Like so many other gatherings in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, a meeting of the Anglican Indigenous Network very nearly fell victim to logistics.
But in spite of all the travel headaches and cancellations, the network managed to gather for what one Canadian called a “hopeful meeting” where participants exchanged ideas about ministry training and initiatives to retain and blend indigenous languages and cultures with church practices.
The network gathering, scheduled to meet from Sept. 16-21 in Cairns, was disrupted in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Heightened security at airports and flight cancellations made it impossible for several members to get to Australia.
In the end, only two of the five Canadian indigenous network members made it (albeit late in both cases) and their five mainland U.S. counterparts were unable to leave the country at all (though five Hawaiians did attend, since their travel to Australia was less complicated).
Many participants also found themselves temporarily stranded after flying into Sydney, when a regional airline, which was supposed to take them on to Cairns, went bankrupt.
In the end, national church indigenous ministries co-ordinator Donna Bomberry delivered the Canadians’ report on behalf of the intended delegation. She spoke to the gathering on Sept. 18, two days after the gathering was supposed to begin, even though some of the participants (including fellow Canadian, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples co-chairperson Todd Russell) had not yet arrived.
The gathering was most interested in A New Agape, ACIP’s plan for a new partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada. That plan calls for self determination and improved ministry training for indigenous Anglicans.
“I gave an overview of our work and ministry in Canada and I talked a lot about our healing work, our healing fund and the work done and received at General Synod in July,” said Ms. Bomberry. “I also talked about the uncertainty of the situation at the national office.”
The network gathering elected its first general secretary who will maintain communications and help organize the next gathering, scheduled for 2003, in Rotorua, Aotearoa (New Zealand). The voluntary position went to Malcolm Naea Chun, a lay person from Hawaii.