A “Disturbance of Deacons” Visit Victoria for AADC Triennial Conference
The city of Victoria was in perfect form for the 70+ people who attended the Association of Anglican Deacons of Canada conference, July 27-30, 2017. In attendance were deacons from across Canada and the US, along with delegates interested in the diaconate, social justice and outreach ministry. I couldn’t possibly give you all of the details and impressions of this conference, so here are just some of my highlights:
- MP and leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May was our opening speaker. She’s a professional, and she did her research (she used lyrics from Leonard Cohen as her inspiration based on our theme, “The Light of Christ Shines”). She was very down to earth, and encouraged us to continue just what we are doing – making a disturbance! She was delightful in person, well-informed, and genuinely grateful for the work of deacons in the world.
- The topic of our first morning session was poverty and addiction, with particular reference to Victoria’s tent city that grew for nearly a year, ending by court order in August 2016. Roughly 300 people were at least offered re-housing as a result of much hard work and negotiation by many groups and individuals. A panel of Victoria agencies that work to end poverty, and people with lived experience, spoke to us about their challenges, with a focus on what had occurred at the tent city. One of the speakers forewarned that he would have things to say that we might find uncomfortable. He told us it was difficult for him to be in a room full of Christians given the effects of residential school in his life. This was an important reminder to me that my perspective needs to be as broad as possible when I try to provide what I feel God has given me to offer to people whose lives are completely different from my own.
- The afternoon of Day 1 was devoted to the “Iona Report,” a white paper developed to help establish some process and consistency in the formation of deacons across Canada. You may think this has been long resolved, but the formative progression for deacons has been – and still is – all over the map. Some deacons at the conference were very concerned about the content of the report; others, less so. We aren’t all “process people.” The work continues!
- Day 2 concerned reconciliation, and our panels and speakers were excellent, including the Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia, the Rt. Reverend Logan McMenamie, who asked to “re-entered the land” by walking the length of Vancouver Island and meeting with as many First Nations as possible in the summer of 2016. In 2017, he went by car to meet other First Nations he had been unable to reach on foot the year before. Bishop Logan was joined on the panel by Dallas Smith, past president of the Nanwakolas Council, and Melanie Delva, former Archivist for our Diocese and now ACC Reconciliation Animator. Bishop Logan spoke about how reconciliation is about a new relationship, not about trying to change the old one. Dallas reminded us that we are “all in this canoe together,” and Melanie's advice for deacons was to walk with those who have no one with whom to walk.
A real highlight for me was the Celebration of the Eucharist at the Cathedral on the last conference day. We vested and processed into the Cathedral on a perfect morning, along with the Christ Church congregation. Following a brief forum about the diaconate in general, in both Canada and the US, our service began. Bishop Logan presided, and we had a full choir and organ behind us. The Order of Service included an extra column for noting the contribution that deacons make to the liturgy and to our faith community.
My daily prayers since that weekend are punctuated with memories of people, thoughts and ideas from the conference. I will remember the hospitality everywhere we went, the opportunity to listen and learn from others from across Canada (as far away as Moncton, NB) and the US about our similarities and differences in practice and in thought, and especially what I learned about myself through the lens of others who are making a real contribution to social justice and reconciliation, in both large and small ways. I was joined at the conference by DNW deacons Ron Berezan, Paul Richards, Wally Shea and Alisdair Smith. Sharon Salomons attended in her role as Director of Diaconal Formation, and our Archdeacon for Deacons, Bruce Morris, allowed his name to stand as a director of AADC. Lastly, I’m grateful for the financial assistance provided by our diocese through the Murrin Fund.
For more information about AADC, visit http://www.anglicandeacons.ca.
Photos of the Cathedral event are posted on Flickr.
Photos: Courtesy of the Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria