Lessons the Church needs to learn

An editorial in the Anglican Journal begins by recounting the history of a case of alleged abuse against students at a school connected to the Anglican Church of Canada. Leanne Larmondin, the author, then lists some specific recommendations for all churches in terms of how they work with institutions inside and alongside them.

First a bit of the history and background of the allegations being made against Grenville Christian College and the way the Anglican Church of Canada responded:

"Initially, when the story broke in the secular media, the church tried to distance itself from the school, saying there was ‘no direct relationship at all between the Anglican Church of Canada and Grenville Christian College.’ Yes, church officials said, three of the former headmasters were Anglican priests, including the most recent holder of that office, but they were there in a private capacity. Yes, the school used Anglican prayer books and hymnbooks, but it used other forms of worship too. Yes, bishops and other Anglican church dignitaries presided at ceremonial functions, but church officials are invited to many events."

Later on, Larmondin makes some specific recommendations:

What lessons should the church have learned from the residential schools affair?

For one, the church ought to be scrupulous about the groups with whom it associates. Regardless of whether the Anglican church was a founding body of Grenville, there appeared to be a close relationship between church and school that was cemented with the regular worship “in the Anglican tradition” in the school’s chapel, with the regular visits from church dignitaries and the Anglican flag that flew on the campus. Any rumours of misconduct at the institution should have been investigated. It was not a matter of whether the school was an Anglican school, it was thought of as such and the church must protect its integrity and care for society’s most vulnerable members.

Additionally, an Anglican priest on leave is still a priest. Although the allegations have not been proven in court, the strange stories about cultish practices at the school did reach the diocese; failure by the diocese to investigate those claims when the school headmaster was a member of the clergy seems pure folly.

A week or so after the story broke in the media, the church did make an effort to redeem itself. By mid-September, it appeared to be making more of a pastoral effort, with the bishop meeting with former students to hear their complaints and the diocese launching an investigation of the incidents.

Read the rest of the editorial here.

Comments (1)

Part of the Grenville College scandal is related to the greater horrors of the early Community of Jesus on Cape Cod - which also originally had some "informal" connections with the Episcopal Church.

Read some of the letters on Factnet (dot) org and you will truly be sickened!

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