Task force suggests fixed term for Anglican Primate

A select group of Anglicans will soon receive a questionnaire from a national office task force studying the primacy that asks them to consider limiting the term of office for the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to nine years.

At present, the Anglican Primate, who heads the Anglican church and serves as president of General Synod — its chief governing and legislative body — serves until retirement at the age of 70 or until resigning.

Active bishops, members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) and some General Synod members will shortly receive a five-page questionnaire asking for feedback on changing the canon or church law, that describes the Primate’s role and duties.  The questionnaire is also going to bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

“Introducing the concept of a fixed term would be a significant development in how primacy works in our national church,” says Archdeacon Pat Johnston, chair of the task force.  “Why a nine-year term ?  It seemed to the task force members long enough for a leader to share a vision with the church and short enough to allow for renewal for both the position and the person.”

The task force is asking recipients to consider these questions:  “What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of a fixed term ?” and “Is nine years the appropriate length of time ? Why or why not ?”

Task force members gathered last month to review the roles and duties of the Primate, as they had been asked to do by the last General Synod.  The group focused on the idea of a fixed term.

The task force is also seeking a change to the canon or church law on the primacy that would specify he or she “represent the Anglican Church of Canada internationally and ecumenically.”  The section reflects the “new global realities and the contemporary focus of the office,” task force members say in the document.

Responses to the questionnaire are due April 15, and are to be sent to Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary, 600 Jarvis St., Toronto, Ont., M4Y 2J6.

A report will then be made to the May meeting of the Council of General Synod, the group that governs the church in years when General Synod does not meet.  The council will consider a final report in November and make recommendations to General Synod at its next meeting in June 2004.  General Synod meets every three years.

Task force members are Archdeacon Patricia Johnston, Diocese of Ottawa, chair; Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod; Bishop Ann Tottenham of Toronto; Bishop Donald Young of Central Newfoundland; Alfred Archambault, Brandon, Man.; Joan Bubbs, Kelowna, B.C.; Dorothy Davies-Flindall of Frankford, Ont., the prolocutor or chair of General Synod; Ron Stevenson of Fredericton, Chancellor of General Synod, and Rev. Robyn Cuming of St. [i.e. Saint] John, N.B.

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For more information, please contact Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Acting Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306; 416-540-3653 (Cell); [email protected]  OR

Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, 416-924-9199 ext. 280; [email protected]


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