Indigenous Anglicans urged to pursue their dream of self-determining ministry

Published August 13, 2009

Malcolm Naea Chun, secretary general of theAnglican Indigenous Network.

Port Elgin, Ont.

A native Hawaiian from The Episcopal Church has strongly encouraged indigenous Anglicans gathered here to pursue their dream of building a self-determining indigenous Anglican church in Canada.

“For some the vision of a Promised Land can be so overwhelming, but I believe for many of you gathered here…God has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity but the power of love and self-discipline that you have revealed on your journey in the wilderness,” said Malcolm Naea Chun, secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network, and chair of The Episcopal Church Council on Indigenous Ministries.

Speaking at a plenary, Mr. Chun urged indigenous Anglicans to remember what they and their people have had to overcome as a result of Western colonialism. “You have shown what responsibility is, what loyalty is, what trust can be in the face of sin and the denial of courage, that is discouragement, because as victims who are victors you can sit here and have a meal, laugh, debate, council and be more than friends with those who have inherited that legacy.”

Mr. Chun’s counsel came a day after First Nations, Metis and Inuit Anglicans gathered here expressed mixed views and emotions about proposals for possible changes to the Anglican Church of Canada’s structures to enhance national indigenous ministry. While some expressed joy and optimism, others said they were fearful, uncertain and confused about what the changes meant.

“You are the people who walked in darkness that have seen a great light,” said Mr. Chun. “You have lived in the shadows, but now light is shining upon you. So why would you want to hide your light under a bowl instead of putting it on the lamp stand where it gives light for everyone in the house?”

There is a Promised Land, he said, “accounted to you by the Creator because it has always been your land, the land of your ancestors.” He challenged delegates to seize the opportunity, saying, “You have been brought this day to the mountain top to see the Promised Land. Are you strong enough to dream dreams and to have visions?”

In his address, Mr. Chun paid tribute to indigenous Anglicans, particularly those who suffered in Indian residential schools, some of them run by the Canadian Anglican church. “You have been like Isaiah’s lamb, who never said a word when taken to be slaughtered, a sacrifice,” he said. “What was that sacrifice made for? So that people would learn forgiveness.” As a result, he said, indigenous Anglicans have become “a healed healer to a broken world.”

Mr. Chun also urged indigenous and non-indigenous Anglicans alike to overcome any mutual suspicion that may linger. “How can we help each other if we are not sure of each other’s intentions or if we fear we will be treated worse than we treated others?”

He said that the forging of new and equal relationship provides a “unique and rare opportunity” to re-create “he original mission to these lands in a way that it should have been done, knowing what we know now about missiology, Christology and indigenous peoples.”

In a message directed to members of the Canadian house of bishops present at the gathering, Mr. Chun said, “You too have the privilege and responsibility to dream visions because through your seeking of forgiveness as being part of the problem you are now part of the answer.” He added: “Not too many people have such an opportunity to re-do history and to amend the deeds of their ancestors, unless of course you are satisfied, happy and comfortable that nothing is wrong, nothing needs to be corrected, and that things are all right the way they have been and are for you.”

Developments around healing and reconciliation involving the church and aboriginal people are being closely watched by the Anglican Communion, added Mr. Chun. “Why? Because what you do here affects and inspires our own journeys and eventually your discoveries and gifts helps us to catch up with you to the gates of the new Jerusalem.”

Mr. Chun, who has been to three Indigenous Sacred Circles here, said that Native Americans have been encouraged by how indigenous Anglicans in Canada have openly shared their experiences and sought healing.

“We have been on a similar journey in the States with one great difference, perhaps to avoid pain, suffering and grief we have not stopped to give such serious attention to the experiences of the boarding schools and the denominational boundaries and divisions thrusted upon us,” he said. “We realize now how much we have been in denial….”


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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