Five Anglicans from around the world have been invited to bring a symbol of the “life and issues” of their region to the enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday, March 21.
Among them is Adele Finney, executive director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development agency.
Finney, who will represent Anglicans in the Americas, will bring a deep-blue pottery pitcher with water sourced from the Yukon River, in the Northwest Territories; Lake Ontario of the Great Lakes bordering Canada and the United States; Lac St. Louis, Quebec; Pasadena, Newfoundland; the Atlantic Ocean off St. John’s, Newfoundland; and water blessed during a March 16 vigil of the church’s Council of General Synod (CoGS). Finney said she had hoped to bring water from Chile, but the plan hasn’t materialized.
She will also bear a small pottery vessel from Six Nations, Ontario, filled with water from the Old Man River, at Piikani First Nation in Alberta, which she will pour into the pitcher when she reaches the altar. (All the water that Finney collected came via several members of CoGS, present at the spring meeting March 14 to 17.)
All offerings will be taken up to the high altar after Welby delivers his sermon and will be placed alongside the archbishop’s pastoral staff “as an indication of the diversity and wonder of the Anglican Communion,” said Finney.
Water is an offering that holds a lot of meaning, Finney said in an interview. When Finney considered what she might bring, “the first image that came into my head was a cup of cold water that we give in Jesus’ name to one another,” she said.
Finney also wanted to take something that is representative of the Canadian church, the region and PWRDF’s work; she realized, upon consultation with PWRDF partners, that water is a common element that binds them together.
Much of PWRDF’s commitment is “walking with indigenous people” in their struggles for justice in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, Finney noted. “From a relief and development point of view, Jesus expressed his need and his thirst to the woman in the well, and it was out of that expression of need that she discovered the living water,” she said. “Jesus walked through difficult places and Samaria was one of them…We need to walk to those places also and we find water and we find Jesus in conversation with people.”
In a lot of cultures, water is also seen as “a symbol of spirit among people,” and in many indigenous cultures, added Finney, it is an element of healing.
Access to clean water is also an issue for many communities around the world, said Finney. “So much of what we do environmentally degrades the quality of water.” Water “connects us all,” she added, and “we need to work, be agents and stewards of creation because water is life.”
Finney said she was “astounded” when she read the invitation to the enthronement, which was extended by the dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis. “[I] thought I ought to reply right away so they wouldn’t try to find someone else,” she said.
She expects the enthronement ceremony “to be a meaningful service,” she said, and is excited at the chance to meet Anglicans from around the world. “I’m very honoured to do this.”
Also invited to present offerings are Real Kewasis, Mother’s Union general trustee (Anglican Church of Kenya), The Rev. Desire Mukanirwa, vicar of Goma (Anglican Church of the Province of Congo), The Rev. Peter Koon, provincial secretary of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Church of the Province of Hong Kong), and Bishop Suheil Dawani, of the Episcopal diocese of Jerusalem.