A very different kind of Advent and Christmas season beckons this year, as the world continues to struggle with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For Christians, the birth of the Christ child is a story of new life—and with it new hope for the future. These ideas permeate the December issue of the Anglican Journal, which examines struggles and hopes across the Anglican Church of Canada as we head into a Christmas like no other.
Our top stories in this issue offer an unflinching look at some difficult news for Anglicans. The housing crisis in Canada’s North comes to life in the story of the Rev. Jonas Allooloo, retired dean of St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit and a translator for the first Inuktitut Bible, who now finds himself homeless due to the lack of affordable housing. The church also finds itself mourning the deaths of two major Anglican leaders: Geoffrey Peddle, bishop of the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador; and Dorothy-Davies Flindall, former General Synod prolocutor, PWDRF chair and an Anglican Award of Merit recipient.
The pandemic continues to impact nearly every aspect of life inside and outside the church, but Anglicans are energetically responding to the needs of their communities. In a conversation about seniors’ ministry, we spoke to the Rev. Joanne Webster about her work as a chaplain, providing a “positive presence” for residents at an Edmonton seniors’ home. We also explore how Indigenous Ministries is ramping up its pastoral support program to better respond to increased stress related to the pandemic in Indigenous communities.
The hope of new life embodied in the Christmas story finds an echo in stories of new developments in the church. Two recently elected bishops, Sandra Fyfe for the diocese of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and Anna Greenwood-Lee for the diocese of British Columbia, describe their visions for episcopal ministry. We discuss how the rapid expansion of online ministry during COVID-19 may be pushing the church into a new digital age. On a more personal note, we detail how bishop of the diocese of Ontario Michael Oulton and his fiancé Sophie Kiwala tied the knot with a pandemic-era wedding.
As we celebrate Christmas in the time of COVID-19, spiritual reflections call us to embrace the core tenets of the Christian faith. In a conversation with Newfoundland priest and theological studies professor Robert Cooke, we consider how this Advent could be a time for considering God’s expectations for Christians and the church. Anglican Voices columns—one in English and one in French—consider what it means to celebrate Christmas during the pandemic, and how God can help us shine light in a time of darkness. In their latest columns, Archbishop and Primate Linda Nicholls reflects on the Christmas message that the “new” can arrive where we least expect it, while Archbishop Mark MacDonald ponders what it means to revere God’s name.