Highlights from the Council of General Synod: Nov 14 and 15

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COGS convened once again at its usual meeting place, Queen of the Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, Ont. COGS members began their day with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the chapel at 8:45 am. After a brief break at 10 am, business began with opening formalities.


The Ven. Harry Huskins, Prolocutor, began the morning session with opening formalities, including staff introductions.

Jane Osler, co-chair of the Planning and Agenda Team, spoke next, giving a run-down of the agenda for the next four days.

Sister Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas, SSJD, COGS chaplain for this triennium, gave a summary of worship arrangements for the duration of the meeting, and fair warning to participants that she would be recruiting volunteers.

Melissa Green of the Planning and Agenda Team then led a community building game to help the new members of COGS get to know one another.

A shift in committee structure

The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary, thanked General Synod staff for their hard work in preparing for the meeting.

Mr. Thompson then reflected on the role of the new coordinating committees in contrast to the standing committees of previous years. Coordinating committees will have a two-fold role: to identify needs within the church and convene task groups to address them; and to help organise and provide resources for grassroots movements in the church that arise spontaneously to meet needs.

Mr. Thompson then spoke on the role of ‘COGS associates,’ who act as liaisons between the committees and COGS. This development is intended to address communication challenges that occurred between COGS and committees in the past.

The General Secretary concluded his remarks with a request to COGS members to meet with staff of General Synod after each COGS meeting  to increase the understanding of ministry “on the ground.”

Clarifying business

David Jones, COGS chancellor, then spoke on the difference between the work of COGS (policy decisions, high level strategy), and General Synod offices (day to day administration). Mr. Jones noted that from time to time it will take some consideration to determine what is a policy/strategic decision, and what is a day to day administrative decision. It is, however a clear distinction in roles.

Mr. Jones then, in light of the change in committee meetings (being conducted almost entirely over conference calls, video conferences, etc. for the triennium), drew attention to and summarized the guidelines for telephone and electronic meetings.

Next, Mr. Thompson and Ms. Osler who spoke on a new template for planning process/work plan for coordinating committees, first introduced to General Synod’s Management Team at their September 2012 meeting.

Preparation for “COGS Café”

The Ven. PJ Hobbs, chair of the Vision Implementation Team in the last triennium, introduced COGS to the World Café process–a process for facilitating group discussion–calling ¬this afternoon event “COGS Café”). The café was planned as a community building exercise for COGS in preparation for their work this triennium.

In final remarks to the morning session, Mr. Thompson spoke about relationships, and partnership as a base expectation—doing things together that we once might have done separately.

Mr. Thompson noted that we often look with a problem or blame-based perspective when we look towards the future as a church, and often ignore the very positive things going on. Mr. Thompson called on COGS to be ready for a question in the afternoon session about how ministries of the church are already embodying God’s call.

COGS then adjourned for lunch, with grace from the deputy prolocutor, and a hymn.

COGS reconvened at 1:30 pm for the “COGS Café.”

“COGS Café”

After a scripture reading and introduction from Mr. Hobbs and the Rev. Monique Stone, COGS spent some time introducing themselves to each other, and then were given a series of questions covering topics from their inspiration to work in the church, where they see God’s mission embodied in today’s church, how to foster partnerships and who with, and much more.

Participants were asked to write their answers on the paper covering each table, and between each set of questions they were directed to change places among the tables to maximize exposure to different perspectives.

The event concluded at 4:30, and after thanks and announcements from Ms. Osler, COGS adjourned for the afternoon.

COGS reconvened at 7 pm without the members of the coordinating committees who were meeting elsewhere at the Centre.

The evening session began with a hymn, and with a prayer from the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz.  

Remarks from the Primate

The Primate, as chair, started business with remarks on the meeting of the board of the Anglican Foundation (of which he is also the chair). The Primate spoke about the transformation of the Foundation—a new look, profile, priorities, and strategic plan—under Executive Director the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, supporting “innovative ministries, Anglican presence, and diverse infrastructures.”

The Primate continued, thanking everyone that made the meeting possible, including the General Secretary and Planning and Agenda Team; discussing the upcoming period of experimentation with new committee structure; and the evening’s agenda.

COGS: Function and jurisdiction

After a community building exercise led by Ms. Green, and a brief time of introductions, Mr. Huskins made a presentation on the functional role of COGS, as well as a review of the structure of COGS, and its powers.

Mr. Jones then spoke on the jurisdiction of General Synod, and it’s relation to the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical provinces, dioceses, and parishes. Mr. Huskins then returned to discuss the COGS decision making process, which owes its heritage to English parliamentary tradition. Included in this presentation was a review of a system of consensus decision making.

After announcements from Ms. Osler and Ms. Haines-Turner, COGS adjourned to the chapel for Holden Evening Prayer.

Nov 15

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At 8:45 am, COGS members gathered for Bible study. At 9:30 they began the morning session.

Budget Presentation

Rob Dickson, chair of General Synod’s Financial Management Committee, and Hanna Goschy, COGS treasurer, introduced the 2014 budget.

