Voting by faith

FROM THE BISHOP

By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS

Later this month Canadian citizens will have another opportunity to decide who will represent us in the federal House of Commons, and what kind of government will be charged with making important decisions about our common life as a country.

As you discern which candidate will receive your vote, I’d invite you to try doing so through the lens of our baptismal covenant, which is one of the guideposts for our life in Christ.

For example, when you’re looking at a political party’s platform or listening to a candidate’s declarations, ask whether they advocate policies that will promote “justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Do they advance an agenda that strives to “safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth”?

The Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, which flow from our baptismal promises, can also provide some good questions to ask. Do any candidates propose to “respond to human need by loving service” or do they “seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation”?

When we vote, Christians do so as dual citizens. It’s our citizenship in a particular earthly jurisdiction—in this case, the federation that is Canada—that entitles us to exercise our franchise on October 21. But when we mark (or spoil) our ballot, we do so while also acknowledging that our “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

This means our decisions as electors will necessarily be informed and guided by our faith. We don’t leave our Christian convictions at the door of the polling station. Rather we try to live in the uncomfortable tension of being dual citizens of both an earthly country and a heavenly kingdom—always acknowledging that our primary allegiance is not to a state, but to Christ the King.

Our call as disciples of Jesus is to reveal something of that heavenly kingdom on earth, in our midst, here and now. Consider which party or candidate might best help us in that work, and then vote by faith.

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October 2019 Quebec Diocesan Gazette

The October 2019 issue of the Quebec Diocesan Gazette is now online. Download the October 2019 issue here.
In this issue:
  • The Rev. Cynthia Patterson writes about Archbishop Fred Hiltz's visit to the Parish of Gaspé, the parish's milestone anniversary, and its plans for the future.
  • Matthew Townsend reports on Holy Trinity Cathedral's efforts to raise funds for improvements to the cathedral close and completion of organ restoration.
  •  Katrina O'Neill, who visited  the Diocese of Quebec from the Scottish Episcopal Church as part of preparation for ordination, reflects on her time in our diocese.
  • In "Voting by Faith," Bishop Bruce Myers offers thoughts on how to approach voting as a follower of Christ.
  • Louisa Blair considers the nature of sin—and admitting our sin.
  • Snapshots from around the diocese
  • Gleanings: Loss felt after the first world war
Download the October 2019 issue of the Quebec Diocesan Gazette here.
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Intercultural ministry launches

Citizenship officials flank the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda (left) along with his wife and daughter, Yaël and Gemimah (centre and right), at their citizenship ceremony. Ntilivamunda has started a new intercultural ministry in Quebec City. Photo: Contributed

By Matthew Townsend
Communications Missioner

The Diocese of Quebec has as a new intercultural ministry—and it’s being organized by one of Canada’s newest citizens.

Earlier this year, the Rev. Thomas Ntilivamunda was named bishop’s missioner, a role that tasks him with two different but related challenges in the diocese: forming an intercultural ministry for newcomers to Quebec and offering the diocese’s parishes counsel on missional outreach.

The intercultural ministry officially launched on July 7, with about a dozen worshippers joining Ntilivamunda. Hosted at All Saints’ Chapel (adjacent to the bishop’s residence) on Sundays at 3:30 p.m., the ministry, the priest says, was launched to serve newcomers not presently connected with a church in Quebec City. It also diversifies the diocese’s services, both in style and time, allowing people who work late on Saturday night to more easily attend church.

“It went well, with a few logistical challenges here and there, but we had a good service,” he says.

Ntilivamunda began the project by reaching out to five people he knew to be “same-minded about mission and evangelism”—people who appreciate the difficulty immigrants can face integrating into a place of worship in Quebec. Ntilivamunda knows the experience of immigrants firsthand. From Rwanda, the priest and his family came to Quebec as asylum seekers.

He, his wife Yaël, and their daughter Gemimah became Canadian citizens a few months ago.

After meeting, the group decided the ministry was worth a try. So far, the participants are, like Ntilivamunda, African—Burundians and Rwandans, he says. Thus, one of the ministry’s major purposes is to integrate “various aspects of the Anglican church from all over the world,” giving people who come “an opportunity to express their way of worship.”

This includes musical diversity, too. At the first gathering, a few people brought guitars. The internet, Ntilivamunda says, was also a helpful instrument—they put up a screen to project hymns.

“My philosophy is the people are the ones to determine the music they want. The important thing is to check the theology in the music, that is the role of a priest,” he explains. “But whether it is American music, African music, Jamaican, whatever, that is their culture—if they are there, we have to offer some opportunity for them to express themselves, to feel at home and sing in their regional mode.”

As the mission moves forward, the priest hopes to provide more translation and diversity of instruments. For now, he says, he is inviting people to pray for the intercultural ministry and is reaching out to others who have yet to find a church home.

The intercultural ministry isn’t Ntilivamunda’s only new venture—the priest, with support from Bishop Bruce Myers and Canon Theologian Jeffrey Metcalfe, is also offering consultation with parishes on how to expand their own missions.

