Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, gave a New Year’s Day address at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa. He used the address, which has become an annual tradition, to reflect on the accomplishments and difficulties of the year past and to look forward to the year ahead.
He said that “2008 was my first full year as primate of our beloved church and I have had occasion to visit 25 of our 30 dioceses…. From northern communities to rural villages to downtown churches, I see a faithful preaching of the gospel of Christ,” he said. “In those gatherings expressions of genuine care and concern for our church, its place in the Anglican Communion and its witness in the world always move me.”
The primate noted that the plan adopted at November’s Council of General Synod meeting for deficit reduction over the next three years was wise and responsible stewardship, but it is essential to present, as Henri Nouwen suggested, an exciting vision that invites people to invest their energy, prayers and money “in this work which God has given us.”
In the church’s relationship with aboriginal people, Archbishop Hiltz mentioned the appointment of Bishop Mark MacDonald as national indigenous Anglican bishop, participation in a “Remembering the Children” tour, and efforts to profile the Truth and Reconcilation Commission as important steps.
Questions about blessing same-sex marriages were discussed at the Lambeth Conference (the decennial meeting of Anglican bishops around the world) as well as at the meeting of the Canadian house of bishops in the fall. “In the Reflections report produced by the Lambeth Conference it was noted that a strong majority of bishops present agreed that moratoria on same-sex blessings and cross-provincial interventions were necessary,” Archbishop Hiltz said. Here in Canada, members of the house of bishops committed themselves to holding to the moratoria, “while recognizing the difficulty that this commitment represents for dioceses that in conscience have made decisions on these matters, commit[ted] themselves to continue walking together and to hold each other in prayer.”
In spite of the challenges, Archbishop Hiltz said that there was much to celebrate, including the recent Amazing Grace project and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund in 2009.