Council okays idea of native bishop

By on June 1, 2006

Mississauga, Ont.
Council of General Synod (CoGS) approved a pending appointment by the primate of the first national indigenous Anglican bishop, on the recommendation of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), but provided some conditions. In a resolution, CoGS said it supported the appointment “with the understanding” that financial arrangements are being reviewed by the financial management and development committee, the native bishop is “responsible to the primate,” the timing of his or her appointment “will rest with the primate” and that the primate will determine, in consultation with the house of bishops and dioceses what the (native bishop’s) relationship would be with the dioceses and provinces of the church. CoGS also directed its planning and agenda team, in consultation with ACIP, to look into resolutions for CoGS to put on the agenda of General Synod in 2007 that would confirm the appointment and embody the position within the constitution and canons of the Anglican Church of Canada. Canon John Steele of the diocese of British Columbia asked whether giving the primate jurisdiction over the native bishop changes the nature of the primate’s role. The primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, said that it did not since he had jurisdiction over management team and all national church staff and that “an appointee reports to the one who makes the appointment.” “The intent is to get (the appointment of a native bishop) between now and General Synod and to incorporate it officially during General Synod,” said Archbishop Hutchison. He said that a lot of work still needs to be done to define fully the position but gave assurances that “I won’t appoint somebody simply because a name has been identified. We’ll take the time that’s necessary.” Questions from the floor were: What would the national native bishop’s relationship be with diocesan bishops? What would the implications be for dioceses in terms of membership and finances? How will the native bishop represent the diverse differences among indigenous Anglicans? Where would the budget come from? How does “a church within a church” work? In his presentation, Archdeacon Sidney Black, co-chair of ACIP, said funds would come from reallocated program budgets from indigenous ministries and indigenous justice programs of General Synod’s partnerships department. Ellie Johnson, director of General Synod’s partnerships department, said the budget for the native bishop “doesn’t take away money from any other program of General Synod.” As far as the native bishop’s relationship with diocesan bishops is concerned, Archbishop Hutchison said the matter was being looked at by CoGS’ governance working group. An idea was broached that the native bishop could be designated as a suffragan bishop to the primate. The appointment of a native bishop “acknowledges that yes, we have walked with the Anglican Church of Canada, we received much from you, learned much from you and in many ways have become like you,” said Mr. Black. “But deep within the yearnings of our hearts is this yearning to be truly ourselves once again.” A selection committee was to conduct interviews in May with three indigenous bishop candidates and the nominee was to be submitted to the primate this month. The primate and several bishops supported the proposal for a national indigenous Anglican bishop that would have pastoral oversight of all aboriginal Anglicans across Canada at the August 2005 Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle national meeting held in Pinawa, Man.

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