Aboriginal Anglicans get approval to form self-determining community within the church

OTTAWA (June 1995) — The 300-member General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has accepted and confirmed a covenant which encourages indigenous peoples to create a self-determining community within the church.

The covenant was drafted and signed by Aboriginal Anglicans at a gathering in Winnipeg last April.

Bishop Gordon Beardy of the Diocese of Keewatin, told Synod it is time for native people from across the country to begin a dialogue on what they mean by self determination and partnership within the Anglican Church. (Bishop Beardy is the second Aboriginal person elected bishop in the Canadian Anglican Church.)

Bishops James Cruickshank of the Diocese of Cariboo, said he was “deeply moved” by the desire of Aboriginal Anglicans to shape their future. “I believe one of the great promises of the Gospel is that we can be responsible for our own lives,” he said. “What I hear our native brothers and sisters saying is that it is time for them to accept responsibility for their future and to move from a feeling of dependency on the church to a sense of independence.”

Although one speaker expressed concern that native and non-native Anglicans would lose their connection if a self-determining Aboriginal church were created, most Synod members expressed overwhelming support for the covenant.

“We are letting go of something precious, but it may be necessary to let go so that we an receive each other back again in fullness,” said Bishop Cruickshank. “I believe we will be a richer church for it.”

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