February 27, 2022
What you find here is a vibrant moment in a movement that is over 200 years old. The Sacred Circle: The Covenant and Our Way of Life represents the fruit of prayer and hope that have been held dear by many Indigenous Christians over these death-laden centuries. With ideas and practices that were held quietly in the dark days of the violent persecution by government and the institutional church, this is the public blossoming of the attempt to receive and live the Gospel of Jesus in an Indigenous way—Inuit, First Nations, and Metis.
Though many are already attempting to live The Sacred Circle, this is not meant to be a final document or statement. What you see here is the form that the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples will submit to the next Sacred Circle Gathering. As we wait for this event, we will receive, consider, and live the life that is the aim of these documents.
The living document before you is the product of many years of prayerful, Gospel centred conversation. The Focus Group, drafted by ACIP and led by the Rt. Rev. Isaiah Beardy and Canon Donna Bomberry, attempted to live what they were writing. The Indigenous House of Bishops’ Leadership Circle and two on-line Sacred Circle Gatherings worked with ACIP to make this a reality. Perhaps most important, we have tried to listen and remember the voices of our elders—Inuit, First Nations, and Metis. Inspired by the Spirit, they gave us the vision and the hope to do this. If there are any shortcomings, it is our failure to embody their words and deeds. All that succeeds is an expression of the life of Jesus that we gratefully witnessed in them, in their language, and in their culture.
The Sacred Circle seeks to faithfully apply the Scripture based values and ideals of the undivided Church, as we have received this treasure through the Anglican Communion. It yearns for the incarnation of the Word of God in Indigenous life and its beauty and wisdom, something that was only allowed underground in the oppression and death of colonization. These documents describe a way of coming together, being together, encouraging one another in faith. It is a commitment and endeavour to be relatives on the Land, not to impose one way of doing things, but to inspire renewal on the Land in every place, including our urban centres.
Despite the pain of the past, our elders have insisted that we pursue this in a way that would allow us to be closer to the Anglican Church of Canada at the end of the process than we were at its beginning. This is not easy and we know that many, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who are used to the unyielding borders of colonial thought, will find it a stretch. With faith, hope, and love, we trust it will be a good stretch.
It is a blessing to present this to you for prayer and consideration. As it is received everywhere across the Land, this living document will be touched by the Spirit’s work in our local sacred circles. Through this, we commit to be gathered and guided by the Living Word of God, who is present in our midst and living through us the life of the World to Come in these desperate, challenging, and dangerous times. We pray, we act, we hope to make the words in The Sacred Circle serve all people and Creation, heal the wounds of the Peoples and the Land, and give honour and glory to the God who has saved us.
Work with this, pray with it, and live it. May it bring justice and healing to the People of the Land; may it make a multitude of Gospel based disciples; may it bring glory to the God who has saved us and given us new life.
Love and blessings,
The Most Rev. Mark MacDonald
Presiding Elder of Sacred Circle and National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop