Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bishops and the kingdom of man and monuments

March 2, 2007

To Rebuild or not to Rebuild: May not be the Question

The people of the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic suffered a heart breaking loss in November of 2005. An arsonist set the famous igloo style Cathedral on fire. After the fire had gone out, the Bishop and the members of St. Jude’s Cathedral faced the daunting task of having to rebuild their church.
In an understandable human response many Anglican are anxious to help rebuild this Church structure. The former building, shaped in the form of an igloo was a landmark for more than just the local community. Unfortunately, the costs of building in Iqaluit are expensive. For example, while building costs in Vancouver run around $255 a square foot compared to $225 in Halifax, in Iqaluit the cost is more likely to run around $485 per square foot. On their own Anglicans in the Diocese of the Arctic say they cannot afford to rebuild their CathedralChurch as it was, let alone increase its size to accommodate future growth.
Because of this an appeal for financial help has gone out to Anglicans acrossCanada and around the world. Just about every Anglican news organization has carried the story of how the unique Cathedral building had been destroyed by fire and the need for financial help from all members of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Should the Cathedral be rebuilt? Perhaps. Should it be rebuilt now? Definitely not!
In all of the rush to have us contribute money to the rebuilding of the Cathedral (Temple) I have seen no evidence that the Bishop and the Diocese of the Arctic have considered all the alternatives. Will rebuilding the Cathedral siphon money from actual ministries to the poor, the oppressed, the drug addicted, the suicidal and the smaller churches engaged in ministry across the north? What impact will the funding campaign for bricks and mortar have the future compensation of flesh and blood clergy and laity who have dedicated their lives to ministry in the north?
What alternatives have been considered? There is nothing that I have seen in the campaign which indicates that alternatives such as renting other space for worship have been considered. The current plans seem to me a reckless waste of money to construct a building which will be used only a few times a week for worship only by Anglicans. The Pentecostals and the Roman Catholics also have a presence in the community. There is much talk, even in the Diocese of theArctic about ecumenism. Is there an ecumenical solution here for the need for worship space? Instead of a space dedicated solely to worship by Anglicans alone, can a multi-purpose space be constructed which other faith groups and the wider community could share?
At the moment the rebuilding of the Cathedral appears to me to be more of building up the kingdom of man rather than the kingdom of God. The Bishop of theArctic should show some leadership. Surely limited resources should not be directed to the building of one structure in one community. They would better be directed to the social and environmental problems faced by the people of the north. With fifty percent of the population being under 15 years of age surely Christ calls us to dedicate our time, talents and financial resources to providing education for these children of God and to finding ways to substantially decrease the alarming suicide rate among them. And where is the church’s voice in upholding Agenda 21, a blueprint for global sustainable development, which came out of the United Nations Conference the Environment and Development held in Brazil in June of 1992. While all of the 27 principles identified in Agenda 21 apply to the indigenous peoples of the arctic, none is more significant than the one which recognizes the importance of strengthening indigenous people and their communities. Again, the Anglican Church seems to prefer a ministry to buildings over the direct needs of people, communities and the environment.
I hope and pray that this Lent the institutional church and its powerful bishops will begin to repent of their wastefulness and take a hard look at itself and make its future ministries ones which our loving Creator will bless.


God"s love is for all creation

God"s love is for all creation
God has many names