hard to find places for them to go to learn these skills."

Melissa Green, youth coordinator at St. Paul's Cathedral in Kamloops, B.C., was another beta tester. She was impressed by Trailblazing's content, and quickly began thinking about how she could use it at home.

"It would be easy for people to use individually if they decided they wanted to learn on a specific topic," says Green, "or for someone to organise a group, or for a diocesan youth coordinator to offer it to parish youth leaders within their diocese."

Stephens-Rennie appreciates the need for youth leaders to have easy access to good educational resources to help them accompany young people in learning about faith.

"For the church to carry on, and figure out what it means to be church in the 21st century, we need thoughtful youth ministers who can reflect on why we do what we do, and who can invite young people to do that with them."

For more information click here.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Sunday February 2nd was the Christian celebration of light aka the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, or Candlemas. The day commemorates the time that Jospeh and Mary brought the infant Jesus to the Temple forty days after his birth to perform the ritual of purification. It is commonly referred as Candlemas, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy. This is the first time in a decade that feast last falls on a Sunday. Here is an excerpt from a blog post by Catholic on the subject.

This is a moment for cherishing once more the greatest gift that arrived 40 days ago on Christmas. The gift of our salvation. The gift of Christ. The gift of light.

The holy and aged Simeon in today’s gospel said as much, when he finally beheld what the world has been waiting for:

“My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

[T]he really big event we mark today, the truly important one, recalls something as old as time itself.
In Genesis, you’ll remember, God’s first words speak to a formless world bathed in shadow. From nothing, he created everything, and he began his creation with those simple, profoundly important words:

“Let there be light.”

It would be countless generations after that—after man’s fall, and his wanderings, and his exile and his despair and his sin—before light would again come into a world lost in darkness.
But then came Christmas. The birth of Christ offered us a second Genesis. Once more, with the Incarnation, God whispered words that began a new creation, “Let there be light.”

Now, Candlemas remembers that, and it does this at a moment when we might be tempted to forget. Let’s be honest: it’s 40 days after the holiday. The decorations have come down. The gifts have been returned or forgotten. The toys have been broken. The last of the fruitcake has been thrown out. We’ve stopped singing carols about joy and glory and wonder. It looks like we’re back into the dead of winter.

But Candlemas says: wait. You’re wrong. The light still burns. A flame defies the dark. Bring forth a candle and let’s share in that light.

It’s been an ancient custom in the Church to bless candles on this feast—hence, the name. We are at the halfway point between the shortest day of the year, in December, and the Spring equinox in mid-March. The blessing of candles gives us encouragement for the remaining days of winter. It offers us the profound hope that we will be sustained by holy light—and uplifted and guided by the Greatest Light, the light that is Christ.
This feast cries out to us: Christmas was just the beginning. There is more.

It says, to those who are tempted to despair during these cold dark days: there is still light.
To those who have forgotten the bright promise of a star: there is still light.
To anyone who fears, or who worries, or who wonders about what the future may hold: there is still light!

More than light, there is hope.

Unto us a child has been born, a son has been given: “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Our fallen world has been redeemed. Forty days ago, the angel told the shepherds: do not be afraid. Now, all these weeks later, the feast we celebrate today repeats that message.

But we shouldn’t let this opportunity get away, this chance to recall the hope that was born in our hearts in December. The flame still burns...this light will continue to pierce the dark.

Source: The Deacon's Bench