Letters to the Editor

Published February 1, 2000

Cash out reserves

Dear editor,

My church! My church! How I love it, and how I hate it!

When I read January’s headline, Collection Plate Cash Won’t Go to Litigation Bills, I felt ashamed and angry at what seemed to me a cheap attempt by our church to mislead its members. Aren’t reserves basically yesterday’s collection plate cash?

Why don’t we accept responsibility for past actions as decreed by the courts, stop consulting lawyers and move forward?

Financial bankruptcy could be our salvation if it forces us to rethink and redefine our purpose. It’s much better to be financially than morally bankrupt. We are more than bricks and mortar, or collection plate cash; they should not be our raison d’etre. We are a community of faith and if there is a purpose and need, I believe our church will rise in a new and renewed form – one we may not be able to even conjure up or understand at this time.

Death and resurrection can be powerful preludes to life and growth.

R. Yvonne Collyer

London, Ont. General Synod’s treasurer reponds:

Unfortunately, the headline did not entirely convey the underlying circumstances and thought which led Council of General Synod to approve the budget for 2000.

The church is not trying to avoid responsibility but at this time we do not know the full extent of that responsibility and the ultimate cost.

It is also important that the work of the church in Canada through the Council of the North and overseas through Partnerships should continue. We also need to maintain our mission of bringing healing and reconciliation. If we don’t, who will?

Settlement of liabilities arising from operating residential schools will be addressed when we know what they are.

There is an immediate need to continue the work, however, and the council decided to keep the budget for church programs in 2000 at basically the same level as 1999.

This 2000 budget includes a continuing financial commitment to healing and reconciliation. In approving the budget, council asked dioceses to continue their support of General Synod at the same level as 1999. This support plus investment and other income of General Synod will meet the budget needs with the exception of legal costs.

These costs will be met by tapping reserves which were built up over the years mostly from undesignated bequests.

Jim Cullen

Director, Financial Management

Missionaries not racist

Dear editor,

In his December letter Pay What’s Due, Andrew Armitage appears to be very angry about the missionary work of the past.

This work was not racist, as he suggests. Racism carries with it hatred and ill intent. The missionaries who gave a life of service to the aboriginal people of Canada did not do it with either hatred or ill intent.

Abuse seems to be an all-encompassing word today and I can assure Mr. Armitage that there was very little abuse in the Indian residential schools I knew. Unfortunately, no one has taken the time to find out the truth about the schools.

We must remember that it was Chief Shingwauk who asked Rev. Edward Wilson to build a teaching wigwam for his Ojibway children, “where children from the Great Chippeway Lake would be received and clothed, and fed and taught how to read and write; and also how to farm and build houses and make clothing – and enjoy the blessings of Christianity” (Little Pine’s Journal).

The missionary work of the past and the missionary work of the present are one and the same – in most cases, beyond reproach.

Mrs. Bernice Logan

(former Indian residential schools staff member)

Tangier, N.S.

Francophone parish survived until 60s

Dear editor,

As a retired priest from the diocese of Quebec, I was pleased to read about the new francophone parish that has been inaugurated in that diocese and the work of Canon Pierre Voyer.

I would like to point out that there has been at least one other francophone parish within this diocese, although it only existed for about 50 years.

The parish of All Saints, Ste. Ursule, north of Louiseville, came into being about 1900. It was never a large parish, but had at least two incumbents in its short history, and a small wooden church with a schoolroom on the ground floor and a parsonage.

All this had disappeared by the mid-’60s. I have a French prayer book from this parish, published for French speaking Anglicans of the Channel Islands.

Mervyn Awcock

Guelph, Ont.

Harare’s woes so sad

Dear editor:

I was sad to read in January’s paper about the continuing problem of racism in the Diocese of Harare (White Anglicans Snub Black Priests in Zimbabwe).

In 1987-88, I was fortunate to be the assistant curate in a mixed-race parish in the Mazoe Valley in Zimbabwe. It was one of the most life-changing events I have experienced.

