How sad that I would be unfit as a priest in Arctic today

Published March 1, 2005

Dear editor,

Re: Arctic may ask clergy to denounce gay unions (February Anglican Journal). Where is the Anglican church I thought I belonged to? How sad that I would no longer be an acceptable priest in the Arctic today!

I speak of the church which used not to regard itself as a “confessional church” in which you must proclaim your acceptance of codifications rigidly drawn up. Rather we regarded ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ living together in community, with varying ideas about how best to serve our Lord, but trusting each other, and accepting that all are endeavouring to listen to how the Spirit is guiding them. And this openness to others we regarded as a virtue and not a weakness.

Fifty years ago, I, a rather liberal catholic Anglican priest, went to Salluit in Nunavik at a time when most of the other clergy in the Arctic were conservative evangelicals. I was warmly welcomed by the diocese, and certainly by the open-minded and open-hearted Inuit of Salluit, Ivujivik and Kangiqsujuaq, where I ministered.

I was the first Anglican priest to live on the northern coast of the Ungava peninsula. I certainly never thought, as I built the first Anglican mission house and church building on those shores, that it would come to this. Today, since I could not possibly sign my name to a particular document drawn up by a number of conservatives, I, apparently, am considered an unfit person to be in their midst.

How very, very sad.

Things will indeed spiral downwards and fall apart in the Anglican community, if we propose to treat each other in such un-Anglican ways.

Archdeacon David Ellis

Banff, Alta.

Can’t cherry pick

Dear editor,

Bravo! The 13-member diocesan executive committee of the Arctic voted recently to endorse the Montreal Declaration, a statement of belief written in 1994 at a Montreal meeting of three conservative Anglican groups that support traditional biblical teaching. On the topic of sexuality, the declaration says that fidelity between wife and husband “are the only sexual relations that biblical theology deems good and holy.” As a Christian I believe that the Bible is indeed “God’s Word written,” and homosexual unions are “intimacies contrary to God’s design.” Many liberal bishops, clergy, laity and editors would like us to believe the complete opposite. We can’t just cherry pick the various parts of Scripture we are willing to accept and discard the rest. God was not concerned about being politically correct, nor am I.

Derek Kerr

Dundas, Ont.

More like 1984

Dear editor,

Re: Few dioceses are uniform in all their beliefs (February editorial). I never believed that I would see the day when a church publication would refer to the traditional understanding of Christianity as “Stepford Wives-style homogeneity,” or suggest that those who advocate and invite adherence to traditional Christian theology are no more than bumpkins trying to create a “bubble” around themselves in a secular world. With all due respect, I think that 1984 and the concept of doublespeak might be a better analogy than the Stepford Wives, at least as far as the Journal goes. This is the place where those in authority who publicly deny the exclusivity of the Gospel or the deity of Jesus Christ remain unchallenged, while those who strive to uphold traditional Christian principles are labelled “dissident priests,” who are being disciplined for “abandonment of ministry,” rather than persecuted for their love of the gospel.

Peter Di Gangi


How we are doing

Dear editor,

I was going through your Web site and was attracted by the comments written about us in 2001 when we were sponsored from Rwanda by St George’s church here. Things have changed very much. We are very happy, the children have grown up, one is soon to graduate from high school and all these blessings came directly from the lovely hearts of St George’s members. When we came we couldn’t speak English, now it is like our home language!

We own our own house, my wife enjoys working at Maple Leaf Foods. I have had the privilege of attending school and have gained a knowledge in computer technology.

I worked for some time as a construction electrician and have learned about the codes and safety rules of Canada. I have used my computer knowledge to design greetings cards from banana leaves from Africa. Now I am putting them on the market since people told me that they are really nice.

Here is a picture of how I used to look when I searched for leaves in the banana plantation back home in Africa.

Using the same love that the Anglican church extended to us, can Anglicans help me to sponsor other refugees who struggle to have a peace and freedom so that they can come here and enjoy wonderful Canada?

Onesphore Uwitije

Brandon, Man. Editor’s note: parishes wishing to sponsor refugees may contact the PWRDF refugee representative in their diocese.

More needs than resources

Dear editor,

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has a long and proud history of encouraging Canadian Anglicans to respond world wide to natural and social disasters, and to support a wide range of development projects. I am saddened therefore to read several criticisms of the Journal (February letters) for giving a modest platform for such other agencies as World Vision Canada to appeal for relief and development funds.

Particularly with the Asian tsunami tragedy so fresh in our memories, we must surely agree that there are far more needs than resources. There is therefore no room for such quarrelling, rivalry, or jealousy; instead let us celebrate each other’s efforts and recognize our shared Christian mission.

As to the allegation that World Vision is not Anglican, it is true that they have no structural links with the Anglican Church of Canada. However, it should be pointed out that the immediate past chairman of the World Vision board is an active Anglican. Furthermore, the president of World Vision Canada is not only an Anglican but is a church warden in Mississauga, Ont.

I rejoice that Anglicans are deeply committed to bringing Christ’s healing and compassion to a needy world wherever and however the opportunity presents itself.

Bishop Peter Mason

Prince Edward County, Ont.

No need for censorship

Dear editor,

I would like to express my strong opinion that advertising in the Journal should not be restricted to Anglican organizations. You are right to impose standards of morality and commonly accepted standards of good taste. But I would strongly oppose other kinds of restrictions.

Many non-Anglican organizations perform good works and offer resources of many different kinds. Some focus on personal spiritual enrichment, others on congregational development, still others on social programs both at home and overseas. Each organization must be judged and supported or not supported on the basis of its quality and its record. I believe that Anglican readers are quite capable of making this kind of judgment for themselves without the need for any kind of censorship to be imposed by the Journal.

Canon Anthony Capon

Kingston, Ont.

Fire prevention tips worked

Dear editor,

This is in reference to the fire damage to St. John the Evangelist church in Thorold, Ont. (January Journal photograph). We wish to commend the members of the congregation on the actions that helped to prevent the spread of the fire within the church. Too often fire prevention tips are not followed. However, in this case they were. The fireproof door separating the hall from the church was kept securely closed. This saved the church from suffering the same fate as the hall, which was totally destroyed. The church only suffered smoke and water damage, but is repairable. Many times churches of this vintage are not salvageable after a fire and the emotional loss is as devastating.

Stuart Rowley

Underwriting Manager for Canada

Debbie Hastings

Claims Manager for Canada

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Altered states

Dear editor,

Re: Altering the altar, (January Journal). After reading this article I wonder whether the Journal will present the case for the sort of “liturgical renewal” that respects everyone’s feelings, rather than insisting on a single solution? Clergy, liturgical renewalists and theologians, being only human, are quite as likely to be misguided as lay people, and should not, like Canon Michael McKinley, blithely replace “We never did it that way before” with “You traditionalists are just not with it.”

Full marks to Mr. McKinley for extensive consultation with his parishioners; but did any of them leave as a result of the changes? Has he considered a (traditional) fixed-position altar for more “traditional” eucharists, plus a movable altar, which can be placed anywhere? Does he realize that bare polished floors and easily displaced chairs are a menace to seniors with failing eyesight and reduced mobility, and that pews generally are more comfortable than the wooden chairs shown in your photographs?

Speaking as an architectural historian, I think the placing of a plain yet visually obtrusive object in the crossing of nave and transept has made an architectural mess of the design of many of Europe’s great cathedrals. Better to build new churches for the new liturgy, perhaps along the lines of St. Paul’s (Roman Catholic) church in Gravenhurst, Ont. Also, elevated pulpits allow everyone to see and hear the preacher, and are still more satisfactory in focusing on a person “down here” rather than on the loudspeakers “up there.”

Fred Winter


Worm has turned

Dear editor,

Re: Africans will not apologize for interfering (December Journal). My, oh my, how the worm has turned! It was not that long ago when Western Christendom was sending missionaries by the thousands to deepest, darkest Africa in order to spread the Good News. To the credit of the missionaries, they were very good at what they did. To the credit of many Africans, they recognized the truth in the Good News and converted to Christianity. Now, the descendants of those converts are continuing the great challenge of spreading the Good News by coming among us. And what has our response been but to demand that they apologize for such effrontery. After all, what could African Christians possibly have to say that would have any relevance to progressive, Western Christians?

Llew Hounsell

Corner Brook, Nfld.


Related Posts

Skip to content