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Trust the stories of residential schools students
Re: Questions (May letters). I was saddened to read Bernice Logan’s letter to the editor. In it she implied that Gladys Cook was somehow being dishonest about her experiences at the Indian residential school in Elkhorn, Man.
The record is quite clear. Unfortunately, and to our shame, Ms. Cook was abused at her school as a young girl. The great work of her life has been to find healing and to offer forgiveness, and to share this journey with anyone who needs to hear it. Within the context of this story, there is ample room for fond memories and happy experiences. But the context itself is never in doubt: it is, as Ms. Logan says, “a horror story” of abuse, fear, and betrayal.
I am disturbed by the suggestion that Ms. Cook’s story and, by extension, the stories of all children abused at residential schools, cannot be trusted. When we refuse to accept the truth of their stories, we revictimize the victims. There is nothing to be gained by denying this truth.
As a faithful staff member of the Indian residential school system, Ms. Logan has a valuable contribution to make to our understanding of this part of our history. I hope, however, that such contributions are not made at the expense of the victims of abuse.
Archdeacon Norman Collier
Portage la Prairie, Man.
Re: Ten churches vote to leave (April Anglican Journal). From the text of this story and from other sources, it is apparent that majorities in 10 congregations have decided to sever their connection with the Anglican Church of Canada.
These congregations in some instances are known to have been divided for years. Some members elected to vote with their feet against the dominant group before any formal vote was taken. Others have voted against separation and have yet remained in order to continue to provoke discussion. The congregations, divided internally, were constituent parts of the Anglican church prior to any vote: they were not themselves churches.
Would it not have been more accurate and less likely to mislead had the headline read Ten congregations split?
There are many individuals outside those 10 churches who feel the same way.
We may be the ones physically leaving (or being shown the door in) the Anglican churches which we built, maintained and cared for, where we were baptized, confirmed, grew up, were taught and nourished, where we worshipped, celebrated and ministered – but we are not the ones who are leaving the Anglican church.
In this story about property and land which might become subjects of legal disputes, the quote attributed to Fred Hiltz was of particular interest to me.
Tradition in the Anglican church seems to be something that can be set aside quite readily when it comes to matters of marriage, so it should not be a huge problem to set aside the tradition that prohibits those who choose to leave the church to take property and other assets with them. It is, after all, the parishioners who have paid the bills and the mortgages and maintained structures. Perhaps it would be a matter of justice.
Diocesan leaders can never be compelled to resolve disputes in the civil courts, and cause destruction of the witness of the church in the world.
What an amazing witness to the world (and to those who are leaving) should those in authority choose the action that would give these parishes their assets and bless them as they seek to follow the path that they believe God is leading them on.
No doubt, such actions would bless Jesus as well. Simplicity is so often the best solution, and it is even Scriptural.
Doreen C. Leicht
Sunset Beach, Alta.
Not a martyr
I am intrigued by Bishop Donald Harvey’s rather dramatic act of thanksgiving for “deliverance from bondage.” (Venables predicts end of Anglican Communion, April 29 news story, anglicanjournal.com)
To whom has he been in bondage? Those who force him to bless what he sees as sin? No one is doing that. Those who force him to accept ordained women? It was his change of heart on that issue that brought ordination of women to his former diocese. Those who force him to use the Book of Alternative Services? No one does that either. Unbelievers? Would he care to point out who such people are? Those whose theology is different from his own?
He, an Anglo-Catholic, must have profound disagreements with his evangelical comrades whose beliefs in most areas are radically different from most of what he appeared to hold dear when he was a bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada. This kind of overblown hysterical rhetoric lost him a lot of support in his old diocese, where he could have expected the opposite.
As one of his former flock said recently, “He makes himself out a martyr, but a martyr does not have to keep telling people he is one.”
St. John’s, Nfld.
I suspect that, in counseling a person in a broken marriage, many clergy have said, “Let him (or her) go.”
If that is suitable for individuals, let it be also for congregations. Why should bishops harass clergy and people who no longer feel comfortable in the Anglican Church of Canada? Is property ownership more important than parting on good terms?
Re: Journal wins 17 awards (May 5 news story, anglicanjournal.com) Congratulations on winning 17 awards! I enjoy reading the Journal.
Salmon Arm, B.C.
Re: Journal wins 17 awards (May 5 news story, anglicanjournal.com) “Well done thy good and faithful servants.” Congratulations on your awards! I really enjoy and appreciate your interest, honesty and integrity. May you continue to share with us the news that matters!
