September often marks new beginnings in the church, as programs start, Sunday school resumes and parishioners return home from cottages in the country or the quiet of the land. In this year of pandemic and protest, the Anglican Church of Canada may not be ending summer in the usual fashion—but as the September issue of the Anglican Journal explores, there are new beginnings to be found in church life.
The Journal’s top story in this issue takes a look at church re-openings across Canada, sharing how several dioceses are working to safely re-open their doors amidst COVID-19 and, in many cases, are offering ongoing online worship for those who feel safer at home. We also examine how the church’s finances have fared (and been spared) during the crisis, thanks to reduced travel costs and continued giving throughout the pandemic. And Dean Peter Elliott observes how COVID-19 leads us to notice our vulnerability and our interconnectedness.
Even as parts of the church look to a time beyond the coronavirus, the pandemic continues to exact a substantial human and social cost across the world. Among those claimed by the disease in Canada is the Rev. Margaret Waterchief, a Blackfoot elder and the first Indigenous woman ordained in the diocese of Calgary, and the Journal offers an in-depth obituary of Waterchief in this issue. COVID-19’s spread in the United States also takes focus, as we hear from two Episcopal Church bishops in very hard-hit dioceses.
Of course, COVID-19 hasn’t been the only issue faced by the church in recent months. The church has issued a number of statements about racism, global conflict and social need, of which the Journal offers an overview along with commentary from Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. We also hear from Laurel Parson, archivist of General Synod, about efforts to decolonize descriptions used in the church’s national archives. In addition, Anglican activist Phyllis Creighton reminds us of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan—and Canada’s role in the development of those nuclear weapons.
Where will the church be taken as the world continues to change? Both Archbishop Nicholls and National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Mark MacDonald address this question in their columns in this issue. They reflect upon what it will mean to “go back” after lockdowns and what new ways might appear as old ones fall away.