Letters to the editor

Published February 1, 2007

ADR work is about ‘wholeness and brokenness’

Dear editor,

I am writing in response to Bernice Logan, (Tell the world, December letters).

With a team that stretches across Canada, I am privileged to hear stories like that of Lawrence Flett (Church that once brought pain now soothes soul of lay student, September Journal). The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process is something that engages the church with those it hurt through residential school experiences.

During a typical ADR only the respondent and the adjudicator speak; family, support staff, church representatives and lawyers maintain silence. We are asked to offer respect by listening to a respondent who tries to share deep pain and fear. At the end of an ADR, representatives of the church and Government of Canada are permitted to offer closing remarks, which the adjudicator carefully records as important data for his or her judgment. Our ADR team is asked to show the support for the respondent and the remorse of the Anglican church for the hurt caused by residential school experience. For me this work is quite frightening and humbling at the same moment – it is about acknowledging hurt and love, life and death, wholeness and brokenness, all in a few short sentences that will, hopefully, have meaning for the respondent.

It is the respondent, however, whose task has been far more daunting and terror-filled.

The stories along the journey belong to the people who tell them, and in part to the people with whom they share. It is not the church’s business to tell people how to tell their story – it is hard enough to tell it as it is!

I think that if Ms. Logan needs to hear of Canon Norman Pilcher’s good works and that of other good folk she should be asking the people for whom that is their story. I think that it is inappropriate to ask Mr. Flett to retell his story so it matches what Ms. Logan wants to hear.
Geoff Woodcroft

Beside the point

Dear editor,

The Canadian House of Bishops long ago adopted, and more recently updated, official guidelines defining the standards of chastity expected of clergy and ordinands who are unmarried and/or homosexual. It was because of these guidelines that Archbishop Terence Finlay deprived Jim Ferry of his licence; the only principled basis on which that licence could be restored would be either Mr. Ferry’s agreement to abide by these guidelines or their repeal by all of the bishops (Fired priest Ferry asks for apology from church, November Journal).

That an archbishop should wilfully overthrow the discipline of his church in marrying two women does seem to make a mockery of his previous enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline (Archbishop weds lesbian couple, November Journal). It does not, however, logically follow, as some readers of the Journal have suggested, that his successor is in some way obliged to espouse his double standards. That other Canadian bishops and archbishops have more or less publicly flouted the enforcement of these guidelines for decades is also beside the point. Generations of Anglican clergy, postulants, and members of religious communities have accepted the emotional sacrifices asked of them, and many continue to do so. Surely keeping one’s word and living by one’s oaths of office are still implicit in the “faithful ministry” referred to by recent correspondents.
Bruce Russell

Established fact

Dear editor,

Allow me to express my sincere appreciation for the article entitled Journey of a lifetime (December Journal) reporting on my ecumenical pilgrimage one year ago among the Armenian Orthodox of the Middle East.

I am sorry to report that some of the language used in the article has offended many in the Armenian community. The story stated, “More than one million Armenians died from 1915 to 1917 in what they term the Armenian genocide, a term disputed by Turkey.”

In fact the “more than one million” seems to underestimate the dimensions of the crime. It is generally accepted that one-and-a-half million were killed in the Armenian genocide. This may seem a small point to you, but the additional figure represents more than 500,000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who were systematically exterminated during the first genocide of the 20th century.

Use of the term “Armenian genocide” is hardly limited to the Armenian community, as the article suggests. Yes, it is true that Turkey disputes the use of the term, but most of the civilized world has recognized the tragedy and the language used to describe it. This is particularly so among Anglicans who have demonstrated solidarity with the Armenian community from the earliest days of the tragedy, actively welcoming Armenian refugees and exiles into our churches and parish families here in Canada and elsewhere.

Let us be perfectly clear – whether Turkey wishes to acknowledge it or not – the Armenian genocide is a well-established, internationally recognized fact of history, and more than one-and-a-half million Armenians were exterminated during the genocide.
Walter Raymond
Dean of Quebec

Jesus is the reason

Dear editor,

I am grateful for the small monetary gift I received from the pension office of the Anglican Church of Canada at Christmas, but I was taken back by the enclosed greeting card I received with it signed by the pension office staff. The card depicted a person holding stacked gift boxes and the greeting inside said, “Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy New Year from the Pension Office Staff.” I was surprised and saddened that the national church is joining the secular world in producing cards that do not mention the reason why we Christians celebrate Christmas. This card said on the back, “Produced by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.” Who are we afraid of offending? As a Christian I am sad. As the national church, please produce cards that show Jesus is the reason for the season.
Ruth Gorlick

Matching grant

Dear editor,

Your all-too brief report in the January issue about a substantial grant to the Ask & Imagine national youth program (Support for Ask & Imagine) omitted a significant detail. You reported that the program received a $400,000 grant. This is true, but it neglected to say that the funds are a matching grant.

The Ask & Imagine programs and associated youth initiatives have begun fundraising efforts which will continue over the next four years, and the grant will match whatever is raised (up to $400,000) to continue to develop this youth leadership training project and other youth initiatives. One initiative in progress, which will be partially financed by the grant, is a National Youth Ministry Symposium in 2008 that will draw youth leaders, youth ministry staff and others from across Canada for a five-day national conference.

The matching grant provides donors and contributors a wonderful incentive to double their contributions to youth ministries, but a grant like this is not and should not be seen as a bail-out that absolves us from the financial responsibility we have across the church to invest in youth, youth ministry and youth leadership development.
Judy Steers
Program Director – Ask & Imagine
London, Ont.


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