As I read the September issue of Anglican Journal and our diocesan paper, Topic, the first hymn I learned in Sunday School, Jesus Bids us Shine, sprang to mind. Both papers displayed pure, clear lights glowing in corners of the church. There, in one corner, shine parishioners in Halifax and Vancouver who are providing sanctuary for refugees. In a Tanzanian corner shines retired Archbishop Douglas Hambidge conducting a workshop for new African bishops. In yet another, Anglican women mark the centenary of the ACW in the diocese. Off in the distance glow many projects of the Primate’s Fund. Alas, Archbishop Ted Scott’s “pure clear light” has gone out, but still gleams brightly in the memories of many.
However, the hymn also warns us that “many kinds of darkness in the world are found.” Is that one “darkness” over there in the Essentials corner (re: your editor’s note that the Journal would not cover the Essentials conference due to its requirement that media sign a declaration of faith disavowing adultery, fornication or homosexual unions), all barricaded off behind their pledge of allegiance, and allowing neither light nor sound to come out? I’m sure we all hope they soon turn from darkness, and become again “like candles burning in the night.”
Re: Your editor’s note in the September issue stating that you would not cover the Essentials gathering. Well, one way to ensure only one side of a debate gets aired is to refuse to cover the other side. Surely there exists among your staff one person who doesn’t believe in adultery, fornication or homosexual union.
The bottom line is that the Anglican Church of Canada is headed towards irrelevancy because it continues to lose members at an alarming rate. Rather than water down our beliefs — the approach of the last 30-odd years — why not stand up, rejoice and sing the praises of Jesus loudly and clearly? That is the only way we will rebuild our membership and successfully bring forth the message of Jesus to Canadians.
Roots of terror
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a hero of the war against apartheid and, for that reason, many hang on his every word and it is to a statement in his address at the memorial service for Archbishop Ted Scott that I refer — not without some regret: “We cannot win the war against terrorism as long as there are conditions that make people so desperate that they are ready to commit dastardly acts.” Our former prime minister Jean Chr©tien also expressed this sentiment after the Sept. 11 atrocity but it is without foundation.
Terrorism as we know it today had its inception with the anarchists of 19th century Russia and those terrorists were not the oppressed; they were sons of landed gentry and the aristocracy, one of the best known having registered at the University of St. Petersburg as “the Nobleman Ulyanov;” he is better known to posterity as Lenin.
Today’s terrorists are not the poor, the starving, the oppressed, as Europe well knows; the Baader Meinhof gang, the Red Brigade, the Basque terrorists, the Irish Republican Army, the Ulster Defence Force do not give a damn about the poor.
Bin Laden is fabulously wealthy and most of the Sept. 11 terrorists were well-heeled Saudis; nor do we hear from Al-Qaeda pleas on behalf of the poor.
Of course, Christians must show concern for the wretched of the earth; but the root causes of terror lie elsewhere and pointing in the wrong direction is simply wrong-headed.
Coalitions live on
Many of the obituaries for Archbishop Ted Scott mention the recently released biography Radical Compassion. Wonderful as the book is, I wish to address a critical error in it. Archbishop Scott is quoted as saying: “Some think the coalitions may have become victims of their own success … And movements die, unfortunately I don’t think any of the coalitions exist now.”
In fact, a lot has happened since the end of the 1990s with the very successful Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative, which saw unprecedented collaboration among the denominations and the still vibrant ecumenical social justice coalitions. This was followed, for financial and practical reasons, by the eventual merger in 2001 of 10 coalitions into one body.
The organization that was formed to carry on the rich legacy of the past 40-plus years of justice work is called Kairos — Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. The name Kairos means a “moment for action,” and Kairos is dedicated to promoting human rights, justice and peace, ecological justice, viable human development and solidarity among the peoples of the Earth.
Ecumenism is definitely alive, and we who stand on the shoulders of ecumenical pioneers are fighting hard for the ideals and principles and just solutions based on the strong traditions of theologically based careful analysis and faithful witness. Ted would be proud.