Because it was such a large parish, with at least 19 congregations, we dealt with every imaginable situation. There were commercial farms, towns, townships, communal lands and the bush. I used a Shona Prayerbook for the Eucharist, but needed an interpreter for my sermons.

I can honestly say that I encountered every kind of racial attitude, including many that Dean Mutamangira mentioned. When the rector and I made parish rounds, we sometimes found that parishioners had brought non-stipendary priests into their homes for baptisms. There seemed to be a poor sense of canonical discipline at times. It was stressful at times when people suspected that my motivations might be racist, but I think that most people accepted me and knew that that was not my intention.

When I left the parish many people came to tell us that my wife and family had indeed broken some of the racial barriers. I was there to be a priest and pastor for everyone, and I found much love in all parts of the parish. It is just sad that that love cannot be expressed freely and joyfully across all racial and tribal lines. Racism attacks the very heart of Christianity which is the love of God for all of us in Jesus Christ.

Canon Don R. Skowronski

Parish of Oxford

Diocese of Ontario

GE crops no benefit

Dear editor,

Statements by Dennis Laughton in his letter (January Journal) on genetically engineered foods cannot go unchallenged.

Most of the development of GE crops so far has been profit-driven, not needs-driven. New varieties were designed by the multinationals to sell their seed and chemicals. Experience has shown that yields with GE crops are often no greater and sometimes lower than with conventional varieties.

Further, the corporations have developed “terminator” technology. This is a cunning genetic strategy to ensure that saved seed will not geminate, thus forcing farmers to buy new seed each year. GE crops do not increase the food supply for the hungry world and are of no direct benefit to consumers.

Reduction of poverty amongst Third World farmers and improvements in land tenure arrangements will be of much greater importance in feeding the world and increasing agricultural productivity than quick fixes based on expensive high technology.

Second, biotechnology makes it possible to transfer genes from virtually any organism (virus, bacteria, fungi, animals) into crop plants. The genes engineered into some GE crops currently being cultivated were derived from soil bacteria! As a result, humans and domestic animals are being exposed to substances they have never before encountered.

Third, in contrast to rigorous trials it subjects pharmaceuticals to, Health Canada has approved 70 per cent of GE crops without any real testing. The remaining 30 per cent were approved after some short term testing for acute toxic effects but none were subjected to long term trials in animals, let alone humans! Details are posted on the Health Canada Web site at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

Patients know when they are taking pharmaceuticals. Since there is no requirement for labelling, consumers are unaware that they are eating GE foods.

Fourth, it is often not the case that GE crops reduce the levels of pesticides needed. Also, in the case of varieties that are insect resistant because they contain the Bt gene, the whole plant is turned into an insecticide which can persist in the soil.

More information surrounding GE foods and crops can be found on the Web site of the Rural Advancement Foundation International at http://www.rafi.org.

Dennis R. McCalla, PhD

(Biochemistry and Genetics)

Clarksburg, Ont.

(by e-mail)

St. George’s says thanks

Dear editor:

The Saint George’s restoration campaign has now raised $4.6 million, which will enable us to complete the modified restoration of the Round Church in Halifax, to install a new organ.

We thank the many Anglican parishes from coast to coast who have helped us achieve what seemed in 1994 to be an impossible goal. Your support and prayers have meant a great deal to us as we struggled through the last five-and-a-half years.

You have helped us to restore not only one of Canada’s finest historic buildings, but also an Anglican parish which (under the leadership of Rev. Gary Thorne) is bursting with life and energy in its love of God and neighbour.

Thanks be to God! And how can we ever thank you enough?

