General Synod staff and ACIP members welcome the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor as the new indigenous ministries coordinator. Photo: Marites N. Sison
“Do you, in the presence of this congregation, commit yourself to the dreams of the youth?”
“I sure do!” replied the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, grinning widely. This was but one of the commitments Doctor pledged when indigenous Anglicans and staff at General Synod gathered at a eucharist April 26 to mark the beginning of her ministry as coordinator of indigenous ministries.
Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, along with members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP), led the commitment ceremony.
A Mohawk from the Six Nations and a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., ACIP announced Doctor’s appointment last November. Before coming to Toronto, Doctor spent 18 years working for the Episcopal diocese of Alaska.
National Anglican Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald said Doctor’s appointment was “a great day for indigenous ministry.” He noted Doctor’s strength in the “ministry of teaching, healing and reconciliation.” Doctor not only believes that “the gospel is the agent of change in the life of the church…she insists upon it,” he added.
At the reception that followed, Doctor said she was so excited about her new work that she “could dance for joy.” She was particularly happy to be working again with Bishop MacDonald, whom she first met when he was bishop of Alaska in the 1990s.
In an earlier interview with the Anglican Journal, Doctor identified seeking justice for indigenous people and developing “healthy, effective native leaders” as her biggest passions.
Prior to becoming the first appointed Mohawk missionary in the Episcopal Church in the U.S. in 1993, Doctor worked as executive director of the urban Indian center, which provided services for impoverished natives living in Syracuse. Her encounter with second-generation clients made her realize that “we would continue to operate a revolving door until we could improve and/or restore the spiritual lives of our people.”
Her ministry in Alaska has involved training programs that “help people heal from historical trauma,” said Doctor. She hopes to do the same in Canada. “A lot has been done, but I feel there’s more to be done…I really hope to be able to help with that.”
Music is another important component of Doctor’s ministry and she demonstrated that at the eucharist, where she played a handheld drum as hymns were sung.
Also present were the Rev. Norm Casey, co-chair of ACIP, and Canon Laverne Jacobs, former native ministries coordinator for General Synod.