A groundbreaking service for St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit has been scheduled for June 3, Trinity Sunday, to mark the rebuilding of the igloo-shaped church, which was damaged by arson in November 2005 and demolished in June 2006.
Paul Okalik, the premier of Nunavut, has been invited to turn the sod at the service.Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk, diocesan bishop of the Arctic, said the diocese’s fundraising effort has so far raised $1.5 million of the $6 million needed to rebuild the cathedral, one of the most recognizable buildings in the North. He said that he and the fundraising team in Iqaluit are redoubling their efforts to meet the target. “The financial part is slow. But we have been making progress since last year. We are now getting more financial responses from various people, churches, organizations, and within the diocese as well,” he said. He said that with mail being slow in the North, responses to appeals made last June only came in December and early this year. The campaign also received a boost from parishioners of the diocese of Ottawa, who organized a fundraiser last year. (The Anglican Foundation is planning its own fundraising event for St. Jude’s this fall in Toronto.) Meanwhile, Bishop Atagotaaluk acknowledged that he has received “about one or two” letters from Anglicans who declared that they would not contribute to the rebuilding of St. Jude’s because of its controversial declaration in 2005 banning the employment of, among others, “homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals.” Bishop Atagotaaluk said, however, that the letters did not represent a large number “that we should be concerned.” Nonetheless, he expressed the hope that people would go beyond the issue and think of what the cathedral represents for Christianity in the North. “This has nothing to do with individuals or the church’s stand on the issue. This is something (that’s) vitally important to a ministry of any kind and that should be supported,” he said.
“This has something to do with our faith, the faith that we have in God, his work.” He also reminded Anglicans that, “we have a commonality across the country, even if we don’t agree on certain issues within the church.” He added: “We should not have attitudes that are politically grounded. We are a church that believes that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and it is his work that we are drawn together to share.” Bishop Atagotaaluk also noted the “unique” characteristics of the diocese, which makes the rebuilding of the cathedral a challenging endeavour. “We are in a very isolated place compared to the southern churches, which have a connection with roads and getting supplies from one place to another is a lot cheaper. We have vast areas covered only by air,” he said. In the absence of a cathedral, services are being held at a nearby parish hall, which used to be a gathering place for outreach and other ministries. “The parish is now limited in terms of activities because it’s now being used for worship,” he said. The diocese of the Arctic is the largest of 30 dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada, covering an area of about four million square kilometers, or about one third the area of the country. It includes not just the Arctic region of Canada, but also the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Nunavik region of northern Quebec. For more information on how to donate to the rebuilding of St. Jude’s, contact the synod office at Box 190, 4910 51st St., Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N2; by telephone at (867) 873-5432, or by e-mail at email@example.com