Although the Council of General Synod approved the pending appointment of an indigenous national bishop, the question of finances and relationships with the rest of the church are still to be discussed.
"The title of this piece might suggest an essay about something that happened centuries ago. In fact, I want to describe something that is taking place now. Though it may seem absurd or amazing or both, it appears, at least from the perspective of the mainline church institutions that the Gospel is just now about to find its first real home in North America." "The influential Doctrine of Discovery, providing the basis for colonial expansion for over 500 years, presumes that civilization is not present if the institutions of western culture are not available. A land that is discovered without western institutions is considered "terra nullius", an uninhabited land, even if peoples and cultures are present". "Theologically, the Doctrine of Discovery has been the handmaid to the idolatrous assumption that God's presence has been confined to western civilization -- an idea that has all but destroyed the capacity of the major denominations to grow in indigenous communities". "Though colonialism limits the capacity of Westerners to see it, God's word has always had a vital and prophetic presence among the Peoples of the Land. In their diverse cultures and histories, we see constant suggestions of that presence, before, during, and after the arrival of the missionaries." "At the Sacred Circle of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples held in Pinawa, Man. [in August 2005], the first steps towards a church of the People of the Land of this Turtle Island (a number of tribes use this term to describe the Americas) were made. It is in this sense that I can say that we may be witnessing the birth of the first indigenous Anglican Church in North America -- a church that would hold that this land is sacred." "There is with these developments, a renewal of appreciation for the God-given authority that has always existed among the aboriginal nations. This authority, sometimes called sovereignty, is a direct repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery." "Aboriginal life -- true tribal life -- is ... a call to relational and interdependent identity with humanity and all of creation. This is a vision that is desperately needed by the peoples of our world". Bishop Macdonald outlines seven marks of a truly indigenous North America Church: "1. A robust awareness that God has, is, and will be present among the People of the Land. 2. A recognition that God has acted definitively in the survival of the Peoples of the Land .... 3. ... a related denunciation of the Doctrine of Discovery and an end to measuring aboriginal church development by Western models. 4. ... The churches of the West must do more than affirm the authority and validity of the First Nations as it relates to other Nations and States. They must recognize it among themselves. 5. The Spirit of God has and will develop leaders among the People of the Land. 6. The Land is sacred and a gift from God. We must recognize sacred place, history, and ecology. .... 7. The spiritual and moral authority of the aboriginal nations of the Americas, especially as they relate to their own, must shape the decision-making and the actual shape of these factors. This discernment must be both tribal and consensual, not imposed from above". "A Church for Turtle Island would call the whole Church to transformation. .... Once again, we would see that, perhaps more than anything else, the Gospel thrives on translation. Nothing is lost in translation; a new world is gained".
Author is Episcopal Bishop of Alaska and pastoral Bishop of Navajoland.
This article also published in June 2006 issue (vol. 4, no. 1) of "First Peoples Theology Journal", pp. 95-101.
1. support the Primate’s appointment of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, on the recommendation of ACIP, with the understanding that:
i) financial arrangements are being reviewed by the Financial Management and Development Committee
ii) that this Bishop will be responsible to the Primate
iii) that the timing of the appointment will rest with the Primate; and
iv) that the Primate will determine, in consultation with the House of Bishops and the dioceses, the relationship of this bishop with the provinces and dioceses of the church.
2. ask the Planning and Agenda Committee to recommend, in consultation with ACIP, resolutions for the Council to place on the agenda of General Synod 2007 confirming this appointment and embodying this position within the Constitution and Canons of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. CARRIED #38-05-06
Editorial. No matter what difficulties confront him, Bishop MacDonald is a shining symbol of hope. His appointment is a sign that the Canadian Anglican Church cares about native concerns, takes them seriously and wants to proclaim that nationally and internationally.
Archbishop Andrew Hutchison has agreed to appoint the initial candidate whose name is proposed by ACIP [Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples] as the first national native bishop. He sees the role as a pastoral appointment, not a bishop with jurisdiction - the same as the primate.