Council of General Synod highlights: March 11, 2010

Queen of Apostles, Mississauga, Ont.

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Introductory matters

The Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, welcomed COGS members to this last meeting before the June gathering of General Synod. Sam Carriere, director of communications, read a message from General Secretary the Ven. Michael Pollesel, who was injured in a December car accident. The Ven. Pollesel’s mother was injured in this accident and his wife, Gini Pollesel, was killed. In his message, the Ven. Pollesel thanked council members for their support and care during his difficult time. He said he is still healing, both physically and emotionally.

The Primate thanked Mr. Carriere for stepping into the role of general secretary in the Ven. Pollesel’s absence. The Primate announced that Mr. Carriere will continue as acting general secretary until after General Synod.

Primate’s Report

Archbishop Hiltz organized his report around three themes: Canada, Cuba, and the Communion. He also wove in passages from the rule of life of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE). The Primate has been taking retreats at the Massachusetts-based SSJE for several years.

On the subject of Canada, the Primate noted that he has been busy visiting dioceses. He drew attention to two visits: an ordination service in the Diocese of Huron where he was delighted to ordain Dr. Eileen Scully, interim director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry, as deacon. The Primate also highlighted the Diocese of British Columbia’s “very intense” recent synod, where they considered serious restructuring suggestions from the diocese’s Transformation Team.

The Primate also highlighted other important developments in the life of the Canadian church:

*Budgeting for 2011 is already underway.

*Major changes are afoot in National Indigenous ministries: the Ven. Lydia Mamakwa has been elected area bishop of Keewatin’s northern Ontario region. The Primate is consulting with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and other groups before reappointing the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop for another term.

*Canadian Anglicans have donated over $2 million to Haiti through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF)

*PWRDF is finalizing staff restructuring. Their branding process is on hold until Vision 2019 is completed.

On the subject of Cuba, the Primate shared his joyful experience of consecrating Griselda Delgado del Carpio as bishop of Cuba. He also noted that Bishop Miguel Tamayo, outgoing bishop of Cuba, will preach at the opening of General Synod in Halifax this June.

Finally, on the subject of Communion, the Primate reiterated the positive report of the Anglican Communion-appointed pastoral visitors to the House of Bishops. The Primate also noted that many Canadians are involved at the Communion level. He praised the work of Dr. Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, who has worked to facilitate dialogue between Canadian and African bishops.

As a final note, the Primate said that he is leading the Canadian delegation to the G8 Interfaith Leaders’ Summit to be held in Winnipeg this June.

Report of General Secretary

Sam Carriere present a brief report. He reminded COGS that in December they voted by email to deplore the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)’s cuts to the funding to KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

General Synod Planning

Canon Barbara Burrows, chair of General Synod Planning Committee (GSPC), updated the council on preparations for the national meeting, to be held June 3 to 11 in Halifax, N.S.

Canon Burrows said they are still working to make synod “green.” All paperwork will be emailed out in advance and although there will not be electrical outlets at the tables, there will be space for delegates to recharge their laptops at side tables during breaks.

Dean Peter Wall, a member of the GSPC, shared what worship would be like at General Synod. He said there will be an opportunity to worship alongside the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as they celebrate 300 years of continuous worship in their diocese.

Canon Burrows outlined the major work of the church at General Synod, including Vision 2019 (the strategic planning process) and approving major governance changes. She also said that visitors will include Bishop of Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Observer to the United Nations Hellen Wangusa.

12:00 Lunch

1:15 Council reconvened for midday prayers and afternoon business.

General Synod Planning, Continued

Discussion continued about the upcoming General Synod. Delegates expressed their concerns about the “paperless synod.” They also expressed concerns about the “galley groups” seating arrangements, which are a departure from usual organization by diocese.

Vision 2019

Dean Peter Elliott, chair of the Vision 2019 Task Force, walked the council through a new draft of their final report. This is the first of several sessions COGS will spend on Vision 2019.

Dean Elliott introduced the refined vision statement: “a people seeking to know, love, and serve Jesus in following God’s mission.” Then the council sang Common Praise hymn #584 “The Church of Christ in Every Age.”

After a video of selected Vision 2019 responses, the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, who wrote significant sections of the new report, shared the theology that had shaped his work. “If we can focus on mission as something that God initiates, we are likely to be effective,” he emphasized.

