We’re going to see great things happen’

Published August 11, 2009

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald leads the singing of hymns at the 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle in Port Elgin, Ont.

Port Elgin, Ont.
National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald has expressed optimism that self-determination for native Anglicans will allow the church to thrive in indigenous communities across Canada.

“Today we’re in a very different place and today is a day of opportunity,” Bishop MacDonald told First Nations, Metis and Inuit Anglicans gathered at the 6th Indigenous Sacred Circle here.

While some might predict the collapse of the church in indigenous communities across Canada, said Bishop MacDonald, “I would like to predict that we’re going to see great things happen.”

History has shown that the greatest revival of the church in other parts of the world took place when missionaries left and native congregations took up the responsibilities of being church, Bishop MacDonald said in his keynote speech. He noted that American and European missionaries predicted the “total collapse” of churches in Asia and Africa when they left in the 70s due to lack of funds. What took place instead, he said, was “the greatest revival and greatest turning to Christ in any period since the time of the apostles.”

Today he said, he has started to see “growth in many, many communities. We’re starting to see dozens and dozens of people confirmed and baptized in communities.”

Bishop MacDonald said plans in the Indigenous Covenant on self-determination for aboriginal Anglicans, will soon come to fruition. The covenant had been put on the back burner while the experiences of former students in Indian residential schools, some of them run by Anglicans, took center stage in the decade after the signing of the covenant in 1994.

Bishop MacDonald, who became the first national indigenous Anglican bishop in 2007, related his own personal story of hardship.

“I know that you see a bishop you think well, he came out of the womb praying,” he said, drawing laughter from the delegates. “My story didn’t go like that. To tell you the truth if I hadn’t screwed up my life so bad I wouldn’t be here … only God could save me.” Today, he added, his family still refers to him as the “black sheep,” but for a different reason – he’s the only one who goes to church.

“As I look back on my life … I realize now that God was preparing me from the moment I was born. All my history, all that went into making who I am today. As I look to the decision I made to follow Christ in my life, everything that happened before that has turned into heaven.”

He added: “If can believe that for myself, why can’t I believe that for our indigenous people?”


  • 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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