Preparations are gearing up as the date for the largest indigenous Anglicans gathering, known as the Sacred Circle, nears.
The Fifth Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle will take place at the Wilderness Edge Retreat and Conference Centre in Pinawa, near Winnipeg, from Aug.7-13. Over 200 people—lay, ordained, youth and invited guests—are expected to attend this year’s gathering.
Organized by the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP), the Sacred Circle is the “only event that brings indigenous Anglicans together,” said Donna Bomberry, indigenous ministries co-ordinator for General Synod, the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Invitations to the event have been sent to dioceses, parishes and other indigenous communities. “Since we can not invite everyone to the event, three representatives from each of those constituencies are expected to attend,” said Ms. Bomberry.
The agenda for the gathering will be finalized in March, during the ACIP committee meeting. Some of the topics to be discussed include problems affecting the current generation of native people, justice issues, what it means to “be” church in the present day and the vision for the future of indigenous people.
However, the issue of “same-sex (blessings or marriage) is not a priority of ACIP at this point,” said Ms. Bomberry. “We see that as a priority of General Synod and it is an issue best discussed at a diocesan level,” she said, elaborating that, “we will be focusing more on healing broken lives and families.”
Besides being a business meeting, the gathering is a time for people to share their experiences through music and story telling, said Ms. Bomberry. The secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network, Malcolm Naea Chun, a native from Hawaii, will share his experiences with the gathering.
The ideas and stories shared will guide ACIP in responding to its role of guiding the church on issues concerning indigenous Anglicans.
The gathering will be an opportunity for indigenous people to continue the journey of “claiming our identity as Indigenous Anglicans and continue to share and heal from the legacy of residential schools and colonialism,” said Ms. Bomberry.
The gathering is also an opportunity to renew the group’s Covenant with the national church and recovering its members’ spiritual and cultural heritage and traditions.
The Covenant, signed in 1994, between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Anglicans, stipulated that native Anglicans would form “a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada. “It also said the “hand of partnership” was extended “to all those who will help us build a truly Anglican indigenous church in Canada.”
In addition, the Indigenous Covenant Implementation Commission will raise issues for discussion at the gathering.
The commission was established to research and respond to the main goal of the New Agape: forming a self-determining indigenous Anglican community. So far the work of the commission has centered on researching different models of church governance structures internationally, said Ms. Bomberry.
One idea the commission has been considering is a national indigenous bishop and a self-determining structure within the Anglican Church of Canada.
Other national sacred circles were held in 2000 in Port Elgin, Ont., in 1997 in Lethbridge, Alta., in 1993 at Minaki, Ont., (at which then-primate Archbishop Michael Peers apologized for the church’s role in the residential school system) and in 1988 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., where indigenous Anglicans first began to speak about their residential school experiences.
However, a gathering planned for 2003 did not take place due to the withdrawal of a major funder.
For further Information please contact:
Anglican Church of Canada
Co-ordinator, Indigenous Ministries
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