On July 19, the Rev. Canon Virginia “Ginny” Doctor, indigenous ministries co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, began to have difficulty breathing after suffering from flu-like symptoms for a week. She was taken to hospital in Hagersville, Ont., not far from where she lives, and slipped into a coma that would last two weeks.
This would turn out to be the beginning of a difficult but surprising journey, one that opened up a new and unexpected avenue for ministry to the Anglican minister, who has served the church in a variety of capacities for decades.
When Ginny emerged from her coma last August, she was told that she had suffered a perforated bladder and undergone a very difficult surgery. “There were one or two people who said I was an hour from death,” she said later. “If I hadn’t gone in when I did, I could be six feet under.”
Ginny’s recovery to health has been the ongoing focus of a new project by Anglican Video called Ginny’s Journey. Taking the form of a video blog, Ginny’s Journey documents her thoughts and feelings as she goes through the recovery process, sharing what she has learned and her thoughts on the importance of prayer, hope and community support.
Speaking in one episode of how the experience has shaped her understanding of humility, Ginny notes that “when you have to depend on others, there is a humbling factor there. I began to see people in a different light.” At another point, she shares her thoughts on the medical system itself. “One thing about our medical system I think we haven’t quite figured out…[is] holistic healing. It’s not just about taking care of your physical needs; it’s about taking care of your spirit and your soul.”
The series is being produced by Lisa Barry, senior producer at Anglican Video. When asked what she hopes the impact of the project will be, Barry said she would like to see it build connections among people in similar situations. “I’m hoping that it spurs enough response that people who are in a similar situation could connect online…so people who aren’t getting support could connect online and get support.”
Before taking up the position of indigenous ministries co-ordinator, Ginny-who is a Mohawk from the Six Nations-served as a missionary of The Episcopal Church to the diocese of Alaska. She has been working for the Anglican Church of Canada since 2011.