Anglican Church to elect new primate, discuss same-sex blessings

More than 300 members of the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod (the church’s chief governing body) will elect a new Primate, successor to Archbishop Michael Peers who retired in February [2004], when they convene in St. Catharines, Ont., in May.

The election of a new Primate is but one of a number of crucial events and decisions that synod members will make.

Among other important items, synod members will debate a motion on the controversial issue of same-sex unions.  The motion which will come before them would leave it up to the Canadian church’s 30 dioceses to decide if they wish to bless same-sex unions.

The Anglican General Synod comprises more than 300 members representing lay people, priests and bishops, chosen by all dioceses in the country.  The synod meets once every three years.  The 2004 gathering is taking place at Brock University in St. Catharines in the diocese of Niagara between May 28 and June 4 [2004].  The official host for Synod is the local diocesan bishop, Bishop Ralph Spence.

This year’s meeting will also

– Hear a major presentation on AIDS by Stephen Lewis, special envoy representing the United Nations General Secretary (June 2);

– Discuss a strategic plan or `framework’ to guide the work and mission of the church until 2010 (May 29, June 3);

– Hear an address by Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church (June 4);

– Witness a presentation by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (June 1);

– Bid a formal farewell to Archbishop Peers who led the church as Primate for 18 years.  The farewell dinner will be held in Niagara Falls, Ont.

– Formally install the new Primate who will be elected on May 31.

Between Archbishop Peers’ retirement, effective February 1 and the election of a successor at the end of May, the church is led by Archbishop David Crawley, Bishop of Kootenay and Archbishop of British Columbia and Yukon.  Under church law, the acting primate is the senior Metropolitan or Archbishop by date of election.

The gathering of the Anglican General Synod is the 37th in the history of the Canadian Church.  The theme of this year’s gathering is “See, I am making all things new” from Revelation 21:5.

The theme was selected by the General Synod’s Planning and Agenda Committee to highlight a time of change for the church, with the election of a new Primate and the adoption of a new “Framework” to guide the work and mission of the church”.

This General Synod is also the first since the signing of an agreement with the federal government capping the church’s liability over residential schools litigation.  When the last General Synod adjourned in Waterloo, Ont., in 2001, there was a strong possibility that that meeting might be the church’s last.

As well as the 300 members who constitute the Anglican Church’s chief governing and legislative body, the gathering also includes more than 100 ecumenical and international partners as well as staff, media and observers.

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This is the first official news release announcing the Anglican Church of Canada’s 37th General Synod.  Between now and the time General Synod officially convenes at the end of May, releases will be issued about once a week.

For more information, you may also consult the following Web sites:

– General information and background articles on General Synod 2004 is available at:

– A draft agenda is available at:

–  The Anglican Church’s two principal publications, the “Anglican Journal” and “MinistryMatters” may be found at:

–  A special publication for General Synod members and staff — the “General Synod Times” — may be found at:

For more information, please 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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