Council of the North members gathered in Edmonton from Feb. 9 to 11 to decide how best to use donations from Anglican parishes, groups and individuals that amounted to $160,000. Council chair David Ashdown, bishop of Keewatin, said the overwhelming mood was “firstly, a real sense of gratitude, but also a sense of excitement and energy about moving forward with some ministry opportunities that we never thought we could.”
More than $80,000 came from the Amazing Grace project, in which parishes and groups sang Amazing Grace and sent videos to the General Synod office in Toronto where the 500 submissions were edited into a compilation DVD and posted on the Internet site, YouTube. About $80,000 also came from individuals and groups across the country.
The council settled on two spending priorities. The first is suicide prevention and intervention because suicide rates, particularly among young people, in the remote communities are among the highest in the world. “Any time a person has come to the point where death seems preferable to life,” it is a concern for everyone, said Bishop Ashdown. “But especially for us as a church. Jesus said, ‘I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.'” Support, training and resources are needed for frontline workers such as clergy and church leaders, along with the whole community, he said.
The other priority is training and leadership development. “Local leadership is crucial to the mission of the church, so if we are not only going to survive but thrive, we need to be providing resources to our local leaders on the ground,” said Bishop Ashdown, mentioning training in congregational development and stewardship. Each diocese will propose a leadership training program to be discussed when the council meets in April.
“I think all the bishops around the table would say that it really feels so good to be part of this church,” said Bishop Ashdown. “We are very much aware that the people who are contributing to these projects are anxious to see that good ministry be done and effective ministry be done.”