Compassion: key to being Canadian, Anglican

Published April 1, 2005

Dear editor,

In the car this morning, just long enough to hear Shelagh Rogers interviewing 1950s Canadian Football League star Normie Kwong – the new lieutenant governor of Alberta. He recalled Prime Minister Paul Martin’s early-morning call and the half-hour he and his wife spent considering what response to make to the request.

Right off, he said, “I remember the slights … of being Chinese, and growing up in Calgary,” and I got the impression that by accepting this honour he saw himself, at least in part, a symbol of the Canada that yearns so fondly for fair and tolerant treatment for all. Is that not why we have taken the trouble of enshrining in our constitution the Charter of Rights and Freedom – Canada’s most precious gift to the world?

It is a gift we Anglicans need to treasure. It is derived from our religious inheritance. For it contains the compassion of Jesus that shines not only through the Gospels but disinterested history as well. It contains the genius of Elizabeth I who instructed her archbishops to describe the formularies of the English church in language broad enough to avoid pushing people to unnecessary extremes. Why, in our time, it should now become necessary to turn our backs on a set of principles so eminently sensible, beats me.

To be members of the Anglican Church of Canada, not some other place, imposes some very real imperatives.

We are a Christian community in a culture that is slowly but deliberately choosing not to eliminate the French fact. We are choosing not to assimilate First Nations people, slowly learning, in fact, that that was never an option. We are choosing to ensure that full rights of citizenship are accorded to members of the many minorities in our cultural mosaic. And why? Surely at some level, we remember the slights, we feel compassionately for other people, and become determined that no so-called “spiritual” leadership ought ever to be allowed to trample on it. Over the years, Anglicans, individually and collectively, have played a large part in forming and instructing it. It now speaks back to us.

While scouring the communiqu© from the primates’ meeting in Newry for any reason to be optimistic, do we remember the slights and determine to keep the faith?

Do you suppose that 35 archbishops who have not the slightest clue what it means to be Canadian will persuade us to set aside our most cherished insights?

Canon Cal McMillan

Wolfville, N.S.

Uncertain future

Dear editor,

I prayed, “Dear God help us!” after reading the article entitled Church sanctions could have been worse: primate (, Feb. 25).

On the surface, our Canadian church’s voluntary withdrawal from the global Anglican Consultative Council seems small – a gentle push out the door. But what does the refusal of a dozen archbishops to attend eucharist with our archbishop (and the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States) really tell us? When will the final schism occur between Anglicans worldwide? Between Anglicans nationally even? Will it be after a future General Synod rejects tradition and Scripture in favour of same-sex blessings or same-sex marriage? Will it be after the Alpha course is banned for its traditional focus on Bible, sex, and marriage? The devil is somewhere, waiting patiently and smiling.

Peter Wilson

Nepean, Ont.

Loss of focus

Dear editor,

The various interpretations of the communiqu© issued by the Anglican primates in Northern Ireland serve to highlight the basic theological problems in the Anglican Communion and indeed in the whole Christian community. The authority of the Word of God as the basis of our faith, as outlined in the Scriptures, is challenged today as it was in the various provinces of the early church. The challenges led to the formulation of the doctrinal statements that are used as summaries as to what we subscribe as Christians today. As in the past, the discussion as to their validity and indeed whether the Bible is the enduring Word of God is what divides the church. It is unfortunate that our leaders do not seem to recognize this basic fact.

The same-sex marriage debate has given the opportunity for the secular community to enter into the discussion. The elevation of “political correctness” into the decisions taken by the bodies defining church polity has caused a loss in focus. The basic principles governing our behavior as Christians, as outlined in the Scriptures, are being modified by our elected and appointed governing bodies by the incorporation of current sociological ideas into church doctrine.

The clear and strong witness of our forefathers is being diluted by the adulterated gospel proffered by our “with it” ecclesia and sadly, biblically illiterate laity. As in the past, the Word of God will endure because He has said so and He is faithful. In the meantime, except for the direction of a faithful few, our lights will dim and we will just have to wander leaderless in the wilderness until, as always, we discover the hard way who Jesus is and why he died for our sins.

Karl Erdman


A word from World Vision

Dear editor,

Re: Directors explain where money goes and Disappointed (letters, February issue).

I wish to address concerns regarding World Vision’s relationship to the Anglican Appeal and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).

