Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In winter 2003, twelve persons named by The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and The United Church of Canada (UCC) met in Vancouver to consider their new mandate to explore the relationship between our two churches. It was clear to us from the outset that we were not commissioned to prepare plans for a new “church union,” a successor to the failed project of the 1970s. What we should make our task was initially less obvious.
Over the past six years (2003–2009) we have met twice yearly, in various corners of Canada. We have explored various facets of our relationship, including looking at matters that still seem to distinguish us from each other, or for some, to divide. But above all, we have listened. Listened to each other, and listened as people from all parts of this country told of the ways in which our two great churches intersect in their lives, in their families, in their communities, in the nation, and in our world. We gathered stories of theological education, and how nearly all our clergy now train in settings where they interact daily with the other tradition. We heard stories of Ecumenical Shared Ministries — where Anglican and United Church people, as well as in many instances Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others, have learned, not without struggle, to live in a variety of patterns as one congregation of Christ’s Church. We have heard from chaplains of the Canadian Forces; from hospital and prison ministries; from Indigenous ministries; and from those engaged in social justice ministries, especially through KAIROS — and everywhere people had stories to tell. Stories of the creative energy of God’s Spirit at work in our relationship. Stories, also, that remind us that grasping too tightly to our particularities may be hurtful, may be a stumbling block to our fulfilment of God’s mission in our world.
Over these six years our respect for what God is doing amongst us has grown. We have decided that the time has come to pause in our meetings, and to share with you, Anglican and United Church people across our nation, some of these stories, and the conclusions we have drawn. We want to set before all of us the challenge of our relationship. We have now issued Drawing From the Same Well: The St. Brigid Report, A Report of the Anglican-United Church Dialogue, 2003–2009. We invite you to read, to listen, and to ask with us whether God is calling us into a new stage in our common life. And finally, we encourage you to respond as you feel moved, to help us discern the direction we pursue in the next phase of this Dialogue. Emails can be sent to [email protected] or [email protected] or responses can be mailed to The Anglican-United Church Dialogue at the addresses printed on the copyright page.
Yours in Christ,
|The Rev. Dr. William H. Harrison
|The Rev. Dr. Robert H. Mills