Primate Addresses Trinity and Wycliffe Communities
Thursday January 17th, 2008
In his address to a joint meeting of the theological communities of Trinity and Wycliffe Colleges, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Very Rev. Fred Hiltz, in Sheraton Hall, Wycliffe College, on Wednesday, 16 January, declared that the Anglican Church of Canada needs to be more Christ-centred and mission-minded. The Church needs a new capacity to proclaim the Good News. This would present particular challenges to those entering ordained ministry. Nevertheless, evangelism should proceed from the vantage point of service rather than conquest. In this the Church needs to move away from a culture of membership to one of discipleship, and thereby achieve authentic community.
In his prefatory remarks, the Primate spoke of our call as Christians to a life of discipleship and as a church to be a servant community to a suffering humanity and creation. We need to be witnesses to God’s great love for us and all people. He stressed that at a time of tension in the Church, it is important to recognize that there is more that draws us together than pulls us apart. In this regard he noted the different instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion.
Reviewing the “Five Marks of Mission of the Worldwide Anglican Communion”, Archbishop Hilz mentioned that at the up-coming Lambeth Conference the focus is to be on mission, though he conceded that, given the other issues, keeping that focus might not be without its challenges.
On the issue of same sex blessings, the Primate has recently in a letter tried to clarify the facts of the situation in Canada for the benefit of those in other parts of the Communion. In particular, he sought to bring clarity as to the decisions of the synods of Ottawa, Montreal, and Niagara. (Later in response to a question the Primate said their actions should not be viewed as defiance of General Synod but as an attempt to test the mind of the church locally in those dioceses, they consented to consult widely on the issue, and they will take account of the Lambeth proceedings.) While the St Michael’s Report stated that same-sex blessings should not be a Communion breaking issue, the fact is it has been. He believes that it would be sad for people to leave the Church over the issue.