A conversation with Bishop Larry Beardy of the newly formed Northern Manitoba Area Mission of Mishamikoweesh
Indigenous Suffragan Bishop Isaiah Larry Johnson Beardy has only been in his new ministry of the Northern Manitoba Area Mission Diocese for less than a year, but his ministry is quickly breaking new ground.
Beardy’s area mission spans the northern Manitoba portion of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, as well as the northern portions of the Dioceses of Saskatchewan and Brandon.
Born in Tataskweyak, Man., Bishop Beardy worked as a teacher before being ordained in 1999. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the college of Emmanuel and St. Chad, in recognition of his work in education and ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada.
Contact spoke with Beardy to learn of the new developments in his diocese, as well as the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Indigenous communities in the Northern Manitoba Area Mission.
This interview has been edited for brevity.
Q. On November 30 to December 2, 2018, you called a Sacred Circle for the Northern Manitoba Area Mission of Mishamikoweesh. What happened at this Sacred Circle?
A. Over the course of the threee days, we discussed a wide range of issues including the vision of this newly formed area mission, stewardship of both God’s creations and Indigenous spiritual journeys, as well as the formation of an Indigenous council to implement action items arising from the Sacred Circle discussions.
We also talked about the construction of a mission office in Split Lake, for the Northern Manitoba Area Mission Diocese. We hope to have this mission house constructed as soon as possible.
Q. Could you please tell us more about this Indigenous Council that was formed?
A. This Indigenous Council is for the Northern Manitoba Area Mission, and it consists of four members: Bishop Mark Macdonald, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Bishop Adam Halkett, and myself. The council is mandated to find ways of implementing self-determination in both finances and policy development. There are three Indigenous language groups that are represented on this council: Ojibwe, Cree, and Dene, and it will serve a term of three years.
Q. When is the first meeting of the new council and what is on the agenda?
A. Our first council meeting is a teleconference scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2019. During this, and future teleconference meetings, we will discuss and explore matters such as youth ministry, lay readers training, catechism, implementation of our budget, stewardship, music ministry, and how to partner with local leaders and businesses in northern Manitoba.
Q. While all of the above agenda items are important, which do you think is the most pressing?
A. Stewardship. We need to find ways to support the ministry of Northern Manitoba Area Mission. All of our clergy at the Northern Manitoba Area Mission are nonstipendiary. We also don’t have very many clergy. There are some communities that do not receive any sacraments. We have to find ways to get to all our brothers and sisters in northern Manitoba, and look after one another.
Q. Is there anything else you would like the rest of the church to know about the direction of the Northern Manitoba Area Mission?
A. We need prayers and we need your support. Our budget is only $300,000 a year. We need support to provide stipends for our 15 active clergy, and we need support for training new ordained and lay ministers.
If there is any parish, in any diocese, that is willing to partner with Northern Manitoba Area Mission, we are willing to share ministry and exchange visits with you.