Council of General Synod highlights: Nov. 13, 2009

Queen of Apostles, Mississauga, Ont.

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The first day of COGS’s fall 2009 meeting began with the Eucharist, celebrated by COGS’s chaplain, Bishop Tom Morgan. COGS members then spent time in Bible study with their assigned groups.

10:45 Council convened.

Primate’s Reflections

The Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz started his presentation with a lively reading from Romans 12. He began, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

He then delivered a “highlights reel” of recent visits. In Kamloops, he attended the installation of Barbara Andrews as bishop for the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior-a moment that he said showed the “tremendous courage” of the diocese. In the Diocese of Moosonee, he was privileged to attend a clergy conference where he saw “the great respect and gratitude” that people felt for the 30-year ministry of outgoing bishop Archbishop Caleb Lawrence. In Edmonton, he was thankful for time with Bishop Jane Alexander and her staff, then in St. John’s he appreciated the loyalty of St. Mary the Virgin church, where he said “great things are happening.”

Other highlights included time with the Bishop Ordinary, Sacred Circle, and a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he witnessed local Anglicans’ commitment to healthcare, education, hospitality, and peace and reconciliation.

The Primate also reported on recent activity in the House of Bishops, including the addition of 11 new bishops and four new metropolitans over the past triennium. He said the new metropolitans are working on becoming a team and will take a retreat together this winter.

Archbishop Hiltz ended by naming some of the many Canadian Anglicans who assist at the Anglican Communion level, including Donna Bomberry, recently elected general secretary of the Anglican Indigenous Network and the Ven. Paul Feheley, who is serving on a communion task force on communications.

General Secretary’s Report

The Ven. Michael Pollesel gave a brief report on his work. He named the relaunch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a recent highlight. He also praised the Management Team for their good work on a difficult budget.

Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) Report

Suzanne Lawson reported on the ACC meeting in Jamaica last May, where the major topics were the Anglican Covenant and the Windsor Continuation Group. Out of this meeting, she said the Anglican Church of Canada will need to continue to study the Anglican Covenant and work towards its adoption;  pay attention to the moratoria on same-sex blessings; and engage more broadly in the Communion’s lively networks (like the Inter -Anglican Women’s Network). She reported that the ACC also accepted the Canadian proposal for a sixth mark of mission.

At noon, COGS adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 1:30

Financial Management and Development / Philanthropy

Bishop Michael Hawkins reported on the recent meeting of the Financial Management and Development Committee (FMDC). He noted new treasurer Michèle George and Executive Director of Philanthropy, Holland Hendrix have helped in making the budgeting process transparent and collaborative.

Mr. Hendrix outlined the recent work of the Department of Philanthropy. He said staff have been busy travelling and building relationships with potential donors and partners. Mr. Hendrix described the department’s capacity-building work alongside dioceses and parishes, a new major gifts program, and the department’s preparation for a nation-wide fundraising campaign.

Mr. Hendrix then focused on a bequest identification initiative that is gradually being rolled out across the national church in collaboration with dioceses. The initiative asks  Canadian Anglicans to identify if they are giving to an Anglican entity in their wills. Mr. Hendrix reported on the initiative’s initial success in the Diocese of Toronto.

He ended by encouraging COGS members to ask their dioceses to participate, and to consider donating to an Anglican entity in their own wills.

Michèle George presented the 2010 budget. She noted that the budget achieves what COGS asked for: there is a deficit of $500,000. This budget is in line with the plan for General Synod to achieve a balanced budget by 2012.

Ms. George mentioned several restrictions in developing this budget: the new strategic plan (Vision 2019) has yet to be finalized, diocesan contributions are uncertain, and $2.4 million of the $10 million budget is already committed to the Council of the North.

For the 2010 budget, she said, Management Team first focused on cuts that hurt the least, including meeting costs. Standing committees will have one face-to-face meeting and one teleconference meeting a year. COGS will continue to meet in person twice a year.

Other cuts affect grants to councils and grants to overseas partners. General Synod will also commit to a hiring freeze, a salary freeze, and to lay off certain staff over 2010 and 2011.

Ms. George agreed that to reach a balanced budget by 2012, General Synod will have to look for ways to become more “nimble” and do things differently. They will also invest in the Department of Philanthropy’s fundraising initiatives, including the bequest identification initiative and a gift catalogue. Several resolutions about this work were presented to COGS.

