Council of General Synod
Unofficial notes of the meeting of November 8-10, 2002, Queen of Apostles, Mississauga, ON
Friday, November 8
The Council of General Synod gathered first at the eucharist, with Brother Curtis Almquist, SSJE presiding and preaching.
The Primate welcomed new members Bishop George Bruce (Ontario) and Roberta Woodman (Western Newfoundland). Regrets were received from several members and partners. Prayers were particularly requested for Eliza Webb undergoing knee surgery, Margaret Shawyer recovering from surgery, and Grant Hyslop who is gravely ill with cancer.
The minutes of last May’s meeting were approved with errata noted.
Council welcomed Jane Armstrong, Senior Vice-President of Environics , which conducted an extensive survey of the church as part of the intentional listening process . A telephone survey of 1000 members was conducted in September. The leading issue identified from the members of the church was declining attendance/membership/aging congregations. The most important issue identified as facing the national church was residential schools abuse/lawsuits. The most important quality sought in a church is one that reaches out to young people.
The Council met in camera to hear an update on the negotiations with the federal government with respect to residential schools litigation.
Members met in small groups to discuss the work of the Standing Committees and Councils with representatives of those bodies.
Terry DeForest reported from the Ecojustice Committee . The Council declined to commit General Synod not knowingly to receive any funds that are raised directly from lotteries, casinos, or other activities in the gambling industry . Further resolutions with respect to gambling were referred for further work and they will return later in the meeting.
Bishop Tom Morgan reported from the Pensions Committee . In response to a particular procedural matter, the Council reaffirmed its continued trust and confidence in the integrity of the Director, the Pension Committee and Trustees.
The Council approved changes to the regulations of the Plan removing the Additional Voluntary Contributions provision . It made amendments affecting the Continuing Education Plan to restrict the purchase of computer hardware or software to $1,000 once every 3 years, effective Jan. 1, 2004.
Helena-Rose Houldcroft reported from her experience as a partner to the Episcopal Church USA . She observed that both our churches have anxiety about money, yet we both have tremendous resources to do things in new ways. The dominant issue at the most recent meeting was war, and a consensus statement was produced asking for a different approach to Iraq. Helena commended ECUSA’s visioning process called ‘2020’ which gathers young leadership to propose future directions.
In the evening, the Council heard and viewed a report on the September meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong from the Canadian participants. Highlights included the address of the Chair, Simon Chiwanga; the stunning story of the effect of HIV/AIDS in Africa; the concept of ‘ubuntu’ as a way of understanding communion; plans for a large gathering of Anglicans in some connection with the 2008 Lambeth Conference; principles towards better inter-faith relations. More information can be found on the website http://www.anglicancommunion.org/
In response to a question, Michael Ingham spoke about the information session which he and others offered to interested ACC members about of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster with regard to same sex blessings.
The Primate reported from the recent meeting of the House of Bishops and invited response from members of Council to ‘A Message to the Church’which the House issued.
The Council offered congratulations to the Primate on the recent celebration of the 25th anniversary of his consecration as bishop.
The evening concluded with Night Prayer.
Saturday, November 9
The Council prayed morning prayer and engaged in Bible study.
The Primate gave his report, highlighting several issues:
He had met with the Ambassador of Israel , in the wake of the Primate’s response to the appeal of church leaders in Jerusalem for support, prayer and concern from other Christians for their situation. Based on Anglican policy on the Middle East, the response created a huge storm of response – more than on any other issue in recent times. We have followed the principle of responding to Anglicans in the context, in the way that they have asked us to respond (as we did, for example, with respect to apartheid in South Africa).
The Primate’s Evangelism Gathering showed signs of hope; the Diocese of Niagara had the largest group of participants and they were excited by the prospects of being involved in the task of evangelism. There are resonances with the Environics poll: how do we provide low threshold entry to the Christian community?
He made reference to his work on the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches , struck to address the increasing sense of alienation of Orthodox from the rest of Christianity, especially in eastern Europe, where it is perceived that globalization has brought western domination to societies. The process has led to consideration of greater inclusivity of the WCC.
