Henriette Thompson, director, public witness for social and ecological justice, will be stepping down March 31.
Photo: Eric Thompson
Henriette Thompson, the Anglican Church of Canada’s director of public witness for social and ecological justice, will be stepping down from her position March 31.
Ms. Thompson, who has worked at the church’s national office in Toronto for eight years, announced her resignation Thursday, February 4.
In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Ms. Thompson said her departure had been in the works for some time.
“I came to a point in my work life where it seemed important to make a shift,” she said.
Ms. Thompson is not leaving the job for another position. Instead, she said, she is looking forward to “taking a step back, taking a break and doing some discernment work around where to go next.”
In an interview, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said Ms. Thompson “not only brought a lot of skill and competence to her work, but she poured her heart and soul into it.”
Serving the church “is not just about the skill set, the experience that someone brings, but it’s about their passion for the work, it’s about the principles that underline it and the values that uphold and shape it,” he said. “I think Henriette is just a really fine example of that kind of charism that’s really needed, particularly for someone who endeavours to lead the church and help the church partner with others in the interests of justice and peace.”
Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, said it has been a privilege to work with Thompson, especially in her efforts with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “She has been tireless in reaching out to mobilize Anglican presence and participation in national, regional and local events of the TRC,” he said. “On a number of occasions, Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair, chief commissioner of the TRC, has identified her as the heart of our church's engagement.
“She deserves the gratitude of our church, and has made a significant contribution to the future of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.”
Ms. Thompson first joined the national office in 2008, as director of the church’s partnerships department. In this role, she oversaw a staff of eight in diverse areas, including global relations, eco-justice advocacy and the Anglican Healing Fund.
Her previous work had included a three-year stint in broadcasting, followed by nearly three decades of work in international development and education. From 1993 to 2006, she worked for World Vision Canada, serving as director of its advocacy and education department from 2003 to 2006. For the next two years, Ms. Thompson was associate dean at the Institute for Christian Studies, an affiliate of the Toronto School of Theology.
Ms. Thompson’s current role at the national office began in 2010, when a restructuring of the organization resulted in the closure of the partnerships department. Since then, her work has focused on a range of social justice issues, including co-ordinating the church’s participation in TRC events—work that has affected her greatly, she said.
“I had a front-row seat, and was a witness to a truth process that is unique in Canadian history, that is deeply, deeply relevant to the work of our church, is deeply relevant to who we are as Canadians and whoever lives in this land. And that work will continue to drive, I think, where I go from here, and will always be a priority in my life.”
Another highlight of her work at the national office, Ms. Thompson said, included a World Council of Churches meeting in Sudan during her time as director of partnerships—an eye-opening event, she said, for, among other things, introducing her to some unforgettable people.
Ms. Thompson said she also very much enjoyed her work for the church in justice and corrections, and in “creation matters,” such as climate change.
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Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.
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