Mr. Dickson began with a review of the Financial Management Committee’s role as an advisory body to General Synod through COGS, and a recent financial history.

After thanking COGS for agreeing to listen to a budget presentation so early on a Friday morning, Ms. Goschy gave a summary of the 2014 budget, breaking down revenue sources, expenses, and Ministry Investment Fund grants.

The key messages of Ms. Goschy’s presentation included a note that the 2014 budget is for participating in God’s mission (focused and guided by the Marks of Mission and Vision 2019); a “conservative but realistic outlook on revenues”; the news that 2015-2018 budgets will show small surpluses; and the imperative that budgets for 2015-18 be realistic, achievable, and sustainable.


COGS resolved to adopt the budget for 2014, as presented by the Financial Management Committee.


COGS resolved to ratify the grants approved by the Ministry Investment Fund Committee.


COGS resolved to adjourn and reconvene as the Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada (MSCC).

The Missionary Society of the Anglican Church of Canada

Canon David Jones, COGS chancellor, began the meeting of the MSCC with a brief explanation of its history and purpose. The MSCC is a separately incorporated body, so financial business must be voted on separately from COGS business.

Ms. Hanna Goschy then gave a review of the 2012 MSCC financial statements.


The MSCC board of directors resolved to approve the financial statements of the MSCC for 2012.


As the financial statements of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) incorporate the operations of the MSCC, and are audited by Ernst and Young LLP, the board of directors of the MSCC resolved to waive the requirement for a separate audit of MSCC.


The board of directors of the MSCC resolved to adjourn the meeting.

The assembled body reconvened as COGS just in time to take a short break until 10:50.

The Anglican Foundation of Canada

Executive Director of the Anglican Foundation the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, and Project Manager Emily Wall gave a presentation to COGS on the new direction the Foundation will be taking in 2014. For the past two years the Foundation has been working on a strategic plan, and has now arrived at the implementation phase.

Dr. Rois presented a short video featuring the Primate describing the mission of the Foundation, and testimonials from those who have received grants. It was received with applause from COGS members.

Along with a new logo and motto, Dr. Rois presented plans to offer multi-year funding, and to launch yearly requests for proposals to support creative ideas in line with the mission of the church and the Marks of Mission.

The floor was opened for questions and comments, and many COGS members stepped forward to express enthusiasm for the work of the Foundation and for its new direction.

Anglican Communion Covenant

COGS Prolocutor the Ven. Harry Huskins then made a presentation on the Anglican Communion Covenant. Mr. Huskins began with the historical background of the covenant, and then moved to its current status in consideration by the ACC.

General Synod 2013 moved that consideration of the covenant continue over the new triennium, since 2010-13 produced no clear consensus on whether to adopt or reject the covenant. Further questions from COGS members were answered by Mr. Huskins and the Primate.

Developing meeting norms for COGS

Jane Osler, co-chair of the Planning and Agenda Team spoke on the topic of developing meeting norms for COGS this triennium. “Meeting norms” in this context refers to agreed standards of conduct for meetings (e.g. starting and ending on time).

Ms. Osler shared values and principles drawn from discussion at the COGS meeting in July, and invited COGS members to discuss the question: “What meeting norms would you like to see COGS adopt?”

After some announcements, COGS adjourned for lunch with a hymn, and grace.

From 12:45 until 2 pm, COGS and committee members participated in an IT equipment check up to ensure readiness for video conferencing.

COGS reconvened at 2:05 pm, with committees meeting separately.

Resources for Mission operational review

The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary, introduced Murray McCarthy, BPHE, MTS to deliver a presentation on the Resources for Mission operational review.

Mr. McCarthy began with background of the review process, noting a wide variety of interviewees, and that both organizational structure and current practices were reviewed. It was Mr. McCarthy’s opinion that important progress has been made with Resources for Mission in recent years, and there are now opportunities for further growth.

Mr. McCarthy advised COGS that there remain issues that require attention, including communication across departments, councils and corporations, and a database that does not meet the basic fundraising criteria for donor management.

Among his recommendations, Mr. McCarthy included a developing a fundraising plan that addresses key organization issues; reports on activities that describe tangible financial results; goals and annual performance reviews; and the measurement of successful financial outcomes against the cost of raising the funds

Further, Mr. McCarthy suggested that the director of Resources for Mission must be engaged in day to day fundraising; a major donor or fundraising committee would help identify, qualify, involve, and support the clearance of major donor prospects for Resources for Mission staff to visit face to face; and that the responsibilities of a major donor officer be added to that of the gift planning manager.


COGS resolved to receive the report Resources for Mission, an Operational Review, refer it to the General Secretary and the coordinating committee for consideration, and request COGS receive periodic updates.

New diocese: the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikweesh

Mr. Jones introduced the boundary changes necessary for the creation of the new diocese of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikweesh. Consent had been delegated from General Synod to COGS in this matter.