As an Anglican and as president of World Vision Canada, I exercise multiple commitments. I support the outreach of the Anglican Church of Canada and overseas, and I accept the choices Anglicans can make to support this outreach as well as the work of World Vision and other ministries or causes.

Many active Anglicans serve World Vision, in senior leadership positions and on its board. World Vision works with Anglican churches around the world and acknowledges the significant contribution of church leaders and members to address HIV/AIDS, the promotion of literacy and economic development and peace building.

Also, many Anglicans throughout Canada have supported our work through donations, child-sponsorship and volunteering for as long as we have existed.

PWRDF board member Cecily Hinton states that our advertising violates the code of ethics of the Canadian Council of International Co-operation. This is not true. We ensure all of our communications meet the CCIC standards as well as our own stringent guidelines for communications.

We need Anglicans to join in the battle against poverty by supporting the PWRDF, the Anglican Appeal, World Vision and other organizations. We need to do more, and we all need to give more.

Dave Toycen

President, World Vision Canada

Mississauga, Ont.

Don’t procrastinate

Dear editor,

I was brought up to believe that if you have a conflict at home, get it solved before you go to bed. The same goes with business: resolve the problem before the end of the day, then the next morning, you have a fresh start to continue your work without any worries.

I don’t understand why the bishops do not seem to solve the problems that exist within the Anglican Communion today, especially the problem with same-sex blessings. The situation seems to get deferred to another day. Procrastination is not a good thing. At home, you could end up with a broken marriage. In business, it is possible to lose either good employees or your books will suffer financially. The church could lose from its membership good people with strong morals that have been strengthened through prayer. The last time I looked, our general attendance is in decline in most parishes. I wonder why?

The general confession in the Book of Common Prayer tells us there is no health in leaving undone those things which we ought to have done. You should vote accordingly, whether it is liberally or conservatively, on the issue. You should be able to defend your position on the issue, both at General Synod, as well as to the membership. There is much to be done without procrastinating on this issue, like proclaiming the Gospel and shouting out the good word to fill our churches.

It is not good or healthy to be disappointed by those in authority.

Graydon McArthur


Changed man

Dear editor,

As a gentleman who has lived most of his life as a homosexual, I would like to express my concerns about the current controversy in the the worldwide Anglican Communion. Less than two years ago Jesus Christ miraculously healed and delivered me from that lifestyle, whereby my psyche was changed and transformed from homosexual attractions to heterosexual attractions. As a result, last December, I was happily married to a beautiful Christian lady who has made me wonderfully happy and fulfilled in our marriage.

We are told that God is love, and that we are to love one another, as Christ loved the church. We are even admonished to love our enemies; but man is not told he could love another man as his wife.

One day we will be accountable to HIm for that which we do in our body and in our life, including all the choices we make.

Let us rightly honour God in all that we are, and all that we do.

Alan MacGowan

Red Bank, N.B.

Continuing slide

Dear editor,

Sometimes I just cannot believe what I am reading (Arctic may ask clergy to denounce gay unions, February). The Anglican church is more concerned about the secular and political approach to human rights than it is in preserving and promoting biblical faith and lifestyle.

The diocese of the Arctic is striving to stand fast on biblical teaching while much of our church continues to embrace and adopt the ways of the world. Our church is a growing embarrassment to Christianity. It is no wonder our numbers continue to slide and our future grows dim. We stand for nothing and we fall for everything. Lord have mercy upon us.

Rev. Roy Dickson

High Prairie, Alta.

Second thoughts

Dear editor,

As an unabashed evangelical, having been a keen supporter of the Essentials movement since 1994 (and I still do support the original vision of Essentials), I now have serious second thoughts about where we are heading. I no longer believe that the way forward is that proposed by Essentials’ “The Way Forward” conference, which I attended last summer in Ottawa. It is divisive, even at the parish level.

We evangelicals are keen to spot works of darkness in others. We also tend to make the Scriptures our idol. They uncomfortably remind us, however, that works of darkness lie in all of us. We shall never create a church more unblemished than the one we have, if any of us be in it. The church is pure in the eyes of God, not by anything we may, or may not have, said or done (decisions of General Synod or diocesan synods included), but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed for us. Let us choose, therefore, to live with our differences in the Anglican way, not that of the Anglican Network. The resurrected Lord is still the head of our church. We may feel very lonely, but whether the Global South forsake us, or not, He never shall.

Michael Burslem

Guelph, Ont.


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