Preaching a learned skill

Published June 1, 2000

Anglicans accountable

Dear editor,

I too was stunned when the judgment came down in the Lytton residential school case, finding the Anglican Church accountable for 60 per cent of the damages. The residential schools, run by the churches, were one government vehicle for assimilation of Indians. But then I read the judge’s ruling. It is clear there was deceit by the Anglicans in charge and abuse was covered up.

I think it is critical that we not be distracted by this litigation to the extent of obscuring our spiritual and moral accountability to First Nations peoples.

We took it upon ourselves to mould the Indians in our own (culture’s) image, by stripping Indian children of their languages, religions and cultures. We were the emissaries of a violent assimilation that has left deep, unhealed wounds in native individuals and communities.

What was our missiology that we believed it was right to tear children from their families to “destroy” the Indian in them? With the law on our side, we halted the potlatch and collected religious regalia for our museums. We looked the other way when Indian graveyards were robbed. Where did we ever get the idea that good intentions justify, or absolve us of responsibility for the results of our actions?

I hope we will ask ourselves these questions as the lawsuits wind their way through the courts. I have been heartened by the integrity and transparency of the church in its Web site (the Lytton judgment is included), the Anglican Journal and public statements. I thought the Winter 2000 issue of Ministry Matters was very thoughtful.

I do wonder, however, if God’s forgiveness of our sins should be invoked so quickly. Maybe we need to sit in silence a spell, to mourn our own moral and ethical failings in this ugly history. Then, it is First Nations peoples, not God, from whom we must first ask forgiveness.

It seems our primary task as Anglicans is to heal the distrust, anger and fear that exist between First Nations peoples and settlers/immigrants in Canada, beginning in our church.

First Nations peoples remain among the poorest in Canada; they are grossly over-represented in the prisons; addiction, suicide and mortality rates are obscenely high. There is so much we can do to support Natives. They will show us the way if we listen.

We are being given a second chance to demonstrate to First Nations peoples – and to all Canadians – that we preach a gospel of Good News: A God of love and justice exemplified in Jesus Christ.

Cynthia McLean


by e-mail

Deeply offended

Dear editor,

Call me crazy, but perhaps the reason Wiccan beliefs are becoming more mainstream, particularly among young women, is opinions like those expressed by William Holtham in April letters (Episcopal Projectiles Welcome Here).

“Weary of a constant bombardment from our own church hierarchy in the form of … women priests … frustrated Anglicans would welcome the support of … conservative views.”

As a young woman, an Anglican, and one considering ordained ministry, I am deeply offended by those who believe that women should not be priests. Perhaps the most shocking is the utter rejection of other viewpoints by those Anglicans who do not actively support interfaith dialogue.

I have reservations about joining a church whose base is the exclusion of those who are not carbon copies of those already in power.

Katharine Childs

Montreal, Que.

by e-mail

No lack of women

Dear editor,

Lucy Reid’s assertion (Journal Letters, April) that affirmations of “the sacredness of the natural world, the body, femaleness, sexuality and the divine feminine” have long been missing in Christianity is totally at odds with holy writ, and with the entire history of Christian theology and Christian art.

The sacredness of the natural world is affirmed in the most obvious and conspicuous manner in the creation narrative of Genesis, the theology of the incarnation, and in the psalms.

As to the body, what of the doctrine of the Incarnation that “the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”? Has she any inkling of the implications of the doctrine of the incarnation to our understanding of the nature and beauty of the physical universe?

As to “femaleness,” is Ms Reid unaware of the femininity of Mary, the mother of our Lord? Is she unaware of the endless procession of women saints who span the entire church history? Has Ms. Reid never heard of St. Mary Magdalene, of SS Agatha, Agnes, Anastasia, Appolonia, Catherine of Alexandria, Cecilia, Christina, Constantia, Elizabeth, Helena, Lucy, Margaret, Sophia, Theodora, Ursula or countless others?

