In spite of the devastating floods that wrecked homes, businesses and farmland along the east coast of Australia during December and January, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council (NATSIAC) is determined to host the 12th gathering of the Anglican Indigenous Network in May this year. Members of the Network will be welcomed to the Salvation Army Collaroy Centre on the coast north of Sydney, New South Wales.
Five-person delegations are expected to attend the gathering in Collaroy from each of the Anglican Indigenous Network’s member groups in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Australia and The Episcopal Church.
Meeting together will enable Network members to share their experiences and resources with one another, and consider the different ways in which Anglican churches support indigenous peoples spiritually, socially, economically and politically. They will also reflect on indigenous church leadership and governance arrangements. In Canada, for example, where indigenous people make up more than one third of the Anglican population in five of the 30 Canadian dioceses (Arctic, Caledonia, Keewatin, Moosonee, Saskatchewan), there have been six Indigenous Anglican bishops since 1989. The Rt Revd Mark MacDonald was appointed first national indigenous bishop in 2007 and in June 2010 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada approved the introduction of a new canon law that firmly established a self-determining national indigenous ministry within the church. “It is evident from the Canadian experience”, said Native Hawaiian Mr Malcolm Naea Chun, Secretary General of the Anglican Indigenous Network, “that once the issues of governance and partnership are defined and acted upon the journey towards the New Jerusalem begins together, people to people”.
During the May gathering in Collaroy, Ms Donna Bomberry of the Cayuga Nation in Canada will succeed Mr Chun as Secretary General of the Anglican Indigenous Network. Ms Bomberry is Coordinator of Indigenous Ministries for the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Anglican Indigenous Network has its roots in the 1991 General Convention of The Episcopal Church which took place in Phoenix, Arizona. The Network connects indigenous minority peoples living in their own lands. Its members are committed to the Anglican tradition while affirming traditional spiritualities.