Anglican clergy encounter the real world

For years I’ve been convinced than Anglican clergy live in a theological bubble, drifting aimlessly on an ocean of meaningless letters generally preceded by LGBT. Now, it seems Anglican deacons are awakening from their stupor and, much as Plato’s cave dwellers, wish to see what lies beyond the rainbow shadows that have hitherto been their only encounter with the cosmos and venture into the Real World.

To this end, they have sought inspiration not, as one might have hoped from the Bible, but from Elizabeth May and Leonard Cohen, the first of whom sees everything through a green mist and the second a sexual haze.

From Leonard they learned that “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” and from Elizabeth that “If you don’t have informed practice, you’re just flapping your arms in the wind”, rather like one of her beloved windmills.

After that blaze of illumination, who needs the Bible?

From here:

Hosted by the Chapter of Deacons of the Diocese of British Columbia, the conference brought together more than 70 deacons from almost every diocese in Canada, as well as representatives from U.S.-based The Episcopal Church, to talk about poverty, homelessness and reconciliation.

The conference kicked off July 27, in the evening, with an address by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Reflecting on a famous line from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” (“There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in”), May challenged the deacons to engage with the tension between the perfection of God’s creation and the pain and brokenness of the world.

[….]

Sharing from her own experience with tent city, she noted that good intentions are often not enough to make real and lasting changes in people’s lives, and that “lovely acts of kindness that don’t change anything” aren’t enough if they aren’t coupled with a wider analysis of the structural barriers marginalized people face.

“If you don’t have informed practice, you’re just flapping your arms in the wind,” she said.

Fingering in the Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada seems to be on the way to making decisions by consensus rather than voting. To this end, delegates are holding up fingers – from five to zero – to register their level of agreement with a motion.

Extreme disagreement would be indicated by a single middle finger.

Since “consensus” means a “judgment arrived at by most of those concerned”, and is something generally determined by voting, I can’t help suspecting that this new piece of Anglican fudge is an attempt to sow just the right amount of diverse and inclusive confusion to keep the remaining conservatives studiously fiddling with their fingers while the latest piece of nonsensical sexual legislation slithers passed them into the church canons.

From here:

Discussed and practiced, for some votes, decision-making by consensus. Instead of simply voting for or against a motion, members showed their level of support for it using their fingers, with five fingers meaning strong support, for example, and no fingers indicating a need to discuss the matter in more detail. In a discussion on consensus decision-making, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he hoped CoGS in this triennium would move beyond a “yearning” for alternatives (such as consensus) to the more traditional parliamentary form of decision-making.

Bishops learning how to sue people

Three bishops from Toronto have travelled to Richmond Virginia to learn how to be better bishops from TEC. It all looks quite tedious. One thing did catch my eye, though: the TEC counsel for property litigation held a session on clergy discipline. Presumably the Canadian bishops will return with a renewed zest for suing people.

Another lesson was on “Building Community”. Don’t laugh.

From here:

Bishops listen June 14 as Mary Kostel, special counsel to the presiding bishop for property litigation and discipline, explains the Episcopal Church’s clergy discipline canon, known as Title IV. The session was part of Living our Vows, the College for Bishops’ three-year formation program for new bishops.

The Anglican Pravda

For years it’s been a standing joke that the Anglican Journal is the Anglican Church of Canada’s Pravda because it has such a strong bias towards theological liberalism and the political left. Just like the organisation it is there to report on.

At the same time, the Journal claims to be editorially independent, a requirement if it is to continue to receive a yearly grant of $409,866 from Heritage Canada, otherwise known as Canadian taxpayers.

Now, it seems the claimed editorially independence is under review by the Council of General Synod, prompting a CoGS member to finally catch on to what the rest of us have known for some time: the Anglican Journal is in danger of becoming – I would make that has become – The Anglican Pravda.

From here (emphasis mine):

A request by the diocese of Rupert’s Land to no longer have a print version of the Anglican Journal distributed in the diocese has led to the raising of questions about whether the newspaper should be produced in print form at all and whether it should continue to be free to determine its own content, Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Saturday, June 24.

[…..]

In a question-and-answer session after Egan’s presentation, the issue of the Journal’s editorial independence prompted, instead of a question, a strong statement from one CoGS member. Jason Antonio, from the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land, who also introduced himself as managing editor of the diocesan newspaper The Saskatchewan Anglican, condemned what he termed the report’s “attack” on the Anglican Journal’s editorial independence.

“It’s a leap in logic for me to think that because Rupert’s Land News shut down we have to question the editorial independence of the newspaper,” he said. “The Anglican Church of Canada does not need another mouthpiece…To attack the Anglican Journal, then, and take it over is an authoritarian move. We might as well just rename it Pravda,” said Antonio, alluding to the former news organ of the Soviet Union’s communist party.

Marriage canon CoGS still turning

The Council of General Synod met recently to discuss, among other things, the change to the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. The Indigenous representative seems less than happy with the fact that the report “This Holy Estate” has not been translated into Indigenous languages. Moreover, some dioceses are already marrying same sex couples ahead of the 2019 vote to approve them – if they can find any willing specimens, that is.

What the Indigenous member should realise is that, since same-sex marriages are already occurring, the report is irrelevant: it is a fait accompli, no report, listening process, vote, conversation or discussion – respectful or otherwise – is going to make a blind bit of difference. Anglican conservatives have, as usual, been conned and outmaneuvered. Business as usual at CoGS.

During the discussion, one Indigenous CoGS member asked why some dioceses were already marrying same-sex couples, which her people did not understand given that the church was currently debating passing an amendment to the marriage canon to change the rules.

Canada Revenue being asked to investigate Anglican parish

It’s taken years, but the Anglican Church of Canada has been rumbled: someone has finally noticed it is running a business not a religion.

From the CBC:

The Anglican Parish of Shediac declared $5 million in assets in 2015, as well as $350,000 in annual income from the rental of land or real estate. (CBC)

The Canada Revenue Agency is being asked to investigate whether the Anglican Parish of Shediac is complying with the laws of a charitable organization.

A complaint was filed Monday by a group of concerned residents who have taken issue with the church’s involvement in a proposed mega-campsite project in Pointe-du-Chêne.

The parish owns the land where the campground big enough for 600 to 700 trailers — the largest in the Maritimes — is set to be built, and it would lease the land to a group of investors that included Health Minister Victor Boudreau before he gave up his stake in the project after months of controversy.

But some Pointe-du-Chêne residents, including Arthur Melanson, grew worried when the church recently became the campsite’s proponent.

According to federal tax law, a charity is forbidden from running a business, unless it is directly linked to its mission.

Anglicans among the ruins

The Anglican Church of Canada can’t afford to maintain its buildings: they are crumbling around the clergy and bishops are collecting plaster dust in their rainbow mitres.

Ottawa’s cathedral has buttress woes:

One of the most critical areas are buttresses located on the west wall of the cloister garden, also known as the Garth, where mortar is crumbling and cracks are appearing.

“Not far in the future, the gaps and cracking could cause individual stones to fall, leading to the collapse of the walls,” says Blair Seaborn, who is chair of Restoration 120, a fundraising campaign to raise $120,000 for repairs.

“We’ve been told over and over by engineers that they’re not decorative,” said Seaborn. “The buttresses are rather critical in holding up the roof and walls.”

Even though Huron’s St. Paul’s cathedral is raising money by inviting the Pride Men’s Chorus to sing, it still can’t seem to find the cash to fix the roof and the rot in the cathedral trusses is exceeded only by the rot in the diocesan theology.

Owen Sound is closing churches,  Niagara is closing churches, or “celebrating mergers” to quote the preferred euphemism, as is Peterborough and Brantford, while the Diocese of Niagara continues to endear itself to the residents of Guelph by pressing ahead with the sale of St. Matthias in spite of vigorous opposition. The list goes on.

