Highlights from the Council of General Synod: May 3, 2014

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Council members gathered from 8:45am to 9:15am for morning prayers and Bible study at Queen of the Apostles Retreat Centre in Mississauga. Business meetings began with opening formalities at 9:30am.

Opening Formalities

Jane Osler, co-chair of the Planning and Agenda Team, provided an overview of the agenda. Archbishop Fred Hiltz relayed regrets and introduced partners and staff to the Council and asked Council members to introduce themselves to one another.


COGS received minutes from the 2013 General Assembly.

General Secretary’s Report

The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson spoke about themes resonating with the ministry of Church House and in the life of the church nationally. He said the work of General Synod is to understand the local life of the church and reflect this in a national expression of being the Anglican Church of Canada. This is also ongoing discernment about what is at the core of Anglican identity from coast to coast to coast. The General Secretary lifted up both General Synod and CoGS as important places of this discernment.

He invited the Council to hold in prayer this very important question, “How are we the Anglican Church of Canada in ways that is expressive of our ministries, and expressed in our ministry?”

The General Secretary proposed the image of dance as one of the ways to understand the creative balance between the local and the national church; it happens in partnership and unfolds in grace and trust.

He spoke appreciatively of a strong emerging sense of collegiality among the departments at Church House. Staff are collectively moving out of isolation and asking how “we can together serve the interests of the Anglican Church of Canada?”

Mr. Thompson affirmed that Church House is committed to listening to the voices of the church, particularly as expressed through the committees and CoGS. He noted that significant elements of the reviews of the Resources for Mission and Communications and Information Resources departments have already been enacted.

Looking toward General Synod 2016, Mr. Thompson said that for logistical reasons the gathering will take place at a Toronto-area hotel. A plan is in place to support dioceses who might struggle with the higher costs associated with this necessity.

Mr. Thompson tabled draft guidelines for the formation of a General Synod 2016 planning committee and noted that they are largely the same as those used in planning the last General Synod. The Primate has appointed the Very Rev. Peter Wall as chair of this committee.


Terms of reference for the 2016 General Synod  Planning Committee were adopted.

In closing, Mr. Thompson thanked the Council and the church for the privilege of serving in this office and for the opportunity to support the ministries of our church in this way.

Anglican Communion Relations Advisory Council

The Ven. Harry Huskins presented on behalf of the newly formed Anglican Communion Relations Advisory Council (ACRAC). In the last number of years, this working group focussed mostly on the Anglican Communion Covenant and shaping a Canadian approach to it. In carrying out this work, Mr. Huskins observed, the working group discovered that it would be useful to the church if they had a broader mandate. He noted that the Canadian church is very active and involved in the Anglican Communion proportionate to its size. Last month the task force met and shaped a proposed change to an Advisory Council. Mr. Huskins stressed that the ACRAC is a place for discussion and discernment, but not for policy making. It is also just beginning its work, “It is the launching of the ship, not a sailing into harbour at this time.”

The ACRAC will bring a recommendation on the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant to CoGS to bring forward to General Synod.

Bishop Jane Alexander, who is also a member of the ACRAC, spoke to the need to communicate the work of this group to the broader church. She spoke hopefully of the Advisory Council’s ability to lift up partnerships and projects happening throughout the Communion.


That this Council of the General Synod adopt the Terms of Reference of the Anglican Communion Relations Advisory Council, formerly titled the Anglican Communion Working Group.

Commission on Marriage Canon

Canon Robert Falby, Chair of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, delivered a progress report on the Commission’s work. He noted that there was some controversy in the naming of commission members. He emphasized that the Commission did well in finding members of the church who had not taken on strong advocacy roles on the issues the commission is addressing. He expressed confidence that the group was diverse and reflective of the mind of the church at large.

Mr. Falby reported that the first meeting in April went very well and made significant progress in outlining  a process for their work. Most significant, the chair noted, was that the commission’s website for submissions is now live. This site includes guidelines for contributions and a means to make these submissions.

Mr. Falby invited Council members to encourage their constituents to offer submissions to the Commission. “We want to hear from you. We want to hear from everyone with a point of view. And we hope you’ll encourage people to make submissions and we’ll be reviewing all of them.”

Council members took a short coffee break from 10:30am to 10:45am.

Meeting Norms

The Rev. Karen Egan presented group norms emerging from the last CoGS meeting. These norms were collated using clear wording and covered things to keep in mind before the meeting, during the meeting, how to offer mutual hospitality, and practical matters concerning the flow of the meeting.


