Ninth Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle, 6 – 11 August 2018
At the opening Eucharist, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recalled a significant anniversary. On that very day 25 years earlier, Vi Smith, “a great Indigenous woman who was a faithful follower of Jesus”, stood up at the closing Eucharist of the National Native Convocation and accepted the apology of then-Primate Michael Peers for the church’s role in administering the residential school system.
Invoking the gospel and his predecessor’s words from the apology, “more than I can say”, Archbishop Hiltz suggested a new phrase underscoring the continuing relevance of Archbishop Peers’ apology in 2018: “more than ever”.
“More than ever,” the Primate said, “let us persevere in showing that the church’s apology remains a living text. […] Let us be unwavering in our resolve to spot and stomp racism in the church, and in this country […] to strive for right relationships among the children of God from all four directions […] More than ever, let us remain committed to paths of healing and reconciliation upon which the apology set our feet.”
The Primate urged Anglicans to be determined in their efforts to educate the church about the lingering impact of the Doctrine of Discovery, to honour the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to make good on our church’s public pledge to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He gave thanks and prayed for continued support to the Anglican Healing Fund. He asked members of the church to turn their hearts and minds to the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and to rid Canada of the crime of human trafficking.
Yet even as the Primate drew attention to these issues, he grounded them and the larger journey towards Indigenous self-determination in that day’s Bible readings, making clear their inseparability from the life and teachings of Jesus. “More than ever, may we be as those of whom [Jesus] says, ‘Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are the ones who show mercy, and blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst after right relationships with God and one another. […] More than ever, let us be obedient to the call of the father, ‘This is my beloved son, listen to him.’”
Abridged from Matt Gardner’s report of Day 1 of the Ninth Indigenous Anglican Sacred Circle, Prince George, 6 August 2018. (To be found on www.anglican.ca)