Hiltz also encouraged CoGS members to “think big picture” when participating in the Heartbeat of the Church, an initiative launched by the primate this year that CoGS attendees will take part in on Friday, March 15. “I ask that as you participate in the Heartbeat conversation in CoGS that you would think about the questions in light of the gospel text from a national perspective. Think big. You have plenty of opportunities to think local—to think parish, to think diocese. I want you to think national,” he said.
“We need a revival. We need to be praying for a revival in the life of our church. We need to recommit ourselves as a community of disciples.”
Hiltz referred to the image of a journey or pilgrimage several times throughout his report.
Applying it to the Anglican Church of Canada’s “efforts to be post-colonial,” Hiltz reflected on the church’s reconciliation efforts, including the recent release of a documentary on the Doctrine of Discovery produced by Anglican Video. The primate also mentioned the commissioning of the Vision Keepers, a council of Indigenous elders and youth tasked with holding the church accountable to its 2010 endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“Our church is changing,” said Hiltz, “and in leaving behind the vestiges of the colonial church and striving…to rid ourselves of any taint of racist, cultural, or spiritual arrogance, we are pressing on.”
The primate also applied the metaphor of a pilgrimage to the “conversations about sexual orientation, same gender relationships, and the proposed amendment to the marriage canon, which would make the provision for same-gender marriage in our church.”
In the past 50 years—a “long journey”—he said “we’ve experienced moments when we’ve in fact betrayed our calling as a church, when we’ve deeply offended each other and we’ve deeply hurt one another. We’ve had moments when we’ve been angry with one another, moments when we lashed out at one another. Moments for which we must express deep lament, words of contrition, apology, and prayers for forgiveness. We’ve had moments when we prayed for grace to listen with more grace and respect, to better understand the perspective from which each one speaks, with their own integrity.”
Hiltz also highlighted the church’s work in “communion-wide mission.” He reported on the November 2018 regional meeting of the primates of the Americas, saying that the meeting was filled with “very frank and honest conversations about the tensions and the divisions within the communion,” as well as “profoundly grace-filled moments.”
Of the new initiative, Hiltz said, “I think that these regional meetings will go some distance towards creating more of a sense of community among all the primates when they gather. We get to know one another; who we are, where we’re from…And I think the model of the regional meetings of the primates could well be a model for regional meetings of bishops, beyond Lambeth 2020.”
Hiltz also spoke about the relationship the Anglican Church of Canada has had with the Episcopal Church of Cuba (ECC) over the past 50 years.
The ECC was made an autonomous extra-provincial diocese within the Anglican Communion in 1966, under the oversight of a metropolitan council which included the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. The US-based Episcopal Church voted unanimously to readmit the diocese of Cuba during its General Convention in July 2018.