By Diana Mavunduse
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, the General Secretary of General Synod who steered the Anglican Church through the residential schools crisis, has announced that he will retire this summer.
In emails sent to General Synod staff and to members of the Council of General Synod, Mr. Boyles said that “having passed my 65th birthday last month (February), I have decided to retire as of July 31, 2005.”
Mr. Boyles, has served as general secretary for 12 years. He said those years were the most rewarding part of his career.
“I am very sorry to hear of his retirement,” said the Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison. “He did give his notice to me at the time I was appointed Primate.” Archbishop Hutchison noted that Mr. Boyles will be missed as the guiding hand in the church. “As a new Primate, he was of great assistance to me.”
The Primate said Mr. Boyles was a giant during the residential schools crisis. “His contribution to that process has been widely appreciated across the church … and I am happy he has made a proposal to continue with that part of his work during his retirement,” said Archbishop Hutchison.
“Jim has been an excellent colleague. He has been strong on justice issues over the years. I have great admiration for the careful approach he took with the residential schools crisis,” said Ellie Johnson, director of partnerships. She added: “He has done a great job for the Anglican church and has paid attention to our in-house needs as staff.”
Mr. Boyles was appointed general secretary in 1993. His tenure was never easy. In 1994, General Synod experienced major budget cuts; in 1995, there was a re-structuring of the national office and in the late 90’s the residential schools issue surfaced, Mr. Boyles recalled in an interview. “Those were the critical highlights of my beginnings as general secretary.
“I felt quite at ease living through those critical times; those were issues one would accept to come across with this type of job,” he said.
As chief operating officer at Church House, the general secretary’s role is to oversee the work of General Synod, its committees, councils, boards and commissions, and also to connect with the diocese.
However, the residential schools litigation process became a large part of Mr. Boyles’ work. (Mr. Boyles is also the president of the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corp. that fully administers the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Fund.)
Mr. Boyles formulated what became the accepted statement of the church’s priorities: first to promote healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Indian Residential Schools, and second to survive as an institution in order to carry out that first priority.
Reaching the agreement with the federal government on the residential schools issues, and finally moving into the new office building were some of the high points in his term, said Mr. Boyles.
He will not give up this work entirely. In retirement, he said “I will limit my involvement to the litigation aspects … that is a piece of work I personally enjoyed doing and would like to continue being part of, but would propose that the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process be carried elsewhere.” He does, however, plan to take courses on ADR and mediation.
Looking at the future of the Anglican church, he noted that the issue of same-sex blessings and marriage will remain a challenge for the church, but he added that he hopes it would not detract from other concerns. “The real struggle is to hold the church together,” he said. Issues of justice and mission and building relationships with dioceses will also remain important.
Mr. Boyles commended the general synod management team and staff for their work. “We have a strong management team and great staff. I have great confidence that they will find a way through the challenges facing the church.”
Mr. Boyles said he wants frequent visits with his daughters and grandchildren, but plans to remain in Toronto and look for opportunities to serve the community.
Mr. Boyles’ last working day will be June 30. The Primate will soon appoint an acting general secretary.
Born in Toronto, in 1940, Mr. Boyles, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1962 with an honours degree in political science and economics. Before joining the church, he worked with the Department of National Revenue and the Canadian Board of Transport from1962-64. In 1965, he decided to pursue divinity studies.
In 1968, he received his bachelor of divinity form Yale University, New Haven, Conn. and was ordained in the same year in the diocese of Ottawa. He served in that diocese until 1972 when he was appointed ecumenical officer of the national church.
Mr. Boyles has held key leadership positions for numerous church bodies. Among these, he served as Deputy Prolocutor of the General Synod (1992-93); President of the Calgary Council of Churches (1988-90); Vice-President of the Centre for Christian Studies, Toronto (1986-87) and Secretary of the Primate’s Advisory Group on Jewish-Christian Relations (1975-81).
Mr. Boyles has also participated in several international meetings and overseas study tours over the past decades. Most recently he was a member of the Anglican Communion reception reference group that prepared a report on worldwide reactions to the Windsor Report.
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