Robert Machray and the Dali Lama

In the Anglican Church of Canada, today is the commemoration of Robert Machray. And you ask, “Who is Robert Machray?” I’m so glad you asked.


This Scot is important in Canadian Anglican history.  On June 24, 1865 he was ordained a Bishop and appointed by Queen Victoria as the Bishop of Rupert’s Land in Canada, making him the youngest Bishop in all of the Church of England at the time. He was 34 years of age. This young man came to Canada and took pastoral charge of what was the largest geographical diocese in the world. Rupert’s land was then larger then all of Europe.  Amazing!


This man gave his life to the Anglican Church in Canada – literally! He became the first Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada in 1893, 27 years after he was made a bishop. He died in office in 1904.

Reading yesterday and today about this man’s life and his love for the church has been remarkable.  I was also curious to read the original principals on which our General Synod was created

“1. A Solemn Declaration that the Church of England in Canada desired to continue an integral part of the Anglican Communion, adhering to and upholding all the distinctive tenets and features of the Mother Church.

2. The General Synod, when formed, did not intend to, and should not, take away from or interfere with any existing rights, powers, or jurisdiction of any Diocesan Synod within its own territorial limits.

3. The Constitution of a General Synod involved no change in the existing system of Provincial Synods, but the retention or abolition of the Provincial Synods was left to be dealt with according to the requirements of the various Provinces as to the Provinces and the Dioceses within such Provinces seemed proper.

[I am quoting here from a book on the Life of Robert Machray which was written by his nephew of the same name and can be viewed by clicking here.]


In the present context of conversation I think number 2 in the three points above is most interesting. In 1893 our Anglican Ancestors understood the need for respect between dioceses and Provinces of the church and fashioned the constitution of our General Synod in such a way that it would not interfere with the life of any of the provinces or dioceses.  I wonder what would have been said of those who assembled on Toronto at that time could reflect on the present state of affairs? 


Today we have bishops of the church who have withdrawn from the Anglican Church of Canada because the General Synod of the church would not interfere in the jurisdiction dioceses. We have parishes that have already, or are threatening to, leave the church and joining a band of disgruntled persons known as the Anglican Network in Canada because the National Church will not step in and tell a diocese like New Westminster that they cannot continue with the Blessing of Same Sex Unions. In the meantime these same individuals would be appalled if the National Church informed these parishes that they must institute the blessing of same sex unions.  It seems that interference from General Synod is only welcomed if it fits their agenda. It is a sad state really.


We should take heart in the life and witness of people like Robert Machray. The church will move forward and parishes like our own will thrive as long as we keep the same spirit and zeal and the first Primate of our Church. If we keep before us the message which God gives us, and hold firm to the desire to love God, with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all of our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. That means that we have to sometimes agree to see the world differently and respect each other in those differences.


Today is also the Day of the Tibetan Uprising when 30 000 surrounded the Dali Lama and w week later he fled his homeland. A man of great insight and faith, he has offered the world much hope. He once said,   Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Perhaps our Christian Church needs to take a little advice from this learned Buddhist. We have a multitude of opportunities of kindness with each other every day – let’s take them!    



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