[Anglican Journal, by Tali Folkins] The changes to church law needed to create a self-determining spiritual community for indigenous Canadian Anglicans could conceivably be made as early as 2019, says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“By the time we get to General Synod 2019, I’m hopeful that there are some changes proposed for Canon XXII, or there’s some constitutional work that needs to be done to recognise the entity which will be the truly indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada,” Hiltz said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “I can’t say it is, or it will [happen]. But I think it’s well within the range of possibility.”
Canon XXII, approved by General Synod in 2010, provides official recognition of “the structures through which the National Indigenous Ministry may be a self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada.”
In a presentation to Council of General Synod (CoGS) last June, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald said that one hurdle to be cleared for the creation of an indigenous church would be for General Synod to legislate Sacred Circle, the large decision-making body for indigenous Anglicans, as a self-determining body capable of setting its own rules.
Hiltz said he sensed a growing momentum for the establishment of an indigenous Anglican church both among indigenous and non-indigenous people at a national consultation session on indigenous Anglican self-determination held in Pinawa, Manitoba, last weekend.
Hiltz added, however, that an important part of the process was that it was “not being driven by a timeline.”
For his part, MacDonald said it’s still too early to be able to predict when an indigenous church will be formally established. But he said he and other indigenous participants were very pleased with the meeting’s outcome, which he saw as a commitment on the part of the church “to receive the self-determination of indigenous people in the Anglican Church of Canada” – something he said hadn’t been explicitly affirmed since the 1994 Covenant.
In 1994, Canadian indigenous Anglican leaders made a covenant to work toward a self-determining indigenous church. General Synod’s eventual ratification of the covenant led to the creation of structures such as the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Sacred Circle and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), which guides indigenous ministry in the church.
A statement drafted by Hiltz and released September 17 reaffirms the idea of a self-determining indigenous church, but does not mention timelines.
“With eyes wide open we are looking to the future with great hope and we hereby renew our commitment to The Covenant of 1994 and the vision of a truly indigenous Anglican Church,” it reads. “We commit ourselves to all the work necessary to bring this vision to its full flowering.”
The statement, which concludes with a pledge of “solidarity with indigenous peoples in their quest for self-determination,” was also signed by participants on the final day of the consultation.
- Read the fuller in-depth report on the Anglican Journal website.