“We think we have problems in Canada – we don’t have problems,” said Bishop Charlie Arthurson with a wry smile. “Listening to (African) bishops and their problems of persecution and hunger” put life in Canada in perspective for the first Native Canadian to be made a bishop in the Anglican Church.
Bishop Arthurson was not minimizing the problems of life he sees on a regular basis. As suffragan bishop of Saskatchewan, Bishop Arthurson spends most of his time ministering among Native communities in the northern part of the province – places where, by Canadian standards, life can be difficult.
But the stories he heard in small Bible study groups and just walking across the University of Kent campus helped him see life from a different perspective.
He said the Lambeth Conference provided him an opportunity to experience the variety of the communion in a common framework.
He said it was a powerful experience meeting “so many bishops coming from different parts of the world with their different languages.” But all the bishops understand some English and he said there is a bond and “we all talk to each other.”
“We’re all equals in the Communion,” he said and there is a “joy that God has called us to be bishops -from different walks of life” that links the 750 participants in the once-a-decade meeting.
He said the fact that people from all over the world can come from such different situations, yet they know the “same hymns and prayers” will be important to tell people in his home diocese. “I guess, I’m going to do a lot of explaining,” he said in response to a question of how he will try to make Lambeth relevant to Canadians.
But he said the experience is important because it will help him explain that each little congregation is part of a much bigger world family.