Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Report from APCI Assembly Delegates, 2015

APCI Assembly attendees from St. Paul's Cathedral

Report from the APCI Assembly as given at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday June 21, 2015
by Cathy  Shether

I attended the APCI Assembly as part of the team from St. Paul’s.  This was the first for me.  I was elected as an alternate and when I was called to attend a week before the May 1-3 meeting, I really didn’t know what it was all about.  I received and read all the pre-reading materials, but I was still a bit apprehensive, but I went trusting and praying I would learn what it was all about and what my role as a delegate was. 

Here is part of what I learned.  The assembly is a gathering of the parishes of the central interior that happens every 2 years and in many ways it is like any general meeting:
  •        Previous minutes are reviewed and adopted
  •        Reports of the work of committees are received and accepted
  •        Resolutions are discussed and voted on (there were 7)
  •        There were interesting guest speakers
  •        Election of delegates to other meetings were held (Provincial Synod, General Synod and APCI Coordination Council)

Different from a secular general meeting, there was worship including the introduction of a new music resource for small communities – a sing-a-long video featuring among others Gordon Light.  Our final worship service was held at the Valemont Church and we filled it to capacity!

At assembly, I met people from many of the parishes in APCI.  I enjoyed chatting with them at coffee breaks, going for walks together at lunch, hearing about the unique problems and programs of their parish and working with them during our working session on “Ministry Need for the Future”.

There was lots of serious thinking about serious issues, but there was also lots of laughter and fun.  On Saturday evening following a delicious dinner prepared by the local parish, there was entertainment by a local band and we danced and rejoiced.

I still have more to learn about APCI and the cathedral’s role in it. This was a good experience for me and I would encourage you to consider being a delegate at the next meeting to be held in 2017 at Merritt and Shulus.

Now Melissa will tell you about some of the important resolutions passed and interesting guest speakers.

APCI Assembly Report to St. Paul's Cathedral: June 21, 2015
By: Melissa Green

It is rather timely that information and sharing from the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) Assembly is being shared this morning on the National Aboriginal Day. The First Nations People of APCI had, and will continue to have, a strong presence at the Assembly.

First, some history: APCI was formed in 2001 after the Diocese of Cariboo ceased operations. The closing of the Diocese of Cariboo was done as an entry into a process of reconciliation with the First Nations Peoples over the residential school situation. APCI came into being as a movement of “birth from death” into new life and into a “new creation” from what was before. We left the diocesan “status” behind and became an independent entity under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and Yukon. This meant changes:
  •        No more synods but an assembly to govern the work of APCI
  •        No elections of a Bishop but a nomination by the APCI people of a Suffragan Bishop to the Metropolitan which would then require an election by the Province.
  •        No canons but the development of polices and practices

And these changes that we got used to meant some flexibility around who we were… the people of APCI made a number of important decisions in the midst of this shift, including:
  •        making a commitment to our First Nations brothers and sisters by placing the needs and considerations of our indigenous members first, followed by the needs and considerations of the non-indigenous parishes and finally the administrative needs and functions of the ecclesiastical province.
  •        Indigenous members of APCI have 15 delegate seats, with voice and vote, in addition to those already held by delegates from parishes at Assembly. Our parishes send the same number of delegates, it’s not based on the number of parishioners on the parish roll. And each parish can send two youth delegates!

Some major motions from the Assembly came from this reality of our story and life together.

Becoming a Territory
A resolution was unanimously passed asking the Ecclesiastical province to recognize APCI as a territory with the right to elect its own bishop. This would give APCI the autonomy of a diocese without taking on the structure of a diocese.

The term “territory” was appealing for a number of reasons… we heard from our Indigenous family that the word ‘church’ or ‘Anglican church’ still today has an affect on the survivors of the residential schools. It is believed that the term “territory” would carry less baggage than “diocese”. And Archbishop John Privett reminded us that within the provincial canons there is a provision for dioceses, regions, or territories, and so he said, “in some ways it’s going to fit in well”.

Being defined as a territory allows us to continue to honour those the Anglican Church has hurt in the past by our corporate activities. It invites us to intentionally continue to journey together on the path of healing and reconciliation. It would allow us to have greater independence over the day to day affairs of APCI but  not jump back into the category and story of the diocesan structure and our history that took place within that structure. “Territory” defines a geographic area… which is what we currently are as the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, this will allow greater independence over the governance and decisions.

This motion goes to provincial synod this fall where it will be voted on by the community gathered.

Election of a Bishop
Connected to this, members of the Assembly voted in favour of electing future bishops of APCI independently and that those bishops engage in ministry here in APCI would function independently: without direct oversight by the Metropolitan of the Province (as is our current structure) We would have our own nomination and election processes  which would be in line with the Provincial Synod canons. 

APCI has lived since its creation without a clear picture of the jurisdictions of the Suffragan Bishop and that of the Metropolitan. More and more the people and parishes of APCI have seen the elected Suffragan Bishop as “our bishop” and after the confusion around the election of Bishop Barbara steps were taken for further exploration of electing our own bishop and functioning independently.

We engaged in and asked questions around ministry and our ministry work together.
We asked questions like:
  • How will we support and uphold our smaller congregations and their leadership? 
  • How will we ensure sacramental ministry for those who do not live within the major centers of the Central Interior?
  • How does our parish work collaboratively today?
  • How might our parish continue in collaborative ministry more intentionally in the future?

We had conversations around adopting principles of collaborative ministry… ministry that grounds ministry leadership in baptism and affirms and encourages the gifts of all. Ministry that moves from being centred around one person to a team of leaders who all bring their gifts and vocation to the table.
The Assembly approved a motion to support the funding of a position in APCI that will help us to ask the questions and seek guidance and direction in the answers.

APCI Assembly is of course much more than the motions and business. It’s about community, about relationships, about sharing experiences we have as individual disciples called into ministry and as congregations called to gather and worship and be in the world together.

We celebrated the ongoing partnership with our sister diocese, The Diocese of Montreal. We sent Bishop Barry best wishes on his upcoming retirement and now celebrate with the diocese on the election of their new bishop, Mary Irwin-Gibson.

We heard about the good work of the Anglican Foundation and were graced by their presence and stories of ministry work in the world. We are one of the only regions/dioceses where every parish has a membership with the Anglican Foundation!

Mary and Gordon Dove championed the Assembly Prayer Vigil which invited people from across APCI and beyond to join the vigil and sign up for any of the 50 hours of the Assembly. And so the Assembly was “prayed through”… we were held in prayer from the time our travel to Assembly started until we arrived home: and we, as delegates, felt that care and love. It was wonderful to welcome Mark Perrin from the national Anglican Fellowship of Prayer to the Assembly and hear from him about the work of that part of our Anglican Church.

It was exciting to hear in Bishop Barbara’s address that Sandra and Tom Sugden will be installed as Canons as recognition for their many years of dedicated service that they have shared so very faithfully with APCI.

We continue to be grateful for our own Dwight Oatway who serves APCI as the Financial Officer. He is a steady hand in all aspects of the life of APCI and beyond and oversees all day-to-day financial operations. Dwight gives over and above and I know how much this means to our Bishop and we too need to not forget the service Dwight provides to our community of APCI.

Elections took place for Coordinating Council, Provincial Synod and General Synod: gatherings locally, provincially and nationally to engage in the work of ministry in those areas and make governance decisions. From the Cathedral delegates two elections to General Synod took place: Dale Drozda as our youth delegate and myself as a lay delegate.

The people and community of Valemount welcomed us with open and generous arms… they supported us, welcomed us, fed us, entertained us and make our work possible by covering all of the logistical details of our stay.

We listened to our First Nations elders speak, we listened to our young people speak, and we listened to one another. We listened intently, we shared in silence and we celebrated in applause.

I close with Bishop Barbara’s closing words from her address, “Journeying into a new creation will call on all our gifts and talents to embrace the future, trusting with faith and courage in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is working within us, amongst us and is drawing us forward to engage in God’s mission and ministry in the Central Interior as a new creation – God’s dream for us as God’s faithful family in the Central Interior.”

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