The 41st General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada will be the most accessible and environmentally friendly yet, thanks to a specially designed web and mobile app that will connect delegates to each other while offering a window into the proceedings for Anglicans across Canada and the general public.
All delegates will be provided with tablets at the forthcoming General Synod, which takes place from July 7-12 in Richmond Hill, Ont. at the Sheraton Parkway North. Users can access the app on an Apple iPhone or iPad, Android Phone or Tablet, or through the web at a desktop computer or Blackberry.
The General Synod 2016 app contains the Convening Circular and all the information that delegates will need for the meeting. An event guide includes pre-Synod travel help, reports, resolutions, orientation videos, the Handbook of General Synod, a list of members and special guests, and a convenient search tool.
The Rev. Peter Wall, chair of the General Synod Planning Committee, said the app would allow General Synod to be “as green as we can be and as environmentally friendly as we can be,” while highlighting its ease of access.
“If it works the way we want it to—and I think it’s going to—it’s going to be a whole lot easier for members of General Synod to access information, to know what’s going on that day, that hour, [and] to be able to communicate with other members of General Synod without trying to stand up and find them at a table,” Wall said.
“Because it’s an app that lives in the Internet, other members of the church across the country will be able to access the same information,” he added. “It means that what we’re doing will be that much more accessible to the church. It means that we’re going to have a whole lot less paper floating around the meeting hall … I think it’s win-win all the way around.”
The app is customized for each member of General Synod with a personalized agenda, schedule, and interactive maps that tell users where they need to be.
“If you are a clergy member from the diocese of Saskatchewan and are on a specific sessional committee—say, nominations—the app will be set up in such a way that it presents the agenda for you, which will be different than a lay member from Quebec who is not on any sessional committees,” said web manager Brian Bukowski, who played a leading role in developing the app.
A major feature of the app is the facilitation of communication between members of General Synod through a members-only section that allows them to send messages and arrange meetings. Members can also write notes and take photos, sending them to others or sharing them on social media.
Worship is one area where the app will play less of a role than originally planned, with the primary resource at General Synod being a worship booklet with music that will be used in conjunction with PowerPoint.
“We are using a paper resource for worship,” worship committee chair the Rev. Martha Tatarnic said. “Partly that’s so that there is a take-home element, because there was some disappointment at the last joint assembly that there wasn’t a resource to take home. But it’s also [that] we just ultimately assessed that this is going to make it easier for people to sing.”
That said, she added, “Certainly we’ll be using the app in all of the ways that it’s intended to be used, for communication between members [and] for sharing updates with the wider assembly.”
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