The tenth gathering of Sacred Circle, the national decision-making body for Indigenous Anglicans in Canada, happened over three days from July 15 to 17. The Opening of Sacred Circle took place on at Six Nations of the Grand River, with the lighting of the sacred fire. The theme of this year’s Sacred Circle was “Returning Home: Remembering the Lost.”
Since 1988, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit members of local Anglican churches have gathered every three years to talk about spirituality, past and present experiences, hopes for the future, and relationships with the Anglican Church of Canada.
We asked two participants from Niagara for their reflections about the tenth Sacred Circle.
Canon Donna Bomberry
Returning Home: Remembering the Lost began the evening of Wednesday, July 14th with Archbishop Mark MacDonald joining the Elders on Six Nations of the Grand River for the lighting of a ceremonial Sacred Fire that burned until the closing Saturday night of the 17th.
Following the 2019 General Synod held in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples called for a focus group (nine people) to begin drafting a document that would serve as a constitution and by-laws for the emerging, self-governing, national Indigenous Ministries affirmed by General Synod.
Version 1, a draft for discussion, was presented to the registrants of the Sacred Circle one week prior to the start of the gathering. Ninety-nine First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Anglicans gathered from across Canada via Zoom and dispersed into 12 talking circles to discuss the document. Through five breakout sessions and plenary report-back on each section: The Vision, Our Foundation – The Covenant of 1994, Our Rule of Life, Our Guiding Principles, and the seven sections of Other Elements of Our Foundation were reviewed.
Over the next two days we reviewed and scrutinized the twelve sections of Our Way of Life. The sections covered the following: Of the Sacred Circle; Of our ways of Prayer; Of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples; Of the Elders; Of the Bishops; Of Boundaries; Of the Joining of People and Communities in the Sacred Circle; Of Congregations, Communities, and Regions; Of Indigenous Spiritual Ministries; Of Conflict or Hurt; Of Changes to Our Way of Life; and Of Our Relations with the Anglican Church and its Jurisdictions. The final afternoon we reviewed section XIII Equipping the People for God’s Future and Way of Life for Ministry.
The five breakout sessions produced feedback and recommended changes to the document that the Focus Group will receive and incorporate to produce a Version 2 draft for discussion in November 2021 when the next gathering of the Sacred Circle is convened.
Archdeacon Val Kerr
It certainly was a different Anglican Sacred Circle this year. There was much work to undertake, and we dug in with gusto yet are not quite finished. With virtual meetings it can make sharing a little more difficult, however, this circle, like some, has a way of coming together that even virtually we can connect. Be that while we were taking part in our daily Bible studies or discussing other important matters the people engaged in this circle are faithful Anglicans who, like others, are willing to work hard at becoming disciples of Christ and listening not only to each other in the circle but to where Creator is calling them to go on this journey.
There was much listening, hearing, learning, discussion, reporting and perhaps some laughter…that happened both in our break-out circles and when we met in the larger circle. It was so nice ‘seeing’ old friends and making new ones. It was great to hear others sharing greetings and love as they reconnected and it was, as always, a privilege to be part of this Sacred Circle.
As you may note from Donna’s reflection, there really has been much work undertaken not only in our time together at Sacred Circle but also much hard work behind the scenes. From the staff who kept us organized and in the right rooms, by the note takers for each small group, as well as the focus group leaders who has worked so hard collaborating and producing all the documents under the heading of Our way of Life and more. Simply put these documents are the ways in which we covenant to live out our faith as a fully self-determining Indigenous Church within the Anglican Church of Canada.
One of the issues raised in group was the fact that there are some people who believe Indigenous Anglicans taking part in this planning want to leave the Anglican Church of Canada. This could not be farther from the truth for we see this as a way of becoming even more of a benefit to our beloved Church as we feel we have much to teach and learn from each other.
Archbishop Mark MacDonald, as always, fulfilled his role with humility, love, and grace throughout or time together.
Learn more about Sacred Circle at: https://www.anglican.ca/im/sacredcircles/sc10/