While some congregations are involved in feeding ministries, Ntilivamunda says he hopes to help Anglicans consider new ways of “making human contact.” The priest thinks that the church’s survival and its commitment to mission are intertwined. “The church, at its beginning, is a missionary church,” he says. “When Jesus called the disciples, then he sent them out…. Mission is the backbone of the church. Without mission, the church does not stand.”

Part of this work, he says, involves looking at how the church can serve people outside of political systems which confine the church to buildings that only pull people inward and send financial assistance outward.

For Anglicans who want to have this discussion—and brainstorm ways to get involved in mission and evangelism—Ntilivamunda can be contacted at the diocesan office at (418) 692-3858.

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General Synod, milestones, and marriage

FROM THE BISHOP

By the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers OGS

For one week in July, hundreds of people from across the country assembled in Vancouver for the 42nd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

National church gatherings like the General Synod have been described as “part legislative assembly, part revival, part marketplace, and part family reunion”—and all of those aspects were in evidence during our long and jam-packed days together in Vancouver.

Some important milestones were reached. Our church offered a formal apology for spiritual harm inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples during the era of colonial expansion, particularly through the Indian residential school system. New structures were approved to help advance Indigenous self-determination within our church. We chose a fine new primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls. Our commitment to the church’s unity was reaffirmed, particularly in our relationships with Lutherans and with the United Church of Canada. Important interreligious bonds were strengthened with Jews and Muslims.

The General Synod also continued its conversations about whether to change our church’s canon law on marriage to include same-sex couples. Although the proposal to approve same-sex marriage in our church received the support of more than 70 per cent of the members of the General Synod—including all of the members from the Diocese of Quebec—it failed to receive the required number of votes among the bishops, and so the motion was defeated.

This decision was heartbreaking for many people in our church, particularly the significant number of LGBTQ2S+ Christians who have been faithful members and leaders in every expression of the Anglican Church of Canada, including the Diocese of Quebec.

Following the General Synod’s decision, my fellow bishops and I offered a statement acknowledging that while we are not of one mind on the specific matter of same-sex marriage, we are nevertheless “walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as ‘local option.’”

The Diocese of Quebec will have an opportunity to discuss the implications of the General Synod’s deliberations about same-sex marriage when we gather for our own Synod in November. This won’t be the first time we’ve talked about these matters as a diocesan church. In 2007 the Quebec Diocesan Task Force on Human Sexuality held a wide consultation touching specifically on same-sex marriage, and in 2012 our diocesan Synod authorized the blessing of same-sex unions.

In the midst of these discussions, the General Synod overwhelmingly agreed on some important affirmations. One accepts that there currently exists “a diversity of understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada, and we affirm the prayerful integrity with which those understandings and teachings are held.” At the same time, we affirm “our commitment to presume good faith among those who hold diverse understandings and teachings, and hold dear their continued presence in this church.”

My prayer is that these affirmations might guide us in whatever conversations our diocesan Synod may have about same-sex marriage, such that we will treat one another “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, 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).

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Diocese welcomes new team members

Bishop Bruce Myers is pleased to announce the appointment of four new gifted and committed individuals who will be contributing the ministries of communications and administration in the Diocese of Quebec.

Matthew Townsend, Missioner for Communications
As Missioner for Communications, Matthew Townsend will serve as editor of the Quebec Diocesan Gazette, manage the diocese’s web and social media presence, and support the diocesan leadership and congregations in sharing stories about their life and work. A journalism graduate of the University of South Florida, Matthew has worked in editorial, journalistic, and web development roles with a variety of organizations, including The Living Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. Currently based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he is also the editorial supervisor of the Anglican Journal and a member of St. Paul’s Church. Matthew can be contacted at communications@quebec.anglican.ca.

Jody Robinson, Archivist
The diocesan archives, based at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, will be under the care of Judy Robinson. After earning a bachelor of arts degree at Bishop’s, she continued master-level studies in history at the Univeristé de Sherbrooke. She has also worked as the archivist for the Eastern Townships Resource Centre, an organization committed to the preservation of the heritage of the Eastern Townships. For more than a decade, Jody has worked with many heritage organizations on special projects as well as an archival consultant. Jody has also served on the board of directors for a variety of heritage and community organizations and is presently vice-president of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network. Jody can be reached at jrobinson@quebec.anglican.ca.

Sean Otto, Registrar pro tempore
As diocesan Registrar, Sean Otto will be responsible for ensuring that all of the diocese’s official records—from land registers to parish registers—are properly completed, recorded, and stored. Currently registrar of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec City, he previously served as assistant registrar of Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. Sean earned a doctorate in history and theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and also holds degrees from Wycliffe College and Dalhousie University. He is a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. As Registrar pro tempore, Sean’s appointment is initially on an interim basis until the diocesan Synod makes a permanent appointment in November. Sean can be contacted at sotto@quebec.anglican.ca.

