Bishop Steven Charleston will lead discussions at the Winnipeg meeting, 7-10 October 2003, being held to look at the relationship between the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and the church. The Keewatin diocesan council had hoped for a larger gathering such as a Sacred Circle and asked that the October meeting be cancelled. The meeting will deal with the dispute between ACIP and church leaders following the March 2003 agreement with the federal government about residential schools.
Waterloo, Ontario, 5 July 2001 -- General Synod, the national body of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC), commenced its formal week-long proceedings today with a message of hope from a prominent U.S. theologian, who said the 2.2 million-member Protestant denomination, "far from teetering on the brink of ruin, is standing on the threshold of glory".
Bishop Steven Charleston, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge (Boston), Mass., opened the 36th triennial meeting of General Synod with a blunt reference to the challenges facing Canada's third-largest religious denomination as it continues to defend itself against nearly 1,200 lawsuits brought against the ACC national office resulting from the administration of 26 Residential Schools operated over several decades on behalf of Canada's Federal Government for Canadians of aboriginal origin. During the past three years, these lawsuits -- alleging physical and cultural abuse against schoolchildren by various officials, including Church employees -- have proliferated to such an extent that they now threaten to bankrupt both the ACC national office and more than one-quarter of the church's 30 regional diocesan governments.
While forced to address the potentially divisive disruptive impact of the "residential schools" problem, Canada's Anglicans are also using the 36th General Synod to make positive progress on a number of other developments of importance to the future of the church. Chief among these is the anticipated approval of an ecumenical partnership, full communion, with another smaller Protestant denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Voting on the Anglican-Lutheran "union" is expected to be passed by both denominational conventions, meeting at adjacent university campuses in Waterloo, on Friday July 6 .
"Anglicans in Canada serve as a shining model for churches throughout the world," Bishop Charleston told the nearly 500 Anglican delegates and visitors attending the official opening of General Synod, equivalent to the church's national parliament and policy-making body. "Canadian Anglicans are not turning away from their own past, but are courageous enough to face up to the unpleasant realities of past colonial wrongs. This church is behaving with both honesty and with dignity," the American Bishop said.
The message of solidarity was reinforced in the keynote opening address by Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of Canada and titular head of the Anglican Church.
"Never before have we contemplated a possibility such as the one we are now facing," Archbishop Peers told Synod delegates. "We have come to the moment in history in which we may be facing the winding up of General Synod."
"What is under threat nationally is the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, not the Anglican Church of Canada," Archbishop Peers emphasized. "It is the structures that are at risk, not the essence of our life. We are a community held together not by structures, but by relationship. Relationship endures and it will prosper," the Primate said. "We can dare to face the future with hope, with heart and confidence."
General Synod -- comprising equal representation by elected diocesan officials from clergy and lay members -- convenes every three years to review issues affecting all aspects of church life, including ethical and theological concerns, practical regulations governing policies and operational practices and operating and logistical details affecting financial and administrative procedures.
For further information and additional details on General Synod proceedings, please refer to the Anglican Church of Canada website at www.anglican.ca
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Archbishop Peers greeted the members of the ACIP and the House of Bishops, following his welcome with a prayer. He reminded those present that the day was theirs, and that it was not meant to be a media event. He welcomed Bishop Charleston once again.
Bishop Charleston spoke about the purpose of the day. He said that in a cross cultural discussion it was important to have two things: 1) a sense of personal humility and 2) a good sense of humour.
Ms. Donna Bomberry, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator and staff to the ACIP introduced the (ACIP) panel members. The bishops and the members of the ACIP introduced each other by giving their name and diocese.
Ms. Bomberry gave a brief history of how the ACIP had come to the point of meeting with the bishops. She spoke about the first Indigenous gathering which was held in 1988 and then the second which was held in 1993. The third gathering was held in 1997 and the fourth is scheduled for August 2000. Ms. Bomberry read the Covenant and then gave the floor to the panel. The members of the ACIP panel then shared with the House of Bishops, their experiences as Anglicans as well as what the Covenant meant to them. The panel consisted of the Rev. Mervin Wolfleg, Diocese of Calgary; Ms. Vi Smith, Diocese of Caledonia; the Rev. Iola Metuq, Diocese of Arctic and Ms. Shirley Johnson, Diocese of Huron.
The joint session broke into discussion groups throughout the day. The session ended with a Communion service held as a circle in the meeting room.
The next day the Primate read a letter of thanks written by Mrs. Smith on behalf of the ACIP to the bishops for the day spent together.
"That this House of Bishops express its deep appreciation to the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples" CARRIED Res. #HB-05-10-99
The Thirty-Sixth Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada convened in St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Waterloo, Ontario, at 7:30 P.M. On behalf of the Credentials Committee, Chancellor Ronald Stevenson, reported that a sufficient number of each Order was present to constitute the Synod: Order of Bishops - 32, Order of Clergy - 106, Order of Laity - 133. The President of the Synod, Archbishop Michael Peers, declared that the Thirty-Sixth Session of the General Synod was duly constituted. Act 1
The Holy Eucharist was celebrated with the Primate presiding. Bishop Steven Charleston, Principal and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the preacher.
"On 1 October 1999, Bishop Steven Charleston, President and Dean of Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts published `The Cambridge Accord'. The Accord [full text on page 8] is intended as an international response to increased violence against homosexual persons around the world." "In creating the Cambridge Accord, Bishop Charleston hopes to find common ground for Anglicans to stand together to prevent acts of violence against homosexual persons, especially when these acts are vindicated on a biblical basis. `After Lambeth,' he says `I am also acutely aware of the uniquely Anglican need to make such a public statement. The African nations that are currently in the spotlight are all strong areas for our Communion. Their bishops need our support in resisting this kind of misuse of the Christian faith'."
Out of the world-wide encounter of Anglican women in Brazil, may come a formal international organization through which women hope to reform the church. Among the delegates were 83 Canadians from 24 dioceses.