"When the House of Bishops met in Niagara Falls, Ont., from April 13 to 17 , they discussed some contentious issues, including possible amendments to the marriage canon and a call from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) for significant changes to church structures. But Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said there was, nevertheless, 'a spirit of hopefulness' at the gathering". "The bishops discussed the document, 'Where We Are Today: Twenty Years after the Covenant, an Indigenous Call to Church Leadership', in terms of what they thought needed more clarification, what they found encouraging and what they found challenging." "Hiltz observed that what underlies much of these discussions is the question, 'What is everybody's understanding of self-determination ?' This is a conversation that needs to continue, he said. People are not sure what self-determination will mean in terms of concrete changes, said Hiltz". "Bishops also endorsed the #22days campaign calling Anglicans to commit to working toward healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. ... Hiltz noted that Bishop Robert Hardwick of the diocese of Qu'Appelle shared plans to ring church bells for murdered and missing women and girls, and other bishops decided that could be done in all of their dioceses".
A short article, with photo of John Clark, one of the co-editors, announcing that the "official report of MISSIO, the Mission Commission of the world-wide Anglican Communion is now available from the Anglican Communion Office or your local bookshop". Includes brief synopsis of contents.
"Anglicans across Canada are being called to demonstrate -- in the 22 days following the closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- that this ending is only the beginning of healing and reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous people. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald have issued a call to the whole church today to participate in #22days, a campaign that will stretch from the start of the closing of TRC event in Ottawa on May 31  to National Aboriginal Day on June 21 . 22days was first conceived of by a group of cathedral deans from cities in which a national TRC event was held and was 'heartily endorsed' by the House of Bishops" (p. 10). "The General Synod communications team has created a web page -- 22days.ca -- that will offer resources, including 22 videos featuring former residential school students and staff describing their experiences in the schools. The videos are not the typical 30-second sound bytes people are used to viewing on television, they are about 15 to 20 minutes each, in order to tell the stories in a more whole and sensitive way, said Anglican Video senior producer Lisa Barry. One video will be added daily to the website during the 22-day period and each will be accompanied by a prayer, written by various people in the church" (p. 11).
"The Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod has requested bishops and deans to focus, for 22 days, from May 31 to June 21 , on renewing the church's commitment to support the work of the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation through prayers, participation in awareness-raising campaigns and donations. Early this year , Council of General Synod (CoGS) agreed to dedicate the undesignated proceeds of Giving with Grace, General Synod's annual fundraising campaign, to replenish the fund. For the next five years, the fund -- created in 1992 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement -- will focus on language recovery". General Secretary, Archdeacon Michael Thompson, "stressed that while the Anglican Church of Canada has met its legal obligations under the settlement agreement, 'we're far from finished with our spiritual and moral obligation to continue to support the healing work that is underway among those survivors and in those communities'."
December 01, 2009 - An interview with the Rev. Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother living with HIV in Kenya inspired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to entitle his World Aids Day Message A Space for Hope. Patricia says of her church "My congregation knows about my status and people in my church know that this is a place where, if they come with HIV, they can be loved." The Archbishop says "when the Church is doing its job, it is providing space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with the future."
On my trip to Burundi in February, I saw numerous examples of that kind of space. Let me cite just two. In the heart of the city of Bujumbura there is an HIV/AIDS clinic. Above the main entrance of the administration building is a sign stating that the building was renovated though a gift of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) of the Anglican Church of Canada. That gift inspired other churches in the city to make contributions to expand the services of this clinic which serves teens and young adults who have been orphaned through AIDS. Most of them live on the street and their life is very rough. The clinic is a haven where they can learn about HIV/AIDS, get tested and if necessary receive treatment and counseling. As the Archbishop says, they can "face themselves, be themselves, and cope with the future."
Up in the hills, "in the bush" as Burundians say, in the village of Bitare, I and Cheryl Curtis (Executive Director of PWRDF) and Maureen Bailey (Youth Council, PWRDF) were invited to assist local people in laying the foundation stone for a new HIV/AIDS clinic. It was very humbling to kneel down and share in that work as hundreds of people looked on and sang and prayed for God's blessing on this project. The building is now complete and providing services to hundreds of people in Bitare and a number of surrounding villages. Individuals and families are feeling support and care. Lives are being changed and hope is rising like the glory of a new day.
This coming Sunday, the second in Advent, I ask that throughout the Church, prayers of special intent for those living with HIV/AIDS be included in the Prayers of the People. Pray for their caregivers and for their doctors and nurses and clergy. Pray especially for the work of the Mother's Union in Africa and their deep and steadfast commitment to helping those who are living with AIDS and those who have been widowed and orphaned through AIDS, and those who are caring for their grandchildren. Pray for those engaged in education about healthy sexuality and the prevention of AIDS. And as we pray for the eradication of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, pray also for that "space" the Church is called to provide where people can be welcomed and free to face themselves and be themselves without fear of rejection; where through loving care and support they can cope with their future. This calling is after the very example of Our Lord who reached out and "touched" (Mark 1: 40-41) the sick with love and mercy.
I encourage one and all to pray, to support the continuing work with HIV/AIDS, and to stand with all those who are pressuring world leaders, in the words of one of the Millennium Development Goals, "to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases." I issue this call in the name of him whose Advent sets us free, whose love brings healing and hope to all.