The Primate participated in the ordination of David Hamid , former staff, as Assistant Bishop of Europe. He also participated with other Anglican and Lutheran bishops in the ordination of the Lutheran Bishop of British Columbia – the first time the term ‘ordination’ was used for this rite by Lutherans in Canada.
With respect to the Anglican Consultative Council, the issues all revolved around the tension between the universal and the local – whether there should be a global pattern of decision-making, or the continuation of provincial autonomy.
The Primate’s holidays in Massachusetts coincided with the appearance in court of Cardinal Law of the Archdiocese of Boston with respect to the sexual abuse of children . Contributions to the Archdiocese are down, and there is huge pressure for settlements; that is different from the Environics results about our church. People in Boston say ‘these are our kids’. We are talking about history, and don’t have much direct personal experience; but there is also a feeling in the dominant society that ‘these aren’t our kids’. We must address this.
At the ECUSA House of Bishops , the Primate observed that their church is way ahead of their country.
He invited the Council in table groups to reflect on how his experiences resonated with their own. Questions raised:
- Should Canadian Anglican bishops participate in ordinations in Provinces which have not agreed to recognize the episcopal ordinations of women? (more consideration required)
- Was there common ground between him and the Ambassador of Israel (yes)
The Treasurer presented the budget for 2003 .
The Council welcomed Rob Dickson and Rob Waller from the Financial Management and Development Committee . Together with the General Secretary they gave a power point presentation “The Task at Hand: Recognizing the Turning Point, Preparing the Opportunity”.
Table groups discussed “what would be most helpful to diocesan leaders as they begin to wrestle with how their diocese will handle their share of the settlement?”. Findings:
- Confidence that we have raised money before and we can do it again
- One size doesn’t fit all; dioceses should tailor make the case in each
- Explore the possibility of twinning dioceses that have had a residential school with one that has not
- Residential school survivors will wonder why they have to pay money for that which abused them
- The settlement is a way of saying that there is flesh on the apology, and that we are prepared to make restitution; help is needed to assist the dominant culture embrace this as an opportunity
- Respect for diocesan decision making
- This must not be seen as a disruption of apportionment giving, but as an additional opportunity
- Need for clear, concise, relevant information understandable by people in the pew
- This is a response to the Gospel and needs to be connected to the work of the healing fund
- Goes beyond paying victims; is an opportunity for their lives to be changed and for healing to take place
- Different strategies for dioceses with schools and those without
- A message to parishes on a specific Sunday
- There is not a reservoir of goodwill around this issue in the church; it is a huge and important statement that our church take this step, but it will be very difficult
Partners from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples Verna Firth and Andrew Wesley addressed the Council. Verna is stepping down as co-chair of ACIP and thanked Council for the opportunity to learn and to hear stories from around the church. Andrew offered his suggestions for how missionaries ought to have approached his people – by discussing what is holy, what is sacred in people’s lives, who is the Creator. His people may be the doorway to a new creation, a different path that we have to journey. Although our task is difficult, we have not been abandoned by God.
The Council met in camera to discuss residential schools and the budget.
The budget for 2003 as prepared by Financial Management and Development was approved , with some members opposed. Lists of opportunities and challenges for the church generated in the in camera meeting were released.
It was agreed that a meeting will be held of diocesan leaders to consider immediate funding needs related to residential school matters and restoration, stewardship education, congregational development , and a national planned giving initiative. Staff and a planning task force were approved to manage the gathering.
Sally Preiner of Environics came to speak to the learnings from the intentional listening process which were issued in the ABC publication Stained Glass, Sweet Grass, Hosannas, and Songs .
Some of her learnings from the qualitative phase:
- If you want youth in your churches, do you want them for money, or because of a response to a need for ministry; what changes are required, if necessary?
- Anglicans of all sorts of traditions and liturgical practice are committed to social justice, but there is a level of fatigue
- Lack of understanding about what the residential schools issue is all about; little understanding of the effects on people and culture, more focus on sexual abuse. More information is needed, especially from people who can tell the story.
- What does it mean when you live in a polyglot society? It is the Anglican tradition to include and to change.
- The opportunity is to find shared values and maximize them.
- There is no way to make everybody happy, but there is a good chance that more people can feel more involved in their communities if they know they have been listened to
The Planning and Agenda Team led the Council in a training exercise to equip them in their task of intentional listening in their dioceses .
Dariel Bateman offered perspectives as a partner who had read the accumulated reports of Marigold, intentional listening, residential schools updates, and the conversation to date in the Council. Her chief message was about ‘messaging’ and she offered a lens from Calgary. We are facing a climate of cynicism with respect to money for litigants. Marginalized populations are not well respected. We live in an ethic of self-absorption, and donor fatigue.
She challenged us to think about who is ‘the church’; what is our audience, and what is the ‘value-added’ of a restored church. When will the agenda that has been waiting be attended to? Is the only solution to send money, or do I have an obligation to speak up for aboriginal people? It is more and more clear what we do not stand for: what do we stand for?
Dorothy Davies-Flindall reminded members that every diocese was asked to consider the Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment document and to report back to General Synod.
The Council requested the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee to consult with the General Synod Planning Committee and the House of Bishops to ensure that the matter of the blessings of same sex unions be brought before General Synod 2004 . Table groups generated some messages to the committees for them to consider in building a process.
The Council established a task force to review Canon 3 on The Primacy , part 1, to provide an interim report to the May 2003 meeting and to make recommendations to the November 2003 meeting.
Returning to the work of the Ecojustice Committee, the Council agreed to receive the ‘Statement on Gambling’ from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples; and to request the Ecojustice Committee to work with ACIP to develop a statement on gambling for the Anglican Church of Canada and to monitor gambling activities and their social and economic impact on indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
The Council further requested the Ecojustice Committee to provide dioceses with educational materials about all forms of gambling , maintain a watching brief on government sponsored gambling activities, and to collaborate with other denominations on these matters.
Mark Harris, partner from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada , offered reflections. He heard Anglicans echoing Frodo’s lament ‘I wish I had never left the Shire’ – but all that we have is the present moment, into which, and out of which we are called to be faithful. The residential schools settlement, the New Agape, and New Westminster are not issues distracting us from the real work of the church; they are the real work of the church where we are being called to die to the old ways and be raised to the new. Are there ways in which our identity is hindering us from being open to the transforming power of God. He challenged the use of the term ‘settlement’, often used to refer to a parting of the ways. Healing and reconciliation is the work of the church.
Council viewed an Anglican Video production of the Sacred Circle held in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
The evening concluded with the Vigil of the Resurrection.
Sunday, November 10
The Council adjourned.
The Missionary Society of the Church in Canada met and marked its 100th anniversary with reflections about the missionary enterprise and prayer led by Dr. Eleanor Johnson, Executive Secretary.
The Council reconvened and authorized the Officers to many any necessary decisions that are time driven relating to the residential schools litigation issues and to negotiations with the federal government, and delegated decision-making authority with respect to financial viability to the Officers in consultation with the Treasurer chairs of certain committees.
The Council agreed to receive and endorse the declarations of the Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship of Creation .
With respect to climate change, the Council endorsed the ‘Call to Action in Solidarity with Those Most Affected’ of the ecumenical development and relief agencies in collaboration with the World Council of Churches; asked to have the Anglican Church of Canada added to the list of names of supporters of that statement; and requested that a letter be sent to the Prime Minister in support of the ratification of the Kyoto Protocols, asking that a realistic and achievable implementation strategy be put into place as soon as possible.
The Council adopted as its own several resolutions from the Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong, adapting them for the Canadian context: on A World Fit for Children; Patents; World Summit on Sustainable Development; Debt Burden, and Funding for Disease .
The call to mark particular Sundays , for example Environment Sunday, was referred to the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee for consideration.
The Council affirmed its commitment to racial justice , adapting a resolution of the Anglican Consultative Council.
It affirmed resolutions of the Anglican Consultative Council concerning Israel/Palestine, Iraq , and Solidarity with ECUSA on Iraq , noting that the situation of the United Nations with respect to Iraq has changed since the meeting of the ACC.
