By Stuart Mann
Bishop Riscylla Shaw, the area bishop of Trent-Durham, is one of two people chosen to represent the Anglican Church of Canada at the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) 11th General Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany in September 2021.
Bishop Shaw was chosen in January after a Canada-wide nomination process. The other delegate is Brendon Neilson of the Diocese of British Columbia.
“I’m really excited to represent our Church and to bring the flavours of who we are with me so that other people can understand what Canada is and the work that we’re doing here,” she says.
The WCC is an ecumenical organization made up of 350 churches representing about 500 million Christians in 110 countries. It works for the unity and renewal of the worldwide Church. At its General Assembly, held every eight years, delegates review the organization’s programs, set policy, elect members to board and committees, learn about each other’s work and take part in worship. About 3,000 people attended the 2013 General Assembly in South Korea.
The theme of the 2021 assembly is “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity.” Bishop Shaw, who is Métis, has been deeply involved in reconciliation efforts in Canada through her work as an Ambassador for Reconciliation in the Diocese of Toronto, a member of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, and a member of the national church’s Jubilee Commission. In the diocese, she is a member of the Bishop’s Working Group on Intercultural Ministries. She is also member of the Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council.
“It’s such an honour to be part of the global conversation around reconciliation and unity,” she says. “I look forward to bringing a Canadian perspective, a woman’s perspective and an Indigenous Anglican perspective.”
She says the assembly’s focus on reconciliation and unity comes at a critical time, as the Church and society grapple with issues such as climate change, resource extraction and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples. “Church people are all over the globe and they have a huge influence, so how do we as churches come together and talk about these really important things, recognizing that we’re also in the world? It’s really exciting.”
She’s looking forward to meeting people from other parts of the world and forming lasting bonds with them. “Meeting people and sharing what we do will build a strong network that will help us down the road. The assembly isn’t about getting together and then going back home; it’s about networking so we can all advance the work that we do. One of the things about a global network is that somebody is always awake, so when we make lasting relationships in this work, we’re strengthening our human family.”