Asked for his thoughts on how the structures of the Anglican Church of Canada might change in order to respond to the needs and goals for Indigenous ministry outlined by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), Canon (lay) David Jones, chair of the governance working group, acknowledged that huge challenges are involved. But, he expressed his confidence that “our church is up to it.”
Jones said in an interview that he starts from the premise that “mission comes first.” This means identifying the needs for mission and how they can be met, “and from that may come some governance changes.”
Conversations about different issues and dimensions of governance are going to take some time to develop, said Jones. ACIP raised the idea of creating a fifth ecclesiastical province within the Canadian church, but he noted that it has also told CoGS about the possibility for an association or confederacy of Indigenous ministries. “We have to find ways to make our structures work for our mission. I just don’t want prejudge how that will turn out,” he said.
So far, Jones said there is a commitment to continue the conversation between the officers of General Synod and the Indigenous leadership circle, which took place on April 30, before the CoGS meeting. Following Indigenous discussions of the issues and ideas at Sacred Circle in August, Jones said he expects that the next conversation with the officers would be more focused.
He added that leaders must identify the most pressing needs and prioritize what can be done and in what time frame. “We must not wait until we have a perfect package that is all gift-wrapped, because then nothing will happen.” Budgetary provisions should be target specific and tied to missional priorities, he added.
Jones also spoke of the need for “abiding trust in the Holy Spirit to take us where we need to go.”