Primate outlines church’s priorities in New Year’s Day address

On New Year’s Day, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) outlined the church’s priorities for 2011. They include enlivened worship, biblical literacy, renewed commitment to indigenous ministries and strong leadership in environmental advocacy.

“I envision a Church in which worship, while grounded and rooted in tradition, will be enlivened to meet the needs of our diverse membership,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz in his traditional New Year’s Day address at Christ Church Cathedral, in Ottawa. Texts will be revised, he said, but they will be “in accord with sound liturgical principles, sensitivity to the many languages and cultures within our Church, and an unabashed drawing of resources from around the Anglican Communion and the ecumenical world.”

The Gospel will be proclaimed in various media, including drama, while Anglicanism’s choral tradition “will be complemented by the simplicity of Taize and spaces for deep silence before God,” said Archbishop Hiltz.

“Through the liturgy the people will taste and see that the Lord is good, and that he calls us into that same goodness for the sake of the world,” he said.
Commitment to biblical literacy, theological education and preparation for ministries will also be renewed, he added. “I see a Church that will have explored a whole range of models of ministry.”

Archbishop Hiltz said these were but some of the priorities set out in Vision 2019, which General Synod, the church’s governing body, approved in June 2010.

Vision 2019 also calls the church “to be attentive to our needs as a church but also attentive to the needs of the world, to be a church not turned in upon itself but turned out toward the world,” said the primate.

He commended Anglicans for being “extraordinarily generous” in their support for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan, and for the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the church’s relief and development arm.

But he also called attention to the plight of refugees displaced not just by oppressive regimes and wars, but also droughts and famine resulting from climate change. “The issue continues to be of grave concern in the world,” he said. Church leaders must educate their members on the issue so that they can reduce their carbon footprints and exert pressures on governments “to be steadfast in pledges to reduce gas emissions that escalate global warming.”
The primate also said that the Church will renew its commitments to indigenous ministries not just in communities in the north but among indigenous peoples living in vast numbers in large urban areas in the south.

He reiterated the church’s support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and said that having attended the first national gathering last June, he would participate in all the regional gatherings for the next four years. Two gatherings – which are intended to hear, record and preserve the stories of Indian Residential Schools survivors – are scheduled this year in Nunavut and in Nova Scotia.

The primate expressed hope that by the time the mandate of the TRC is completed in 2015, First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples “will have experienced healing, that long held derogatory attitudes towards aboriginal peoples will be a thing of the past, and that this country will be brought to a new place of profound respect for the First Peoples of this land, and for their traditional ways and wisdom.”

On the ecumenical front, Archbishop Hiltz noted that Anglicans and Lutherans will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Full Communion this year. Both churches will have a joint meeting of their governing bodies in Ottawa in 2013, and they will host a public gathering to address from a faith perspective issues of concern in Canadian society, particularly hunger and poverty.

This year, Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Canada are marking the 40th anniversary of international and national dialogue, noted Archbishop Hiltz. “Personally, I long for the day when ordered ministries are recognized and Eucharistic hospitality is shared, for that is the ultimate expression of the unity for which Jesus prays,” said the primate.

Archbishop Hiltz urged Canadian Anglicans to pray that the positive way in which the issue of human sexuality was discussed and debated at the last General Synod “will continue to prevail in our beloved Church, and throughout our worldwide Communion.”  He expressed confidence that the Anglican Communion – which has been plagued by disagreements over human sexuality – will strengthen their “bonds of affection” as they work together on common issues of concern.

He sought prayers for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams “as he endeavors to faithfully fulfill his role as a focus for unity throughout the Anglican Communion,” and for the primates, who are gathering in Ireland this month.

(The Rev.) Grant Rodgers
St. John the Apostle Anglican Church
Port Moody, BC