Be it resolved that this Council adopt the norms for our meeting together as presented.

Community Building

The Rev. Karen Egan led the group in an ice breaking exercise. She invited Council members to organize themselves according to Canadian geography. They discussed places where they live now, where they were first positively influenced by the church, and places where they would like to live in Canada. She then asked the group to reflect on what Mark of Mission is speaking to them in light of this activity.

Council members broke for lunch from 12pm to 1:30pm.

Financial Management Committee

Canon Bob Falby gave an overview of the afternoon’s financial presentations and introduced David MacNicol who spoke to proposed revisions to the investment policy.

Mr. MacNicol discussed three changes to the investment policy the committee has been considering. The first involves adding an infrastructure element to the fund, the second is adding a market neutral hedge fund, and the third relates to approving changes to the body of the policy.

He explained that infrastructure involves investing in everything from hospitals, roads and tolls, to energy companies. These tend to be long-term investments. Market neutral hedge funds balance risk and return, and have the potential for increased returns over bonds as interest rates rise.

Mr. MacNicol said the committee recommends adding 0-5% to the fund in infrastructure investment and reducing by the same amount holdings of bonds. The committee is still investigating market neutral hedge funds.


That the Council of General Synod amend the Statement of Investment policy and Goals to all Investment in Infrastructure with a Strategic Target of 5% and Range of 0-5% and decreases the Strategic Target and Range in the Bonds asset class, accordingly.

That the Council of General Synod amend the Statement of Investment Policy and Goals to allow opportunity for investment in the Market Neutral Hedge Fund with a Strategic Target of 5%, and Range of 0-5%, and decrease the Strategic Target and Range in the Bond asset class, accordingly. Deployment of cash will be subject to direction by the Investment Sub-Committee and its satisfaction that the specific investment is appropriate.

That the Council of General Synod approves amendments at section 4.5 and section 4.6 (new) of the Statement of Investment Policy and Goals, as read in Schedule 1.

Audit Committee

Ms. Heraldine Neil-Burchert presented audited financial statements on behalf of the Audit Committee. Statements were presented for:

1) The Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation, which was established to hold and administer the funds set up under the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

2) The Anglican Church of Canada Consolidated Trust Fund (CTF), which was set up to hold and manage investments for General Synod, the Missionary Society, and dioceses and parishes who wish to invest in the fund.

3) The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, which are a consolidation of the General Synod and the Missionary Society. Operations of the Anglican Journal are included as a department within General Synod; the Anglican Journal was unincorporated, as of Jan 1, 2012.


That the Consolidated Financial statements of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada for the fiscal year ended as of December 31st, 2013, and including transfers to internally Designated Net Assets of $40,543, be approved.

That the Financial Statements of the Anglican Church of Canada Consolidated Trust fund for the fiscal year ended as at December 31st, 2013 be approved.

That the Financial Statements of The Anglican Church of Canada resolution Corporation for the fiscal year ended as at December 31st, 2013.

That the chartered accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP be appointed as the Auditor for The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, The Anglican Church of Canada Consolidated Trust Fund, and the Anglican Church of Canada resolution Corporation for the fiscal year of 2014 at the following fees: The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada $50,500.

The Council made a notation to the Audit Committee to review the selection and contracting of auditors.

Ministry Investment Fund

The General Secretary, the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, provided the Council with a report on the Ministry Investment Fund. The MIF was established in 2008 by the Financial Management and Development Committee to limit the funding of operational deficits with unrestricted bequests to the National Church.

Mr. Thompson reviewed proposed changes with the Council and noted that many of the changes were minor and simply updated language to better reflect how General Synod works.

The most important change is the addition of two more criteria for distributing MIF grants. These allow for broader support of partnership ministries and for emergent, unbudgeted work of General Synod. Grants to General Synod would help protect departments from budget deficits. Mr. Thompson explained that these grants might cover, for example, the expense of sending a staff person to a global consultation.

Several provisions were also added to avoid reducing the value of the MIF below $2 million.


That the Council of General Synod approve the revised policy for the administration and determination of grants from the Ministry Investment Fund.


The Council adjourned as CoGS and convened as the Board of Directors the Missionary Society of Anglican Church of Canada.

Meeting of the MSCC

Ms. Hanna Goschy, Treasurer and CFO, presented the financial statements from the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada.


The Board of Directors approve the Financial Statements of the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013 and that any two Officers are authorized to sign the statements on the Board’s behalf.

