Archdeacon Boyles reviewed the process leading up to Second Reading of a resolution regarding this Canon at General Synod 1998. The Hon. Ron Stevenson reviewed the content of the document and responded to members' questions.
That the Council of General Synod commend the revised draft Canon XVII for submission to the General Synod in May 1998 for second reading, and propose that the two Parts be voted on separately at General Synod. CARRIED #06-03-98
That this Council of the General Synod request the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee to identify information and worship resources (including the use of the Covenant as a prayer) for use on June 21st, the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer, which was approved by General Synod in 1971. CARRIED #28-03-98
That the Council of General Synod approve the revised mandate for the Anglican Book Centre as follows:
i) The Anglican Book Centre shall operate as a ministry of and to the church.
ii) It shall provide resources for worship, parish life, theological training and spiritual nurture to constituencies, including professional church workers, lay people, students and seekers. It especially seeks to serve the Anglican community.
iii) In carrying out this ministry, the Centre shall seek to operate at a profit. To that end, it shall have the power, within the policy framework established by the Anglican Book Centre Advisory Board and the Information Resources Committee, to publish, purchase, market, sell and distribute books and other resources in various media. CARRIED #24-05-97
Ms. Lindley Roff and the Director of Faith Worship and Ministry, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, presented the report.
That this Council of General Synod authorize for publication the "Anglican Church of Canada Guidelines for Worship Involving Christians and People of Other Faith Traditions." CARRIED #13-11-96
See Appendix attached for Guidelines.
FAITH, WORSHIP AND MINISTRY COMMITTEE REPORT
Resolution #13 (see minutes, page 8)
Anglican Church of Canada Guidelines for
WORSHIP INVOLVING CHRISTIANS AND PEOPLE OF OTHER FAITH TRADITIONS
Anglicans are increasingly invited to participate in worship with people of other faith traditions, in the context of a multi-cultural society and also against the background of growing dialogue with representatives of some other faith traditions. Guidelines for inter-faith dialogue were commended to the Church by the General Synod in 1986. Inter-faith dialogue is a long process and it is not always easy for a number of reasons: it lacks the definable goal of corporate union with characterizes Christian ecumenism; it is not an appropriate forum for Christian evangelism (with which it is sometimes confused); the histories of the various faith communities have sometimes included distortion, mutual condemnation and persecution; sometimes it is hard to find a common language to speak of the divine; cultural presuppositions may be confused with religious practice and thought by both Christians and others; some Christians question the need for dialogue when the real agenda is, for them, conversion. These and other difficulties should be acknowledged. Our dialogue partners face the same problems. Dialogue must be open, honest and realistic, and we should not avoid difficult issues simply to avoid disagreement. Mere sentimentalism can, in the long run, be destructive of good relationships.
At the same time, dialogue has proven to be rewarding for both partners in many situations. We come to understand our own tradition better when we have to articulate it to others, and our partners may frequently reflect back to us elements of our tradition which we have neglected. Dialogue may be a forum in which prejudice may be overcome and the past may be healed. In a world in which inter-religious tension often leads to violence, the presence of dialogue among these traditions is a sign of hope.
In the course of dialogue partners are frequently drawn to worship together, which may raise new difficulties and opportunities. But increasingly, inter-faith worship takes place in a variety of contexts:
- civic events on commemorative occasions;
- special events celebrating community needs identified by the religious communities or rising from their response to the expressed concerns of the larger community;
- special liturgies at the time of crises and disasters;
- worship at multi-faith events organized by religious communities;
- the installation of professional care-givers in clinical, academic, and correctional institutions;
- in the programs of other organizations which wish to have a religious expression in their events.
As a multi-cultural society grows, other contexts will present themselves. These guidelines are offered to help Anglicans reflect on the issues raised by these opportunities and their practical implications for worship events.
