Monday, March 31, 2014

Truth and Reconciliation Commission National Event Draws to Close

The final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission took place from March 27 to 30 in Edmonton, Alberta. Representatives from the Anglican Church of Canada and its ecumenical partners were among thousands gathered to hear survivor testimonies, celebrate Indigenous culture and resilience, and work toward reconciliation.

On Friday afternoon, the Anglican Church of Canada offered a full colour timeline of the evolving relationship between the church and Indigenous people as its expression of reconciliation. The timeline covers more than 500 years of history and points to hope for right relationship as the TRC process winds to a close in 2015.

This TRC national event also saw the first expressions of reconciliation from Anglican full communion partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. National Bishop Susan Johnson offered a copy of a 2011 ELCIC resolution of right relationship with Indigenous people and a clay pot as a symbol of, “all that we must give up for the sake of reconciliation.” The Canadian Council of Churches, an ecumenical body of 25 denominations including the Anglican Church of Canada, also offered an expression of reconciliation. The CCC contributed a statement of solidarity and resources on Indigenous rights and anti-racism.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Monday, March 24, 2014

Thousands to Gather for Truth and Reconciliation

From March 27 to 30, several thousand Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will gather in Edmonton, Alberta for the seventh and final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission event.

The Anglican delegation will include Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, the Venerable Michael Thompson, General Secretary, and Archbishop Terry Finlay, Primate’s Envoy on Residential Schools.

Bishops, clergy, and parishioners from the dioceses of Edmonton, Athabasca, and Calgary will also be present for TRC events including the lighting of the sacred fire, statement giving by residential school survivors, church listening circles, and a public Anglican expression of reconciliation.

The Anglican expression of reconciliation includes a full-colour historical timeline of evolving relations between Indigenous peoples and the Anglican Church of Canada. The expression is scheduled for Friday, March 28 from 4 to 6pm local time.

A number of ecumenical partners will be present in Edmonton. For the first time, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches will offer expressions of reconciliation. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is also coordinating a number of events, including a panel discussion on restoring the dignity of Indigenous women and girls.

Anglicans across Canada are encouraged to support the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission throughout the national event. Those unable to participate in person can watch livestreaming at

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Conversations 2014: Clergy under 40 to gather in Montreal

Registration for Conversations 2014, an alternative conference for Anglican Church of Canada clergy under the age of 40, is now open. The gathering, taking place at the Diocese of Montreal offices from June 17 to 19, adopts an “unconferencing” approach to professional development, ministry strengthening, and networking. Participants will engage in peer-to-peer learning and collaborative activities. They will also help shape conversations and workshops in advance of the Montreal event.

The Reverend Rhonda Waters, associate priest at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal and convener of the Conversations 2014 planning team, saw the value in bringing together the cohort of clergy born between 1973 and 1993. She explains that young clergy are spread out across Canada and have few networking opportunities before stepping into senior leadership roles. Conversations 2014 seeks to change that. Waters notes, “Our church does better when we’re well connected.”

Waters was also eager to comment on the encouragement she has seen for the event, “We’re thrilled at how much support we’re getting from General Synod leadership and from older colleagues who have been really supportive of this venture.”

Conversations 2014 is made possible in part by a Ministry Investment Fund grant, which will offset most costs of the event. For information on pricing, schedule, and accommodations, please visit the Conversations 2014 homepage. To register now, please visit the registration page. Space is limited.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sorrento Centre Secures $500k for Youth Leadership Program

Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre, Sorrento, BC, has received commitment for $250,000 in funding from the Diocese of New Westminster. This contribution matches a Ministry Investment Fund (MIF) grant and allows the centre to launch a residential youth leadership program. The MIF grant runs from 2014 through 2016, with contributions of $80,000 in each of the first two years and $85,000 in the final year. The total $500,000 will support up to five pilot years of the Winter Youth Leadership Development (WYLD) program.

The residential program focusing on personal development and vocational discernment will bring together young adults from 18 to 28 years of age at Sorrento. WYLD seeks to respond to a culture where traditional religious belief and practice are sometimes unappealing to young people, but where questions of meaning are nevertheless pressing. The program will help participants respond to these questions by discovering how their skills and passions relate to the world’s deepest needs. The chair of Sorrento’s board, the Venerable Andrew Pike, remarks, “Places like Sorrento will become more and more important for people to discover their own spiritual nature.”

This innovative program draws inspiration from other intentional communities and will give participants space to contemplate “who they are, where they’re going, and what they are up to,” says Pike. Small cohorts of about ten young adults will live community and partake in work, worship, and play together. Pike explains that participants are expected to both shape and be shaped by their time together; “There is an expectation of giving as well as receiving.”

The MIF and Diocesan contributions are critical for WYLD. Unlike adult programming at Sorrento, which can operate on a cost-recovery or profit basis, young adult programming needs financial support to reduce financial barriers. Youth programming runs at a net loss, but is central to Sorrento’s identity and own vocation. Explains Pike, “If we don’t have a ministry that supports and encourages young people in faith, then we may as well close up shop and go home because that’s what we are about.”

According to Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Ministry Investment Fund Grant from the endowment of General Synod is particularly appropriate in this anniversary year. “A significant source of funding for the founding of Sorrento Centre fifty years ago was a grant from the national church, and now we are able to renew that partnership.” Mr. Thompson also expressed gratitude to those who generously support General Synod through bequests, and for the partnerships that generosity makes possible.

When asked what success for WYLD would look like, Pike said he hopes to see participants emerge on the other side with a deep “optimistic confidence” that would equip people with the skills for lifelong discernment, spiritual development, and the courage to follow a particular path.

To find out more about the Sorrento Centre and its programs click here.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Melissa Skelton Ordained Bishop in B.C.: The Spirit Moves

Melissa Skelton was Ordained Bishop in the Church of God at the Vancouver Convention Centre East Hall C and then she was Installed as the 9th Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster at Christ Church Cathedral during a three hour liturgy in two locations on March 1st, 2014.

Here is an article by Rosemary Anderson, an award-winning writer. Her work has appeared in Trek, Prism International and the Berwick Leader, and has been anthologized in North America and East Africa. She lives in Vancouver, B.C., where she serves on the editorial board of Prism International, Western Canada's oldest literary magazine.

Robed in a flowing, full-length purple cassock, the Rev. Canon Melissa Skelton stood with her back to the crowd of over a thousand people in Vancouver's Convention Centre last Saturday and faced her inquisitors: fifteen bishops of the Anglican Church. She answered each of their questions in a clear, confident voice.

The slim, grey-haired grandmother was about to be ordained as Vancouver's first female Anglican bishop. Formerly a brand manager for Procter & Gamble, Skelton is also the first businessperson -- and first American -- to be made Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, headquartered at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver.

As a Roman Catholic, I attended Melissa Skelton's investiture partly out of curiosity and partly in solidarity. It was the first time I'd participated in an Anglican service and I was struck by the similarities with my own tradition; the prayers and responses were practically identical.

I was struck, as well, by the differences. The rows and rows of mostly white-robed Anglican prelates, priests and deacons included many women -- so unlike Catholicism's male hierarchy, which steadfastly refuses to admit women to the ranks.

A struggle for inclusion

Some maintain the real problem is that the male clergy in primarily orthodox religions fear that if they were to open the door to a female clergy, the women would outshine them. No doubt, some would. As Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia, Washington, said in his sermon at Skelton's ordination, there are two kinds of bishops: "those who like being bishops, and those that want to grow the Church." Skelton, he said, was definitely in the latter group.

Earlier in his sermon, Rickel jokingly shared with Skelton a pearl of wisdom he'd acquired. "If anyone brings you something and you don't know what to do with it," he advised, "kiss it, bless it, and it will go away." I couldn't help reflecting how aptly this describes the Catholic Church's attitude toward women.

It's worth noting that even in the earliest days of Christianity women held crucial roles. Jesus himself was scathing in his criticism of unjust traditions, such as the separation between men and women that was prevalent in contemporary Palestine.

He also criticized the Pharisees' fondness for imposing the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit. Clearly, Jesus was a rule-breaker and an innovator, yet many Christian denominations, including my own, persist in flagrant sexism against women, citing rules and tradition as their justification.

In contrast to the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in British Columbia has famously struggled under outgoing Bishop Michael Ingham to be inclusive of all groups.

The result has been tension, division, renewed loyalty from the faithful who've stayed on, and defection to more orthodox congregations by the too-deeply dissatisfied. The Catholic Church and evangelical churches have been delighted to receive the defectors into their folds. It makes one wonder if Christianity is really about faith in God or is it, perhaps, about belonging to a group of like-minded people?

Accept, or move on

There was quite a bit of argument in the Anglican Church as a whole, back in the 1980s, says a man named John who attended the ceremonies. John is a leader in Skelton's former parish of St. Paul's, in suburban Seattle. He says that some of the older, hard-core priests were sure then that they could never accept the idea of a female priest, but even they have come to accept it now.

Rev. Donald Grayston, an Anglican theologian who taught religious studies at SFU for many years, says those Anglicans who couldn't accept women priests have moved on. There's no longer any opposition. In choosing to ordain women, he explains, the Anglican Church hasn't really changed. "We continue only to ordain human beings, some of whom are female, some of whom are male."

Grayston's opinion is that women prefer to be chosen only if they're the best one for the job. "And that's exactly why Melissa was chosen," he says. "She was head and shoulders above all the other candidates." Skelton doesn't just have the requisite Master of Divinity degree, but also a Master of Business Administration and an MA.

Nine years ago, when Skelton was brought in as pastor of St. Paul's, it was on track to go bankrupt within a decade. Now, the parish is thriving.

"My [former] parish is an Anglo-Catholic parish," she says, "so it's all about beauty, mystery, chant, silence, song. We're flooded with young people. We've tripled in size in the last nine years."

I ask Bishop Skelton what she thinks the Catholic Church could learn from the Anglicans. "That the Spirit moves," she says, "and that tradition is a living tradition -- a living tradition. It's not just a repetition of the past."

