TWENTY-FIVE years after it was first mooted, steps towards enabling self-governance for indigenous members of the Anglican Church of Canada have been approved.
In a near-unanimous vote last month, members of the Church’s General Synod also agreed to give the title “Archbishop” to the Bishop for Indigenous Peoples in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt Revd Mark MacDonald.
The resolution will allow the National Indigenous Ministry to make various changesto n the composition of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Sacred Circles — the national gatherings of indigenous Anglicans for prayer, worship, discernment, and decision-making — without needing the approval of the General Synod.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, was “overcome with emotion” before presenting Archbishop MacDonald with the metropolitan cross at his installation after the vote, the Anglican Journal reported.
An eagle feather hangs from the cross, a reminder of the text from Isaiah: “Those who wait for the Lord renew their strength; they mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
“People often misinterpret what we’re doing as an attempt at independence, away from the Church,” Archbishop MacDonald said. “We really wish to become an indigenous expression of the Church, and we are only asking for the freedom and dignity that other Anglicans already enjoy.”
Discussion about self-determination has been traced back 25 years, to shortly after an apology for residential schools (Features, 15 September 2015) was issued by the then Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt Revd Michael Peers.
The Indigenous Ministries Co-ordinator, Canon Ginny Doctor, said, however, that the issue went beyond this timeframe: “My people have long been oppressed, they’ve long had to deal with different kinds of things being taken away from them, but they never gave up. And I’m here, as an example of the resiliency that my people have.”
Archbishop MacDonald said that the structure of the Indigenous Church would be “fluid”, and would “not exactly follow the model of an ecclesiastical province”, the Journal reported.
New Primate. Archbishop Hiltz’s successor as Primate, after his retirement last month, is Dr Linda Nicholls. She was elected by the General Synod, having been Bishop of Huron since 2016. She is the second female Primate in the Anglican Communion.