Displaying a Bible, a clay chalice and communion plate from the diocese of Cuba, photographs, posters, books, and documents, Archbishop Fred Hiltz offered members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) a glimpse of the places he’s been, and the people he’s met almost a year into his primacy.
“There were many things that were quite moving for me,” said Archbishop Hiltz, primate (national archbishop) of the Anglican Church of Canada, during a reflection on his work on the first day of the spring meeting of CoGS, the church’s governing body between meetings of General Synod.
Among them, he said, was a trip in February to the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, which he described as a “pastoral visit in light of developments in that diocese.” (Last November, the retired bishop of that diocese, Don Harvey, left the Anglican Church of Canada to become a bishop in the South American province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Harvey is also moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, comprising congregations and parishes that have left the Canadian church.)
Archbishop Hiltz said that he met with active and retired clergy of the diocese, describing it as “an occasion to talk and to hear one another as we wrestle with issues before the church” like the blessing of same-sex unions, and the unity of the church in Canada and the Anglican Communion. “There was a huge diversity of opinion but there was a genuine commitment to remain in conversation with one another and to be faithful to the Anglican Church of Canada,” he said.
Archbishop Hiltz noted that he and bishops David Torraville of the diocese of Central Newfoundland and Percy Coffin of the diocese of Western Newfoundland also spent some time together with Cy Pittman, the bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
The primate also announced that the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the church’s relief and development arm, will stretch over an 18-month period beginning in October. Commemoration of the anniversary will begin in Springhill, N.S., where a mining disaster in 1958 gave impetus for Anglicans to set up PWRDF.
Archbishop Hiltz, who is president of the PWRDF board, said that Canadian Anglicans have responded with “great love and compassion” to PWRDF, noting that more than $88 million has been given to PWRDF over the years.
In his report, the primate also:
- highlighted a meeting in February of the Episcopal Church in Cuba and noted that it is growing;
- described the church leaders’ tour to promote the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as “an enormous event;”
- noted that he has spoken to the Canadian Council of Churches about mobilizing churches “to begin a huge public awareness program” about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) so that people can pressure governments to meet their commitments. “We’ll be the ones to hold their feet to the fire.”
- updated CoGS on the Anglican Church’s continuing ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church; he also said that he meets regularly with the national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Susan Johnson.
- said that by the end of 2008, he will have visited 23 of the 30 dioceses.
He cited as a highlight the ordination of Wilfred Sanderson from James Smith reserve in Saskatchewan. He described it as “powerful.”