Source: The Tyee

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Female Bishop Appointed in Ireland Last Year
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The Church of South India Appointed its First Female Bishop Last Year

The Revd Eggoni Pushpalalitha was ordained in 1983 and she was appointed Bishop in 2013. Until recently she has been a priest in the Diocese of Nadyal in Andhra Pradesh (India).

She was appointed Bishop shortly after the Church of Ireland elected its first woman bishop, the Revd Pat (Patricia) Storey as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

The Provincial Secretary of the Church of South India, Mani M. Philip confirmed that Miss Pushpalalitha had been appointed by the Synod Selection Board.

"We have been ordaining women since 1976," he told ACNS, adding that in its constitution, the province mandates that at least 25 per cent of all statutory bodies should be women.

Bishop-designate Pushpalalitha was installed on Monday 30 September. One of the 38 Member Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Church of South India is a 'united' Church--the result of the union of churches of varying traditions Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed. It was inaugurated in September 1947.

Related Articles
Melissa Skelton Ordained Bishop in B.C.: "The Spirit Moves"
Female Bishop Appointed in Ireland Last Year
Ordained Anglican Women Face "Stained Glass Ceiling"
Church of England Rejects Women Bishops

Female Bishop Appointed in Ireland Last Year

In 2013 the Church of Ireland appointed its first female bishop. The Irish House of Bishops appointed the Rev. Pat (Patricia) Storey as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare. She succeeds Bishop Richard Clarke, who is now Archbishop of Armagh. The new Bishop of Meath and Kildare, was the rector of St. Augustine’s, Londonderry since 2004.

The appointment was left to the House of Bishops after the Episcopal Electoral College failed to appoint a bishop for the dioceses when the college met in May.

Announcing the appointment of Bishop-elect Storey, Archbishop Clarke, Primate of All Ireland, said: “Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth, and I am certain that her ministry in the dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider church will be a blessing to many.”

“I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure in our lives,” said Storey, who has been rector of St. Augustine’s, Londonderry since 2004. “I have had an extraordinarily happy experience in St. Augustine’s and in this wonderful city, which I will be sad to leave. However, I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family.”

The Anglican church in both Wales and Scotland has now cleared the way to appoint women as bishops but has not done so yet. The Church of England has had votes, but so far has not approved the appointment of women as bishops.

Source: Anglican Journal

Related Articles
Melissa Skelton Ordained Bishop in B.C.: "The Spirit Moves"
The Church of South India Appointed its First Female Bishop Last Year
Ordained Anglican Women Face "Stained Glass Ceiling"
Church of England Rejects Women Bishops

Monday, March 3, 2014

TRC to hold final public event this Month

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), formed in 2008 to help begin healing over Canada's residential school system for Indigenous peoples, will be holding its final public event at the end of March in Edmonton.

Similar to past events, this one will feature traditional ceremonies, survivor gatherings and statements, an education day, and more.

Although the mandate of the TRC has been extended through 2015, this final public event signals the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one for those who have been involved.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald is already looking to the future.

"It has become more and more clear as we've gone on that this is a beginning, and not an end. This is the beginning of reconciliation. I don't think that after we finish this, anybody will say ‘Well, we did that!'"

"I think the next steps on the path are the building of the positive relationships between non-Indigenous people and institutions, and Indigenous people. It's all about building on the bedrock of reconciliation."

Henriette Thompson, General Synod's public witness coordinator for social and ecological justice, recalls the beginnings of the TRC.

"One of the things that I remember feeling when I joined the staff in March 2008 was a sense that this was a process that had been started 20 to 30 years earlier," says Thompson.

"I was joining a stream that was already moving, and I just had a lot of learning to do in terms of what the meaning of the apology had been in 1993, what the Hendry Report had meant for our church. Not just facts and figures-but what was it in between that provided the connections to build from one to another, and what was that story, what was that narrative? And how was that narrative understood differently by Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals? Where were the places we really came together?"

For Thompson, the history of the reconciliation process, leading up to and including the TRC, has been one of big changes.

"With that 1993 apology...something shifted in people's minds. Every time we had something like that-like the appointment of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop-something huge shifted. Even through the time of the TRC there have been huge shifts. They're kind of subterranean, and that's why we need to process this for ourselves as soon after the final TRC event as possible, to reflect on a fresh experience."

Heading into this final event, Bishop MacDonald holds a strong sense of expectation, and even excitement.

"This has been a big part of my life over these past few years, and I'm curious, like everybody else. Each event has been different. Things like this are so big, that they can't be stage-managed. A lot of what happens at these [events] can never be planned, can never be predicted, and can't be controlled. There's a sincere and earnest and successful effort to keep all of these things within a healing context, but at the same time, you don't know what people are going to say," he notes.

"I mean, so many people tell me, ‘I didn't know what I would feel when I got up there.' I've heard people say, ‘I've told this to people a thousand times, and I got up there and I completely fell apart.' Even individuals can't predict how this is going to impact them. When you put all of that together, you just don't know what's going to happen. It's an event that's bigger than any person or group of people could control and move towards a particular outcome. I think, though, that the commission has done a good job of making sure these things move in a healing way."

Click here to learn more about the final TRC public event in Edmonton, March 27-30, 2014.