By Stuart Mann
A major new scholarship fund has been created to help clergy and lay members attend courses at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, one of the leading centres of continuing education in the Anglican Communion.
A $250,000 grant from the Diocese of Toronto’s Our Faith-Our Hope campaign has established The Most Reverend Frederick James Hiltz Scholarship Fund, named after the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“I’m enormously grateful for the generosity of the diocese to establish this scholarship,” says Archbishop Hiltz. “It’s a wonderful act and it’s very humbling to have my name attached to it. My prayer is that the scholarship will prove to be a great blessing for the people who receive it and have the opportunity to go to St. George’s.”
Four to five scholarships will be awarded annually. All active clergy of the Diocese of Toronto, members of religious orders, postulants and laity, including Diocesan Centre and parish staff, are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to applicants in the Diocese of Toronto but others across Canada can apply as well.
The scholarships will cover the full cost of tuition and related expenses for programs at St. George’s College, which offers a variety of courses on Jesus, early Christianity, the Holy Land, the Bible and Muslim-Christian relations. Several courses combine classroom learning with visits to key sites in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Hiltz says he was surprised that the scholarship was named after him. “It came right out of the blue. It’s beautiful.” Although he has visited St. George’s College many times, he has not actually studied there – a situation he hopes to remedy soon. “To do a course there is on my bucket list,” he says.
He is pleased that the funds will allow people to visit the Holy Land, which he says can be a life-changing experience. “Most people who’ve been to the Holy Land, particularly the Diocese of Jerusalem and St. George’s College, say it flavours forever the way they read the scriptures and the way they preach. When you’ve walked the land and met the people, your view of the Church’s witness there is enhanced.”
The scholarship fund was named after Archbishop Hiltz because of his deep commitment to the college and the Diocese of Jerusalem, says Bishop Philip Poole, a retired suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Toronto and one of the people responsible for creating the award.
Since Archbishop Hiltz was elected Primate in 2007, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Jerusalem have undertaken several initiatives to strengthen ties with each other. Canadian Anglicans observe Jerusalem Sunday each spring. The Companions of Jerusalem was established to support the Anglican Church in the Middle East. Archbishop Hiltz and national church staff have visited the diocese five times and Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has come to Canada on several occasions.
Archbishop Hiltz says the scholarship fund is a recognition of the close ties between the Canadian and Jerusalem churches. “In many respects, when I look at the scholarship with my name attached to it, it’s very humbling. But for me, it’s a recognition of the Anglican Church of Canada’s commitment to the Diocese of Jerusalem and St. George’s College.”
One of the college’s most popular courses is a 10-day program called The Palestine of Jesus, which gives people the opportunity to study at the college and then explore the major holy sites in Israel. While there, students can worship at St. George the Martyr Cathedral in Jerusalem, which has a Sunday service in both English and Arabic.
“We hope that people who take these scholarships will come back and spread what they’ve learned and experienced throughout our Church,” says Bishop Poole. He has taken courses at the college and calls it a “gem” of the Anglican Communion.
St. George’s College is located in the cathedral close, which also houses the office of the Bishop of Jerusalem. The diocese covers five countries – Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – and is home to about 30 parishes. It has four main priorities: hospitality, healthcare, education and reconciliation.