As the Statements of General Synod incorporate the operations of the Missionary Society and are audited by Ernst & Young LLP, be it resolved that the Board of Directors waives the requirement for a separate audit of The Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada.

That the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada car loan ceiling be raised from $9,000 to $13,000.

A number of Council members expressed support for revisiting the issue of the car loan ceiling for vehicles in Council of the North. This resulted in the drafting of a motion calling for the review of loan policies.



That the Board of the Directors of the MSCC request a review of the policies regarding vehicle financing in Council of North diocese by the Treasurer and General Secretary, with a report of recommendations to the November meeting.


The Board of Directors the Missionary Society of Anglican Church of Canada adjourned and reconvened as the Council of General Synod.

Council members had a coffee break from 3:15pm to 3:45pm. After the break Archbishop Fred Hiltz congratulated the Anglican Journal on its recent success at the Canadian Church Press awards and introduced Archbishop Terry Finlay to the Council.

Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice

Archbishop Terry Finlay thanked the Council for inviting him and Rev. Andrew Wesley to be chaplains for the Commission. He opened with a prayer of gratitude from the Disciples Prayer Book, which is used at the beginning of Commission meetings.

Mr. Finlay was pleased with the first meeting of the Commission. The gathering opened with prayer, smudging, acknowledgement of the four directions, and scripture.

“At the first gathering of the Commission we saw that three strands – reconciliation, discovery, and justice –  were like an intertwined braid and we very quickly realized that they impinge on each other,” said Mr. Finlay.

The group agreed that they need to spend more time getting to know each other and deepen their theological understanding of the implications of the Doctrine of Discovery in the midst of cultural diversity.

Commission member the Rt. Rev. Lydia Mamakwa also spoke about the meeting. She echoed Mr. Finlay’s sentiment that it was a good meeting and that it was held in a very respectful manner. Ms. Mamakwa also articulated that the church needs to work on broader education about the Doctrine of Discovery. She shared with the Council that the group reflected deeply on the losses brought about by the Doctrine of Discovery from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

Mr. Finlay concluded by expressing hope that the Commission communicate their work well with the whole church and he asked the Council to keep the Commission in their prayers.

Anglican Foundation

The Rev. Canon Judy Rois, Executive Director of the Anglican Foundation, delivered a report to the Council. She said a broad survey resulted in the clarification of what the Foundation should fund: innovative ministries, Anglican presence, diverse infrastructure projects across the Canadian church. The Foundation has experienced higher profile over the last few years due to increased print, media, and social media exposure. This has led to an increase in request for funding, which now doubles the Foundation’s capacity.

Currently only .07% of individual members and just under 40% of parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada donate to the Anglican Foundation. Ms. Rois asked Council members to consider ways to support the Foundation.

Jerusalem Sunday

Dr. Andrea Mann, Director, Global Relations and Partnerships said she represented a significant number of volunteer and staff who collaborated on bringing celebration of Jerusalem Sunday into being. Ms. Mann played one of the video resources that were developed for parish use on June 1, 2014.

She encouraged the Council to use the remarkable multimedia Jerusalem Sunday resources in group work, study, and prayer. Some resources are hosted on the Anglican Journal website and others on Anglican.ca.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz noted that in the spirit of full communion relationship, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will also be celebrating Jerusalem Sunday. In 2015 The Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will also join in the celebrations.

African Bishops in Dialogue

The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, Africa Relations Coordinator, gave a presentation on the background of the African Bishops in Dialogue meetings. During a recent volatile time in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Colin Johnson arranged a meeting at the Lambeth Conference for Canadian and African bishops. The meetings continued and relationships deepened.

Today, Mr. Kawuki Mukasa is looking forward to a late May 24 meeting in Coventry that will focus on the theme of reconciliation. He played an interview video with Bishop of Botswana Trevor Mwamba that highlighted the profound impact the dialogue has had on participants.

Bishop Jane Alexander, Diocese of Edmonton, said she was “humbled and honoured” to be part of this dialogue and was deeply appreciatively of the conversations that have taken place about mission and reconciliation.

Key Messages

Agenda and Planning Team co-chair Jane Osler  invited table groups to contemplate what has been heard and to record some key messages from the first day of CoGS.

The Council ended business meetings at 5:15pm and enjoyed evening hospitality, dinner, and prayers. Longtime General Synod employee Diane Izzard was honoured at dinner. She retired on March 31, 2014.


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