Accompanying a written report about his work and travels recently, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, used his address to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to focus attention on where the church is at in relation to the priorities and goals outlined in Vision 2019.
Vision 2019, Hiltz said, was not intended to be a strategic plan, but a guiding document that would direct planning, programming and any organizational restructuring over the nine years from 2010 to 2019. Seven priorities were identified-developing leadership education, supporting ministry through Council of the North, walking with indigenous peoples on a journey of healing, working toward peace and justice, engaging young people, enlivening worship and being leaders in the Anglican Communion and ecumenical actions.
Now, mid-way through the nine-year stretch, Hiltz suggested was a good time to begin assessing where the church is with its commitments to those priorities. He highlighted accomplishments to celebrate and challenges remaining in each priority area and asked for input from CoGS members as well.
In terms of leadership education, Hiltz mentioned that diocesan schools for ministry are “popping up all over our church,” noting that the House of Bishops is keen to discuss the “standards that are drawing and holding all the schools together, notwithstanding the very different kinds of needs that they are trying to respond to.”
Looking at the church’s efforts to walk with indigenous people, Hiltz mentioned that there was a strong Anglican presence at all the national events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since 1992, he said, there have been 555 projects and $5.9 million for gifts around healing and reconciliation in 27 of 30 dioceses. “[Anglican Healing Foundation co-ordinator] Esther Wesley has said that healing is happening. It doesn’t mean it’s happening everywhere, but it is happening.” Hiltz highlighted Bishop Lydia Mamakwa’s consecration, the creation of Mishamikoweesh as the first indigenous diocese and developments in Saskatchewan with diocesan indigenous bishop Adam Halkett as steps toward self-determination for indigenous Anglicans.
“Of course, there are some other issues that clearly remain big on our horizon, issues around non-stipendiary ministry in indigenous communities…We are only scratching the surface in terms of urban ministries for indigenous peoples,” he said, adding that the issue of violence against aboriginal women must be addressed.
Hiltz said bridge-building and relationships are central to his own ministry. “We struggle together, we pray together, we laugh together, sometimes we argue, but we’re in this together. We are one body.”
After some discussion, CoGS members added their thoughts. Several groups said that the primate’s list of achievements was quite thorough and so they focused more on challenges that remain. They include finding ways to raise up new leaders, ministering in the North and in very small rural parishes, encouraging Anglicans to be more generous in their donations to the church, decolonization, expanding ecumenical relationships and addressing the global environmental challenge.