Letters to the Editor

Published December 1, 2006

Primate’s Fund AIDS initiative must continue

Dear editor,

On Oct 13-15, more than 40 people gathered in Fredericton for a regional gathering of those involved in the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) as diocesan and parish co-ordinators and as people who take seriously our call as Christ’s servants to minister to one another.

We were somewhat concerned to learn, however, that the campaign, Partnership for Life – For a Generation Without AIDS, was scheduled to end this year as a separate focus for PWRDF. The work with those affected by and infected with HIV and AIDS will continue in some form but it was our consensus that the Partnership for Life initiative was becoming readily recognizable by people in our congregations and parishes. As a result, we sent a message to the PWRDF board of directors, meeting in Toronto in November, expressing our concern that “just as the Partnership for Life initiative is gaining momentum, it is going to end.” One of the people at our gathering commented: “When I hear the term ‘Partnership for Life,’ I think about a lifelong commitment.”

On the last day of our meeting, Bishop Claude Miller of Fredericton presented a cheque for $50,000 towards the Partnership for Life initiative, money that was raised by his diocese when he initiated the Bishop’s Walk – further evidence that people are truly engaged in working to alleviate the suffering caused by this pandemic. The 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto last summer furthered this cause and grabbed the attention of people in this country. There is so much more to be accomplished in this work. We hope that the Primate’s Fund will continue their campaign and that, more and more, our parishes and dioceses will catch the vision of a generation without AIDS.
Cynthia Haines Turner
PWRDF Diocesan Co-ordinator,
Diocese of Western Newfoundland

Human blindness

Dear editor,

I had to laugh (or I would weep) when I read Daphne Boyd’s letter to the editor (Not created equal, November letters). In it, she equates homosexuality with speech impediments, blindness, and other physical disabilities, which she cites as reasons for excluding candidates from a leadership role in the church.

Ms. Boyd may wish to re-read the Bible she claims as her authority. Exodus tells us that Moses was “slow of speech and slow of tongue,” widely interpreted to mean that he had a speech impediment. Paul was afflicted by “a thorn … in the flesh” (2 Corinthians), which may well have been some sort of physical infirmity. Presumably neither of these leaders, chosen by God to do God’s work, would have made the cut if Ms. Boyd had had anything to say about it.

Blindness has many forms. Thank goodness overcoming human blindness has been one of God’s specialities for a very long time now.
Jennifer Solem

Strange exercise

Dear editor,

Re: Archbishop weds lesbian couple (November). It seems that Archbishop Terence Finlay went out of his way to make his point. That is a strange exercise of leadership. It seems to me that the needs of the faithful would have been better met by a simple statement of regret. Aside from the fact that a retired clergyman in a closely associated church performed the ceremony, the subject is to be dealt with shortly at General Synod. Intriguing to hear of a bishop walloping an archbishop. I wish that Bishop Colin Johnson would show more concern for the future of the church than with maintaining a rear-guard defence of the status quo.
David Major
Chester Basin, N.S.

All God’s children

Dear editor,

Since being gay or lesbian is an entirely biological trait (like having red hair or brown hair, being black or white or aboriginal or Asian) it is simply grotesque, pathetic and extremely sad that people still write letters objecting to gay and lesbian people and wanting them to be kept out of the churches. We do know now that “all God’s children” really does mean “all.” Nobody decides to be gay or lesbian or red or yellow or black or white or male or female; to think otherwise is to be cruelly sad and mistaken.
Nancy-Lou Patterson
Waterloo, Ont.

Man of God

Dear editor,

Re: Bishop Henry Hill ‘devoted years of study and dialogue to Orthodoxy’ (Oct. 25 anglicanjournal.com obituary). I never knew Henry Hill, who passed away recently, but what I just read is enough to make me say that He was a man of God. I pray that the seed of the Gospel, which he has planted into people’s hearts, may keep bearing fruits in millions.

Those who love our Lord Jesus as their saviour one day will meet him in heaven. My condolences go to the family and friends of the late Bishop Henry Hill, the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as the Anglican Communion worldwide, for the treasure we have lost.
Pastor Absalom Vyankende
Anglican Church of Tanzania
Kagera, Tanzania

Not the public voice

Dear editor,

Rev. Peter Mikelic, writer of the Concerning Lutherans column, is also a clergy member of the National Church Council (NCC) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). In the October issue of the Journal (Constitutions are not set in stone), Mr. Mikelic expressed his point of view concerning the decision that was to be made by the NCC at its Sept. 15-16, 2006 meeting regarding the legality of the Eastern Synod Convention’s action in July giving congregations the authority to decide whether or not to conduct blessings of same-sex couples.

One oddity is the timing of this article. The NCC made its ruling on this matter in mid-September. And yet it is written as if that decision by the NCC were still to come. (The NCC ruled that the Eastern Synod’s resolution on the blessing of same-gender couples was “beyond its constitutional authority.”)

There is a section of the ELCIC’s constitution which is essentially “set in stone,” namely, Article II, which sets out the ELCIC’s Confession of Faith. Article II is so essential in defining who we are as a Lutheran church that it alone among the various articles “shall be unalterable.” Article II also is germane to the issue of the blessing of same-gender couples.

Mr. Mikelic seems to look upon himself as the public voice of the ELCIC. As a lay member of the ELCIC, I am ashamed and embarrassed by his one-sided points of view. While he is certainly entitled to his opinion, it would be a mistake for Journal readers to consider those opinions as being representative of the majority of the rank and file members of the ELCIC.
Ron Voss
Cochrane, Alta.