Is she unaware of the endless contributions made by Christian women over many centuries to poetry, theology, politics, art, music and every other form of creative endeavour and public service? Ms Reid writes that “in interfaith dialogue Christians have to learn to be quiet and listen.” It would also help if we took the time to learn and know something about our own faith.

K. Corey Keeble


God is like a lake

Dear editor,

Having read the April letters on paganism, I wonder again what people are thinking when they go to church or read the Bible. Europeans came to Canada believing in one God. Did they think that same God didn’t get to Canada first? “I believe in one God, creator of heaven and earth,” … Natives worshipped the Creator. Is that a different god? If so what happened to one God?

Many Native cultures have a tradition of a great teacher so it is even possible that Jesus got here before Europeans. He did say, “Other sheep have I which are not of this fold.” (John 10:16). Of course the First Nations use different ceremonies but so do Europeans. There is a wonderful saying I heard once: “God is like a lake. People come to it from all directions and each one sees it differently but all get what they came for.”

Ina Roelants


Victims again

Dear editor,

Native children were victims again when faced with the paintings by T. Ackermann. Newspapers are full of accounts of how children are traumatized for life by even one or two encounters with exhibitionists. What would Jesus do if he were there? Would he throw out the paintings and say “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of debauchery?”

Why would anybody take the risk of being numbered with the pedophiles? Apparently the Diocese of Huron already has 1,000 plaintiffs (in a class action) for actions in the residential schools.

There are adults who will quite rightly distance themselves from the church that allowed their building to be desecrated this way. If adults who are young in the faith are now disillusioned, then they are included when Jesus said “If anybody offends these little ones, it would be better that a millstone …” I hope Forest, Ont., has enough millstones for all.

L. Drummond

Lindsay, Ont.

by e-mail

Explore new paths

Dear editor,

Congratulations on your excellent coverage of the New Westminster controversies over same-sex unions (Dialogue on Same-Sex Unions Criticized, April Journal.)

One wonders how well those members of Essentials who appeal to Scripture and tradition to back their stand have read their Bibles. What was happening when St. Paul broke with both Scripture and tradition to advocate admission of gentiles into the church without circumcision? (Galatians, esp. 3:26, 4:12; Acts 15.) Surely the Holy Spirit who “blows where it wills” (John 2:8) has often led Christians through history to explore paths past tradition has never trod. “It has been said of old,” taught Jesus, “but what I tell you is this ?” (Matthew 5:17-48)

Like the conservatives of the early church, Essentials and their allies are to be deplored for their blind conservatism and lack of courage in opposing Bishop Ingham’s courageous policies.

Cyril Powles


by e-mail

Strongly opposed

Dear editor,

I would be totally against the Anglican Church performing a same-sex ceremony.

If my church should decide to sanction this diabolical practice, I would have to leave the church I love. It goes against all I believe in.

Marriage is between one man and one woman, if we believe our Bible. God created Adam and Eve. That’s how it started, that’s how it should remain.

Mrs. A. Adshead

Mississauga, Ont.

Not watered down RC

Dear editor,

I was upset and slightly offended at the somewhat sneering condescension shown by Robert M. Black towards Francophone Anglicans (Journal Letters, March). I am both Francophone and French, having lived in Quebec for many years.

In my long quest for a church where I would find a home, I never saw the Anglican Church as watered-down Roman Catholicism, or a refuge for lapsed Roman Catholics, as Mr. Black seems to imply.

The church shaped by Cranmer, Hooker, Andrews and many others has a unique spirituality to offer those who are truly seeking a faith. The French parish of Tous-les-Saints in Quebec City welcomes many kinds of parishioners, just as most English parishes do, and none of these people feel even remotely comfortable with Roman Catholicism and some of its beliefs.

Mr. Black should understand the Anglican Church is not a fortress meant strictly for anglophones, and show some respect for the very hard work accomplished over 15 years by Canon Voyer, rector of Tous-les-Saints.

