Bishops say church needs to address issue of unpaid priests

Published October 1, 2009

MEET AND GREET: Rev. Arthur Anderson, diocese of Qu’Appelle (left), shares a traditional greeting with Malcolm Naea Chun, secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network, at Sacred Circle, Aug. 9 to 15. For more stories, see page 3 and go to

Port Elgin, Ont.
The whole church will need to address the issue of non-stipendiary (unpaid) priests, according to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and bishops from the Council of the North.

“It’s clear to me that this is a matter of justice,” Archbishop Hiltz told more than 200 First Nations, Metis and Inuit delegates to the 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle gathered here last Aug. 9 to 15. He was responding to concerns raised repeatedly at the gathering about the non-payment of clergy, many of whom are aboriginal.

“We consider that the issue of non-stipendiary ministry is an issue for the whole church,” said a message by nine bishops of the Council of the North present at the gathering. “There is a determination that this will be addressed with a number of stakeholders, with a view to gathering the necessary resources to address the need to compensate adequately those who are under pressure to provide ordained ministry beyond what is just and reasonable for those who otherwise receive no compensation.” (Council of the North is composed of 11 dioceses in Canada’s North that are supported by the rest of the church.)

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald welcomed the declarations. “The non-stipendiary issue has been the ultimate hot potato in the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Bishop MacDonald in an interview. He said that “in recognizing that the whole church has a stake in this, I think we’ve made a very important leap that will help us come to practical solutions.” The national church has no overall statistics of how many of its 3,861 clergy are non-stipendiary. About 47 per cent (168 out of 358) of clergy from Council of the North dioceses are non-stipendiary.

Archbishop Hiltz said that when people are ordained for ministry, “part of upholding and supporting that person is to ask, ‘how can we ensure that you have just and fair remuneration for the ministry to which you are so committed?’ ”

Delegates spoke about how unpaid clergy have either relied on their spouses’ income or taken more jobs in order to support their ministry.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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