Editor’s note: Due to publishing deadlines, Peter Mikelic’s column was written before the September meeting of the ELCIC’s National Church Council.

Appeal for action

Dear editor,

I am not surprised that a dedicated pastor, as I believe Jim Ferry was, continues to request that his licence be restored (Fired priest Ferry asks for apology from church, November Journal). It should have been restored years ago – especially since Archbishop Terence Finlay acknowledges that he was “given bad advice.”

The fact that Jim Ferry has not been permitted to continue his valuable ministry to both his parish and the Anglican church for 14 years has deprived him of a living for which he had prepared himself and devoted his life. If this had been a criminal law case and “bad advice” had been entered, an appeal court would have overturned the verdict, ordered reinstatement and due compensation for loss of earnings and injury to professional reputation.

I can only think that Jesus would have overturned the tables of the court with the same sense of shame as he did with those wretched moneylenders.

I appeal to Bishop Colin Johnson of Toronto to put to right the disgraceful treatment to which Jim Ferry was subjected and now display his compassion and love for Jim and other deprived members of his flock to enable them to better fulfill their calling.
Alan Gregson, O.N.
Dundas, Ont.

Take caution

Dear editor,

As a retired priest of the Canadian church, and as one living in the United States, I have a unique opportunity to view the current battles raging in the American church. (When are Episcopalians not battling?)

I entreat the Canadian church to avoid implementing anything that might cause the same situation to develop in Canada. Please try to enact legislation that will meet the needs of all Canadian Anglicans and that will not further fracture the Body of Christ.

I see fault on both sides of the American churchmanship battles, but much of the current situation could have been avoided if bishops and General Conventions (that awful term that replaces “General Synod”) had been careful not to rush into things without true prayerful attempts to discern God’s will. Too often it is said, “The Holy Ghost has inspired us!” when, actually, it seems as bowing to pressures from this or that interest.

The Body of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church, is already torn with schisms. The continuing bodies break into pieces, and things are made much worse. We blame the Holy Ghost for the errors of men. Is that not a form of blasphemy?
George A. John Porthan
Aurora, Minn.

What circle?

Dear editor,

The theme of General Synod 2007 – Draw the Circle Wide, Draw it Wider Still – is like much of the thinking in the current conflict in the Anglican Communion: it sounds inviting, but what does it mean? More concerning is the theological implication of the theme. Isn’t this the very question we have to answer, what can and cannot be formally included in the church?

As a church we have always lived in the dichotomy of the universality of the call toward and the narrowness of our discipleship in Christ. Inclusion is not a generic virtue. For us it is inclusion in Christ’s body that is primary. This inclusion brings particular responsibilities and is predicated on personal reformation. Or so Christ taught. Likewise prohibitions are not virtuous unless they produce virtue in the disciple.

The General Synod theme warmly invites us to draw a wide circle of inclusion, but doesn’t this merely skip over the problems before us? We are being given the opportunity to discuss what it means to be inside of that circle. For those, like me, who find our moral teachings emerge from loving wisdom prompting us toward wholeness, let us say so. For those, also like me, who feel they have been deceived, harmed, and have caused harm under seduction of the sexual revolution, let us be transformed by a better and living way.
Scott Henthorn

Stand tall

Dear editor,

Re: Fragile Anglican (October letters). Frank E. Kajfes, you are not a fragile Anglican. You have spoken, you have told the world who you are. You are a child of God. You are gay and not ashamed to say so. Do not be ashamed of the way God made you. Stand tall!

Please do not be afraid of the decisions made at General Synod 2007. God will not leave you. Jesus will not leave you. I am not gay. I believe in you. Please do not worry what the church will do. God bless.
Emanuel House
Bellburns, Nfld.

Love and inclusion

Dear editor,

One day in June 2004 I looked across the street at the happy bride and groom emerging from London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is my parish church. However I was in the Grand Theatre across from St. Paul’s enjoying another wedding reception. My gay son Bruce had just been married to his partner Dennis in a meaningful ceremony performed by a Unitarian minister. It was attended by 170 of their friends of many faiths and sexual orientations. I had the privilege of welcoming a new son-in-law into my family.

I reflected that four of my older children had been able to be married in the church of their choice (three in the Anglican church and one in a United church). I am a very fortunate father to have five married children, all in loving and stable relationships. I enjoy visiting my same-sex family and find them to be productive citizens in a meaningful stable relationship. They are supported by their parents, siblings and 11 nieces and nephews.

I do not pretend to know the doctrine of our church on this issue. But I do feel that the reason Christianity is special is that it embodies the concept of love and inclusion as a foundation for its structure.
Gord Sellery
London, Ont.

Tell the world

Dear editor,

I was sorry to read that Lawrence Flett (Church that once brought pain now soothes soul of lay student, September Journal) has bad memories of his days at Gordon School in Punnichy, Sask.

He said he was not fed well enough but many former staff say the children were very well fed in the schools. Many children who came to the schools were very thin and sickly when they arrived and staff were always pleased to see them gaining weight.

The tragedy of Mr. Flett’s story is that he did not say who punished him by making him kneel on a broomstick. This leaves all former staff open to suspicion. Canon Norman Pilcher, who was Gordon’s principal at one time, had a letter from former students before he died, thanking him for the help he gave them when they attended the school. I do hope Mr. Flett will tell the world who made him kneel on a broomstick.

I wish Mr. Flett well on his spiritual journey. I also hope that at one point in his life, he will have some good memories of Gordon’s and of the good staff who worked in the school.
Bernice Logan
Tangier, N.S.


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