When people of faith gather to worship together we do so understanding ourselves to be in relationship to the ultimate mystery of the source and end of being, which Christians name as the Triune God, although others name that reality in other terms. Christians who participate in worship with members of other traditions do so in acknowledgment of the possibility that the presence of God may be mediated through traditions other than their own.
Worship includes symbolic actions, words, and objects, which may mediate the presence of God even to those to whom they are unfamiliar. This may be true for Christians of the symbols of other faiths. At the same time, symbols may also be startling and may block this mediation, which has happened with Christian symbols even within Christianity and may happen with Christian symbols in other faith communities as well as with their symbols for Christians. It is important to remember that symbols are never the objects of worship but are expressions of worship, in which the aspirations and experiences of the worshippers may be focused and enlarged. Worship may take both outer and inner forms: in some traditions symbolic and ritual actions are central, while in other traditions meditation and contemplation are the primary form of worship activity.
The primary purpose of inter-faith worship is not to educate one another in our various forms of worship (important as that may be) but to stand together in relationship to the ultimate mystery and to one another in a given context. This combination of dimensions means that we are bound together not only before the ultimate mystery but also in a community of ethical responsibility.
We are at a cross-roads in history and we cannot predetermine the effects of dialogue. We cannot establish a fixed theological tradition in which we make judgments about other traditions. As we enter a process of dialogue and approach relationships of worship, it may be helpful to ask ourselves questions like these.
- What is our theology of ritual ?
- What is our theology of symbols ? What is the significance of symbolic objects in our own tradition and how does that relate to the symbolic objects of other traditions ?
- Can we see ourselves united in prayer beyond the words and symbols we are using ?
- Can we, in worship, affirm the particularity of Christ and be involved at the same time in events which express God's purpose in all people ? Can we live with this ambiguity ? Can those with whom we pray ?
- In the Christian tradition, worship is offered through Christ. This can present problems for traditions which have no developed theology of the identity of God and do not accept the mediation of Jesus Christ.
Religion and culture are always intimately related, whether they reflect or confront one another. When religion reflects the culture of its context, the cultural elements are very difficult to discern. People seldom recognize that their religious practice may reinforce their cultural assumptions. Those involved in inter-faith worship should be sensitive to the cultural dimensions of their own religious practice, as well as those of others.
There are three models of inter-faith worship: exclusive, inclusive, and pluralistic. The exclusive model, in which worship is the expression of only one faith tradition is not true multi-faith worship. The inclusive or integrated model seeks to find a common expression with which representatives of the various traditions are comfortable. In the pluralistic model the different traditions and practices of the respective groups are brought together side by side in a single act of worship. In either of these latter two models it should be the responsibility of members of a faith tradition to identify those aspects of their own practice which should be used in inter-faith worship; those outside a tradition should not impose its elements on the community event.
5. Guidelines for Planning
- Care needs to be taken that planners and leaders of inter-faith events represent their traditions authentically. Anglicans who find themselves as Christian representatives on an inter-faith planning committee should attempt to represent the sensitivities of the broader Christian community.
- Inter-faith worship events should be planned by representatives of all of the traditions which will be involved.
- Sufficient time should be taken to allow mutual understanding and respect to grow.
- Some events (eg. commemorative civic events) may take six months to a year to plan.
- Community building should be encouraged.
- Those involved should be encouraged to develop a brief, clear statement of their faith as preparation for planning.
- Planners should formulate clearly the purpose of the event.
- Planners should be sensitive to the appropriateness of the location and its symbolic decoration, especially if it is necessary to use a religious building for a civic event.
- When symbols proper to one faith tradition are used in an inter-faith worship event, care should be taken to explain them to members of other traditions.
- Symbols, including language, which are likely to cause great discomfort should not be used.
6. Participation in worship of another tradition
Participation in the worship of another tradition does not indicate consent or agreement but respect. Leaders of particular traditions should indicate appropriate levels of participation in their rites; participants should make their own decisions on the level of participation appropriate to them as an act of their own informed consciences. Christians may not wish to participate in certain prayers, to consume sacred foods, or perform certain gestures.
