NEWS

Candidates’ answers to Electoral Procedures Committee questions: The Right Reverend William Grant Cliff

1) What is your vision for Huron?

My vision is, and will likely always be, the gathering of the community of disciples to learn, to pray and support one another in the gospel commands of service, study and proclamation. Our deficit in discipleship can be remedied by a fearless engagement with our faith and the teachings of Jesus. We should be tireless ambassadors for the faith always ready to give an accounting for the hope that is in us. As a church we have been fearful of change, and worried by a loss of position in society. That fear has let us drift with a sense of being unsure of what it is we proclaim, and perhaps to doubt the hope into which we are meant to live. Every parish can be a place where people come to be energized by the hopeful message of mercy and transformation that Jesus has given us. Every parish can be a place where, large or small, the faithful person is drawn into a deeper relationship with God through the teaching, preaching and celebration of the sacraments. Every parish can be a place where both old and young, evangelical and catholic, newly converted or cradle Anglican can flourish in the ministry Christ has given them. A bishop’s job is to gather, teach and then release in people that spirit of Christ to flourish. In every person, in every parish.

2) How would you describe your leadership style? What role do you foresee Synod playing in the administration of the Diocese?

(I) As a leader, I trust those around me to do their work to the best of their ability. That trust is integral to the process of listening required to properly delegate some tasks and to reserve others. I look to build a circle of trust with Clergy and lay leaders, who in turn are empowered to build communities of trust. My leadership style is rooted in the conviction that in the Church, the Holy Spirit has supplied what we require, we only need release it. This belief in the nature of the Church empowers the whole body according to their gifts to become disciples of Jesus and agents of the Kingdom, right where they are.

(II) The Synod is where we take counsel together to chart a course. It is how we discern the path upon which we are meant to walk. Synod is a gathering of leaders. This means that we need one another and cannot govern or administer without one another. The burdens of the episcopal office demand that we collaborate and take counsel together. The parishes have put forward their representatives. The model for governance in the Anglican Church is “the bishop in Synod”. The members of the parishes have the responsibility to be informed about the issues that face the Diocese. The Diocese has the responsibility to communicate those issues. Indigenous voices in Huron have been around for a long time through the work of LAIC, and as we did in Brandon, I believe that it is time for Indigenous Pastoral Elders to become a part of the governance of the Church. I would look to meet with Indigenous elders and communities to ask them if they would consider offering elders to join us as we govern the Diocese of Huron together. In this way Indigenous voices can be heard clearly when we consider the future of walking together on the land.

3) Given the wide range of positions in the church locally, nationally, and internationally on difficult issues, how will you shepherd the diverse flock that is Huron?

Trust and generosity are the core to episcopal ministry. Generosity to those whose theology is different, whose culture is different, whose language is different, whose identity is different, whose history is different, whose understanding of church is different. Generosity will always bring us closer to Christ, and closing ourselves off from one another will always diminish us. If we all, and especially the bishop, can adopt a generosity of spirit in our discipleship, we can walk together in Christ without choosing to see difference as brokenness, but rather see difference as blessing. Those we disagree with have a gift to give us. We need to remain generous enough to receive it. Trust is the natural response to generosity. Trust grows wherever generosity has been adopted. If we have learned to trust the goodwill of the one with whom we disagree, we can see an end to suspicion and anger. This does not mean we will stop disagreeing, but it does mean we can trust one other to listen for Christ in each other. Having done this we can seek Christ’s way forward together. Once generosity and trust are established, we have a common language through which we can seek to know Christ in each other. I believe the Bishop should be the most generous one in the room. Generous in heart, in listening, in hope, in interpretation, in vision. I shepherd the people under my care from that place of generosity. I would do the same in Huron.

4) Do you have a plan in mind to address the related issues of decline, sustainability, and mission? If so, can you speak to that plan? How would you root it in your own theology and spirituality?

I have been living “further along the curve” of rural de-population and urban crisis in my current Diocese. We are all well aware of the changes that have confronted society and the Church. The spiritual issue we must confront is the grief over the loss of “what has been” in order to work with God to bring to birth “what will be”. It is the old understanding of empire that is declining, not the gospel. We need to make disciples. It is the old models of church we inherited from the Victorian era that are declining, not Jesus. We need to make disciples. Seeking new models for community interaction which are faithful to our story as Christians, but set free from the structures and understandings which are weighing us down is the obvious way forward. This means a mixed economy of churches, ministries, clergy, laity, and community partners all in support of the central mission of making disciples. We have to remind ourselves repeatedly as the old understandings fade that Jesus continues to call us to ministry. Even in the midst of rural depopulation or urban disintegration, an addiction crisis fueled by opioids and meth, a climate emergency, and homelessness emergency and our own declining membership, Jesus waits for us on the margins. If you want to disrupt the systems which oppress, that is, if you want to bring the empire down, then you need to make disciples.­ Jesus is calling us to pick up and go make disciples. It is the only plan which makes sense.