Indigenous council ponders details of native bishop

Published December 19, 2005

Members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) will be working over the winter, exploring answers to the question: Just what do native Canadian Anglicans want from a national indigenous bishop? “This is trail-breaking within the Anglican church. We’re saying this will be a self-sustaining episcopacy, so we are looking at all the questions, (such as) finance, communications,” said ACIP co-chair Archdeacon Sidney Black, rector of St. Cyprian, Brocket, Alta., in the diocese of Calgary. As reported in the December issue of the Anglican Journal, ACIP in October struck three working groups to examine various aspects of an office of indigenous bishop: selection, finance and logistics, communications and consultation. In August, a national gathering of native Anglicans called the Sacred Circle unanimously called for the creation of such a position as an essential step toward creating a self-determining indigenous Anglican church. The primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, and seven attending bishops agreed to support it. “The working groups will contact each other as the work is unfolding and will report back in the spring (at ACIP’s regular meeting),” said Mr. Black, who is a member of the Blackfoot nation. The full ACIP meeting discussed areas of concern, such as those raised by the diocesan council of Keewatin, a mostly-native diocese that covers eastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. After the Sacred Circle decision, the Keewatin council issued a statement expressing concerns about the position, including questions of financing, location, election, accountability and terms of reference. “We are looking at those questions. The specifics will be fleshed out. We are going to be transparent about the whole process and keep folks informed,” said Mr. Black. Mr. Black and Donna Bomberry, co-ordinator of indigenous ministries at the church’s national office in Toronto, attended in early November a synod of Anglican Maoris in New Zealand held in Otaki, north of Wellington. Archdeacon Hone Kaa, who is Maori, attended the Canadian Sacred Circle gathering and reciprocated with an invitation to the Canadian indigenous church. The New Zealand church contains three groups, Maori, Caucasian and Polynesian, each with their own synods and bishops. One primate, or national archbishop, oversees the church as a whole. The current primate is Archbishop Te Wakahuihui Vercoe, who is Maori. While Mr. Black was reluctant to voice support for a church organized along racial lines, he said he observed that the New Zealand model is “working quite well.” Maori synod members gathered in the parking lot before entering the meeting hall and a chant spontaneously began, Mr. Black said. “We were invited to come in by the elders. There was a spontaneous hymn in Maori and people were exchanging stories. I suddenly realized there were a lot of connections in terms of relationships, a lot of family-type connections. I was profoundly moved by what I saw there,” he said.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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