Council of General Synod highlights: Friday, November 10 – Sunday, November 12, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Members of the Council gathered for Eucharist at 7:30 a.m. Council convened at 9.

Opening The Primate welcomed members of the Council. Jim Cowan of the planning and agenda team reviewed the agenda. He explained that committee reports will be received “in an omnibus motion” in order to give council members more time to speak among themselves and to look at six major issues that are before them. An act of remembrance will be built into the worship tomorrow, which is Remembrance Day. Archbishop Terry Finlay, the council’s chaplain, lead members through worship.

Minutes from the previous meeting were adopted. The Primate conveyed regrets from several members and congratulated the Rev. James Robinson who has been named a Canon. Elizabeth Hutchinson replaces Sue Winn, elected deputy prolocutor, as the delegate from Montreal. He welcomed Rev. Gloria Moses, partner from ACIP, Denise Hambidge from the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Rev. Sonia Free from ELCIC, and the new president of the ECUSA House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, Patricia Bays, chair of the Windsor Response Group, and Monica Patten, chair of the Finance Committee.

Committee Reports Council approved a motion receiving reports from General Synod standing committees and councils and began considering action items arising from reports.

Council dealt with motions from the Handbook Concerns Committee and the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee. Council approved an FWM motion dealing with copyright of liturgical resources of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. Council approved a motion inviting the United Church and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to name partners to General Synod. Council approved a number of motions contained in the Council of the North report, including one that a member be appointed to the Governance Task Force. Dean Peter Elliott, the prolocutor, noted that Archbishop Caleb Lawrence has been appointed to this task force.

Council considered and approved a motion from the House of Bishops dealing with Guidelines for the Conduct of a Primatial Election. The major effect of the change to the guidelines would be to allow a bishop nominated for the primacy to consent or not to being nominated.

(10:15 break)

Council considered a number of motions from the Pension Committee including the final motion required to effect the merger of the General Synod pension plan and the diocese of Montreal pension plan.

Recess for lunch. Council reconvened at 2 p.m.

Primate’s Reflections: Archbishop Andrew Hutchison said he uses his reflections at CoGS in two ways: one is to be accountable for the way he uses his time, and the other is to raise concerns.

  • Since the last meeting he has been in 11 dioceses, 16 parishes, all four provinces; he has now visited 29 of the 30 dioceses, with only Athabasca remaining.
  • He has visited Fort Smith, his first visit to the Arctic since becoming Primate.
  • He has visited the United States twice, including a visit to the national convention, which was an opportunity to say farewell to Frank Griswold.
  • He has also been to the UK twice, the first time on a visit that included some time with Rowan Williams. The Primate said he has discussed the issue of invitations to Lambeth with the Archbishop of Canterbury and advised him to issue invitations to all bishops. He also reminded him that he is under no requirement to summon Lambeth every 10 years. “I don’t think he will act on that.” He met representatives of the New England Company. He had a good visit to the Anglican Communion Office and spent some time with the staff. Also met some media representatives.
  • The second visit to the UK was on the invitation of the Bishop of Coventry. Coventry has assumed a role in reconciliation, and invited Anglican primates to spend a week together without media or staff. It was a good gathering, both encouraging and disappointing—there were only 14 primates there, but the dialogue was encouraging.
  • He was invited to address the General Synod in Brazil but was unable to attend because of a family health crisis. Archdeacon Paul Feheley delivered his address on his behalf.
  • He attended some of the International AIDS Conference in Toronto last summer, introducing an AIDS photography and audio display. Also did a web cast on AIDS.
  • The House of Bishops met recently. Once again, the tone of the meeting was very good. One area discussed was the presence of media at the house. There was a motion from the province of Rupert’s Land to have meetings of the house closed to media. It was eventually decided to make time on the agenda for private sessions but to allow the media to attend as a rule. The information officer will remain during closed sessions and draft a message to the church for release after the meeting.
  • A nomination has been made by ACIP for the office of National Indigenous Bishop and there should be an announcement in early December.
  • Sue Parks from the Lambeth organization committee attended part of the meeting.
  • The Primate attended the installation of the new Presiding Bishop in Washington. He spent a hour with her the day before the installation and spoke about a number of things, including the roles of the U.S. and Canadian churches in Cuba. The new PB will be with him in Cuba in February. The installation was a magnificent event, if a bit over-produced.
  • The Bishop of Ottawa has resigned diocesan duties but will assume a greater role with the Armed Forces. The House of Bishops has given the new Anglican Indigenous Bishop and the Bishop Ordinary standing in the House.
  • Youth continues to be a priority and he commended the website.
  • “The penny finally dropped for me at the House of Bishops that three years pass very quickly, because there we were making plans that don’t include me. I suddenly realized that this is real and coming to pass very quickly. … As I come close to that I am profoundly aware that we in the church are at a time of profoundly important transition. The word crisis comes to mind but at the bottom of the crisis is opportunity. … For all the downs and the negative stuff, I see all kinds of signs of the spirit at work and that reassures me about the outcome.”

Members of the Council responded to the Primate’s reflections with questions and comments.


Information on priorities (committee of the whole) Dean Peter Elliott, prolocutor, described the background to work on priorities and the process under which the Council will address this topic. There are six major issues: the prioritized operation plan (POP), the budget, the Windsor report, the St. Michael report, governance and General Synod. The topics are to be introduced this afternoon and will be considered more closely in distinct forums that council members will attend according to their own interest, tomorrow.

Sue Winn: Prioritized Operations Plan group Sue described the background to the work on priorities and the work of the POP group. She described the operational principles formulated by the group and reviewed the six recommendations that the group formulated, including a recommendation that the ABC storefront be closed.

Monica Patten: the 2007 budget Monica summarized the 2007 budget of General Synod. She said the budget strikes a balance between focusing on abundance and being accountable for resources available. The budget before the council is balanced.

Patricia Bays: the Windsor report Patricia introduced a draft report on the Windsor report that is before the council. She described the process by which the report was drafted and summarized its content. The report also suggests some motions and resolutions that the council might develop and consider.

Stephen Andrews: the St. Michael Report Stephen described the Primate’s Theological Commission and the work that went into the unanimous report (St. Michael’s report).

Peter Elliott: Governance Peter described the mandate of this group and its work. The group so far has met only by conference call. A face-to-face meeting is scheduled for later this fall. Dean Elliott said that the church system works, but is slow and clumsy and could probably work better. He said we need to determine what the role of General Synod is and then find a structure that will allow for it to function best.

Barbara Burrows and Dean Peter Wall, General Synod Dean Wall described the meeting that will happen next year in broad terms and noted several ways in which it will differ from other General Synods. He spoke about partners who will attend and about some of the issues that will be before the synod.

Council approved for trial use and evaluation several French texts, including for the ordination of deacons priests and bishops.

Supper break

Council resumed at 7 p.m. Council members watched a DVD on the ECUSA General Convention and heard from ECUSA partner Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies.

Ms Anderson reflected on the state of the Anglican Communion and on many of the similarities and commonalities between the Canadian and U.S. churches. “I wonder if we don’t have before us the opportunity to create a model of mutuality in the communion.” We have, for example the opportunity to model inclusivity between clergy and lay people and it would be good if we could do this before Lambeth.

Council members made comments and asked questions.

Council adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Council convened at 8:45 a.m. Council members heard a musical rendition of In Flanders Fields by ABC staff member Jon Brooks.

The day, which included forums on the themes and issues introduced yesterday, was structured around a day-long Eucharist. The forums were in small groups in different locations.

In the small groups, members were asked to write down their hopes, fears and action suggestions around each of the six issues.

Members of the Council gathered in plenary at 11:45 for the continuation of the Eucharist — an Act of Remembrance and Scripture.

The Council adjourned for lunch at 12 p.m.

Council recovened at 1:45 p.m. for a continuation of the Eucharist and of the work in forums.

Council adjourned for supper at 5 p.m. and reconvened at 7.

Council convened in committee of the whole to review and consider the work that was done in the forums. Council members were asked to read the reports from the working groups. The groups’ work was then summarized by each of the facilitators.

Clarence Randell summarized the work of the group on the prioritized operations plan: There was a strong emphasis on the need to “think outside the box”. There was a strong feeling that the work with youth should be maintained.

Council members made some comments and asked questions:
There does not seem to be a lot of long-term thinking about priorities. Many of the comments will require some time and breathing space for reflection.

Allen Box summarized the conversation around the Windsor Report. There is a desire that our response be clearly on the issue and address the substance of the report. We must do all we can to ensure that the report and the response are read by members of General Synod before they get there.
There is a desire that the church finally move beyond this issue and address some of the world’s other problems.

Barbara Burrows summarized the work of the group on General Synod 2007. The fears that came through had to do with rushing things, the politics of things, that there would be no room for the Spirit to work. Hopes centered around being able to talk about real issues and being able to put sexual issues in a proper context.

Allen Box summarized the work of the budget group.
One strongly expressed opinion was that the budget is about faith and that the context is the abundance of God’s blessings. At the same time, the fear was expressed that we might be going out of business. There was a feeling for the need for new means of communications around budget and especially Letting Down the Nets. There was a commitment to the principle that the budget must be mission-led.

Linda Nicholls summarized the work of the group on the St. Michael Report. There was concern about the language of the report and how it might be understandable to people coming to General Synod. The possibility of producing a glossary was mentioned.
There was a concern that receiving the report leads to a “spider’s web of possibilities” that is going to be difficult for people to understand. The results of decision must be made clear to people before they make them.
There was some discussion about whether the report should be coming for approval to General Synod or to CoGS.