Anne West

campaign chair

Saint George’s, Halifax

Fund supports fight against suicide

Dear editor,

In a December article on the Diocese of Keewatin, (Waiting For the Spirit to Speak), there was a reference to the ongoing concern about suicides in northern communities. Your readers might be interested to know about a fund established five years ago to receive money for programs to combat suicides in that region. Called the INEZ Fund, it is established to fund programs in areas of: intervention – training and support for community leaders (usually clergy) to recognize signs and provide crisis counselling; nurture — programs to develop positive personal images, relationships within families and communities and support for survivors; education – development of skills and knowledge for satisfactory employment; zest for living – the spiritual dimension, developing a desire to live the day we have been given to the best of our ability in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

The fund is intended to make available money beyond normal budgets and existing sources to meet this identified need. Donations designated for the INEZ fund can be sent to the Diocese of Keewatin, Box 567, Keewatin ON P0X 1C0.

Arlene Hill

Peterborough, Ont.

Need for openness with Roman Catholics

Dear editor,

Regarding letters on the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission’s Gift of Authority, I am surprised by the tone of some of the letters.

I have the good fortune to view the issue from an unusual vantage point. Our Anglican community shares its life with a Roman Catholic community.

When it was established more than 30 years ago, this joint community was intended to be a sign (as my Roman Catholic colleague puts it) of the convergence and unity into which our two communions are being called.

Here we do much more than share a space. Although we are not yet able at this time to celebrate the eucharist together, we do share our common life in many other ways.

Some of your readers have described the Roman Catholic Church as rigid and deeply resistant to change. As a result, they say we should avoid full communion with that church.

My experience of working with Roman Catholic laity and clergy alike is that they have been uniformly gracious, generous and accommodating. I do not know what church your readers are describing, but it is not the church I live and work with every day.

Perhaps those who are genuinely interested in this issue of pursuing full communion might do what we are going to do here. That is, they might meet with real life Roman Catholic sisters and brothers and prayerfully consider the ARCIC document. In doing so, we might begin, not simply to emotionally react and recycle old opinions, but to seek to discern where the Spirit is calling us.

Rev. Greg Clark

St. Chad Anglican Church


Who’s the heretic?

Dear editor,

I read Rev. Marney Patterson’s book, Suicide, and am absolutely appalled that this gentleman has the temerity to accuse the Canadian church of heretical teachings and practices while he blatantly admits he does not believe in one of the cardinal doctrines of the faith: baptismal regeneration.

Mr. Patterson equates “accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal saviour” with justification. Justification is a free gift, given to us in the waters of baptism, and, to those of us who are baptized as infants, a gift that we did not choose. Our parents brought us into the church through those saving waters.

They were wise in doing so, for, just as we did not have to ask them for food before we were old enough to ask for it, but, rather, were fed when we needed sustenance, so they brought us to the saving font before we were able to ask for its glorious blessing. Later, when we became old enough to discern the difference between good and evil and could make a conscious choice, we received another sacrament, confirmation, this time at the hands of a validly consecrated bishop.

How sad that Mr. Patterson equates all the glorious and fully free process of baptismal regeneration as something foreign to the Catholic religion of the Anglican Communion. To equate forgiveness and renewal in Christ with second-rate Gospel ditties and the most abominable of emotional excesses is a betrayal of the historic Catholic religion.

Rev. George Porthan

Soudan, Minn.

Essential to be pluralist

Dear editor:

Some Christians view pluralism (there is more than one path to God) as a wishy-washy, feel-good position that fails to acknowledge the supremacy of literal biblical Scripture. It is common to hear Christians proclaim that the Bible itself states that Jesus is the only way.

Jesus related a novel view of spirituality. He challenged people to explore their beliefs, both spiritual and societal. He encouraged people to seek an internal faith based on personal experience and understanding, rather than blind acceptance of an external set of rules. Many religions and philosophies contain similar teachings.

We must be careful not to idolize Jesus, the messenger, and disregard his vital message of love, acceptance and compassion.

Rather than focusing on a desire for everyone to accept the figure of Jesus, perhaps we need to nurture his message that is echoed in other religions and philosophies.

Jill Koehler


(by e-mail)


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