The Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP) has established a search committee to find a successor to former national Indigenous archbishop Mark MacDonald after his resignation due to sexual misconduct.
The search committee has not met to begin the search, Interim National Indigenous Bishop Sidney Black said May 26. It will set out the process for filling the vacancy at its first meeting, which Black said he hoped would take place soon.
“I would like to see the position filled sooner [rather] than later … and then for that person to begin to get their feet wet and just have a good sense of what will be brought forward to Sacred Circle,” he said.
When MacDonald was appointed, the position was open only to bishops, and it’s possible the selection committee will continue this policy, Black said. But if the selection committee decides by consensus to include ordained priests as candidates, then a process for an episcopal election consented to by ACIP and Sacred Circle would have to be formulated.
It’s expected that once a candidate is chosen, that person will then be appointed national Indigenous archbishop by the primate, he said.
Black confirmed that the next in-person Sacred Circle will take place from May 28 to June 2, 2023 at the Fern Resort in Ramara, Ont.
Along with finding a successor for MacDonald, urgent priorities include filling the positions vacated by late Indigenous Ministries coordinator Canon Ginny Doctor, who died in 2021; and program associate Teresa Mandricks, who will be retiring from the Secretariat of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop at this end of the year.
The role of Indigenous Ministries coordinator is “a vital part of our Indigenous ministries,” Black said.
“When you consider the length and the breadth [of where] Indigenous folks live, organizing events does take time and careful consideration—plus the administrative work at Church House,” he said. “So that position needs to be filled in my estimation as soon as possible.”
ACIP also hopes to hire a new program associate soon, Black added. Mandricks “has been such a big part of Indigenous ministries as an administrative assistant… She’s like the library of all the events that have happened within Indigenous Ministries,” Black said. “So she has a good sense of the history and how the office of the national Indigenous Anglican bishop functions.”
The agenda for the next Sacred Circle gathering is likely to include presenting the Covenant and Our Way of Life documents. The Sacred Circle planning committee will discuss how the material will be presented as well as other agenda items at its first meeting, which at the time this article was written had yet to be scheduled.
The planning team intends beforehand to visit the facility to check aspects such as accessibility and audio-visual equipment. ACIP will meet in mid-June to continue the planning process, Black said.
“We might think, ‘Oh, we’re a year away,’ but time comes up on us quickly and the council wants to get that planning in place,” Black said. “So that certainly is a priority on ACIP’s agenda.”
Sacred Circle had originally planned an in-person gathering for 2022. However, ACIP decided at a Zoom meeting last fall to postpone the event until next year, citing COVID restrictions and protocols. Council members “did not want to travel because of the COVID pandemic,” Black said.