Primate hopes to make racial justice a focus for the church

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"I believe that [racism] is at the heart of many areas of difficulty for us," Nicholls said. "Racism in its systemic forms is embedded in the laws and in the ways in which we have lived together." Photo: Matt Gardner

Note: A longer version of this story appeared on anglicanjournal.com Nov. 7.

In her first address as primate to CoGS, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said one of the tasks she wanted the church to focus on in coming years was fighting racism.

“I believe that it is at the heart of many areas of difficulty for us,” she said. “It is certainly at the heart, in our country, of some of the challenges of our relationship with Indigenous peoples, for racism in its systemic forms is embedded in the laws and in the ways in which we have lived together,” the primate told CoGS Nov. 7.

But the primate said she had also seen racism within the church.

“I’ve seen the pain amongst clergy of colour who are very clear when I ask them, ‘Have you been a victim of racism in our church?’ and every one of them nods.”

She said she had seen clergy be turned down for positions in parishes for no other reason that she could see than “an unacknowledged and hidden stream of racism that lives in each of us.”

She hoped, Nicholls said, the church would soon start work to deepen the commitment of the whole church to the Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada.

The primate’s remarks addressed a number of other topics, including the theme chosen for this triennium of CoGS by the General Synod’s planning and agenda team.

“We fairly quickly settled on… ‘A changing church. A searching world. A faithful God,’” she said. “For that theme sums up both the challenges and the possibilities that we will be encountering.”

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Tali Folkins

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.

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