Falling in love with the North

What are Anglicans passionate about? Strange as it may sound, despite the snow, from Labrador to British Columbia, the North is a very hot topic. And it’s about to get even hotter as the Council of the North distributes its new 29 minute video, Northern Ministries: An Anglican Challenge.

“People are very much in love with the North so they’ll love this video too,” says Gail Holland, Coordinator of the Anglican Appeal.

“We’re always amazed by it. From across the country, [Anglicans] are always asking for more information [on northern ministry] in their donor cards.”

Here it is.

Donald Harvey, Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador and Chair of Council of the North, says that the documentary, an Anglican Video production, is “a way [to] say thank you to all those who have made this work possible through contributing to the Anglican Appeal… by sharing our struggles and joys.

“We’re trying to build a sense of unity in the North, because we’re so far away from each other” and from southern Canadians.

In May, members of the Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops members each received a copy for circulation in their home dioceses. In the fall, all parishes in dioceses who are recipients of the Anglican Appeal’s direct mail campaign will also each receive the video. It is also available from the national resource centre in Toronto, and Bishop Harvey hopes that it will be aired on community TV where it “fits nicely into a half hour slot and is an excellent way to boost Canadian content as well as educate about the North and Anglicanism.”

The video’s senior producer, Lisa Barry, said “the point of the video was to enable people to be able to put faces to the work being done.

“We encountered a lot of hospitality, and we tried to let that show.” Bishop Harvey and the other nine northern bishops from the Council of the North had wanted to make a video for five years which could narrow the distance between northern ministries and heir southern counterparts. Finally, said Bishop Harvey, “the Council decided, ‘Let’s take the bull by the horns. Each diocese that gets their grant from the national Church– [let’s] voluntarily give a portion of our grants to produce this.'” The Anglican Appeal also helped subsidize production costs.

Bishop Harvey said the video will speak to Anglicans’ curiosity about who is ministered to in the North. “We have a special kind of outreach, to a number of cultures really, which makes up a very large percentage of our country– 85% of the land.”

Twelve percent of active Anglicans live in the massive area.

Northern Ministry: An Anglican Challenge chronicles stories in northern Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec. In the Fort Chipewyan segment, viewers meet the Rev. Marjorie Clanfield, who is one of a number of Aboriginal ministers serving without stipend. In the La Ronge profile, Bishop Charles Arthurson is seen wielding a hammer, building a church and chatting with parishioners in Cree. The Fort McMurray portrait shows priests and youth-workers lauding Anglican-inspired programs for the offspring of affluent oil families and for street-involved teens in this surprisingly urban but remote Alberta city. With such dedication as is seen in the video, wherein lie the challenges in the faithful North?

According to Bishop Harvey, “the problem today… is not so much a problem of personnel.”

Rather, “it is far more the trend than the exception for many Indigenous clergy and ministers in the North to be non-stipendiary….The sad part is that in some areas the clergy are on welfare.”

Despite hardships, Harvey said that he is pleased that “the true joy in Anglican northern communities” will be represented to all Canadians via the video.

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