Letters to the editor

Published August 30, 2006

Comparison of Israel to a serpent is offensive

Dear editor,

Re: Archbishop reassures Jewish community (May issue). Archbishop Andrew Hutchison has tried to assure the Jewish community that the Anglican church has no intention of proposing disinvestments in Israeli companies. This gesture demonstrates good will toward Israel. Meanwhile, on page five of the same issue, writer Annette Graydon of the International Anglican Women’s Network quotes Rev. Joanna Graham (Bethlehem’s wall, May letters), “part of an Anglican delegation of women which visited the Holy Land … upon the invitation of a Palestinian delegate of the Anglican Consultative Council” as calling Israel, “The serpent (that) has surrounded this holy place (Bethany).”

I recognize that any church is made up of a wide variety of people who hold their own views and biases. But when I read in the Anglican Journal that Israel is a “serpent” – which is another way of calling Israel the devil – I take deep offense. While I honour your right to publish different opinions, I cannot be silent and let this nasty remark slip by unopposed.
Phyllis Carter

Whither Palestinians?

Dear editor,

There has never been any doubt about our primate’s sympathies for the Jewish community. What concerns me is the imbalance in the wider context of the appeal by the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem and his Palestinian people.

Archbishop Hutchison rightly makes the distinction between the policies of the Israeli government and the Jewish communities. One wishes for similar distinction between the Hamas-led Palestinian government and the Palestinian people whose plight Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal has highlighted. I must ask: Who will reassure him and the Palestinian people? And when?

The leadership of Hamas in Palestine has assisted well-meaning people and governments, including our own, to strangle the Palestinian people. If wiser counsels do not prevail, Darfur and Ethiopia will pale into insignificance in comparison to the starvation of the Palestinian people in the biblical land of milk and honey that was promised to the children of Abraham.
Rev. Philip J. Santram
Oakville, Ont.

North is neglected

Dear editor,

I am writing in response to the Council of General Synod highlights from May 12, 2006 concerning the question, “Is the historic commitment of the whole church to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry to isolated and remotes areas still a fundamental priority of General Synod?” which was put to table groups. The overwhelming impression I had from reading the highlights was that pastoral and sacramental ministry in the North is “important, but …”

I read with some dismay that one group asked the question “Is this a spiritual problem or a financial problem?” We read in our papers that life in many parts of Canada, especially on remote First Nations, is as bad as or worse than in Third World countries. Would we ever dare to ask this question of any of our overseas partners? Yet, the Council of the North and the many faithful Anglicans who live in the North are fair game.

The question does, however, deserve an answer and is far more complicated than either/or. As we examine the systemic issues, we need to factor in the continuing colonial policies of this country, including the Indian Act, declining rural populations, increasing native populations accompanied by increasing poverty and the uncertainties of a resource-based economy including farming, lumber and mining.

The demands on the resources of the church are myriad. However, if the church continues to dither on the decision of allocation, in a few years there simply will be little by way of pastoral or sacramental ministry in the North and the church will have chosen by default.
Marion Jenkins
Henry Budd College for Ministry
The Pas, Man.

Amalgamation works

Dear editor,

Re: British Columbia mulls fate of parishes, congregations (May issue). I was touched to read about the churches in the diocese of British Columbia that have been recommended for amalgamation and closing.

I attend a church in London, Ont., called East London Anglican Ministries, (ELAM), which was formed a few years ago from an amalgamation. Members of four small churches chose to close and create a new church with the intention of being better positioned for survival and growth in the 21st century. We had to dig deep to find courage and vision and to face down anxiety and anger. There is life after amalgamation; in fact, there is abundant life. Today, we have many new ministries and programs, a beautiful and flexible building, and a growing membership.

Amalgamation may not be for everyone, but it’s working for us. A few months ago, with the benefit of hindsight, we produced a booklet about our six-year process of amalgamation, titled Good News – for a Change. We would be happy to share this booklet with any church that thinks it would be of use to them; e-mail us at [email protected].
Sandra Coulson
London, Ont.

Overseas companions

Dear editor,

We are a lay couple from the diocese of Lichfield in England (which has a companionship covenant with the Canadian diocese of Qu’Appelle) and have recently returned home from attending, and taking part in, the installation and consecration of Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson as the 11th Bishop of Qu’Appelle.