(The full text of the Anglican Consultative Council resolutions will be made available soon through the http://www.anglican.ca/ ) website.
The Council endorsed the development of a Corporate Communications Plan for General Synod , requested the Information Resources Committee to develop this plan, and referred to the Officers the provision of sufficient resources and the hiring of a Director of Communications.
Council appointed Rev. François Trottier , Diocese of Ottawa, to the Board of Directors of KAIROS , Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
The Nominating Committee will seek nominations of 6 persons to review Canon 3, Pt. 1 – The Primacy ; nominations for 2 lay people, 2 clergy, and 2 bishops will be collected from members of Council by December 9, for appointment by the Officers by the end of December.
Alan Perry spoke to ‘connecting with the local church’ . When General Synod bodies meet in different locations, it is important that connections be made not only with the local diocese, but with the local parish in which the meeting takes place.
The Council agreed to send greetings to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church of the United States and assure the Presiding Bishop and the Council of our prayers for the church as its members struggle with the prospect of their country going to war.
David Watts reminded the Council of the need for appropriate amplification of voice for those who have auditory difficulties, and of the importance of standing to speak.
Nick Parker called for ambassadors from dioceses which have lived through the painful process of coming to terms with the legacy of residential schools (Jim Cruickshank, Helena-Rose Houldcroft, for example). The church grasps the issues best when they meet persons.
Iain Luke expressed concerns about the video on sexual abuse prevention produced by the Diocese of Toronto through Anglican Video. The Primate introduced the video and endorsed it, but it raises questions of who exercises quality control. The Council did in fact view the video at its previous meeting.
The community celebrated the Sunday eucharist, with ++Michael presiding and preaching about remembering.
Dariel Bateman provided details of the next meeting of the Council , to take place in Calgary May 8-11, 2003 . Council will meet at the University of Calgary and take part in a number of excursions to learn more about the ministries of that diocese.
Br. Curtis offered reflections about joy, meaning for the heart in its deepest places to be well. Take time, at least some time each day, to do things one thing at a time. Joy is a mystery as mysterious and as boundless as our suffering, and in God’s mercy the one makes space for the other.
The General Synod Planning Committee reported on plans for the next General Synod and Council agreed to change the dates to May 28-June 4, 2004 in St. Catharine’s, Ontario . At this point the proposed theme is ‘Water into Wine’.
The Council received the report of the Anti-Racism Working Group and encouraged the group to continue its work in the directions described in the report.
Jim Boyles reported from the Anglican Journal Board , and Council agreed to have the Anglican Journal Board take over the publication of the Anglican Journal on January 1, 2003; authorized the running of a financial campaign in 2003 to benefit the Anglican Journal; and asked that a member of the Anglican Journal Board be a member of the Mission Coordination Group.
Council agreed that the Planning and Agenda Team initiate a system of program evaluation that will on a regular and ongoing basis review the current Mission Statement and activity including programs of each committee, council and board of the General Synod; ensure relevancy to the vision of General Synod which gave reason for the program’s existence and to report to the Council and the standing committees on its findings and recommendations.
The Council agreed that, should the 2003 budget need revision , the Officers of General Synod shall appoint 1 member of the Council from each Ecclesiastical Province to meet with the Management Team and a member of the Financial Management and Development Committee, chaired by the Prolocutor, to propose changes to the Officers for a decision which shall be reported to the May 2003 meeting of the Council.
At the request of the Board of Directors of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund , the Council asked the Financial Management and Development Committee to enter into dialogue with its Board to ensure co-ordination of financial development activities . Members were reminded to view the website
The Council extended unanimously to Rowan Williams, the new Archbishop of Canterbury , on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada, congratulations and assurances of prayer .
The Prolocutor presented thanks to Verna Firth, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples , and one of their representatives on the Council, who is stepping down from her responsibilities.
The Primate reminded the members of Council of their task of listening within their dioceses, which will contribute to formulating choices for the new strategic plan for the General Synod, and wished them well.
He closed the meeting with prayer and the meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.