The Anglican Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Preference is given to letters under 200 words. All letters are subject to editing for length, grammar and clarity. Please include a mailing address with all letters.
I recently read your article Church explores responsible investment idea (January Anglican Journal). Apparently, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) will ask Kairos to “research the activities of companies believed to be contributing to ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine, as well as those contributing to ongoing peace and economic stability in that region.” This issue arose as a result of a report on the Middle East from the Anglican Peace and Justice Network and thus, “The (Anglican Consultative Council) had adopted a recommendation that churches put pressure on firms that contribute to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, including the removal of investment funds in these companies as a last resort. The resolution … also recommended the same action for companies that support violence against innocent Israelis.” There are several points that I would like to make: 1) Archdeacon Dennis Drainville said, “When we’re speaking about responsible investment, we’re not talking about divestment.” Yet the church’s recommendation specifically refers to the “removal of investment funds…. as a last resort,” so divestment is definitely being discussed. 2) If the report was about conditions in the Middle East, where is the reference to the injustice and divisiveness within Lebanon brought about by internal strife and Syrian machinations? And what about the brutal tyranny imposed upon the Syrians by the Baathists? 3) What about the status of women throughout the whole Middle East region, or the relentless discrimination against the Christian and other minorities within many Arab countries in the area? 4) Did the report mention other terrorist activities, including the suicide murders of Muslims against Muslims, which struck Jordan and Egypt, or the lawlessness and ineptitude of the Palestinian Authority to control the gangs plaguing its own population? Why indeed the singling out of Israel, as one of the critics is reported to have asked? Finally, companies do not “contribute to ongoing violence.” Neither do they “contribute to ongoing peace.” It is people and, perhaps more importantly, leaders who espouse peace and are firm in ensuring that terrorism and violence are absolutely forbidden, that “contribute” to peace. I would very much appreciate the opportunity to address CoGS or any of your other bodies to expand upon what I have said.
Director of National Affairs
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies
Not a naysayer
While I agree in theory with the concept of a native bishop (Meeting lends support to idea of indigenous bishop, January), the logistics of implementing this, in a country as vast as ours, with such a disparate group of indigenous peoples, is mind-boggling. It is one thing to try to emulate New Zealand, but it is orders of magnitude smaller than Canada and the Maoris, despite some internecine differences, are more homogeneous than Canadian aboriginal people. I do not want to be a nay-sayer, but I cannot see this concept, noble as it is, being translated into a practicable reality and I would not want to see it draining precious financial resources from a national budget that is already under severe stress.
Money is not enough
While I celebrate the initiative of my faith tradition in supporting our aboriginal brothers and sisters, I believe we have still fallen short (Church eligible for better residential schools deal, January). I am always leery about pay-out solutions. As if money could mend a broken soul that has been abused; as if money could heal what the church has represented in the past; as if it were the cure-all, when in fact, on its own, it will only be poison. I recognize, in my own life, that it has only been counseling, the pursuit of faith, and a complete trust in God that has helped heal the scars of my past. Monetary compensation helps with this, it is true (as I could afford the counseling) but it is not enough. Why has there not been a large scale move on my church’s part to bring healing circles, counseling, and community enrichment projects to the forefront of parochial ministry, even the ministry of the primate? We are a global action-oriented people, but what about our own brokenness here at home? I challenge the church to seriously act on such questions!
An Anglican in China
It is interesting to read the article and view the photos of Kunming, China in the June, 2005, issue of the Anglican Journal. This especially so as I am an Anglican from the United States, who has been living and serving in Kunming, Yunnan since 1999. I am glad to see that, at last, Anglicans are becoming more involved in China. I say this, for I always receive the party line, “We cannot do anything there for there is no bishop present.” If you want more information of what Anglicans can offer here in Yunnan, feel free to contact me.
Chun Yuan Xiao Qu
Chun Fang Li
Ent. 1, Bld. 9, Rm. 502
Kunming, Yunnan Province 650118
M. Lane’s December 2005 letter (Discrimination) begins with the truth that God did make us all. In the beginning God made Adam and Eve perfect and gave them free will. They chose to listen to Satan and disobeyed God, thus sin entered human life and broke off any relationship with God. He made it possible for us to be born again by sending his son Jesus Christ to live and die for us. The diocese of the Arctic is a Christian family that believes the Bible is the word of God and because the word of God condemns same-sex relations, the diocese is not free to accept as leadership those who feel they must follow that lifestyle. The church is called to stamp out sin by the blood of the Lamb rather than to encourage it.
Capt. Canon A. Knight
All may be ‘winners’
Re: Rev. Michael Li’s December 2005 letter (Realism) and his unwelcome message to many Anglicans whether heterosexual or “practising homosexuals.” I think back to when Mr. Li was the interim priest at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Scarborough, Ont., and visiting with me and my family in our home. I hardly need to wonder what his message might have been if he knew then that he was visiting with a gay man. Now almost two decades later, my family, my employer and my colleagues accept who I am and I am confident that the God who created me accepts me as a gay man. What does it say about my church when it continues to send messages that “Nobody will win in the homosexuality issue”? When will it occur to Mr. Li that acceptance rather than condemnation of those who are different might strengthen our Christian witness rather than weaken it and that in the eyes of God we would all be “winners.” I can only pray that some day, when Mr. Li takes pen in hand to write to the editor or prepare a sermon, he will remember that some of his parishioners and fellow readers are “practising homosexuals.” I pray that he might begin to see them as individuals, with a sexual orientation different from his, who are seeking to strengthen their spirituality and worship God within the Anglican Church of Canada. I hope and pray that he might become bold enough to try to provide a ministry to them as he would to any other person who is seeking to strengthen a relationship with God.
Island View, N.B.
Re: Who’s Anglican and who’s not? (January). Conservative Anglicans smugly speculate over whether the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the United States will choose to “walk alone.” In reality, it is the (Anglican) Church of Nigeria that is taking this route. The Nigerian church has attempted to redefine Communion to suit its own determination to undermine the ecclesiastical rights of homophile Anglicans and Episcopalians. While many continuing Anglican denominations (such as the Reformed Episcopalians and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada) have fruitful ministries, they do not have the pretence of being “in the communion,” nor should Nigeria. Let’s face it; if it comes down to a global split, Canada and the Church of England will be on the same side. If conservatives wish to mobilize against equal treatment for homophile Christians, they must be prepared to do so on their principles without deluding themselves that they will be carrying on the mission of the Communion. They will no longer be a part of it. Even better, the Communion should be proactive in combating those who seek to undermine it – and expel the Church of Nigeria.
Agree to disagree
Re: Inaction ‘exacerbates’ church crisis (December, 2005), the “inaction” or the “slow and inadequate response” of those charged with implementing the recommendations of the Windsor Report is not what “exacerbates” the church crisis. It is rather the constant attempts of some Anglican provinces to force the Canadian and American churches to renounce actions taken in total conformity with their canons and without violating any binding agreements, undertakings or commitments made to other provinces – with our resignation from the Communion as the suggested alternative. Archbishops Peter Carnley and Rowan Williams were quite right to point out that they could not intervene. I would suggest that no province, nor even the Archbishop of Canterbury, has the right to declare any other province out of communion with Canterbury. It may only declare itself and its declaration is not binding on the other party or any other province. Hopefully, whatever chaos may follow will be temporary, since the lines of communication will remain open and the “exacerbation” may be eventually healed. Meanwhile, we Canadians and Americans must continue to regard ourselves as in communion with all Anglican provinces and agree to disagree until we can reconcile our views to the greatest degree possible for us. We can then decide if we must leave the Anglican Communion.
Robert T. Coolidge
Where is leadership?
I recently read in the Ottawa Citizen a story entitled Anglican church faces extinction. The article quoted from a report prepared for our bishops by a volunteer adviser. In his report, Keith McKerracher quoted statistics and said that the Anglican Church of Canada “is in precipitous decline and facing extinction by the middle of the century.” I was so shocked by the conclusions of the report that I opened with great anticipation my December copy of the Anglican Journal to read the in-depth discussion and comments of our leaders on this bombshell of a report. What did I find? A passing mention of the report under the heading, Bishops examine church growth. One bishop welcomed Mr. McKerracher’s blunt approach, and another said the declining church membership tracks a decline among our traditional constituency of white Anglophones. I am dumbstruck once again. Where is the clarion call to action on the part of the primate and the bishops? Where is the recognition that unless major action is taken immediately to staunch this hemorrhage in member numbers, we won’t have a church in a few more years? This crisis cries out for attention and leadership. Where are our leaders and what are they doing?
