The primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has pledged his commitment to help turn the vision of a self-determining indigenous Anglican ministry in Canada into reality.
In his homily at the closing Eucharist of the 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle, Archbishop Hiltz promised that “we will make sure that substantial amounts of time” will be given at the 2010 General Synod to discussions around the necessary steps to realize a national indigenous ministry.
“It’s clear from our conversations that we are looking for a major report coming to General Synod next year, a report that could well include a presentation of a draft canon in some form for a national indigenous ministry,” Archbishop Hiltz told a gathering of more than 200 First Nations, Metis and Inuit Anglicans. “The good thing about that is that if it will pass, it will immediately put the profile of national indigenous ministry much higher in the life of the church.”
The primate said that while the Sacred Circle did not arrive at any major decisions on what the next steps should be, it nonetheless delivered the message that “more intentional conversations” needs to happen at diocesan, provincial, and General Synods. “At the heart of these conversations is relationship, not jurisdiction. It’s a commitment to awareness and appreciation of aboriginal culture…” and trying to figure out “what will work in our own local contexts.”
He noted the “birthings” taking place in the dioceses of Keewatin and Brandon, with plans for an indigenous area mission in northern Manitoba and an indigenous diocese in northern Ontario. These developments demonstrate a “commitment to mutual respect, a commitment to being adaptable…a willingness to embrace a diversity of arrangements within the unity of the common mission.”
Conversations at the Circle have also clarified that “we need to continue to work together in understanding the principle of self-determination,” said the primate. “What does it mean to be a truly indigenous church? What is the true measure of making sure that that vision is being realized?”
Archbishop Hiltz also promised to engage the whole church in the issue of non-stipendiary clergy saying, “It’s clear to me that this is a matter of justice.”
Responding to a call made by youth present at the Circle to mentor them, the primate urged the church to help “nurture them, walk with them, and support them in the leadership that’s growing and blossoming within them.”
The Circle also “heard a call not to forget those who have moved to the cities,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “Urban indigenous ministries will be an important component of ACIP (Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples) in anticipation of the next Sacred Circle in 2012, and that work is going to require engagement with the southern dioceses, their bishops and their synods.” (ACIP organizes the Sacred Circle every three years.)
Archbishop Hiltz, who attended the Sacred Circle for the first time, also offered his observations about the gathering. “In this Circle I’ve seen many expressions of fullness of life,” he said. “The Circle is a place of encouragement and mutual support for journeys of healing and self-determination.”
He also said that it has been a “remarkable source of healing.” He underscored the need for the church’s “continued commitment to a ministry of healing” noting how many people lined up for prayer and laying of hands during a healing service that preceded the Eucharist.
The primate paid tribute to the elders in the Circle, calling them “the seers in our midst,” and to National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, saying, “this man has given so much hope to so many people in many nations in this land.”
He cited Bishop MacDonald’s “ministry of presence” and noted how he has been affectionately known as “the rock and roll bishop,” because of the way he easily picks up a guitar to lead in the singing of gospel music and hymns.
Article from: The Anglican Journal – by Marites N. Sison