We value our links with Qu’Appelle very highly. There may be difficulties in the worldwide Anglican Communion but in our own little way we are trying to cement the relationships.
Paul and Beryl Graetz
Staffordshire, England

Pig in a poke

Dear editor,

According to Rev. Peter Mikelic (New worship book is respectful of diversity; April issue), the Canadian response to the new Lutheran worship book Evangelical Lutheran Worship “has been overwhelmingly positive.” He describes a “99.9 percent approval” received at the 2005 National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. There was no ballot vote (delegates voted with a show of coloured cards) so, how did Mr. Mikelic come up with a “99.9 percent approval”? Even so, one must also question how many of those who voted actually had examined the contents of the new worship book. If indeed they voted without ever having examined the book, then they bought a pig in a poke.

Many in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), where the project was initiated, have taken a closer look at the book. In an article posted at the Word Alone’s Web site, Pastor Erma Wolf notes that most of the psalms appearing in the new worship book have been amended to remove all “offensive” masculine pronouns for God, and she asks, “By what authority does the ELCA rewrite Scripture?”

It would be prudent to apply the ancient doctrine of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).
Ron Voss
Cochrane, Alta.

Sudan needs attention

Dear editor,

Re: Former peacekeeper reminds Westerners of their responsibilities (June issue). Hoorah for Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire! The trouble is: did our churches get information of the state of things in Darfur back in December, 2004? The Sudanese government kept things hushed up for as long as possible and it is a remote part of Africa. The Dinkas have always been a neglected people, fishermen along the Upper Nile, and they were Animists, not Muslim.

The southern part of the Sudan, near the Kenyan border is Christian and many of them have been displaced over the border to the south. Have we paid sufficient attention to these needs?
Susan Huxford-Westall
Hamilton, Ont.

Volunteer in Sri Lanka

Dear editor,

Two years ago, while on a voluntary teaching assignment in Sri Lanka, I visited two small fishing communities on the east coast. Set against the idyllic backdrop of palm-fringed beaches of the Indian Ocean they had become communities caught up in the economic stagnation, a victim of a 15-year war. I decided that if I returned to Sri Lanka I would return to Passekudah/Kalkudah to teach. Dec. 26, 2004 was when the tsunami struck Passekudah/ Kalkudah and more than 500 people (one in six of the population) died.

In February, I returned to the area to teach English. I was invited to help out at two day care centres run by the Anglican church and run an English course at the local YMCA. I spent one hour every morning with 28 little ones, singing, colouring, and teaching basic English skills at the Anglican day care centre and then one hour in the late afternoon at the YMCA with a group of young people keen to improve their English skills.

If you would like to volunteer for two to three months in Sri Lanka please contact me. Living conditions are basic but the rewards are very rich.
John Turner
416-463-7379[email protected]

Wither or grow?

Dear editor,

It’s interesting how for three consecutive years my Anglican Church of Canada has ended with a deficit. And was it not about three years ago that part of the church began to allow the blessing of homosexual unions? Strangely the connection was missed on the front-page article.

At the end the June editorial, entitled Council and church need to ask hard questions, it says ultimately some things will have to go, well I wonder if that meant we could get rid of blessing homosexual unions (which the Scriptures speak against) and avoid the atrophy within the church, maybe even get an increase in revenue to the programs we are otherwise cutting. Perhaps the editorial meant we should cut back all the church’s functions because some principles are more important than all that Christianity stuff.

I’m ready to ask “the” question: do we want to wither and die as a morally relativist church or grow as a Christian one? I say grow.
Gary Hollingshead


Dear editor,

Re: Diocesan debate about lesbian priest escalates (April issue). I was baptized and confirmed in an Anglican church and will not practise the Christian faith ever again. I haven’t been to a church since my marriage to my partner of the same sex; before that I had not been to a church in more than 20 years. I found other forms of true spirituality that fall more in line with what I believe the creator meant for us all. It is because of articles and attitudes like these that I encourage anyone who will listen to find more acceptable, more inclusive and non-judgmental forms of practising spiritualism.

It’s unfortunate that the Anglican church would publicly show a less-than-Christian way of dealing with the hearts of people who actually still follow faithfully. Eventually such rejection and condemnation will push people away. It would seem that your God has more love and compassion for people than the Anglican church does.
S. Baldock


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