COGS resolved, exercising authority delegated to it by General Synod, to approve the boundary changes to the dioceses of Keewatin, Rupert’s Land, and Brandon occasioned by the creation of the new diocese in Northern Ontario, subject to consent being given by the Executive Council of Rupert’s Land as authorized by the Provincial Synod.

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa then took a moment at the request of the chair to teach the pronunciation of the name of the new diocese, and its meaning.

Mishamikweesh means “Big Beaver House”, a reference to the first setting of Dr. William Winter’s ministry.

The anniversary of Dr. Winter’s birth, June 4th, 2014, will also be the official beginning of the new diocese.

COGS representation and information sharing

Mr. Thompson then addressed those assembled on changes to COGS made in 2010. COGS has 32 members, but not all dioceses are represented.  Members are nominated by dioceses, but represent provinces. Mr. Thompson said that dioceses will receive names and contact information of council members so that they may connect to be informed of COGS proceedings. This information will be sent out by the end of next week.

Mr. Thompson encouraged COGS members to take initiative in making contact with their dioceses to share information.

COGS then adjourned for a brief break.

COGS re-convened with an announcement by Mr. Thompson regarding sign-ups for COGS members to visit Church House to share with staff after the COGS meeting.

Nominating Committee report

Deputy Prolocutor Ms. Cynthia Haines-Turner presented the COGS Nominating Committee report, and COGS acted to elect new members to the Anglican Award of Merit Committee, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Handbook Concerns Committee, Anglican membership on the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, the Healing Response Committee, and the Governance Working Group.


COGS resolved to destroy ballots from votes carried out to elect members to certain of the above committees.

COGS then adjourned for a brief break and reconvened at 4:15.

Report from WCC’s 10th assembly

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and Melissa Green presented a report on the 10th assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea in early November.

“Our days were packed,” said Ms. Green. She expressed that it was hard to convey the full experience, though she and Bishop MacDonald gave a detailed and thorough presentation that was well received by COGS and committee members.

Bishop MacDonald, who was elected the World Council of Churches (WCC) North America regional president, pointed out the historic involvement of the ACC with the World Council of Churches and spoke on themes that arose during the gathering, including the “miraculous, spectacular” growth of world Christianity, with local expressions in local language and culture; and the rising importance of Indigenous issues, including environmental concerns.

“It really made me proud to be a part of the history and dynamism of the WCC today along with my fellow Anglicans,” said Bishop MacDonald.

Ms. Green then spoke about the day to day workings of the assembly, including details of how group worship (both prayer and song) worked in groups of people speaking and singing in many different languages, and connecting with fellow delegates across church and national boundaries.

After singing a hymn from the assembly (“Until all are fed”) and saying grace, COGS adjourned for dinner

COGS reconvened at 7 pm with a hymn, and a prayer from the Primate.

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Executive Director Adele Finney and committee member Laura Marie Piotrwicz then presented on the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Ms. Finney gave an overview of the history, structure, and work of PWRDF. Over the past 2 years PWRDF has been focusing on their strongest areas—preventative health, food security, and micro finance.

Ms. Finney continued with a review of PWRDF’s revenues and expenditures over the past two years. Also reviewed was a breakdown of CIDA (now DFATD) funding received by PWRDF. Ms. Finney ended her section of the presentation with a recounting of Impact 2025, a two day symposium on global maternal, newborn, and child health that PWRDF helped organise.

Ms. Piotrwicz then spoke on PWRDF’s Philippines relief efforts and the work of PWRDF’s partners there, as well as details of her past trip to the Philippines and the human rights, health, and environmental issues she learned about while there.

Ms. Piotrwicz segued into speaking about PWRDF’s efforts on food security, and the new Fred Says campaign, ending with a video featuring the Primate speaking about the very real impact of food security issues.

Pension Committee Report

Executive director of Pensions Judy Robinson, and Bob Boeckner, presented the report of the Pension Committee, focusing on changes to contribution levels and the Continuing Education Plan.


COGS resolved to accept changes in contribution levels from members and participating employers requested by the Pension Committee.


COGS resolved to accept changes to the Continuing Education Plan changing the duration of the availability of funds to clergy who leave employment or retire, and then return to employment, from 24 months to 12 months.

Communications Review

The Rev. Canon Dr. Neil Elliot, chair of the Communications and Information Resources Coordinating Committee presented his report of a review of General Synod ommunications as requested by “Embodying God’s Call”.

Mr. Elliot spent some time recounting the review process, then began reviewing five questions the Review sought to answer, covering the future of the Anglican Journal; the perceived conflict between Anglican.ca and AnglicanJournal.com as Anglican news providers; the nature and future of The Community; a perception that as Anglicans we may just be “talking to ourselves”; and addressing Church communications in an age of broad access to digital media.


COGS resolved to receive the Communications Review and refer it to the General Secretary, the Communications and Information Resources Coordinating Committee, and the Anglican Journal Coordinating Committee for consideration, and request COGS receive periodic updates.

COGS then adjourned for the evening with night prayer.

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