This article has been updated from an earlier version.
The Anglican Church of Canada could have a new national Indigenous archbishop before 2022 is out, Interim National Indigenous Bishop Sidney Black says.
“Some folks might think I’m being overly optimistic,” Black told the Anglican Journal July 14. “But my hope is that we can have somebody in place by the end of the year, or maybe going into the new year.”
A search committee to find candidates has held its first meeting, Black said. The committee was intending to send out letters of invitation soon to current bishops “to prayerfully consider if they would allow their names to stand” for the office of national Indigenous bishop, Black said. It also planned to meet once more before the next meeting of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) near the end of September.
Black said it was likely the committee would be able to present a list of candidates when it met ACIP, and potentially fill the position of national Indigenous archbishop by the start of 2023.
A key factor is making sure the eventual office-holder has enough time to study and “be immersed” in the founding documents of the self-determining Indigenous church— the Covenant and Our Way of Life—given that these two documents are to be presented to Sacred Circle when it meets next year, he said.
ACIP established the search committee to find a successor to former national Indigenous archbishop Mark MacDonald, who resigned in April due to sexual misconduct. Black was named interim Indigenous bishop shortly thereafter.
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. The Sacred Circle planning committee intends to visit to visit the Ramara facility before next year’s meeting to check aspects such as accessibility and audio-visual equipment.
ACIP is also discussing the planning process for Sacred Circle, Black said. Indigenous church leaders 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-19 restrictions and protocols.
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 the end of 2022.