Kairos Ecological Justice Co-ordinator
I am writing in response to your story about the involvement of John Gallienne as a lay minister and organist in the parish of St. John the Evangelist, Ottawa (Choirmaster’s presence troubles bishops, June/July).
As a professional involved in the treatment of child victims of sexual abuse and the treatment of adolescents who have committed sexual crimes, I am outraged that this convicted sexual predator has been placed in a position that will allow him access to and influence on vulnerable members of the congregation.
Mr. Gallienne is entitled to the support of the Circle of Support and Accountability, but this is a man whose skillful manipulation of people in power allowed him to have unlimited access to vulnerable boys. I had thought that the Anglican Church of Canada had made significant gains in understanding how sexual predators operate and had moved toward protecting the vulnerable, while at the same time, offering appropriate support to the criminal. This appears not to be the case with Mr. Gallienne.
Linda S. Hyslop
Change it back
I am writing in support of Joseph D. Parker (Having a say in songs we sing, September letters) concerning the changes made to the Naval Hymn in the Common Praise hymnbook.
The first time I remember hearing Eternal Father Strong to Save was as a young 13-year-old Sea Cadet in St. James Cathedral on Battle of the Atlantic Sunday. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight out. Eventually, I joined the Canadian Navy and served 25 years.
Not only was the Naval Hymn relieved of any meaning for sailors, many other hymns were dismantled in the name of inclusiveness and political correctness. I think a correction should be issued returning the hymn to its proper wording.
Rev. R. Mowat
I almost choked when I saw the full-page colour advertisement promoting The Passion of the Christ (September) inviting us to “own it forever.” Can I really purchase The Passion and own it forever like any other consumer item? Is The Passion just one more thing that I can pick up from my local Wal-Mart? I was under the impression that to own the Passion you must live the Passion.
Might I suggest to readers a companion DVD to Mel Gibson’s film. I recommend that while you are at the video store buying The Passion, that you also invest a few dollars in the South Park DVD episode entitled The Passion of the Jew. The cartoon characters of South Park all go to see Mel Gibson’s movie and come away with very mixed reactions. It’s a hilarious and biting satire on a very violent and gory snuff film.
Canon Garth Bulmer’s rationale for his General Synod motion affirming the sanctity of same-sex relationships (Mover of controversial ‘sanctity’ motion explains rationale, June/July) raises more issues than it resolves.
His assertion that “God’s sanctifying work is not the sole possession of the Christian church” is possibly true, but totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. First, the Holy Spirit would never lead any Christian to undertake activities contrary to the word of God. Second, Christians are specifically warned not to sin with the expectation of being sanctified: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6: 1-2, NIV)
To tell any couple, gay or straight, involved in a sinful sexual relationship, that their conduct is “wholesome” and that “God’s work of sanctification is enabled by that relationship” is an abdication of pastoral responsibility.
The passing of Canon Bulmer’s motion at Synod was bad enough; the rationale provided is far worse.
A sad day
I was baptized Anglican as a baby, confirmed as a teenager and have been a member of the church until today, during which time I have given generously on a monthly basis.
Last June, my partner and I were married in Toronto City Hall. After six years together the state finally treated us as equal citizens. The only disappointment is that the Anglican church that we have both supported throughout our lives does not treat us as equal. We are both good citizens who volunteer in our community.
We have waited a long time for our church to treat us the same as all of its members. It is apparent that this is not going to happen. We have no choice but to search for a new church that is non-judgmental.
I do not understand why a church that is decreasing in membership would choose to drive away existing members. Effective today we are no longer Anglicans; it is a sad day for both of us.
On the other hand
Two faces of the church are presented in your September issue.
In one case (Church defends sanctuary), our newly-elected primate defends the provision of sanctuary in Anglican churches to refugees who are defying the immigration policy of our country. At the same time, the bishop asks dissident priests in the diocese of New Westminster to vacate their church buildings as a result of their opposition to same-sex blessings.
It would seem to puzzled Anglicans that their church is demonstrating compassion to refugee claimants on the one hand while it condones the creation of its own refugees on the other.