Bayfield. Ont. Vianney Carriere, director of General Synod’s communications and information resources department, replies: A bit more information might be helpful in appreciating the provenance of Mr. McKerracher’s document and its disposition at the House of Bishops. Mr. McKerracher compiled his figures strictly as an individual pursuing his own interests. There was absolutely nothing “official” about his document. Mr. McKerracher is a member of the Communications Information Resources Committee of the national church and that committee heard the presentation before the bishops did, but it was not asked to endorse the document and did not do so. Neither its methodology nor the analysis was tested in any way. If the bishops’ response to Mr. McKerracher’s figures seems a bit muted, it may be because the document (which, by the way, was not distributed to them) contained nothing they did not know. The Anglican church has been losing about 2 per cent of its members a year (sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less) for many years. This would be well known to the bishops. However, far from ignoring Mr. McKerracher’s information, the House of Bishops chose to cancel a free evening so that they could share impressions and experiences about how and where the church is growing. From all accounts, the bishops found this session inspiring. Anglican leaders have not ignored declining membership. The Framework approved by General Synod in 2004 and the companion stewardship initiative entitled Letting Down the Nets tackle this problem head on.
God has surprises
St. Vincent of Lerins (who died about 450 AD) was no doubt acting to preserve what he believed to be the truth of Christianity, when he enunciated the “Vincentian canon,” which describes as a test of Catholicity “what has been believed everywhere, always and by all.” With hindsight, we can reason that nothing fulfills this requirement, nor has ever done so. Yet this myth is implicitly believed by those whose faith sets out to exclude “all who differ everywhere and always” from themselves, and we seem to have many who still take shelter beneath such a dubious umbrella. I do not believe that God requires us to be hostile to everyone who disagrees with us: indeed I do believe that God has surprises for us, and many of the surprises are revealed when we face up to difference and opposition and find out what God is teaching us through others. I believe this because I believe that the whole world belongs to God, and God is not constrained by decisions of the church, or even implications of the sacraments by which we respond to God. And because I believe God came among us in Jesus Christ to redeem all of us. And because of this I feel free as a Christian, Anglican, “Catholic” believer, to support my friend Michelle Bull (What’s important, November, 2005, letters) against the recent testimony in the Anglican Journal of William Cooke (Heed the warning, January letters). And I would like Mr. Cooke to be my friend, too!
Re: Bishop John Paterson’s address to the Canadian church (Provinces ‘unlikely’ to add primates to Anglican council, January). Bishop Paterson contends that the Anglican Communion needs Canada and that Canada needs the Communion. Your article states, in reference to last summer’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting, that Bishop Paterson “apologized for the way Canadians were treated at the ACC. Both the Canadian and American churches had sent their ACC members to ‘attend but not participate’ in the June 18-29 meeting. While there, the Canadian and American delegation said they had felt ‘exclusion’ and ‘alienation.'” If some feel “alienated,” I wonder if they know how alienated mainstream Episcopalians feel about the decision to elect a gay bishop in New Hampshire and to bless same-sex unions without any vote of the worldwide church? When the church leadership, which supposedly represents the whole church, goes off half-cocked voting to elect gays to leadership positions, does this leadership truly believe that it is doing what the whole congregation of God’s people wish or is it jamming its beliefs down the laity’s throats? How long does the leadership believe that they can get away with this?
George E. Danz
I was sad to read Joe Darlington’s letter in the December edition (Accountability). President Robert Mugabe has become a red herring, perhaps because we have forgotten when Ian Smith did to Zimbabwe. As Canadian Christians we need to be careful about accusing “the culture of most of these countries where the civil servants and politicians do not have to answer to the people.” Does Mr. Darlington not read Canadian secular and church newspapers? Whatever happened to “giving and not counting the cost, save of knowing that we do God’s will?” Why is it necessary to hold the recipients of our charity on a leash?
Philip J. Santram