The Council of General Synod gathered first at the eucharist, with the Bishop of Calgary presiding and preaching, marking the feast day of Julian of Norwich. Bishop Hollowell shared a video on the life of the diocese of Calgary in welcoming the Council. Archdeacon Sid Black also welcomed the Council on behalf of the Blackfoot Nation.
Alderman Marilyn West welcomed the Council on behalf of the Calgary City Council. She noted that both the Anglican Church and the City of Calgary believe in community and in possibility.
The Primate welcomed guests Dariel Bateman, who coordinated local arrangements; Cheryl Kristolaitis, chair of the Information Resources Committee; Allan Box from the Planning and Agenda Team, Archdeacon Sidney Black and Richard LeSueur from the diocese of Calgary.
Regrets: Alfred Archambault, David Similiak, Sarah Usher, Marion Saunders, Andrew Wesley, Louise Peters, Margaret Sawyer.
Charles Bobbish from the Diocese of Moosonee is standing in for Andrew Wesley to represent the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.
The Primate offered his reflections . Archbishop Michael Peers spoke of the completion of the work of the Primate’s Theological Commission , the first group of which has completed its work. A new Commission will be appointed shortly. He also noted the first meeting of all the Chancellors of dioceses and provinces. The role has evolved a great deal over the years, into one of prestige to one of prestige and a great deal of work.
He attended the annual mission conference of the Diocese of British Columbia . One cannot be ordained in the diocese without some overseas experience. He marked his 50th anniversary of his first visit to St. James Vancouver, and visited Our Saviour’s bilingual (English/Spanish) parish in Victoria.
Representing our church at the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury he remarked on the Welsh tone of the service, and the sense of expectation there was. The Primates’ Standing Committee and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council met following, and the Primate spoke there about the agreement with the government , and the acceptance of it by every diocese. He noted that at the House of Bishops the affected dioceses brought a resolution of thanks for the support given by the other dioceses. The signing of the agreement itself has not been universally positively received; he invited members to reflect in table groups about their own experience of that process. Where is there momentum for healing and reconciliation?
He spoke of his role in the Metropolitical Council of Cuba .
Issues relating to the Diocese of New Westminster he described as ‘something of a moving target’. Not much can be said in a formal sense about the offer of the Bishop of the Yukon to extend jurisdiction to some parishes in New Westminster, as the Archbishop of BC and Yukon has been asked to take action under Canon XVIII (on discipline). Some believe that this matter has to do with the faith of the church; it now also has to do with the order of the church. He recalled that the World Council of Churches put ‘faith’ and ‘order’ together. He noted that the Anglican Church has tended to be able to live with more diversity about faith than about order . Disagreements about order have tended to be the ones which were most divisive.
He quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer addressing a couple at their marriage: ‘It is not your love which will hold your marriage together; it is the marriage which will hold your love together.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury has approached the issue by considering what ‘blessing’ is. The Primate has tended to address the issue from the perspective of ‘What is jurisdiction, who has it, and who says so?’ Next week he will be attending a Primate’s Meeting, at which will be 6 Primates who have offered support to the parishes in New Westminster, and he asked for prayers.
The Council discussed the Primate’s reflections in table groups.
Iain Luke served as partner to the National Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada , filling in for Grant Hyslop, who was ill at the time of their March meeting. The meeting was characterized by friendship; friendship takes ongoing committed work. He was impressed by their commitment to Lutheran colleges, schools and seminaries as places of Lutheran formation. What are our Anglican institutions that provide a touchstone for identity? The ELCIC received an international perspective from Ishmael Noko, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, as they prepare for the LWF Assembly in July.
In the afternoon, Council members engaged in discussion with representatives of several Committees and Councils about their work, and then shared in table groups the main ideas they had gathered.
The General Secretary gave his report . Jim Boyles noted, among staff changes, the resignation of the Archivist, Terry Thompson . He read correspondence received, including a letter from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines offering to return their grant as a sign of solidarity with the Anglican Church around the settlement of lawsuits arising from residential schools.
Jim also gave the report of the Officers . Concerns raised by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples were noted and responded to in the report. In particular, more work has to be done around the Alternate Dispute Resolution process and the release form which complainants must sign in order to receive a settlement. The Officers have acknowledged that ACIP feels that there was inadequate consultation in the process, and have asked the Primate to convene a meeting to address their concerns.
Todd Russell, Co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, expressed continuing concern about aspects of the settlement, urged that aboriginal and non-aboriginal people discuss these matters openly, and said that he wanted to make it clear that the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples supports the Primate in his leadership.
The Council thanked the dioceses and members of the church for their support of the Settlement Agreement .
Helena Houldcroft offered partner’s reflections from her experience at the recent meeting of the ECUSA Council . She reported the deep affection of the Episcopal Church for our church. She suggested that we check a Bible study program on restorative justice that is posted on the ECUSA website. Anti-racism training is required for their Council. ECUSA has just completed a study on the experience of women in leadership in their church and she commended similar work in Canada. The proposed indefinite extension of the Patriot Act and its impact on civil rights cause grave concern in the United States.
Helena urged our Council to consider the benefits of electing members on a staggered basis – i.e. half the membership elected for 6 years, every 3 years.
The Council began the evening session with Bible study on Acts 2:1-13, considering the story of the early Church.
The rest of the evening was devoted to the New Agape . Table groups discussed their feelings about the present place with the residential schools agreement and ACIP’s statement, and then discussed ways to move forward. Some of these were shared in plenary.
The meeting ended with Night Prayer.