This weekend the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary convenes to consider the election of a Suffragan Bishop, elected from among the Indigenous clergy of the Diocese, to provide spiritual leadership for Anglicans in the Treaty 7 territories of Southern Alberta.
For almost fifty years the Anglican Church of Canada has been working toward a new relationship with its Indigenous peoples. The 2001 report, “A New Agape”, articulated a vision that emphasized Indigenous self-governance, self-determination, and partnership within the church nationally. The election of a National Indigenous Bishop, Mark MacDonald, in 2007 was a major step toward this vision, as was the creation of the Diocese of Mishamikweesh in 2014, encompassing over twenty-five First Nations communities in Northern Ontario.
As a precedent to this week’s motion in Calgary, the Diocese of Saskatchewan elected its first Diocesan Indigenous Bishop in 2012 to provide spiritual oversight for Anglicans of the Cree First Nations, which comprise over 60% of the membership of that diocese.
Questions remain about the voting process—which asks that a bishop be chosen by the Treaty 7 peoples for the Treaty 7 peoples—as it remains unclear if this bishop would become the automatic successor to the diocesan bishop in the event of illness or death, a position not supported by a general election of Synod as a whole.
But clearly, we are moving in the direction of greater autonomy for the Indigenous congregations of our diocese, a move that carries the potential for both healing and empowerment.
There are many ministries happening right in our midst about which not all of us are aware. Guides and Pathfinders are among those, as is the weekly community chess league for young people and the life-long learning group for seniors. But also, three times a week, people gather at St. Stephen’s to find support for their recovery from addictions, or support for their life living with an addict.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a long history as “an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem.” It was started in the 1930’s by a doctor and a businessman, both alcoholics. They applied Christian principles to addictions and created Twelve Steps to assist alcoholics to live a sober life “in recovery” (AA never calls a sober alcoholic “recovered”, only “in recovery”).
The Twelve Steps proved so useful to alcoholics that they were applied to other addictions as well, such as drugs (Narcotics Anonymous), sex (Sex Addicts Anonymous), food (Overeaters Anonymous), and gambling (Gamblers Anonymous). The Steps also provide support for the partners and families of addicts, helping them cope with the unique stresses of living with an addict. This group is called Al Anon.
Numbers are hard to come by (AA, after all, relies on anonymity) but it is estimated that AA has helped well over 2 million alcoholics worldwide. Some of those in recovery, along with their family members, have found new life in groups that meet here at St. Stephen’s. We are proud to be their home.
|SW Serenity AA
Sundays, 8:30 pm
Open Group (show up)
Tuesdays, 8:00 pm
For family and friends of problem drinkers–
Find understanding & support
Explorer AA Group
Wednesdays, 8:30 pm
Open Group (show up)
AA Help Line & Email
Al-Anon Help Line
Our new Parish Council had its first meeting last Sunday and its members clearly have their work cut out for them!
Looming large on the horizon is a major renovation project for the Memorial Hall and office block. A team of church members will head the project, reporting to Parish Council. It will do a full needs assessment of both the engineering and the programmatic needs of our buildings and property, and prepare recommendations for the congregation’s consideration.
The issue of same-sex marriage continues to be unresolved in this diocese, meaning that parishes are currently prohibited from offering either marriage or even blessings to same-sex couples. The churchwardens are considering assembling a congregational meeting to study the range of options available to the parish in moving the issue forward toward a decision at the diocesan level.
Succession planning is necessary for all the staff changes occurring within the next few years, requiring strategic shifts away from reliance upon the rector and toward increasing self-sufficiency of the Council and Corporation.
All this requires a guiding vision and a steady hand at the wheel. So the Corporation is delighted to announce its appointment of Pat Cochrane as Chair of Parish Council for a two-year term. Among her many other qualifications and civic involvements, Pat was a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education for fourteen years, and chair of that body for over ten years. We welcome Pat to this new role and look forward to her leadership through this challenging time.