Sacred Circle a turning point for indigenous ministry

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald at the Seventh Sacred Circle. Photo: Lisa Barry/Anglican Video
National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald at the Seventh Sacred Circle. Photo: Lisa Barry/Anglican Video
Published August 16, 2012

The Seventh Sacred Circle will be considered a point in which the sense of unity, community and resolve of indigenous Anglicans to pursue a self-determining ministry was “brought to a new level,” said National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald.

About 200 indigenous Anglicans across Canada gathered on Aug. 5 to 12 in Pinawa, Manitoba for their triennial meeting. Among them were about 30 indigenous Anglican youth who articulated what faith means to them and who expressed a desire for “relevant, courageous” leadership, said MacDonald in an interview.

“They’re really anxious to be indigenous, to be Christian, [and] to bridge the past into the future,” he told the Anglican Journal. Indigenous youth are technologically savvy but they’ve also been exposed to suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and poverty, noted MacDonald. “Our young people have known much more pain and grief than most people go through in a lifetime.”

In addition, many struggle with navigating both aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures, and face difficult decisions such as whether or not to stay on the reserve after university. “A lot of aspects of modern life [are] really toxic to the life of the people on the land,” said MacDonald, adding: “How does a young person negotiate those things?”

Approval of Canon 22 at the meeting also represented a “key transitional step” towards a self-determining church for indigenous Anglicans in Canada, said MacDonald. “We have created the living, breathing space for a self-determining indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada,” he said.

Other participants underscored the importance of Sacred Circle. This year’s meeting was, “by far, the best, for the gathering of people and the oneness of mind that I see,” said the Rev. Lisa Brant Francis, diocese of Moosonee. “It’s nurturing my faith and my belief and I know I’m not alone in this world,” said the Rev. Iola Metuq, diocese of the Arctic.

– With files from General Synod Communications




  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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