More than 400 people including delegates, partners and staff will gather in Winnipeg next week for the Anglican Church of Canada’s 38th General Synod — a crucial assembly that will elect a new national leader or Primate and once again tackle the difficult and divisive issue of the blessing of same-gender relationships.
The General Synod meets every three years and consists of bishops, clergy and lay people elected as delegates locally in each of the church’s 30 dioceses. It is the Anglican church’s chief governing body, dealing with everything from changes to church laws and practices to finances and the membership of committees that oversee church programs in years when General Synod does not meet.
The synod is being held at the Marlborough Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, with the diocese of Rupert’s Land acting as host.
The seven-day synod will be chaired by Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the current Primate, who has announced his retirement, effective June 22. On that day, clergy and lay delegates will elect a new Primate. Church practice is that Canadian Anglican Bishops nominate candidates for the primacy but do not participate in the actual election.
At their spring meeting, the bishops nominated bishops Bruce Howe of Huron, Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, George Bruce of Ontario and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton as candidates for the primacy. It is possible for electors to ask the bishops for more nominees after the electoral process has begun.
The new Primate will be formally installed in office at a special service the evening of Monday, June 25.
General Synod delegates will also be dealing with the issue of the blessing of same-gender relationships, which has deeply divided the Canadian Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. When the synod last met in St. Catharines, Ont., in 2004, a decision on same-gender blessings was deferred until 2007.
One full day of the General Synod — Thursday, June 21 — will be spent in a joint gathering with the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. In 2001, Canadian Anglicans and Lutherans signed a declaration in which they proclaimed themselves to be in full communion with each other. The Winnipeg event is a celebration of this close partnership.
In other business, the General Synod will deal with a host of resolutions on a wide range of church and social issues and with reports from the committees and council which normally oversee church programs and activities. Among these reports is one from a special task force that has been reviewing how the church is governed.
Also scheduled are a number of “conversations” during which General Synod members will get detailed presentations on different aspects of church life and activities.
Synod members will also receive detailed information on church finances. The Anglican Church has been in a precarious financial position for several years, as a result of declining church membership and the church’s involvement in litigation concerning Indian Residential Schools.
Note to media representatives
Media representatives wishing to cover some or all of General Synod are advised that there will be a Newsroom at the Marlborough Hotel reserved for accredited journalists. All journalists wishing access to General Synod facilities will have to register and obtain identification at the Newsroom. Key media contacts on site are Ms Josie De Lucia and Rev. Keith Nethery.
All documents available to General Synod delegates, including the General Synod Agenda (called the Convening Circular) are available online at http://www.anglican.ca/gs2007/rr/index.htm
For more information, contact Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416 924 9199, ext. 306, [email protected], or Josie De Lucia, Assistant to the Director, 416 924 9199 ext. 294, [email protected]
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