Residential schools lawsuit underway
A B.C. Supreme Court ruling that the United Church of Canada and the federal government are liable for sexual assaults committed on more than 30 former native residential schoolchildren may spell trouble for other churches, legal observers say.
The ruling in early June may open the floodgates to victims of abuse seeking compensation from the churches and federal government. The case involved Arthur Plint, a dormitory supervisor who worked at the Port Alberni residential school from 1948 to 1968.
Plint was jailed in 1995 after admitting to sexually assaulting dozens of young boys at the school.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit launched by a man who says he was abused while living at a native residential school operated by Anglicans in Lytton, B.C., was under way at press time. In its defence, the Anglican Church contends the federal government was the employer at St. George’s Residence, not the church.
The church’s general secretary, Archdeacon Jim Boyles, was in Vancouver to testify for the church.
“What we’re seeking is an element of justice for all the people involved, including the victim,” Archdeacon Boyles said. “In many cases, the victims are part of the church.”
Hermit priest moves to Salt Spring Island
Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault has taken up residence as a hermit priest near All Saints’ By-the-Sea, Salt Spring Island, B.C. Her contemplative ministry is being supported by the recently established Contemplative Society and by the Diocese of British Columbia, which has marked spiritual growth as a priority. Ms. Bourgeault comes from a hermitage at Snow-mass, Co. She will spend two-thirds of her time in solitude and a third leading workshops and retreats in the diocese.
Building houses in Mexico
More than 100 young people and 34 adults from the Okanagan Valley went to Mexico recently to build several houses during a week-long construction blitz. Rev. Bryan Porter of St. Margaret’s Church, was part of a group of 15 who travelled to Tecate, Mexico. The project was co-ordinated by Amor Industries in Mexico, which has sponsored thousands of houses in the past few years.
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Kootenay is also launching a companionship with the Diocese of Northern Mexico.
Dare to be purple
It all started when one of his younger parishioners wore pink hair to church. Rev. Charles Thorne, of the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew, Prince Rupert, B.C., said he liked the new look. Then egged on by parishioners, he agreed to a dare. If the congregation agreed to raise $500 in pledges for the restoration fund, he would dye his hair purple for one month. At the parish Shrove Tuesday supper the Lenten purple was revealed. The challenge had raised $1,600.
Same-sex blessings urged by parishes
Three Vancouver parishes are urging the Diocese of New Westminster to support the blessing of same-sex relationships within the Anglican Church. The parishes of St. Paul’s, St. Margaret’s Cedar Cottage and Christ Church Cathedral passed resolutions calling on the diocese, which holds its annual synod this month, to adopt policies supporting full and equal participation of gays and lesbians in the church, including blessing same-sex covenanted relationships. Archdeacon Neil Gray, rector of St. Paul’s says some of his gay parishioners feel the church is still making them “sit at the back of the bus.” St. Margaret’s has formally called itself a reconciling congregation, which means it will advocate full inclusion of gays in the church.
Ministry shift predicted
The church in Canada in the 21st century will look a lot different with lay people providing congregational leadership and clergy acting as regional lay equippers and teachers. This scenario is part of a look at future models of ministry to be presented to the Diocese of New Westminster Synod this month. The report is the product of two years of deliberations. Saying the one priest-one parish model is no longer viable, the commission says the church must accord lay people greater responsibility in parishes and free clergy to act as trainers, supervisors and pastors of trainees. While clergy will still retain sole responsibility for celebrating the eucharist, almost everything else can be shared, especially under cluster ministry models which would have teams of lay people and clergy run a regional grouping of parishes.
Archbishop hits the slopes
Archbishop David Crawley joined 28 young people in the Diocese of Kootenay recently for a day of skiing on Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia. After skiing all day, Archbishop Crawley and his family took part in a question-and-answer session.
The excursion was part of a youth weekend hosted by St. James, Armstrong, B.C.