Bishop Susan (“Sue”) Moxley, well known to Anglicans in Canada and overseas as a passionate advocate for social justice, has been appointed convenor of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN). The APJN assists the Anglican Communion in addressing peace and justice issues around the world.
Moxley, who retired last March as diocesan bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, “brings to this role great energy, determination and experience,” said an announcement made by Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Communion. “She has been a member of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) for 12 years and so understands the value of the past work of APJN.”
In a phone interview with the Anglican Journal, Moxley said she accepted the appointment because “I think this is important work and the Canadian church has something to contribute on a lot of different levels. It’s a way of us continuing to contribute to the Communion in the way that we have over the past several years on other topics.”
Kearon highlighted Moxley’s participation in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process involving Indian residential schools in Canada, her involvement in helping teens learn alternative dispute resolution methods and in helping parish councils “learn to transform internal conflict into positive energy for the Gospel” as an experience that will also be particularly helpful in her role as convenor. At the last 2012 ACC meeting in Auckland, members had approved a resolution to look into the role and experiences of Anglican Communion members with regards to truth and reconciliation commissions (TRCs).
In a paper written for the APJN, Bishop Terry Brown of the Anglican Church of Melanesia noted that of about 30 “true” TRCs, he estimated 23 have taken place in countries in which the Anglican/Episcopal church has a significant presence. There has also been “an increasing movement towards forming TRCs in post-conflict or post-human rights abuse situations,” said Brown.
And yet, Brown noted, little is known about them. TRCs “raise many theological and ethical issues for Christians (not just Anglicans),” said Brown. “If the state takes on this primary role of truth-telling and reconciliation concerning abuses of the past, what should be the church’s role in the process?…Should the church continue to develop its own programs of forgiveness and reconciliation or should it hand over this role to the state?” He also said there are questions about whether public truth-telling always results in healing.
The ACC approved the APJN’s recommendation that a survey be conducted on how provinces, dioceses and individuals of the Anglican Communion have been involved in national TRCS.
The responses have, so far, been disappointing, with only about four provinces (including Canada) participating, said Moxley. “Trying to get information wasn’t good. That’s going to be the first struggle-how can we communicate and actually get people to respond.”
Her role would be to get people talking to each other, said Moxley. “It will all be virtual conversations, by email, Facebook. There isn’t any money to meet,” she said.
Another priority she sees for the APJN would be to highlight peace initiatives going on in different parts of the world where churches are involved “but they don’t get very much publicity,” said Moxley. “When we were in Palestine last February, Bishop [Suheil] Dawani [bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem] talked about the Kids for Peace program. That’s really a neat thing, [but] I’ve seen it once on the Anglican Communion News Service.” There are school programs in Canada where children learn peer mediation “which has some connections” to peacemaking and peacebuilding, “but I don’t think those connections ever get made,” she said. There are other church initiatives such as safe church and addressing the plight of women in war, and often they are not seen as work that relates to peacemaking, she added.
Moxley, who served in an episcopal role for 10 years, made history in 2007 when she became the first female bishop elected in her diocese, and the second female bishop to lead a diocese across the Canadian Anglican church.
She earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in arts from the University of Western Ontario, a master’s degree in psychology and a PhD in education and psychology from the University of Michigan. She received her master’s degree in divinity in 1984 from the Atlantic School of Theology, where she served as a part-time faculty member from 1990 to 1996.
She was ordained to the diaconate in 1984 and to the priesthood in 1985, and has served parishes in the diocese of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. She was also a member of a number of diocesan and national church councils and committees.