Archbishop Andrew Hutchison celebrates his first year as primate of the Anglican Church of Canada this month and, in an interview, cited a “rebuilding of relationships and trust” among bishops, reaching out to dioceses through direct visits and Web casts and a series of dialogues with various interest groups within the church as some of his accomplishments.
He acknowledged, however, that more work needs to be done in the area of building a “healthy” relationship between the Anglican church and its indigenous members. “Providing whatever help we can to the Anglican Council for Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) as they struggle with understanding the covenant and where that might be leading, helping indigenous Anglicans realize self-determination within the ACC is an ongoing agenda that I will certainly be working on in the next year or two,” said Archbishop Hutchison.
(In 1994, ACIP reached a covenant with the national church that called aboriginal people “into unity in a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada.”)
“When I began this ministry I did speak about my sense of accountability and responsibility to all the constituencies of this church, (the) desire to have all the voices at the table treated with respect and openness,” he added. “I think I’ve made a start in that respect and I think a lot of people have supported that intention, most notably the house of bishops.”
The primate noted that “after a fairly fractious period of history” (triggered, for the most part, by disagreements over the issue of sexuality), recent meetings have seen “a most remarkable rebuilding of relationships” among bishops.
He said he has also received “remarkable feedback” about his Web casts from both rural and urban Anglicans who feel that “they have a place and they are listened to and welcomed.”
His first year in office has been “a very steep learning curve and a wonderful experience of immersion in the life of the church,” said Archbishop Hutchison.
He said his visits to various parishes from coast-to-coast have left him very hopeful about the life and future of the church.
“If you look at the mainline churches in the 21st century, our own included, you have the option of seeing the glass half full or half empty,” he said. “If you want to see a church that’s broken and fractious and losing membership, it’s there. If you want to see a church that’s committed and vital and exciting and growing, it’s there. That’s a choice you have to make.”
Aside from his extensive travels to dioceses across the country, Archbishop Hutchison said he enjoyed going overseas “to see the church experience the gospel through different eyes.” Additionally, the primate visited churches in Cuba and China and he attended the primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland and had a private audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury in England.