Council postpones national native gathering, citing venue as problematic

Published May 1, 2008

The sixth Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle scheduled Aug. 17 to 23 at the Vancouver School of Theology (VST) has been postponed to the summer of 2009, allowing the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) to find a location more suitable to the needs of the gathering.

At its recent meeting in Vancouver, ACIP leaders toured the VST grounds and realized the venue was not ideal for the mostly outdoor gathering because of ongoing construction work at the university. “It would not be pleasant for discussion because of all the noise,” said Donna Bomberry, General Synod co-ordinator of indigenous ministries. She added that the needs of elders were also considered and a university setting would involve a lot of walking.

Ms. Bomberry said ACIP is exploring proposals to hold the Sacred Circle in either Saskatchewan or Ontario. The dates are still being finalized.

The sixth Sacred Circle will include discussions on “the next steps in self-determination” for aboriginal Anglicans, as defined in A New Agape, a work plan and vision for partnership between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadian Anglicans, said Ms. Bomberry. One of the strategies that A New Agape identified to meet this goal of self-determination was the establishment of the office of a national indigenous bishop, which was realized with the appointment of Bishop Mark MacDonald in 2007. A New Agape states that the national Anglican indigenous bishop will work with the national church and the dioceses to develop “indigenous forms of church government and decision-making,” as well as “ways for the indigenous congregations to move toward self-sufficiency.”

Ms. Bomberry said the postponement of this year’s Sacred Circle would not hamper this work, citing that ACIP, through its representative, Archdeacon Sidney Black, continues to work with General Synod’s governance committee to see how self-determination for native Anglicans can move forward.

Ms. Bomberry also asked participants to be aware that with the rising fuel prices, registration fees for the gathering will correspondingly increase. About one-third of the funding for the Sacred Circle, which has a budget of $350,000, comes from delegates’ registration and ACIP’s own fundraising. General Synod currently contributes $50,000 a year for the meeting, which is held every three years.

More than 200 aboriginal Anglicans and invited guests, including the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and members of the house of bishops, usually attend the Sacred Circle.


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