Report Number: 003

Report of the Council of General Synod to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada

The Council met seven times during the last triennium in Mississauga, Ontario, except for the first meeting which was held in Waterloo, Ontario, the second meeting in Orillia, Ontario and the fifth meeting which was held in Calgary, Alberta. Archbishop Michael Peers convened and chaired the first six meetings, and Acting Primate David Crawley chaired the last meeting. The Prolocutor, Ms Dorothy Davies-Flindall assisted in the chairing of the meetings.

Throughout the triennium partners from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, (The Reverend Mark Harris, the Reverend Sonja Free), the Episcopal Church in the USA, (Mr. Warren Ramshaw, Canon Stephen Lane), the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (Ms Verna Firth, Mr. Tod Russell, the Reverend Andrew Wesley, Mr. Charles Bobbish), and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (Ms Marion Saunders) attended the meetings and participated in discussions.

During the triennium there were several changes in the membership of the Council:

At each meeting the council welcomed Bishop Jo Fricker as its chaplain. Brother Curtis Almquist, SSJD served as chaplain too, at one meeting.

At its meeting in March 2004 the Council awarded the Anglican Award of Merit to

Ms Amy Newell of Ottawa and Canon Bob Falby of Toronto.

Residential Schools

A major item on the agenda of the Council during this triennium has been the impact of litigation by former students of the Indian residential schools on the General Synod, eleven dioceses where the schools were located and which have been drawn into litigation, and the church as a whole. The General Synod’s goals throughout the protracted negotiations with government have remained constant:

The government was faced with over 12,000 claims for compensation for physical and sexual abuse, and for loss of language and culture. Of these, approximately 20% were filed by former students of Anglican operated schools. From the early stages it became clear that the impact of these claims, if even a small portion were to be validated, would cause the financial collapse of the General Synod and several of the dioceses. From 1998 to 2001 an ecumenical working group engaged in conversations and negotiations with representatives of the federal government in an attempt to find a global resolution. In October 2001 however, the government unilaterally announced that it would settle claims with a contribution of 70%, leaving it to the churches to find the remaining 30%.

Faced with impending bankruptcy, the General Synod looked at three options:

When Plan A came to an end in the fall of 2001, the Officers decided to form a Plan B Task Force, chaired by Dean Peter Elliott, to work at a way forward in negotiation with the government. A series of meetings with the Deputy Minister of the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution began in January 2002 and continued intensively until November of that year when an agreement was announced and documents initialed, subject to the approval of all thirty Anglican dioceses and the government.

From November 2002 to March 2003, approval was given by all dioceses and documents signed, committing them to contribute $22M to a Settlement Fund over a five-year period. (the General Synod’s contribution is $3M) The Settlement Agreement was signed at Church House on March 11 by the Primate and the Honourable Ralph Goodale, the Minister responsible for this work. The Fund has been in operation for a year now, and it was reported at the Council meeting in March 2004 that $8.8M had been received and $2.6M had been paid out in compensation to victims.

The Fund is administered by the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corporation which was established for this purpose. The President is the General Secretary, the Treasurer is the Treasurer of General Synod and the third Board member is the Director of Partnerships. The financial statement of the Corporation for 2004 is attached for information as Appendix 1

Throughout this triennium the Council has been briefed at each meeting and has entered into extensive reflection and debate, sometimes in in camera sessions, mindful of the sensitivity of the negotiations. The Council authorized the Officers of General Synod to monitor the negotiations, and take any steps required between meetings of the Council.

At the time of the signing of the Agreement, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples indicated that it could not support the Agreement. It raised several concerns, and at the meeting of the Council of General Synod in May 2003 a motion was passed urging the government to listen and respond to the concerns of aboriginal people in relation to the ADR (alternative dispute resolution) process that it was developing. A major issue related to the form of release that a claimant would need to sign. Originally the release was to be signed before the process began, and would be ‘full and final’, covering all potential future claims arising out of the person’s attendance at the schools. The government was persuaded to change the timing of the release so that it would be signed only after a decision on the claim had been heard. It also agreed to accept a partial release, leaving it open for claimants, at a future date, to file a new claim for loss of language or culture, if the courts ultimately hold that such claims are compensable. The Settlement Agreement, however, requires a full release. After consultation with legal counsel, it was decided to accept the government’s move to a partial release, but to not take any action on the part of the church organizations, which still require a full release before compensating victims of abuse.

The Council continued to monitor the ways in which government and church can respond to loss of language and culture in programmatic ways, and in May 2003 asked the Anglican Healing Fund Response Committee to review its terms of reference in this regard. The Committee responded that its limited resources already fall far short of the applications for grants that it receives.

Archbishop John Clarke has been working at gathering the stories of the former staff of the residential schools, and attached, as Appendix 2 is a short summary of the material he as received, entitled, Not All Students, Not All Staff.

Financial Viability of General Synod

During this triennium the Council was conscious of the continuing threat to the financial integrity of General Synod. Although Plan C as mentioned above was not needed, preliminary work was undertaken. The Council was aware that the four Provincial Synods had taken action in 2000 to enshrine the Canons of General Synod in their life. The Metropolitans had incorporated a new body to provide a new manifestation of the national life of the Anglican Church if the General Synod failed. The Council endorsed the separate incorporation of the Anglican Journal which took place in 2002 and which took over the publication of the Anglican Journal in January 2003. The General Synod retains control of the new AJ Corporation. (The PWRDF had been incorporated earlier and operates separately from the General Synod). Steps were also taken to incorporate the Anglican Book Centre, and although this has been done, the new corporation has not been activated. The Pension Committee too proposed to the Council ‘transitional rules’ which were approved in November 2001.