Jim Cowan summarized the work of the group on governance.
There was enthusiasm about a conversation on governance and how this affects the mission of the church. There is a desire for the evaluations and the assessments to take place that enable change in our church. There was a desire to be inclusive of aboriginal peoples and youth. The tone was to do something now but as we do so, let us be clear about our purpose.

Members were invited to make comments about the whole day.

Council moved out of committee of the whole.

The Eucharist was concluded.

Council adjourned at 9 p.m.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Council members gathered for Eucharist at 7:30 and convened in plenary session at 9 a.m. to consider resolutions.

Council approved two motions, on the Council of the North’s policy on remuneration and policy on allowance and agreed that these policies be reviewed by General Synod.

Council considered a number of motions submitted by the prioritized operations group (POP):
* Council approved operational guidelines submitted by the POP group.
* Council approved a motion that the ABC bookstore be transformed from a storefront operation to a web and telephone-based operation.
* Council approved a motion that Letting Down the Nets be reformatted to fall in line with recommendations contained in the Somers report.

Council considered motions from the Communications and Information Resources Committee:
* Council approved the formation of an FMD/CIRC working group to monitor an ABC business plan.
* Council approved a CIRC motion that General Synod planning budget for communications at its triennial meetings.

Council considered a number of motions from the Financial Management and Development Committee:
*Council approved a motion that General Synod fund Letting Down the Nets for up to $200,000 until June 30, 2007, and that this be done by including anticipated revenue from undesignated legacies in the 2007 budget.
* Council approved a motion authorizing Management Team to negotiate the surrender of a cash option on the 600 Jarvis St. site.
* Council approved a motion directing the POP group to explore the implications of projected deficits for 2008 and 2009 and report back to the March 2007 meeting of CoGS.


Sonia Free of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Dean Peter Wall reflected and reported on the partnership with the ELCIC executive council.
Dean Wall described the process whereby the Eastern Synod of ELCIC passed a motion favoring the local option for the blessing of same-sex unions. The synod was told by the national church that it might have exceeded its authority. The matter will likely come to the church’s next national gathering in Winnipeg next summer. Dean Wall also described a new worship resource produced by the Lutheran church.
Sonia Free reflected on this meeting and of the issues that the council is dealing with. She commended the council for its ability to discuss difficult matters in an atmosphere of respect and dignity.

Council resumed its work on resolutions from the Financial Management and Development Committee.
* A motion was presented to defer the motion to include proceeds from the Jarvis Street option in the 2007 budget until the March meeting and, in the meantime, requesting the primate to ask dioceses if they can increase their contributions to the General Synod 2007 budget by 5 per cent. The motion was defeated.
* Council approved a motion that the proceeds from the sale of the option on the 600 Jarvis Street site be used to balance the 2007 budget.
* Council deferred a motion that General Synod provide Letting Down the Nets with appropriate resources to continue its work for the next triennium as a sign that this work is an essential priority.
* Council approved the 2007 budget as amended.

Council agreed to recommend the deletion of certain sections of the Declaration of Principles that are duplicated in the constitution.

Council heard a reflection from Gloria Moses, its partner from the Anglican Council of Indigenous People.

Council recessed for lunch at noon and reconvened at 1:15 p.m.

Denise Hambidge reflected on behalf of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.
She noted the closeness between PWRDF and General Synod staff and mentioned the assistance of Anglican Video in the development of the AIDS photo/audio exhibit and of the Primate in promoting the fund. PWRDF is successful, she said because “people give when they know the need and what their gifts will do. … That is what the Primate’s fund offers.”

Council continued its work on resolutions.

Council considered several resolutions from the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee.
* Council approved a motion requesting dioceses to do all they can to ensure that delegates to General Synod understand complex documents such as the St. Michael Report and the Windsor Report.
* Council discussed three possible statements that could be put to General Synod around the conclusions of the St. Michael Report. Council also discussed possible procedural resolutions that can be put to General Synod. A lengthy discussion was held in committee of the whole.
* CoGS voted to bring the following wording to General Synod: “That General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal.”
* The question of procedure was referred to the Handbook Concerns Committee, to be brought back to the next meeting of CoGS in March.

Council approved a motion from the Anglican Council of Indigenous People to the effect that CoGS ask the government of Canada to support the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Council approved a motion requesting that the summary of the report of the Windsor Report Response Group be posted to

Council approved a motion asking the Officers of General Synod and General Synod staff to ascertain the present and future needs for office space for national staff and to make recommendations at the March 2007 meeting of CoGS on the use of the present site or the advisability of moving to a new location.

Council adjourned at 2:50 p.m.

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