The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Linda Nicholls, provides some background to her Province ahead of this Sunday (9 February 2020), when Anglicans around the world will be praying for the Anglican Church of Canada as part of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer.
The Anglican Church of Canada is shaped deeply by its geography and its history. With almost 10 million square kilometers of land and vastly different geographic regions our 30 dioceses wrestle with dense, urban populations in some major cities along the southern border, small cities and vast rural and wilderness areas of small or isolated communities in the remainder. Our major cities and smaller towns contain multicultural and ethnic communities from around the globe requiring new forms of ministry and outreach. Our rural areas struggle with demographic decline in some areas and isolated communities lack adequate pastoral leadership.
A key element of our history and current life in Canada is our relationship with the indigenous peoples. Colonial settlement of Canada ignored the rich and varied life of indigenous nations across Canada, claiming to have “discovered” the country and then set out to populate and control it. Indigenous peoples were wiped out by disease, sometimes deliberately, and treaties made were not kept. The system of residential schools for educating children in denominational schools away from their communities, denying them their language and culture, has left a devastating legacy of suffering including cases of physical and sexual abuse.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission has heard the stories of this pain and the work of healing will be long, arduous journey for the nation and the Church. The Anglican Church of Canada operated some of these residential schools. We began our journey of apology and reconciliation in 1993 and that work continues. Education of our congregations about our history and seeking a new relationship with indigenous Anglicans will be essential, including a focus on dismantling racism and decolonization for all. Steps have begun towards a self-governing Indigenous Anglican Church within the Anglican Church of Canada under the leadership of Archbishop Mark Macdonald.
The Church has experienced an extended period of decline in participation over the past thirty years. Canada is a highly secularised country in which the place of the church, has become irrelevant for many. We need to vigorously engage the first two Marks of Mission – evangelism and discipleship – with renewed commitment in the coming years.
We share our journey in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada seeking to deepen that relationship. We currently share joint meetings of bishops, staff and councils as well as Synods. In addition, we have longstanding dialogues with others including the Roman Catholic Church, United Church of Canada and more recently the Mennonite Church in Canada. Interfaith conversations continue with the Jewish and Muslim communities, especially in areas of the common good in Canada.
The global issues of climate change, refugees and human trafficking are in our midst. The far north of Canada is seeing rapid changes in climate that are affecting the ability of communities to live as wildlife migration patterns change and ice and snow patterns are no longer predictable so hunting and fishing are also unpredictable. Many of our churches share in refugee sponsorship, helping refugees resettle in Canada and enriching our life as a country. Canada is both a sending and receiving country for human trafficking through migrant workers, sex trafficking and the tragedy of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. We work with partners, both church and state, to address these issues and advocate for justice.
We ask your prayers for:
- Renewed discipleship that will share the gospel with joy
- Healing for indigenous communities and reconciliation as a church
- Courage for all God is calling us to do and be
With gratitude for our partnership in the gospel across the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada