Now more than ever, church needs to know its purpose, Hiltz tells CoGS

If St. Paul were alive today, he might be telling members of the Anglican Church of Canada to be “humble and gentle and patient with one another,” (Ephesians 4:2) says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Photo: Tali Folkins

Mississauga, Ont.
A number of issues now confronting the Anglican Church of Canada, ranging from discussions on the marriage canon to the question of a self-determining Indigenous church, are calling it to be more attentive than ever to its purpose, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the church, said Friday, November 10.

“More than ever we need to be mindful of who we are and what we are about—who we are as the body of Christ, and what that means for our regard for one another, how we work together, how we enable the church’s commitment to God’s mission in the world,” Hiltz said in a report to Council of General Synod (CoGS).

Hiltz made the comment in an address that began and ended by wondering what St. Paul might think of the church, what advice he might give it and how he might pray for it.

On the church’s deliberation over changing its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage, for example, Paul might remind it of his counsel to the Ephesians to be “humble and gentle and patient with one another, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3),” he said.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Hiltz said it was partly the idea of the importance of good leadership in the church at this point in its history that had prompted him to imagine what the apostle might think if he were to look at it “with a penetrating eye.”

Said Hiltz, “We’re at a time in our church when the leadership is really very critical on a number of fronts—What kind of leadership do we provide to the church in terms of its engagement around the marriage canon? What kind of leadership are we providing in terms of self-determination initiatives?  What kind of leadership are we offering around being the church in the world in the public square?  What kind of leadership are we offering in terms of a discipleship that’s mature, fulsome, growing, committed to life?”

Hiltz’s address touched on a number of events in the church since the last meeting of CoGS in June, including a visit from a delegation from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA); a meeting of Indigenous Anglicans from around the world in southern Ontario and his own visit last week to the synod of the diocese of Ottawa.

Hiltz also spoke of a great diversity of views expressed about the church in the correspondence he receives. Some of this correspondence commends the church for its work on issues of public concern, such as Bill C262, a bill now before the House of Commons which would align the laws of Canada with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Other correspondence he gets, he said, is critical of his leadership and is even “nasty, rude and quite hateful.” But all of these forms of feedback, he said, can be seen as useful.

“Whatever the nature of the correspondence, respectful or not, it is a read on the church; it’s a read on where our priorities are, it’s a read on our leadership,” he said.

Hiltz concluded his address by speculating that St. Paul might pray for the Canadian church as he prayed for the Ephesians, “that we understand the incredible greatness of God’s power—that we might have power to comprehend how wide, and how long, and how high and how deep is God’s love for us in Christ; that we be filled with that knowledge and in and through it live our lives and do the work to which God calls us.”


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Tali Folkins
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.


  1. “Paul might remind it of his counsel to the Ephesians to be “humble and gentle and patient with one another, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3),” ” yes along with : For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” ( Romans 1: 26) also ” do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” ( 1 Cor. 6:9) also ” Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, ” (1 Tim 1:8) Maybe the church should get back to the Great commission ” Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  2. The Church seems more keen to satisfy the 2% of the population than looking to the scriptures for answers and is trying to justify some of the leaders & priests of the congregation and the secular world. We are sinners & we have to welcome them too, but we cannot officially approve of their lifestyle and make them leaders in the Church. Where do we draw the line – approve corrupt leaders if they contribute more than their fair share of contributions or have multiple wives or husbands at the same time. Yes they are all welcome in the church and receive the cleansing of the ” communion” ,it is only GOD’S judgement in the end that matters. But it is a matter of the Church’s interest that the organization have rules & standards that are in conformity with the Bible as we know it.


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