Land Claims Are Top Priority, (David) Crawley Tells Kootenay Synod

Article excerpt

Kelowna, B.C.

Kootenay's diocesan synod last June included a rousing talk from a leading theologian on the need to raise money for the church and an afternoon's immersion in the struggle and history of Canada's aboriginal peoples.

In his opening charge, Archbishop David Crawley, a member of the national church's residentials schools negotiating team, said the church is getting closer to an agreement with Ottawa on the issue.

"A necessary component will be a large church-operated trust fund to cover settlement costs. Our church will have to undertake a nation-wide fundraising campaign that will invite every Anglican to share in this responsibility." (Although the diocese of Kootenay is self-supporting, it is ranked as among the three poorest in Canada.)

In an interview, Joan Bubbs, a lawyer and Archbishop Crawley's wife, said that Kootenay is characterized by "a very tiny scattered group of people who work like dogs to keep this diocese viable. They are mountain folk, valley folk."

Archbishop Crawley also identified aboriginal people as a priority in his charge. For the next decade, he said, "the consuming social, economic and justice question for everyone in B.C. will be land claims."

The provincial government is holding a referendum on native treaty negotiations, a vote that is opposed by many Anglicans. "The ... referendum has muddied rather than clarified the waters," he added. Last April, a church task force recommended Anglicans vote no or send in a blank ballot as a protest response.

Turning to financial matters, Bud Phillips, a guest speaker and past principal of the Vancouver School of Theology, said that financially, the church is "on the brink." It is both a fearful time, he added, and an opportunity.

Mr. Phillips contended that stewardship is about identity. "The future stability of stewardship is based not on how much can we give but rather, what have we got to give here. What have I got to offer at the altar of this parish?"

Archbishop Crawley said in his charge that the most generous givers in the church "are people of my generation and older. It took a lot of work for each of us to be generous, work that we have not done in recent years with younger folk in the church."

For many, the synod was a first in-depth exposure to aboriginal issues. Members viewed the Anglican video Walking a New Vision and then participated in an exercise, where volunteers walked on blankets spread out on the floor of the parish hall. The blankets represented indigenous land in North America before Europeans came. They were gradually taken away, as others read from scripts outlining the impact of European colonization and the damage done by the view that non-white races were inferior. …