VOL has more here:

By any measurable standard, the Anglican Church of Canada is in serious decline with little hope that the numbers can or will be reversed in the foreseeable future.

In one diocese after another the third largest denomination in Canada is declining, its demise now almost certain as it focuses on a host of social justice issues to the neglect of evangelism, discipleship and church planting.

The Anglican Church of Canada which is squeamishly shy about publicizing how many people attend its churches, has published no complete statistics for membership and average Sunday attendance since 2001, although the ACoC did claim a membership of 545,957 in 2007.

Today, by all measurable standards the average Sunday attendance in the Anglican Church of Canada is around 320,000. If this is correct, in 40 years the average attendance will be 19,200 or less. As there is no wave of Millennials aching to fill Anglican pews this figure is probably exaggerated.

Ironically, the vitriolic battles that the Anglican Church of Canada launched against ANiC churches in 2008 was over the ownership of buildings. The ACoC won the battle in 2008 only to lose it in 2017: it doesn’t have the income for the upkeep of the buildings it claimed were so essential to its ministry.

When will the Anglican Church stop discriminating against the transracial community?

According to this woman, the “idea of race is a lie”. As usual, the Anglican Church of Canada is behind the times and is still dithering about installing transgender toilets; the latest, and undoubtedly the most serious issue to assail the tattered remains of Western Civilisation is transracialism. When will those sluggards in the ACoC catch up?

In all seriousness, this is good news for most of us, since we can all self-identify as Aboriginal and claim compensation from the ACoC for decades of residential school abuse.

Rachel Dolezal – the white US woman who said she was black – says “the idea of race is a lie”.

Speaking in an interview with Emily Maitlis, she argued that the concept of “transracial” – similar to that of transgender – is useful in describing people such as herself.

Rachel Dolezal has just written a book about her experience, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.

Anglican Church of Canada: nothing good about Residential Schools

Read it all here:

Dear Senator Beyak:

Not only in the Red Chamber on Parliament Hill, but across the country, many people – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – were dismayed by your remarks. You said “I was disappointed in the TRC’s Report and that it didn’t focus on the good,” associated with Residential Schools. Had you, Senator, made these remarks within a discussion of the TRC’s Report, your comments might have been less shocking.

Senator Beyak, you are quite right in saying that for a small minority of survivors, their personal experiences of Residential School were “good”.  But in much greater numbers, the personal experiences of children who were housed in those schools were “bad” – very bad in fact. One only needs to have attended a local, regional or national event hosted by Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission to know this. The Commissioners listened to the personal stories of thousands of students – of survivors – all of which bore witness to the horrific experience they had.

There are hundreds of students who went to Residential Schools administered by the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). They have told their stories at our church’s National Native Convocation and at Sacred Circle Gatherings. We have been rendered speechless by what we heard. We have hung our heads in shame and raised them with remorse over the pain our church inflicted upon those children.

There was nothing good about a federal government policy of forcibly removing children “from their evil surroundings”, housing them in schools with the intent of “killing the Indian in the child…and turning them into a civilized adult”. It was an attempt at cultural genocide, an attempt whose failure bears witness to the courage and resilience of those children and their communities. As elder Barney Williams of the Survivors’ Society has so often said, “We were all brave children.”

There was nothing good about practices of taking away children, removing their traditional dress, cutting their hair, taking away their name, confiscating their personal effects and giving them a number.

The letter from Fred Hiltz, Mark MacDonald and Michael Thompson continues in the same vein with more fervent breast-beating.

While it seems beyond dispute that there was abuse in the residential schools, what really seems to be bothering the authors of this letter is the underlying assumption of the day that the Christian, Western world view held by the government, teachers and missionaries involved in the schools was superior to that of the aboriginals. That was the real evil at work, that is what was at the root of the abuse.

