Photo: Scott Evans
By: The Rev. Canon Dr. Murray Still
At the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) we continue to work toward self determination within the church. As of the General Synod/Joint Assembly in Calgary in July, we presented The Covenant and Our Way of Life (OWL).
For Indigenous Anglicans, these documents are like a Constitution and bylaws. I commend the Covenant and OWL to the diocese for reading and study. The documents can be found on the Anglican Church of Canada’s website. As Indigenous Anglicans, we now commit ourselves to living into the documents.
Those interested can contact the Rev. Vincent Solomon for additional information. The Rev. Solomon attended the General Synod/ Joint Assembly and was one of the writers who drafted these documents.
At the conclusion of the Indigenous report to the General Synod/Joint Assembly, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop, Chris Harper, led that gathering in a round dance symbolizing peace, unity, and reconciliation.
I have attended many Council of General Synod (CoGS) meetings but this one felt a bit different. It pleases me to see the number of Indigenous Anglicans at CoGS. There’s an estimated 7 or so and most arrived by way of being elected through attendance at the General Synod/Joint Assembly. It’s not that long ago that Indigenous members were few and far between.
The number of Anglicans includes a youth representative and we managed a small caucus to hear from those members and build on the positive experience at the General Synod/Joint Assembly.
The makeup of the CoGS is changing with folk from various backgrounds. It is not simply white hair and Caucasian anymore. Another change I witnessed was careful planning that allowed each member of CoGS to meet and get to know each other. All but one or two attended in person so this made CoGS stronger.
Worship and study are always a highlight for me personally and we are forging a path that builds on the strategic plan, asking how exactly will this happen.
The theme chosen for the next two years of CoGS is “Rooted in the Word, Flourishing in the Spirit.” To bring this to life, we studied Revelation and crafted a visual tree with roots and blossoms. The roots contain our story from the past and what we bring to the conversation. The leaves contain the outcomes and hopes for moving ahead. Key among these is decolonization and reconciliation.
We have partners at CoGS, one from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), the other from The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States of America (ECUSA). They joined the meeting and offered partner reflection at the end of the meeting.
We also heard reports from the Primate, PWRDF, and The Anglican Foundation, and dealt with resolutions sent to us from the General Synod/Joint Assembly. One of those resolutions included continued work on anti racism while another made ACIP clear partners in the work of the Jubilee Commission.
We elected folks to many committees of the Church and I was elected partner to TEC. My first meeting will take place at the end of January.
While a normal timeline for CoGS is three years, the timeline was altered by Covid and a deliberate effort to stay in touch with our Lutheran brothers and sisters. This allowed for the Joint Assembly where our two churches welcomed the Moravian Church into Full Communion. As a result the next meeting of the General Synod will be held in 2025.
At one point at the Joint Assembly both churches joined the Moravians in a “Love Feast,” which forms the central part of Moravian worship. The feast involves a small serving of food along with worship. Our three churches participated in joint worship to mark our unity.
All in all, it was a very busy year for Indigenous Anglicans, from election of the new Indigenous Archbishop, completion of the Covenant and OWL, hosting the first Indigenous Young Adults Sacred Beginnings in May in Beauséjour, hosting a national Sacred Circle at the Fern Resort north of Orillia, Ontario and electing the new ACIP, where I serve as co-chair along with Rosie Jane Tailfeathers as the other co-chair and the Rev. Vincent Solomon as alternate co-chair. The co-chairs of ACIP are members of CoGS which is another significant step towards self determination. Our Indigenous Anglicans now have a voice and vote.
The members of CoGS meet twice a year as they represent the General Synod between Synods.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Murray Still serves as incumbent of two urban Anglican churches in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. He is chair of the Rupert’s Land Elder’s Circle and a tri-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People. Dr. Still and his wife Brenda live in Winnipeg