Rev. Solange Vouvé, deacon

St. Michael?s and St. Matthew?s

Sillery, Que.

by e-mail

Taking it to the people

Dear editor,

In regard to Bill Chandler?s response to my critique of Suicide by Rev. Marney Patterson, (Journal Letters, April): he sets his estimate of what he calls ?font Christianity? against his version of ?Bible believing Christianity.?

If you want to find out what true font Christianity is all about, pick up your New Testament and read what our blessed Lord told Nicodemus ? that we must be born again of water and the Spirit. From earliest times, the church applied this portion of Scripture to refer to water baptism. This was the Christianity for which the martyrs died and in support of which the Church fathers wrote.

No one would have supposed people would actually oppose the free gift of salvation in Christ, which begins (but does not end) in the font, to a concept of ?getting saved? through something which we do, something based upon an emotional outburst that leaves us, quite often, with what the Pentecostals call ?the Monday morning Pentecostal hangover.?

If Mr. Chandler wants to see me bring this ancient concept of ?font Christianity? to people where they are, I welcome him to fly to Duluth, Minn. He can travel with me 141.6 miles one way to one of my two mission stations, where I say mass for the good Anglican people who appreciate my ?font Christianity.? He is welcome, too, on the next Sunday, to travel with me 114.8 miles to another of my mission stations.

No one has ever danced in the aisles in either of these two places of worship.

I do indeed take Christianity to where the people are living.

Fr. George Porthan

Soudan, Minn.

Bypassing common cup

Dear editor,

Most readers will be familiar with the Anglican Church opinion on the use of the common cup ? i.e. ?it poses no real hazard to health in normal circumstances.? In spite of this, some of us prefer to take the wafer only. This can present problems to both communicant and server.

For many years I had hoped our leaders would recognize the problem and suggest an appropriate and uniform way to bypass the common cup. At present we break line after receiving the wafer. This can be disruptive. Please help us with this very real problem.

A.E. Sovereign, MD

Vernon, B.C.

Follow Christ

Dear editor,

Thanks to Canon A. Gordon Baker for his April opinion piece, “Should the Anglican Church of Canada survive?”

I converted 24 years ago (born Jewish) and have been involved in five congregations since then. Some get bogged down with their buildings and choirs, or endless discussions about gays, sex and the ordination of women.

We must move into the third millennium trying to follow in Christ’s footsteps – “To see him more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly.”

I have found an excellent congregation here at St. George’s. I also believe God is faithful – all the rest is really only “window dressing.” We will survive if we work hard and deserve to do so.

Goldie Josephy

Guelph, Ont.

Riding on coattails

Dear editor,

I am confused by A Fond Goodbye (April Journal) regarding the unfortunate passing of Sandra Schmirler.

The true tragedy is the loss of a sister in Christ, a loved individual, a cherished member of her family and communities (personal and athletically).

To stoop to the level of identifying the service as Anglican (I presume attesting to the superiority of our denominational beliefs over those of any other) is both disrespectful towards the memory of Mrs. Schmirler and yet another example that the Anglican Church is willing to ride on coattails in an effort to have its own existence recognized.

The very fact it is reported in your publication should have given readers knowledge of Mrs. Schmirler’s denomination. To many she was, and is, inspirational. Your publication has done that memory, which should be enough, a disservice.

Robert G. Redding

Shelburne, N.S.

Don?t prolong agony

Dear editor,

Re: Opinions Sought on Euthanasia (March Journal.)

I believe one should differentiate between “mercy killing” and “euthanasia.” The Robert Latimer case is “mercy killing” and in such cases I believe the law should remain the way it is, but the judge should be given discretion on sentencing.

For euthanasia by doctor-assisted suicide, the law should be changed to allow this with safeguards. The person must be terminally ill and suffering unremitting pain and/or terrible indignities. He must be mentally capable of understanding what he is requesting and must have repeated the request. The opinion of at least two doctors should be obtained and the case should reported to authorities.

Let us not prolong dying for anyone who meets these criteria.

J.H. Bailey

Surrey, B.C.



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