Strategic Planning

The General Synod in 2001 directed the Council to undertake a program on intentional listening in preparation for development of a new strategic plan to follow the 1995 Plan that is scheduled to end in 2004. The Council’s Planning and Agenda Team took leadership in this task. Environics, a research company, was hired to hold a series of focus groups across the country, and then to conduct a telephone survey of 1200 randomly selected Anglicans.

The results of the focus groups were presented to the Council in November 2002 and appeared in a book published by the Anglican Book Centre, Stained Glass, Sweet Grass, Hosannas and Songs. The results of the telephone survey were presented at the same meeting. Council members were asked to return home and consult in their dioceses about the results of these surveys.

In November 2003 a first draft of a Framework (a decision was taken to not develop a full strategic plan) was presented to the Council. It was revised and circulated to dioceses and committees for comment. A further revised version was developed after discussion at the March 2004 Council, and is placed before the Synod for adoption. The Framework represents a way forward for the General Synod for the next 6 years. It is entitled, Serving God’s World, Strengthening the Church, and is attached as Appendix 3. This work was done in cooperation with the Financial Management and Development Committee, and a companion document outlining the financing for the Framework is attached to the above appendix and is entitled, Letting Down the Nets: A Funding Proposal for the National Church (Appendix A of the Framework).

The Council asked all committees and councils to develop specific directions, goals and plans for the next triennium mindful of the Framework and the baptismal covenant. It also asked the Planning and Agenda Team to do program evaluations on a regular basis

The Council also asked the next COGS to consider the establishment of two new working groups: one on Leadership Development for Local Ministries and one for Implementation of the New Agape.

It also asked the new COGS to review the governance of General Synod so as to enhance the work and mission of the General Synod.

Handbook Review

During the course of the triennium several matters arose concerning proposed changes to the Handbook of General Synod. The Council endorsed resolutions on the following subjects for the consideration of the 2004 Synod:

The council also received the report of the Jurisdiction Task Force, which had been created in the previous triennium. The report is attached as Appendix 5

The Council also formed a task force to review Part I of Canon III on the Primacy. The task force met twice and reported to the Council in March 2004. The Council passed on three resolutions for General Synod’s consideration: a proposed term for a primate of 9 years with a possible 3 year extension; some changes to the duties of the primate; and minor changes as to how a primate could resign the office. The report of the Task Force is attached as Appendix 6

Social and Eco Justice Issues

The Council took action on several issues:

The General Synod in 2001 had approved the document, Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment, asking that it be sent to dioceses and responses requested. The General Secretary has received responses from 13 dioceses and one ecclesiastical province, and a summary of these responses is attached as Appendix 9

The Council also re-mandated its Anti Racism Working Group, and received and referred back a Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada. The Group had reported regularly to the Council.

Ecumenical and Anglican Communion Relations

At its first meeting the council approved the terms of reference and membership of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, and called for local/regional celebrations of the Waterloo Declaration.

The Council approved Guidelines for Anglican and Lutheran Clergy Serving Term Appointments in Each Other’s Churches. Also approved were Guidelines for Common Worship

The council heard a report from the representatives who had attended the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong. The Primate also reported on the series of meetings of the Primates in recent years.

An ecumenical vision statement, Towards a Renewed Ecumenical Strategy, was approved in March 2004 and is attached as Appendix 10. A joint task force with Lutherans was approved to study confirmation.

Blessing of Same Sex Unions

This issue has been on the horizon for the council during this triennium. In November 2002 at the request of the House of Bishops, the council asked the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee, in cooperation with the General Synod Planning Committee to consider how the issue could be brought to General Synod 2004, and to look at ways the church might be prepared for this discussion.

In March 2004 the council heard a report from a research firm, Linda Graf and Associates who had surveyed Anglicans in a series of focus groups and interviews. The FWM Committee presented a proposed series of motions to place before the Synod. The council, after long debate approved an amended set of resolutions.

In preparation for this discussion at General Synod the Faith, Worship and Ministry staff has prepared a list of resources which is attached as Appendix 11. The Committee was further asked to develop resources to assist the church during the next triennium in implementing any General Synod resolution on this topic and to address issues of human sexuality.

In May 2003 the council welcomed the appointment of Bishop William Hockin as an Episcopal visitor for parishes in the diocese of New Westminster who might request his ministry. It also supported the House of Bishops in urging Bishop Terry Buckle to withdraw his offer of Episcopal oversight to some New Westminster parishes.

Financial Concerns

In November of each year the council approved the General Synod budget for the year ahead, and in May 2002 and May 2003 it received the audited financial statements for the previous year.

The council received the Marigold Report which outlined a plan for financial development in the church. It summarized the results of three consultations held in late 2001 and early 2002. A later document, Letting Down the Nets: A Funding Proposal for the National Church, was endorsed by the council in March 2004, for consideration at General Synod (Appendix 3)

Pensions

The council heard regular reports from the Pension Committee and passed a series of changes to the regulations affecting the Pension Plans, the Long Term Disability Plan and the Continuing Education Plan. Transitional rules were also put in place in the event that General Synod were to cease to exist. At its last meeting the council gave approval in principle to the incorporation of the Pension Office.

A report of the actuarial evaluation was received in November 2003 and a decision made to increase the contribution rate to be paid by employers.

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