Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, talks to a student after his address at Sheraton Hall, Wycliffe College.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has urged divinity students from Trinity and Wycliffe Colleges in Toronto not to be discouraged by wrangling in the Anglican Communion over the issue of sexuality, saying he remains optimistic about the fate of Anglicanism.
“Be strong and of good courage,” Archbishop Hiltz told about 60 students, most of them candidates for ordination to the Anglican priesthood. “You’re stepping into a church that’s facing lots of challenges but also grand possibilities.
“Our church is often described as being weary and worn … as beleaguered. I choose to describe and think about our church as our beloved church.”
Canadian Anglicans, said the primate (national archbishop), “need to recover some of the very things so dear to our heritage … that which makes us sparkle in the ecumenical world, which is our amazing capacity to express diversity, our commitment as a church to meet and tackle different issues.”
Speaking at Wycliffe’s Sheraton Hall, Archbishop Hiltz said, “there is a clear call for our church to work intentionally at being more and more Christ-centered, and being more and more mission-minded.”
Archbishop Hiltz noted that the upcoming Lambeth Conference of bishops, to be held July 16 to Aug. 3 in Canterbury, England, was going to focus on mission. He acknowledged, however, that keeping this focus would “not be without challenges,” since the contentious issue of sexuality was likely to be discussed.
The primate underscored the need for the church to strengthen theological education, noting, “there needs to be a desire on the part of bishops, principals and provosts to be in continuing conversation” about how to prepare men and women for the priesthood.
“The house of bishops need to partner with schools and my hope is that in the coming years, there will be a national gathering of people that have a role to play in preparing (candidates) for ordained ministry.” He added that stewardship needs to be taught in theological schools.
Archbishop Hiltz also updated the gathering on other church issues, an echo of his New Year’s Day sermon delivered at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa.
During an open forum, Archbishop Hiltz was asked what he thought about the decisions of the synods of Ottawa, Montreal and Niagara to seek their bishops’ consent in allowing the blessing of same-sex unions. Archbishop Hiltz said he saw the synods’ actions “not as a defiance but as an opportunity to test the mind of the church locally” on the matter. He also said that the bishops in the three dioceses assured him that they intend to “consult widely” before arriving at a decision.
Archbishop Hiltz also urged the students to become “ambassadors” to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the church’s relief and development fund, saying “it is a good news story of our church … through it our church is known for compassion and care.”