Council convened at 9:35 a.m., after Eucharist, with Archbishop David Crawley, acting primate, in the chair. Archbishop Crawley welcomed members to the last meeting of CoGS this triennium. He welcomed new members — Bishop Rodney Andrews of Saskatoon and the Rev. Sarah Tweedale of New Westminster . Several members sent regrets.
Dean Peter Elliott, chair of Planning and Agenda Team, reviewed the agenda and noted changes. The agenda was approved.
Minutes of the previous meeting (Nov. 7 – 9, 2003) were adopted.
Community Building : Members took time in table groups, to shared experiences, talk about their time on the council, and get to know each other.
Acting primate’s remarks
Archbishop Crawley referred to a final report left by Archbishop Michael Peers. He reviewed some of the things he has done since becoming acting primate. He noted that he had advised Church House staff that Archdeacon Jim Boyles would act as executive officer. He has attended two meetings of Management Team; a meeting of the task force on Alternate Episcopal Oversight and a meeting of the House of Bishops agenda committee. He had asked Michael Peers to Attend a February meeting of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba on his behalf.
“We have been the Council of General Synod during perhaps the most tumultuous time in the history of our church.” He noted that there have been schismatic movements in our church before. “Within living memory this has happened before.” He noted that Council has faced two profoundly difficult matters: the Residential Schools litigation caused profound changes in the life of the church and established for all to know that in society, we are but one more body. The church enjoys no special status is society. He said we got through it and got dioceses on board, although we faced opposition from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples. This too raises significant issues for the church, which are as yet unresolved. The final answer on residential schools is not yet reached, in light of the BC court ruling (Blackwater) and the government’s appeal of that decision.
The second issue in the last three years has been the place of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church and the blessing of same-sex unions. The issue, in the context of development in civil law, has overtaken us because it will determine the nature of our church and the nature of our understanding of the Kingdom of God . He noted that the issue would be before council through a report from Faith, Worship and Ministry. He said he is convinced that General Synod must be the body that decides on same-sex blessings. A proposed motion will come forward at this meeting. “Our job is not to debate the motion but to decide the question.” We cannot decide not to send a motion to General Synod, because motions will come forward. If a motion comes from this committee, our rule says that it must be dealt with first. That is why the work we do on this issue is crucial.
“We are doing some other things.” We are looking at the Canon of the Primacy; we will also look at the Framework. It is a proposal for the life of our church at the national level and we need to give it serious consideration.
We are facing budgetary problems and we need to redo the budget. If present trends continue, next year will be even more difficult.
Bishop Tottenham expressed gratitude to Archbishop Crawley for assuming the primacy in an acting capacity.
General Secretary’s report
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, presented his report. His report includes a proposal that the next CoGS be asked to review the Anglican and ECUSA partnership in consultation with the ECUSA executive council early in the next triennium.
It was moved that this council commend to the next CoGS a review of the Anglican/ECUSA partnership as recommended by Archdeacon Boyles’ report. Carried.
In response to a report on residential schools, Todd Russell said that ACIP is not opposed to ADR but rather to the specific formulation of it.
Report of the Officers
Archdeacon Boyles also presented the report of the Officers. The officers decided not to take action on the issue of a partial release in ADR applications. Archdeacon Boyles answered questions.
Faith Worship and Ministry Report
Bishop Fred Hiltz and Archdeacon Helena-Rose Houldcroft presented the report (excluding the issue of same-sex blessings for which a later session is scheduled.)
FWM will host two information dialogues at GS — on clergy wellness and on Anglican identity and worship.
Council reconvened at 2 p.m.
Council considered an FWM motion that A vision statement ‘Towards a Renewed Ecumenical Strategy’ be adopted. Carried.
Bishop Fred Hiltz and Archdeacon Helena-Rose Houldcroft then introduced FWM material on the blessing of same-sex unions. Bishop Hiltz gave background to the process the committee followed in preparation of the material before Council.
