ACIP to Examine Native Bishop Idea

Article excerpt

The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), during its regular fall meeting later this month, will begin to discuss the idea of a national indigenous bishop--a position that was requested by the native Sacred Circle meeting in August and supported by several bishops and the primate.

"ACIP needs to de-brief (receive information)" when it meets Oct. 26-30 in Toronto, said Donna Bomberry, co-ordinator of indigenous ministry at the national office in Toronto. "It will begin discussions. It needs to strike a selection committee, come up with criteria (for the position)," said Ms. Bomberry.

Among other questions: will the post be voluntary or paid? If voluntary, who will pay for expenses? If paid, who will pay the stipend? The Sacred Circle's request asked "the Anglican Church of Canada to provide" the bishop but added that the bishop "will have spiritual support from the whole church and will be monetarily supported so the indigenous Anglican church stands strong and independent of any subordination."

The Sacred Circle, a national gathering of indigenous Anglicans, met for-the fifth time since 1988, this year in Pinawa, Man.

The declaration also called for the bishop to have "full authority and jurisdiction for aboriginal communities across the country." A bishop with full authority has the right to ordain and discipline clergy, among other functions. The primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, committed himself to the creation of a national native bishop within one year, but pointed out that a post with full authority would have to be approved by General Synod and probably wouldn't be a reality until 2013. (The next General Synod meets in 2007.)

The concept of a bishop with a non-geographic diocese represents a significant change for the Canadian church, with the exception of the bishop ordinary to the armed forces (currently Peter Coffin of Ottawa), who supervises military chaplains.

In recent meetings of the full house of bishops where the concept of a national native bishop has been discussed, some diocesan bishops--who have jurisdiction over their dioceses--were concerned as to how the powers of a non-diocesan bishop would intersect with theirs. …