Re: Churches tend to lean toward traditional music genres (April letters). Of course traditional music is not to everyone’s taste. In my teenage years I enjoyed a brief period of exposure to pop-influenced Christian music in both Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Since then, as opportunity offered, I have enjoyed the traditional choral music for which the Anglican church is so well known. This was the first year, to my knowledge, that our carol service was not well attended – the direct result of a severe winter storm that kept all but the most committed parishioners at home. I know I am not alone in my appreciation for traditional choral music.
I suggest that God’s music is not limited to any one genre of human musical endeavour and we should never seek to silence any music to His praise and honour. We are a diverse people and should embrace our diversity. Not all congregations should seek to please all tastes, nor should one choice be forced upon all congregations. Modern churches: rock on! Traditional churches: sing out the Stanford, the Palestrina, the Stainer, the Wesley!
Whenever I read about the church being so “behind” in music and sticking with the traditional, I see the funny side. In the days of Elvis were we clamouring to have all the hymns sung to Blue Suede Shoes? In 1915, did the young people say they would not attend church unless the hymns were set to ragtime music?
I have always thought myself fortunate to be able to appreciate many kinds of music. But here is a thought: if young people want to hear “their” music in church sometimes, I doubt if there’d be much fuss.
However, I bet that if I went into a bar with some friends and we started singing Onward Christian Soldiers or Sheep May Safely Graze the management would tell us to leave before the first Amen.
So I would have to believe that the church is a follower and the local bar is a leader, or something like that.
The fact is: if people of any age don’t want to attend church any excuse will do – music, the minister, whatever – including, of course, really serious reasons, serious to the point of the destruction of the church itself, when even the most faithful are driven away.
As a gay priest who both believes in the authority of Scripture and who wishes to welcome gay and lesbian people fully into sacramental life, I feel compelled to respond to some of what has been published regarding the current state of Anglicanism. Both sides of the debate depict issues of sexuality as secondary, as red herrings. The real issues, they say, are caring for the poor, the needy, and the outcast. The real issues, they say, are following and believing what the Bible says. I believe that both of those statements are true. In fact, I believe we are called to care for the poor, the needy, and the outcast because the Bible tells us that this is what Jesus did. But rather than sidelining sexuality, this understanding brings it to the centre. Gay and lesbian people often are the ones who need the care that Jesus offers. I’m talking about the little boy in Dawson Creek who gets beat up by boys at his school because he’d rather play with a Barbie doll than a hockey stick. I’m talking about the 80-year-old lesbian couple in long-term care who refer to themselves as roommates because even after 40 years together, they’re still too scared to come out of the closet. They need Jesus’ love. Part of my calling as a priest is to connect with gay and lesbian people, to apologize for the hateful and ignorant things the church has said about them and done to them, and to invite them to come in. And if following this mission that God gave me through Scripture drives others out of the church, so be it. All I can do is invite them back and love them. Just as all I can do is invite and love gay and lesbian people. All I can do is what the Bible tells me.
Rev. Andrew Halladay
The church should get out of the marriage business. General Synod should simply excise the marriage rite. Omitting it does not imply that we no longer believe in the God-givenness of marriage. We simply recognize that marrying people is a function of the state. We are not obliged to be agents of the state in this regard.
Those who wish to wed would do so through a marriage commissioner or justice of the peace. They could go to an Anglican church to have their union blessed if they so desired. A rite of blessing would not include language that denotes gender. The rite would involve the blessing of a relationship. The diocesan bishop, the priest, and the congregation would consent to using the rite for homosexual unions.
Such a proposal would involve giving up viewpoints and prejudices on either side, but in this case the ideal of unity in Christ trumps the only alternative that we have thus far been given: Protestant sectarianism.
Love each other
Re: ?I looked into his eyes’ (April Journal) The primate’s column brought out a loud statement from this 84 year old, from my comfortable chair in my quite adequate seniors’ home. I am reminded of something my mother said that is very familiar to everyone – “Time’s too short.”
What is important? In my own family there is divorce, homosexuality, common law, and an upcoming marriage. Do I disown, cast out members of my own family because the scriptural standards of whatever current or ancient variety are bent?
For the love of God and his designed-for-living/loving church, let’s get on with it. The earth needs caring; the hungry need accepting as God accepts. Whatever name by which we are called, let us open up and love one another. My time is too short; I don’t want the church broken apart, and I have no more tears.
East Angus, Que.