Dean Elliott outlined the process the report had undergone since the last COGS meeting. He explained that in addition to the original “Tell us your Story” input, the Vision 2019 committee had also consulted various stakeholders and received input from other meetings, such as the National Gathering for Theological Education.

Dean Elliott then presented the seven priorities of Vision 2019:

1. Develop leadership education for mission and ministry

2. Support ministry through the Council of the North

3. Journey alongside Indigenous Peoples

4. Work towards peace and justice

5. Attract and respond to young people

6. Enliven our worship

7. Be leaders in the Anglican Communion and in ecumenical actions


These priorities are supported by five practices:

1. Create structures that work for the church now and for God’s mission

2. Improve and enliven communications

3. Keep an eye on statistical trends

4. Gather financial resources to equip ministry across Canada

5. Build bridges, not fences (within the Anglican Church of Canada, with ecumenical partners, and throughout the Communion)

Dean Elliott presented the rough Vision 2019 timeline, then asked table groups to consider three questions: What can you affirm? What is missing? What needs to be changed?

COGS members provided a range of feedback. Some asked questions for clarification, others said the report was a “vast improvement” and others wondered how General Synod would share these priorities with people beyond the church.

3:15-3:35 Break 

Financial Management

Treasurer Michèle George presented General Synod’s 2009 consolidated financial statements. She noted that in 2009, General Synod ran a deficit that was more than the budgeted deficit of about $750,000. The exact amount of this unbudgeted deficit is still being finalized.

Ms. George said that in 2011, $750,000 will be cut from General Synod’s budget.

Finally, Ms. George reviewed statements from the Consolidated Trust Fund-which had an excellent overall return-and the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation.


Director of Philanthropy Dr. Holland Hendrix distributed the church’s new gift guide “Acts of Faith.” He said this new resource will be distributed in the April Anglican Journal and is scheduled to be produced every two years.

Dr. Hendrix also shared materials relating to the church’s Bequest Identification Initiative (BII). Through the BII, identified Anglicans receive a joint letter from their diocesan bishop and the Primate asking that they share their plans for future donations (whether to their parish, diocese, or national church). Dr. Hendrix noted that the BII has been a success in the Diocese of Toronto.

Dr. Hendrix also briefed the council on a new strategy for a nation-wide fundraising initiative. The original plan was for a top-down campaign organized by the national church. The Department of Philanthropy has now decided to work alongside dioceses as they roll out capital campaigns across the country. The national office will provide strategic planning support and the dioceses will offer their constituents the opportunity to donate to General Synod as well as their parishes and dioceses.

COGS members asked several questions about the logistics of this nation-wide fundraising initiative. Several members asked what staffing support the department would use to support these campaigns from Toronto.

Dr. Hendrix explained that this new strategy for a nation-wide fundraising initiative would require that COGS approve feasibility studies in a different manner than was agreed to before.

*Resolution COGS decided by consensus to ask the Philanthropy Committee to draft a recommendation to the Council of General Synod on the issue of how and when recommendations based on feasibility studies might be considered and bring their recommendations to the November 2010 meeting of the council.

Report on Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCIC)

Dean Peter Wall, co-chair of the Canadian Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission, reviewed the cooperative work of the past triennium. He noted the commission’s focus on the diaconate, their commitment to a “bold agenda” and the challenges of losing several staff to other work in the church.

Archbishop Hiltz then introduced the commission’s specific recommendation that the ACC and the ELCIC explore a joint office, in Ottawa. The ELCIC has already given National Bishop Susan Johnson approval to research this opportunity.

*Resolution By consensus, COGS authorized the Primate, in consultation with the National Bishop of the ELCIC and the co-chairs of the joint commission, to explore the possibility of establishing a joint national office in Ottawa and to take such steps necessary to explore the costs and other implications of such a move.

5:00 Council adjourned for social hour and dinner.

7:00-7:30 Council members worked individually on the new Vision 2019 plan.

Vision 2019 Continued

COGS members spent half an hour in their table groups sharing their reflections on the report. The floor was then opened up for members to share in plenary. Members’ suggestions included the following:

*”We need to change the wording so we are walking with, not walking alongside Indigenous Peoples.”

*”The priorities and practices of the report need to be organized according to the Marks of Mission.”

*”We need a priority that speaks to stewardship.”

*”We need to find ways to describe youth work in a mutual way, so that we are inspiring one another.”

8:45 Council ended the day with night prayers.

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