Participants should be sensitive to matters of dress (eg. removal of shoes and covering of the head), deportment, and the possibility of gender separation. They should seek education in the practice of a faith tradition before attending, by consulting members of the faith tradition, their public library, or other informed sources.
Faith and Worship Committee / October 1996
The following "Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue" were produced October 1988 by the Ecumenical Office, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto ON M4Y 2J6
Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue
These guidelines are offered to Canadian Anglicans as they seek to reach out to their neighbours of other faiths. Our approach has two separate, but inter-related aspects: dialogue, which includes growing in our knowledge of each other and a mutual sharing of spiritual insights; and common action which would involve joint efforts to deal with issues related to life together in society, but might also include activities of a devotional nature.
A. The Path of Dialogue
1. Meet the people themselves and get to know their traditions. In many Canadian communities there are places of worship of the world's great religions. Several of these religious communities have national or regional organizations, and frequently people with responsibility for inter-faith dialogue and cooperation. There are also bodies that have as their purpose the fostering of better relationships among people of different faith communities.
2. Wherever possible, engage in dialogue ecumenically. When we seek to explain ourselves to others the differences between Christians take on a different perspective. An ecumenical approach to dialogue allows us to focus on those things which are essential in Christian teaching. While individual approaches need not be discouraged, a ministerial or local council of churches might well be the appropriate body to initiate dialogue. Generally, dialogue is best done by representatives of several churches at the same time.
3. Allow other to speak for themselves. Too often stereotypes have kept us apart from people of other faiths. One obvious way of avoiding this is to let the dialogue partners describe themselves, as we expect to speak for ourselves. This is not to say that our listening must always be uncritical. Our questions will only be accepted as we show that we want to learn and understand. One way to ensure this kind of balance is to involve dialogue partners in the planning process itself.
4. Be aware of other loyalties. We always bring into relationships a cluster of theological commitments and cultural loyalties. An awareness of this can avoid unrealistic expectations, and can help focus on central rather than peripheral issues. Acknowledgment of our own and others' loyalties can pave the way to deeper sharing.
5. Prepare carefully for the dialogue. No dialogue venture will be successful without sensitive planning and preparation.
a. It is important to approach others with the same kind of respect we would wish to be accorded. They cherish their beliefs and practices as deeply as we do our own, however different they may appear to us.
b. Every religious tradition, including our own, has unworthy adherents and unpleasant episodes in its history. True dialogue is not possible if only the best of one tradition is contrasted with the worst of others.
c. Issues of separation must be addressed as well as those of unity. Dialogue is not furthered when painful or difficult areas are glossed over. However, this should not be done with an attitude of superiority or solely in an effort to air grievances. It should include an awareness of our own contribution to division and misunderstanding.
d. By engaging in dialogue Christians are not being asked to compromise their faith that God was revealed in the person of Christ. Their understanding of their own faith should be clear, so that the Christian perspective can be fairly presented to dialogue partners. Dialogue, however, should not be a subtle form of proselytizing, but an occasion for mutual sharing.
B. The Path of Common Action
1. Deal with issues related to living together as part of the human community.
This may well be the basis upon which dialogue begins. Our planet is too small and the problems confronting it too great for people of faith to attempt to work in isolation or from a position of conflict. Some matters on which inter-faith cooperation is possible include:
a. Joint approaches to government on matters of economic, social, political and cultural concern.
b. Urging respect for human rights and religious freedom not only for ourselves but for others also.
c. Coordinated efforts to deal with global issues such as world peace, the environment or hunger.
