Photo Credit: Bruce Hanohano / Diocese of Hawaii
A gathering of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) in Hawaii has led to a call for a greater voice for indigenous Anglicans in the work of the Anglican Consultative Council and its partner organisations.
Representatives from 10 Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa (Maori dioceses in New Zealand) joined with Anglicans from Australia, the US and Canada for a week-long programme at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Kaimuki, which was chaired by Bishop of Tai Tokerau Te Kitohi Pikaahu.
The AIN challenge to the Communion came at the conclusion of the week where each indigenous delegation had shared stories of struggle and hope in their ministries with indigenous communities, gathered around their shared experience of colonisation.
A Communiqué from the Network stated: “compelled by the Gospel’s power of love, renewal, peace, reconciliation, and restoration we support one another within our common challenge as minority peoples faced with the unique daily realities of the ongoing impact of colonialism . . . in the Church we love and in the world we are called to steward.”
During the week delegates reported how Anglican indigenous peoples continue to live and minister in the context of damage to communities resulting from past and present colonisation and its ongoing effects. A recurring theme was the need to enable indigenous communities to direct indigenous development, so that communities can foster their families’ wellbeing through indigenous cultural modes, including in education, justice and health.
The AIN challenge to the wider Anglican Communion for a greater voice for indigenous Anglicans called for continuing contact between the Anglican Communion Office, particularly through attendance at AIN meetings.
The Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jack Palmer-White, attended the gathering. He said: “It was a great privilege to be invited to join the Anglican Indigenous Network, as its Anglican Communion Office link director. It was an illuminating and educational experience and an opportunity to better understand the challenges and opportunities distinctive to Indigenous Anglican communities. There are many areas in which the wisdom and experience of indigenous communities can help all in the Communion to think afresh about how we live out the mission of the church in all its fullness.”
During the programme the network identified the priorities for indigenous Anglican ministry and advocacy which included:
- responding to climate emergencies (particularly sea level rise in Torres Strait Islands and Arctic permafrost melt)
- recognising and healing intergenerational trauma (particularly in light of abuse of indigenous children in state schools and state care)
- protecting indigenous rights and interests (notably of sacred lands and waters) and
- developing indigenous theological education (appropriate to the specific needs and values of indigenous Anglicans and their communities)
In an extensive communique on the state of indigenous communities and Anglican ministry amongst them, the AIN called on the Anglican Communion to support indigenous Anglicans as they work to care for their people and advocate to ensure the survival and thriving of indigenous communities and their cultural identities. It called on the Communion to implement the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; fund theological education; support care and training for indigenous clergy and laity, and take genuine steps to address the climate emergency being faced by low lying island and coastal communities, not just in Australia, but throughout the world.
The full Anglican Indigenous Network 2019 Communique (edited by AIN secretary Paul Reynolds) covers the issues in detail from the Biennial Anglican Indigenous Network meeting in Hawaii this year.
The next Anglican Indigenous Network meeting will be held in the Torres Strait Islands in 2021, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of the “Coming of the Light” in the Torres Straits Islands.