Jubilee Commission presents early work on path to ‘equitable funding base’ for Indigenous church

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Designed by the Rev. Pamela Rayment, the Jubilee Commission’s logo “is intended to represent the various Indigenous nations, also with the Métis blue in it,” Judith Moses said.

Mississauga, Ont.

The Jubilee Commission has started the work needed to propose a “just, sustainable and equitable funding base for the self-determining Indigenous Anglican church,” the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Nov. 7.

Judith Moses, chair of the commission, told CoGS that the group had convened three video-based teleconferences, had developed a new logo and now had a website where information could be gathered.

“The background to this is that in March of this year, the former primate appointed six people to the Jubilee Commission, further to a CoGS motion,” said Moses, who is also deputy prolocutor of the church. “We were given a three-year term, potentially renewable…, we are to report to CoGS, and we were also to include representation from the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.”

Moses said the commission has been given a number of tasks, including examination of historic and current funds made available to Indigenous ministry; assessment of funds that are designated to Indigenous programming; and consideration of questions of property and divestment on financing the future of the Indigenous church.

“We were also given a list of suggested topics to look into it,” she said. “For example, we have been asked to look at the salary levels of Indigenous clergy. We’ve been asked to develop strategies that would allow us as a church to move towards parity with Indigenous clergy. We’ve been asked to look at possible redistribution of portions of property sales on a principled basis.”

The commission has also been asked to “align funds for Indigenous ministry and Indigenous oversight of funds,” she said.

CoGS heard that the work would involve planning, research, data collection and consultation. “Consultation is at the core of this. Consultation will probably take the most time of this, as we go out across the country to talk to people and get some advice and input into the work that is being done,” the chair said.

The commission is charged with reporting its findings by 2021—but, Moses noted, the commission is likely to address specific and urgent topics sooner. The Jubilee Commission had just met, in fact, and decided to “look more quickly at this issue of equity for Indigenous clergy”—the fact that many Indigenous clergy receive no pay for their work. “We do not think that [this issue] can or should wait until 2021.”

The group has also discussed “some of the real issues and challenges” that lie ahead, Moses added.

“The first one that is really quite pressing for us…is our membership and skills needs,” she said. “We have enormous need for skill-sets that we do not have in our group itself—for example, project management skills. Eventually we’re going to need people with insight on investment, information and data management. There’s a whole host of things there.”

The group also wants to take on a pilot project on information and data collection and is seeking to develop a research model.

The commission is guided by a principle-based approach, she said, in which the group works to find agreement, in advance, on shared principles—“and use those as a way of bringing focus and consensus to our deliberations.”

She said the group will employ free, open discussions on key issues and that it is representative of a range of perspectives. “It’s very interesting to see [Indigenous Suffragan Bishop of Northern Manitoba] Larry Beardy at his desk, in his home, and to talk about the very pressing issues he has on his plate—compared to the kind of work that I am doing. At this point, a lot of this work for me is theoretical, so obviously the input from people on the front lines is really, really important.”

Moses summarized her comments by saying the group sees “a vibrant Indigenous church as really integral, central to the strategic goals of the larger church. This isn’t about parallel churches. This isn’t about overlapping activities. This is about Indigenous goals being at the core of who we are as a church.”

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Matthew Townsend
Matthew Townsend has worked in editorial, journalistic, and web development roles with a variety of organizations, including the The Living Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY, and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. He is a member of Episcopal Communicators and has consulted with a variety of ecumenical organizations, including Atlantic School of Theology, the Presbyterian Endowment Network, and the Associated Church Press.

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