2. Foster efforts at education and communication between people of different faiths.
Education is both a consequent of and a way into inter-faith dialogue. The effort to learn and understand will bring us into closer contact, while that contact will lead us to want to share our learning with others.
a. In our pluralist society it is important that people have an appreciation of the rich religious heritage of those who make up our community. People are pleased, for example, when their major religious festivals are acknowledged. These can provide the occasion for learning more about the faith concerned.
b. Sustained contact with people of other faiths can begin to break down false images with which many of us have grown up, and to which we are still often exposed. Efforts should be made to challenge such stereotypes wherever they may be encountered, including those in our own educational and liturgical material.
c. Among the places on which such educational efforts can be focused are: schools, universities, and other institutions for adult education, seminaries and church schools.
d. Inaccurate media coverage of minority religious groups can be detrimental. Positive relations should be developed with the media so that their potential for increasing public awareness about people of different faiths can be fully utilized.
e. Efforts should also be made to sensitize travelers to the religious traditions of the countries they visit, and to encourage them to share their experiences on their return.
f. Representatives of other faith groups should be consulted, and where possible involved, in the preparation of educational material that touches on their history, beliefs and practices.
3. Share spiritual insights and approaches
There is much that religious peoples can share of their spiritual insights in an atmosphere of learning and openness. However, people of other traditions are no more anxious than we are to engage in acts of worship which blur very real differences of theology or world-view. Neither do they relish the appropriation by others of their religious symbols or sacred texts. However, there is much that religious people can share of their spiritual insights in an atmosphere of learning and openness.
a. Attendance at another community's acts of worship should always be accompanied by careful preparation and an opportunity to ask questions afterward, preferably answered by members of that tradition.
b. Christians who are present during the worship of another faith community may be unable to participate fully in everything that is said and done, but they should attend with the attitude that the event is an important part of the spiritual life of the participants.
c. Prayer for people of other religious traditions is valuable, especially during times of particular need or when it is for better relationships with them. Some Christians feel that they should pray for the conversion of others to Christ, while other would argue that this should not be done. In any event it is God who converts people. Christians themselves are far from fully understanding or obeying God's will. It is inappropriate to single out any one religious group as being in particular need of conversion in a way that fosters prejudice against them.
Because the encounter with each group is distinctive there can be no one set of guidelines which will cover all situations. Until our encounters reach the point of allowing each party to express freely its sense of spiritual reality, the meeting is more likely to be curious than serious. The simplest instruction may well be that of St. Augustine, based on Jesus' twofold commandment, which is to love God and do what you will. Love, in the sense of mutuality, means that as we would share what is most precious to us, the gift in Christ Jesus, so we must invite others to share their treasures with us.
That this Council of General Synod receive the statement on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide with its supporting documentation and commend the statement to General Synod for adoption as a policy statement of the Anglican Church of Canada.
That the words after "documentation" on the second line be deleted and replaced with the following:
"for distribution as a study paper throughout the Anglican Church of Canada; responses to be gathered by the FWM Committee and reported to COGS by March 1999." CARRIED
The motion as amended now reads:
That this Council of General Synod receive the statement on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide with its supporting documentation for distribution as a study paper throughout the Anglican Church of Canada; responses to be gathered by the FWM Committee and reported to COGS by March 1999.
CARRIED as amended #09-03-98
A second resolution commending the supporting documentation to General Synod was withdrawn.
That the Council of General Synod adjourn and reconvene as the Board of Management of the Missionary Society of the Church in Canada. CARRIED #21-03-99
The report was presented by Archdeacon Jim Boyles.
Support for Survivors of Residential Schools
Moved by: Archdeacon J. Boyles
Seconded by: Dr. E. Johnson
That the Board of Management of the MSCC authorize up to $200,000 from the MSCC General Reserve to support alternative pilot programs for survivors of residential schools, and
that the General Secretary and the Director of Partnerships, in consultation with representatives from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, the relevant dioceses and legal counsel be authorized to negotiate participation in up to two such projects. CARRIED
Adjournment of MSCC
Seconded by: Mr. J. Cullen
That the Board of Management of the Missionary Society of the Church in Canada adjourn and reconvene as the Council of General Synod. CARRIED