The church has since seen the light and now holds the opposite opinion: Western traditions, Christendom, perhaps even Christianity itself, are inferior to just about any other culture so long as the culture is not grounded in Judeo-Christian beliefs.

For another perspective, this is worth a look:

On June 11, 2008, Stephen Harper issued an apology for the residential school system in Canada. He called it a “sad chapter in our history,” noting that its primary objectives “were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture … the government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. Nous le regrettons. We are sorry. Nimitataynan. Niminchinowesamin. Mamiattugut.”

The National Post has carried many stories about these schools before and since that apology. And every time we do, it is interesting to see that most of the letters we receive argue that the schools have been unfairly portrayed in the media.

That phenomenon was on display again this week, following the publication of last Saturday’s story, “4,000 Children died in residential schools; Truth commission.” As that story detailed, “commission officials expect that number to rise as researchers access much more complete files from Library and Archives Canada and elsewhere.”

Letter writers commenting on that story this week complained that the article lacked important historical context.

“Nice work, National Post, as you continue to dump on the charitable work accomplished by generations of selfless missionaries, physicians, nurses and teachers of the Canadian North,” wrote C. Lutz, of Haliburton, Ont. “[This story] heavily spins out a ‘physical and sexual abuse’ [narrative] as if 150,000 Indian and Inuit children had gained nothing good from taxpayer-provided white education. At least some of them learned enough English and French to, fluently, play the system and bite the hand that had fed them.”

“By today’s standards, 4,000 deaths out of a total of 150,000 students is shocking,” wrote Russel Williams of Georgeville, Que. “But given the period covered, 1870 to 1996, it may compare quite favourably with Canada at large, or Canadian aboriginal communities specifically, for the same period. One must bear in mind that much of this period predates immunization for smallpox, whooping cough, and diphtheria. It also predates penicillin for treatment of TB. Given the above, perhaps the statistic is not as alarming as it first might seem.”

“It was undoubtedly a terrible thing to be taken from your family, but in the early days, the reserves were impoverished and 90% of First Nations people were infected with tuberculosis,” added Michelle Stirling. “It is hard to say if the students got tuberculosis at the residential schools. And until the 1950s, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death of all Canadians.

“I am aware that some people will feel that I am defending the known cases of abuse and cruelty — I do not defend these,” Ms. Stirling continued. “My own father was the victim of the same [abuse] at the hands of his own white Anglo-Saxon teachers at his British boarding school. He used to have his left hand beaten black and blue and tied behind his back because he was left-handed.”

We also heard from a non-native who attended the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in southern Alberta (the Blood/Kainai Reserve) for six years.

“When so many Canadians rely on publications like the National Post to stay informed on important issues, it is disappointing to see an article like that,” wrote Mark DeWolf of Halifax. “How does this figure compare to the number of First Nations children who died outside of the schools? Over 126 years and out of 150,000 students, the figure is perhaps not so surprising, given the deplorable health conditions on some reserves and high rates of communicable illness. More could and should have been done to ensure the health of these students, but let’s have responsible journalism, not emotional pandering to readers.”

Order your LGBT vestments here

I don’t normally put advertisements on my blog but, for this worthy cause, I thought I’d make an exception.

EquallyAnglican, a Facebook page dedicated to individuals who “are your LGBTQ friends and family in the Anglican Church of Canada”, is promoting an LGBT priest’s vestments business.

The question is, how would the business react to an order for a vestment embroidered with this message: “I support traditional marriage between one man and one woman”? Would the order be rejected resulting in howls of “discrimination” from the would-be purchaser? Would there be complaints to the Human Rights Commission? Lawsuits? Probably not.

Friends, we are thrilled to officially announce the arrival of #equallyAnglican vestments! Thanks to the amazing Catherine Comor at “Creative Spirit” for this absolutely stunning embroidered stole!

This design would make a perfect gift for the clergyperson in your life, and just in time for Pride month! 🌈 ⛪️