National news

 — Sept. 30, 200330 sept. 2003

The Canadian Christian-Jewish consultation has re-opened talks after a
14-month hiatus. The Canadians Jewish Congress withdrew from the 25 year-old national
dialogue with Canada’s largest Christian churches April 10 last year over United Church
and Anglican statements about violence in the Middle East. The consultation which has met
three or four times a year since 1977, held its latest meeting on June 18 in Kingston,
Ontario. The new start was possible because of close friendships among the people around
the table, particularly between Ottawa Orthodox Rabbi Reuven Bulka and Ottawa’s Catholic
Archbishop Marcel Gervais. Both sides have now agreed to bring any positions or statements
about crucial issues, especially the Middle East, to the consultation before going public.
There will be different points of view, “but the first principle is, let’s have an
opportunity to hear each other first,” said Manuel Prutschi, the CJC’s national
director of community relations. For the Jewish community, restarting the dialogue was a
high priority, said CJC president Keith Landy. “We have so much in common. We have so
many things that can be achieved collectivity,” he said. “I think it’s important
that we be able to share views.”

The new executive director of the KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice
, Mary Corkery, succeeds Patricia Steenberg, who was the first
permanent executive director of KAIROS. Corkery’s appointment, announced by the board of
KAIROS June 18, is effective Sept. 2. As a long-time employee of the Canadian Catholic
organization for Development and Peace, Corkery’s career has been devoted to global social
justice. She is very familiar with KAIROS and the ecumenical justice coalitions out of
which it grew. Formed in 2001, KAIROS brought together the work of ten individual
inter-church coalitions concerned with social justice issues.

The Mennonite Church of Canada voted July 12, to join the Canadian Council of
and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The Canadian Council of
Churches operates as a forum in which churches state their own positions on issues. When
the CCC makes a statement, or intervenes with government, individual churches can opt out
of the consensus position. As long as the Mennonites don’t have to endorse every CCC
initiative, they feel comfortable as contributing members, said Dan Nighswander, Mennonite
Church of Canada General Secretary. There are about 200,000 Mennonites in Canada. The
Canadian Council of Churches represents twenty of Canada’s largest Christian churches,
including the Catholics.

The Canadian Council of Churches is Canada’s largest most senior national
ecumenical organization.
Richard Schneider, an Orthodox layman and York
University professor of church history, became president of the CCC in May, replacing
Bishop André Vallée from the Roman Catholic diocese of Hearst. The Canadian Council of
Churches, which was one of the forerumers of the World Council of Churches in 1944, has
got past the principle of compromise among denominations by reconstituting itself as a
forum for its 20 member churches. As a forum, the CCC does not decide anything by majority
votes, and it makes no public statements unless there is consensus on the matter at hand.
If there is consensus, the organization may make public statements, encourage social
justice campaigns or write letters to political leaders. By withholding consent, no church
diminishes its standing within the CCC, and churches are not pressured to buy into any
position. It’s an approach that fits with Canada’s multicultural character. Though they
rarely do opt out of CCC statements, the idea that they might has been key to Catholic
participation, said Sr. Jean Goulet, ecumenical affairs officer for the Canadian
Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It gives an opportunity for the churches to speak
with one voice when they do have common ground, “but if we do have some areas where
we might not agree, it allows a Church to opt out,” she said.

In the two years since “full communion” was proclaimed Lutherans and
in Canada have worshipped together, exchanged clergy, had joint
bishops’ meetings and shared experiences. Anglican bishop Fred Hiltz chairs the Joint
Anglican-Lutheran Committee which is charged with implementing full communion. The
committee has produced a set of guidelines for common worship and for clergy serving in
the other church and now it is looking at confirmation. The committee is also studying the
roles of deacons in the two churches. The group’s larger role, Bishop Hiltz said, is to
“help people understand what full communion means, that it’s not a merger.”
After the two denominations (about 600,000 Anglicans and 193,000 Lutherans) formally got
together in 2001, Lutheran bishops have been regular guests at the Anglican bishops’
twice-yearly meetings and have attended each other’s ordinations.

The annual Word Guild awards for Canadian writers who are Christian
were presented June 13 during the 19th God Uses Ink conference in Guelph, Ontario. The
Leslie K. Tarr Award for career achievement was given to Margaret Epp of Waldheim
Saskatchewan. The 89-year-old Epp had 39 books published and was one of the first
full-time Christian writers in Canada. The Castle Quay Books/Essence Publishing First Book
Award was won by Manitoban Paul Boge for The Chicago Healer, a novel about the healing
power of God.

Dr. Reginald Bibby told attendees at the May 19-22 Summer Ecumenical Institute
that the state of religion in Canada has remained stable over the years. Bibby, who holds
the Board of Governors Research Chair in the sociology department at the University of
Lethbridge, has done extensive research into religious and faith issues. He pointed out
that not much has changed since 1871 when the first Canadian census was taken. The 1871
census reported that 42 per cent of the population claimed to be Roman Catholic and eight
per cent claimed to be conservative Protestants. The latest statistics showed 43 percent
claimed Roman Catholicism as their religion while the number of conservative Protestants
remained at eight per cent. Three per cent claimed other faiths in 1871; that rose to five
per cent in 1991 and is now six per cent. The Summer Ecumenical Institute, which has
existed for 10 years, usually alternates between Eastern and Western Canada. This is the
first time it has been held in Regina. It was organized by Terry Marner and Martin
Bergbush of the Regina Council of Churches and Pastor Carla Blakley of Christ Lutheran
Church at the request of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism in Saskatoon.

At a meeting of the Governing Board of the Canadian Council of Churches in
, May 22, Gilles Bourdeau of the Canadian Centre of Ecumenism spoke to the
delegates of the nineteen member churches of the CCC on “Ecumenism in the Francophone
Regions of Canada.” A question period after the conference allowed for an exchange of
points of view in greater detail on the originality of doing ecumenism in a francophone

Posted: Sept. 30, 2003 • Permanent link:
Categories: CCEIn this article: Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme
Transmis : 30 sept. 2003 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : CCEDans cet article : Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme

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