Back in September five Anglican clergy stood with our rector here to bless a “Queer” marriage between a woman and a Transgendered person, the legal ceremony having been conducted by a provincial marriage commissioner. Such blessings are prohibited in this diocese, though permitted in almost half the Anglican dioceses across the country—and in all other Canadian urban centres. As a result, the six clergy were chastised by the diocesan chancellor and threatened with disciplinary action by the archbishop.
Subsequently, the archbishop has initiated a series of study sessions called “Generous Listening” as a way for the diocese to discern its way forward on this issue. The first session featured two biblical scholars who took opposing sides while modelling a respectful dialogue. At the second session people gathered in small groups to share stories and then were invited to stand in larger groupings on a continuum of opinion from “Never” to “Now”, with over half the assembly crowding around “Now”, representing a clear majority who are ready to see same-sex marriages performed in this diocese.
Meanwhile, the lay people of the diocese who are concerned with the snail’s pace of progress on this issue (some have called it “glacial”) have banded together to apply pressure so that the issue is resolved quickly. Our own church members are invited to attend a congregational conversation, hosted by our churchwardens, on Sunday, April 9, following the 10:30 service, to consider our own ongoing actions. All church members are invited to attend and participate.
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