Council took a coffee break and reconvened at 3:30.

Judy Darling presented several resolutions from FMDC:


COGS resolved to authorize the allocation of $350,000 to internally restricted funds from unrestricted funds in 2010 to invest in the gift catalogue, a bequest identification process, and a 2010 nationwide feasibility/planning study for a nationwide fundraising initiative.


COGS resolved to authorize the allocation of $100,000 to internally restricted funds from unrestricted funds in 2010 to establish a reserve fund for important, non-recurring, unplanned and unbudgeted costs and events of the General Synod and that expenditures from the fund be at the direction of the officers of General Synod.


COGS resolved to authorize a nationwide feasibility/planning study to be undertaken in summer/fall 2010 in order to assess the readiness for a major fundraising initiative led by the Department of Philanthropy and encompassing parishes, dioceses, provinces and General Synod and its related partners. The study will establish the feasibility for such an initiative as well as recommend its possible goal and timeframe.


COGS resolved to make a decision on whether or not a nationwide fundraising initiative goes forward should the feasibility/planning study so recommend, after consultation with the House of Bishops.


COGS resolved to receive the draft revision of Canon VI on financial management and direct the Handbook Concerns Committee to prepare a revision of Canon VI and terms of reference for a new Financial Management Standing Committee, and a new Philanthropy Standing Committee to be presented to the Council of General Synod in March 2010.

Council of the North

Bishop Michael Hawkins presented a brief history of the council. He noted that their financial situation was still very challenging, but they were working to do their best with limited resources.

Bishop Hawkins noted that the council was hoping to implement a new formula for distributing council grants amongst the members dioceses in 2011.

Bishop Michael Ingham asked that the issue of non-stipendiary priests be addressed at future COGS meetings. National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald responded, agreeing that this issue has been a “hot potato,” but that he and other stakeholders are working to meet about this before General Synod 2010. They are committed to dealing with this issue as a whole church.

Anglican Communion Working Group

Suzanne Lawson shared a presentation on the Anglican Covenant from Bishop George Bruce, chair of the Anglican Communion Working Group, that reviewed the recent development of the Anglican Covenant. She said it will be possible to recommend the final document to COGS and the House of Bishops.

COGS members raised several questions about the Anglican Covenant, and decided that they need to spend time tomorrow discussing it, with assistance from Eileen Scully, interim director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry.


COGS resolved by unanimous consensus to recommend to General Synod that the Anglican Church of Canada adopt and embrace the Anglican Communion’s Marks of Mission.

At 5:00 Council adjourned for dinner and social time. They reconvened at 7:00.


Janet Marshall, chair of the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee (FWMC), reviewed the church’s work on human sexuality since General Synod 2007. This includes the Galilee report (the Primate’s Theological Commission); the Rothesay Report (FWMC) a web resource on human sexuality (FWM [department]), the development of international and national conversations (FWM) and pastoral guidelines (House of Bishops).

Ms. Marshall then led COGS members to consider how to address issues of human sexuality at General Synod 2010. She said it was clear that many people in the church do not agree on many issues, including the place of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. These disagreements are based on very different theological and missiological ideas that aren’t likely to change soon.

Ms. Marshall presented four options for how to engage at General Synod:

  1. Delegates participate in business as usual (resolutions and debate).
  2. Delegates participate in indaba-style discernment groups with no resolutions.
  3. Delegates examine draft resolutions in indaba-style discernment groups.
  4. Delegates develop draft resolutions  in indaba-style discernment groups.

COGS members spent 45 minutes discussing the best approach with their table groups. When the council reconvened, members’ feedback ranged from skepticism about the indaba process to a desire to participate in indaba with proper facilitators.

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF)
Bishop Tom Morgan and Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson led COGS in singing a new hymn to celebrate PWRDF’s 50th anniversary: “A Vision Fulfilled” by Hope Metszies.

Bishop Morgan presented a brief history of PWRDF and updated COGS on their recent rebranding work. He presented a list of possible descriptive and evocative new names for PWRDF. He then outlined the next steps in the rebranding process before a launch at General Synod 2010.

PWRDF Executive Director Cheryl Curtis then thanked COGS members for their support over the years.

At 9:00, Council closed with night prayers.

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