July 22, 2020
My dear fellow Anglicans,
Last July, General Synod in Vancouver passed resolutions calling on the Council of General Synod:
- to develop and initiate a process to re-examine the mission and structures of General Synod; and,
- in partnership with the entire church, prayerfully to undertake a strategic planning process for the ministry and mission of the national church, for presentation at General Synod 2022 in Calgary.
It was recognized that this work would need to take place in the context of other discussions around the governance and financial resources of General Synod.
A Strategic Planning Working Group was formed. Over the fall and winter, they began their work, including:
- reviewing the outcomes of the national church’s previous plan, Vision 2019;
- commencing a scan of the internal and external realities facing the church;
- conducting interviews and surveys with key leaders and staff;
- developing plans for an extensive consultation process across the church.
The Working Group reported to CoGS in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 lockdown was coming into effect. As we know, everything changed at that moment, and we continue to live in a state of anxiety, uncertainty, and a kind of suspended animation. Much in our lives will never be the same again.
As Primate, I concluded that no part of the church’s life and work could or should proceed according to “business as usual” – including our strategic planning process. I suggested, and the Working Group quickly agreed, that we would form a series of “listening groups” to listen actively and openly, attentively and carefully, appreciatively and respectfully, to what Canadian Anglicans are saying, thinking and feeling at this unique time about their church, at the local, diocesan and national levels.
We invited small groups of representative clergy and laity from across the church to come together, organized according to particular areas of interest and responsibility; e.g. younger clergy, people particularly concerned with issues of social justice, etc. Listening sessions last about ninety minutes, and are structured around a few open-ended questions. A member of the Strategic Planning Working Group, and a member of CoGS, act as “chief listener” and note-taker for each group.
A full list of the groups, their leaders and participants, can be found here. Please note that some groups are still finalizing their membership. It’s simply not possible to include everyone or every subject in this first round of conversations, but we continue to be open to input from all, and will be introducing many other ways to expand the consultations as we move forward.
As I write, the first sessions have just begun to take place, using remote video conferencing technology. The intention is for each group to meet two or three times over the rest of the summer and into the fall. By November, we will knit together the themes and strands of all the conversations, share them with Council of General Synod and with the whole church, and use them as the basis for the next stages of developing our strategic plan.
It is my hope that this intentional, extended, collective listening process will embody in practice the vision of a mutually interdependent Anglican Church of Canada that I have sought to describe in my paper “On Being Church.” I invite you to watch and read it here.
Please pray for this work as it unfolds. One helpful prayer resource is available here. Please visit the Strategic Planning web page regularly for future updates. And please feel free to reach out with your comments and questions.
Yours in Christ,
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