Isabelle Morin, Executive Assistant
Day-to-day administration at the Synod Office in Quebec City will be overseen by Isabelle Morin, who will serve as Executive Assistant on a part-time basis. She has a degree in business administration from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and spent several years as an administrator in the hotel industry. More recently Isabelle has pursued a vocation as an interior designer. She can be contacted at imorin@quebec.anglican.ca.

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Delegates to Diocesan Synod elected

The Secretary of Synod, Canon Stephen Kohner, has released the results of the elections determining the lay and clergy delegates to the 85th Ordinary Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec, which will be held 21-24 November 2019 at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec City.
 

LAY DELEGATES (in alphabetical order):

DEANERY OF GASPÉ
Candace Atikens
Lynden Berchervaise
Bethany Fehr Paetkau
Janet Harvey
Sharon Howell
Margaret Ann Major
Rhonda Stewart

DEANERY OF THE NORTH SHORE
Dale Keats
Jody Lessard
Mary Spingle

DEANERY OF SAINT FRANCIS
Jane Bishop
Sam Borsman
Lorna Gordon
Linda Hoy
Marilyn Mastine
Spencer Nadeau (youth)
Donald Nixon
John Rassmussen
Ruth Sheeran

DOYENÉE DU SAINT-LAURENT
Jean Thivièrge
Samuel Sinayigaye

DEANERY OF QUEBEC
Louisa Blair
Anne Chapman
Samuel Croteau
Lucas Demers (youth)
Marie Garon
Andrew Reeve
Meb Reisneer Wright

(The Region of Kawawachikamach will select its two lay delegates in a separate process.)
 

CLERGY DELEGATES (in alphabetical order): 

The Rev. Jesse Dymond
The Rev. Canon Giuseppe Gagliano
The Rev. Francie Keats
The Rev. Canon Jeffrey Metcalfe
The Rev. Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo
The Rev. Joshua Paetkau
The Rev. Cynthia Patterson
The Very Rev. Christian Schreiner
The Ven. Dr. Edward Simonton
Le vén. Pierre Voyer 

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Diocesan synod officially summoned


Bishop Bruce has formally announced the next gathering of our diocesan Synod, which will take place November 21-24, 2019, in Quebec City. More details about this important gathering of our diocesan church will come in the weeks and months ahead.
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An open letter to the Premier of Quebec concerning Bill 21

The Honorable François Legault
Premier of Quebec
Édifice Honoré-Mercier, 3e étage
835, boul. René-Lévesque Est
Québec, QC  G1A 1B4

Dear Premier Legault,

As representatives of the Anglican Church, which has been present and active in Quebec for more than 250 years, we feel compelled to respond to your open letter, published in several of Quebec’s daily newspapers on Monday, April 1.

We share your conviction that “in a secular society—which we have been since the Quiet Revolution—common sense dictates that religion must not interfere with the affairs of the state. Nor the reverse.” We also agree with your observation that “state laicity respects freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Everyone is free to practice the religion of his or her choice, and is also free not to practice a religion.”

However, rather than maintaining a religiously neutral state, Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, would in fact legislate the very kind of governmental interference in religion that you claim to oppose.

As Christians, we believe that the earth and its creatures have an abiding relationship to their Creator. Seeking to participate and give expression to this relationship in some form is a part of being human. For some this will mean wearing religious symbols and attire—such as a hijab, yarmulke, or cross—objects that can be intrinsic to the practice of one’s faith, and which cannot be removed at a whim.

We therefore embrace the vision of Quebec as a secular state that is pluralistic, privileging no particular religion, yet creating the space in which Quebecers of whatever (or no) religious tradition can fully participate in public life and contribute to the common good, including as public servants.

We appreciate your recent call for the debate around this proposed legislation to be conducted in a manner that is respectful and not divisive. However, we know too well that proposed laws such as Bill 21 risk contributing to a climate of suspicion and fear of others—especially Muslim Quebecers—at a time when we need our government to help protect, rather than further and needlessly target, our neighbours. The horrific mass murder at the Grand Mosque in Quebec City in 2017 calls us to be mindful of how our debates might stoke the fires of fear, and put people’s lives at risk.

We agree with you, Premier, that it is time for Quebec society to move forward on this matter. However, our own experience has taught us there is another way to do so.

One of our church’s principles of dialogue with people of other religions is to “meet the people themselves and get to know their traditions.” This too is common sense, and has helped us change attitudes, challenge stereotypes, and build new relationships with people of other faith communities.

We have been enriched and blessed, not impoverished or threatened, by face-to-face exchanges with these neighbours who have now become friends. It is only in encountering our differences honestly and openly—rather than hiding or suppressing those differences—that we can hope to build a truly secular and pluralistic Quebec that provides all of its citizens with the opportunity to flourish.

Yours sincerely,
The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson
Bishop of Montreal
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers
Bishop of Quebec
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A letter from Bishop Bruce

Bishop Bruce writes, “I wish to bring to your attention two especially important matters in the common life of our diocesan family. One has to do with another important meeting of our church; the other regards our collective responsibility to safeguard vulnerable people in our midst.”
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