Eric Beresford introduced Linda Graff, president of Linda Graff and Associates Inc., a consultant hired to work on the issue. Ms Graff introduced her firm’s report. (An executive summary of the report was placed before CoGS.) Ms Graff noted that she and her colleagues have more than 120 years experience in the non-profit sector and that they have never encountered an issue this difficult. She said there is no way the issue can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
While this issue is very important to some church members, to others, it is inconsequential. There is a lot of fear around the issue. People are worried. There are equally compelling reasons to make a decision and to not make a decision. No consensus emerged on what the question should be that goes to General Synod. There was a repeated and pervasive request for more and more information in advance of General Synod. People felt there had not been sufficient opportunity to discuss the issue. The local option possibility did not seem as acceptable around this issue as it did around the ordination of women. There was a cry for leadership in the church around the issue. People were adamant that the issue must be before General Synod and that something must be done. They also felt that doing nothing is a decision. The issue of same-sex blessings is a reflection of a larger issue around what it means to be an Anglican and what kind of church we want to be.
The consultants presented a report with 11 recommendations. Ms Graff said the consultants’ firm conclusion is that GS 2004 should put the decision about same-sex blessings over to the General Synod in 2007.
The consultants’ full report will be posted to the Web.
Ms Graff and Bishop Hiltz answered questions.
Bishop Hiltz described how FWM received and considered the Graff and Associates report. The committee concluded that we need to seek the mind of the Church at this year’s General Synod. The committee then began work at crafting a resolution for General Synod. While keeping the consultants’ report in mind, the committee departed from the recommendations on the last one – that a decision be delayed until 2007. The feeling of the committee was that now is the time to seek the mind of the church. The committee then worked at crafting a resolution.
The text of the committee’s resolution was distributed to members. Two motions which FWM recommends be placed before General Synod, were presented, as follows.
Be it resolved that this General Synod holds:
. To the conviction that the blessing of committed same sex unions is not a matter over which the church’s unity and fellowship in Christ should be impaired;
. To the principle that any diocesan synod has the prerogative to enter into discussion of the blessing of committed same sex unions and, with the concurrence of its bishop, to alter its discipline and practice with respect to this matter;
. To the commitment that in our desire to be a church for all people, adequate episcopal oversight and pastoral care will be provided for all, regardless of the perspective from which they view this issue;
. To the crucial value of continued respectful dialogue and study of biblical, theological, liturgical, pastoral and social aspects of this issue; and further calls upon bishops and clergy to be instrumental in seeing that this dialogue and study continues;
. To the principle of respect for the way in which this dialogue may be taking place, or might take place, in Indigenous and ethnic communities within our church at a time and in a manner consistent with their cultures and traditions.
Be it resolved that this General Synod requests the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee in the next triennium to assist the church in implementing the resolution on same sex unions and to prepare resources for the church in addressing issues relating to the blessing of unions and marriage.
Archdeacon Houldcroft described the process for discussion being envisaged at CoGS. Council considered how to address the motions in their table groups.
Council resumed for a discussion of Serving God’s World, Strengthening the Church – A Framework for the work and mission of the General Synod, 2004 – 2010. Dean Peter Elliott, chair of the Planning and Agenda Team, presented the Framework.
Dean Elliott recapped the process whereby the Framework was drafted and the input that has gone into the document, including the report by Environics and the intentional listening process. He also summarized the responses that have been received. He summarized the directions and proposal contained in the report.
Summaries of responses from committees and dioceses are available for review.
Letting Down the Nets
Rob Dickson, chair of the Financial Management and Development Committee, summarized the committee’s response and outlined the highlights of the document Letting Down the Nets that is the financial component of the Framework.
Mr. Dickson also presented an Imple-mentation Plan 2004 – 2008 for Letting Down the Nets, a document placed before CoGS members.
Marion Jenkins of Planning and Agenda Team summarized responses received from General Synod standing committees and from dioceses. Among the aspects of the Framework receiving the most positive responses were the emphasis on stewardship and congregational development. The importance of communica-tions was also a common theme.
Dean Elliott introduced questions for discussion in table groups.
- To what extent does the Framework have the appropriate balance between new initiatives and continuing work?
- To what extent will the Framework be a helpful guide as the Synod goes through the next five years?
- From your perspective, do you believe that the implementation plan is possible and desirable?
- How do we best engage the whole church in moving the Framework forward?
Council adjourned at 5 p.m.