NAVAJOLAND: MacDonald to resign as assisting bishop in September

August 28, 2009

As anticipated, Bishop Mark MacDonald, national indigenous bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada, has informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of his intention to resign officially as assisting bishop of Navajoland Area Mission in September. MacDonald has been serving in dual capacities since 2007 when he was appointed to the newly created Canadian post. He was chosen to serve as assisting Navajoland bishop by General Convention in 2006. "Again, I am grateful to God for my association with you all and wish you the very best for the future, praying that the will of Diyin may be clear to you and that you may have the Spirit's strength to accomplish it," MacDonald wrote in a July 27 letter addressed to the Episcopal Church in Navajoland (ECN). He explained that, at the 76th General Convention in July, "I spoke with our Presiding Bishop and agreed that it was time for me to make a formal presentation of my plans for my remaining time with the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, as well as the date for my resignation ... Though I am happy to assist where needed or requested, in most cases, including the consultation process you are beginning, it is best that you work with the committee we designated at convocation and the executive of ECN Council." Delegates to the 33rd annual ECN convocation, held June 12-14 at the Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona, overwhelmingly approved creation of a leadership conference to facilitate the election of an interim bishop and the eventual election of a Navajo, or Diné, bishop for the missionary district. "It is my hope to ordain a Navajo bishop during my tenure as Presiding Bishop," Jefferts Schori those attending the convocation. The Rev. Canon Charles K. Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, said that Jefferts Schori had accepted MacDonald's resignation. "She wishes him great blessing in his full-time ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, and is actively supporting the people of Navajoland as they move forward in their own mission and ministry," he said. Robertson added that MacDonald's ministry in Canada "has been very well received but is more than a full-time job. His leadership role in Navajoland was seen as a two- or three-year period." Archdeacon Paul Feheley, speaking on behalf of Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada, said, "During the past few years Mark's leadership and ministry as the national indigenous bishop in Canada has been fruitful and continues to grow in its importance as issues of self-determination, the continuing need for healing and what it means to be a truly indigenous church are being addressed." Navajoland is the only area mission in the Episcopal Church, functioning much the same as a diocese but with more oversight from the office of the Presiding Bishop and the House of Bishops. Jefferts Schori's proposal also included identifying and training Navajo leadership, fundraising in conjunction with the Episcopal Church Foundation and offering administrative oversight over Navajoland's three regions -- Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. It also included a design team of church center staff and Navajo area representatives. Robertson said that the Episcopal Church Foundation is interested in partnering with Navajoland to look at focused efforts for fundraising over the next two years. MacDonald was bishop of Alaska when he was chosen at General Convention 2006 to serve as the new assisting bishop of Navajoland. Prior to MacDonald's term as Navajoland bishop, former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold had appointed Bishop Rustin Kimsey as assisting bishop of Navajoland for an interim period to fill a vacancy created by the death of Bishop Steven Plummer, the first Navajo bishop to serve in the area.

Related Topics: