"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith, engineering, non-Newtonian frames and Métis goodness.

Relinquishment of Ordained Ministry

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The church law concerning relinquishing ministry is in Canon XIX: https://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/219-2019-canon-xix.pdf

This is effectively a voluntary request to have a license to administer the sacraments and to preach suspended. It does not presume re-licensing can never occur in the future. Ontologically it is not an ending of sacramental orders, just an ending of the temporal license to minister, preach and celebrate sacraments (communion, baptism, reconciliation etc). As a weak metaphor, it’s like asking the province to cancel my driver’s license. I still maintain the knowledge and skill and inner being to drive, but I’ve lost my legal authority to do so.

Dated this letter 6 June, both the 18th anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate (2004) and the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Seemed fitting.

I’m indebted to Vine Deloria, Jr’s writings. Just realizing that this decision is the culmination of thoughts leading from his works God is Red: A Native View of Religion and Spirit and Reason. Those informed an article I published in 2019 about reconciliation between Christians and Indigenous.

Last post has all the rationale for this decision. The text of my letter to the Bishop is below:

Enclosed please find schedule A from Canon XIX confirming my voluntary relinquishment of the exercise of ministry.

There are two primary reasons for this decision.

First, as I’ve related to you, I can no longer participate as a part of the institutional church that continues to do so poorly around issues of Indigenous relations and reconciliation. My observation is the organization continues to be forward in expressing an opinion about what needs to be done, with little interest in listening and forming the Indigenous relationships necessary to be community. It is the work of a colonial church to decolonize, and not the work of Indigenous clergy.

Part of the issue is a Christology subordinated to a poor ecclesiology that misforms the church’s mission: a continued idolatry of institution. Decolonizing and reconciling are not activities amenable to the work of a diocesan committee. These require community and relationship in true reciprocity, Indigenous community, not church-mediated community.  The decolonization work requires the centering of Indigenous voices in church community. It means embracing, “nothing about us without us” in a way that honours Indigenous ways of reciprocal relationality captured in concepts like wakhotowin.

Second is the recent disclosures by the three survivors about their experiences with the national church and the Anglican Journal. The immense violation of the personal information of survivors of clerical abuse is reprehensible, as is the response from the national church and the Primate. As someone who supervised staff handling confidential personal information, if a member of my staff had deliberately disclosed personal information in that manner they would be discharged immediately. The official gaslighting and undermining of their trauma I’ve seen reinforces that protecting the institution is a clear priority for those in leadership positions. This is that flawed ecclesiology put into practice, and it is a highly colonial artifact.

CoGS confirmed this foundational flaw in ecclesiology in its response statement to the survivors, “A third is the challenge faced by church leadership at all levels, given both the Gospel imperative to care for the powerless and victimized, and their covenanted responsibility to the institution.”[1]

While there are legal imperatives on councils to govern the legal entity responsibly, the assertion that there is an implied balancing between legal institutional responsibility and the Gospel imperative to care is an error of ecclesiology. I expect secular institutions to place self-preservation first and foremost at the expense of individuals, I don’t expect that of a community that follows Christ. While they may be well-intentioned the harm caused is real and unrecognized by even those ordained to care for the victim.

My concerns as Indigenous clergy are confirmed and reinforced by the recent #acctoo experiences. The institutional church is very good at speaking and telling people its truth, listening and caring for survivors not so much. If in this advanced day we can’t get care for survivors of clergy abuse correct, decolonization is really a bridge too far.

My calling today is to focus on Indigenous community and leave Settler colonial communities to work out their decolonization, or not. Indigenous in Canada continue to suffer with burial discoveries, the murder of community members (sometimes endorsed by the justice system), and the forced displacement of people off land that Settler courts have said is untitled land. Yet I hear Canada is a “rule of law” nation. Lots of space for Settlers to intervene in their unjust systems, or not. Settler work to decolonize.

My discernment leads me to conclude that remaining as licensed clergy in the institution effectively tacitly endorses it’s approach. It is time for the institutional church to encounter me as Métis, and not a priest who happens to also be Indigenous.

I’m not going to presume to send a cc of this letter to the national church. You have my permission to share this letter as you feel appropriate.

[1] https://www.anglican.ca/news/cogs-statement/30038789/

Written by sameo416

June 12, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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