By Matt Gardner
Shortly before its first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic, held Oct. 4-6 at a hotel near Toronto’s Pearson Airport, the Council of the North was given an early Christmas present.
The council, a grouping of nine jurisdictions (dioceses or diocesan equivalents) that receive financial assistance from the national church, received a $400,000 gift from an anonymous donor in the diocese of Toronto, said David Lehmann, bishop of the diocese of Caledonia and council chair.
The donor, Lehmann said, had initially contacted a local parish priest who said the Council of the North needed it more than his Toronto parish.
The priest, a former seminary colleague of Lehmann’s, “got some stories from me and asked what would I put it towards if I had a choice,” Lehmann recalled.
“I said our training in ministry fund, because as we’re coming out of COVID and we’re wanting to gather or do things, it is the fund that will be most important to bring us together for meetings and gatherings.”
The council maintains a training fund established through a previous donation, spending a portion of the principal and interest each year.
Lehmann described the $400,000 gift as “game-changing, and just exceedingly generous and kind and thoughtful of both the parish priest and the donor.”
The gift effectively extends the life of the council’s training fund for another decade, he said.
The Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh and diocese of Yukon both have training sessions planned, while the diocese of the Arctic plans to use some of the training funds for translation work.
Strictly speaking, the gathering was both in-person and online. Six of the jurisdictions that make up the Council of the North were represented by someone physically present in the room, three by someone attending online via Zoom.
From donations it had received, the council set aside $60,000 and awarded a total of $6,000 in grants to six jurisdictions to allow them to continue developing online worship and ministries.
Lehmann said that while some areas in the North have limited streaming capabilities and rely on radio, for others the internet has become an increasingly significant tool in ministry. He also expressed gratitude to Anglicans for continuing to support the Council of the North.
“We are so thankful for the generosity of the Anglican Church of Canada that empowers and enables the ministry across the North and remote communities,” he said.
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