An unofficial digest of the proceedings of the 37 th Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
Friday and Saturday, May 28-29, 2004
1. The opening of General Synod
The 37 th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada opened with an evening service in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., when Chancellor Ronald Stevenson announced that a quorum had been achieved in all three houses with 37 bishops, 113 clergy and 143 laity present, only eight short of perfect attendance with a few more expected to arrive. The Most Rev. David Crawley, Acting Primate, then declared General Synod open.
2. The presidential address
After presiding at the Eucharist, Archbishop Crawley delivered the presidential address to the members. In it, he noted that Synod had decisions to make that were both momentous and difficult because members belong to both a church and to a secular society. He asked them to balance the two and to “test every decision by asking whether it reflects the values of the realm of God.”
2 a. Same-sex blessings
Archbishop Crawley tried to set the tone for the debate to come regarding the blessing of same-sex unions, saying that “it has been harsh and vituperative to an unacceptable degree. We all feel deeply about this issue but that is no excuse to descend into the depths. The judgmentalism and the profoundly personal nature of some of the comments, both private and public, could never reflect the realm of God, no matter what you understand it to be.”
He reminded members of the ban on applause after speeches and votes and suggested re-instituting the 10 seconds of silence between speakers that was used during the Synod that debated the ordination of women.
2 b. New Indigenous relationship
Archbishop Crawley reviewed events since the 2001 General Synod that discussed how the Anglican Church of Canada might survive if forced into bankruptcy by legal costs associated with residential schools abuse.
While the legal and fiscal future appeared brighter because of a settlement reached with the federal government, much work remained, “to forge a new relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Anglicans,” he said. “The new model must not only provide greater recognition but allow a greater degree of autonomy, for that is the only means by which we can break the insidious pattern of paternalism and its corollary, dependency. During this Synod, we will hear about the Covenant and the work being done to implement it. I bid you listen carefully.”
2 c. HIV/AIDS
Archbishop Crawley told members that Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Ambassador for HIV/AIDS would address them on the subject of the terrible pandemic in Africa, that Canadians had done much to help stop the plague and that Anglicans needed to do even more through prayer and contributions to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. The collection for the opening service of General Synod is given to the PWRDF and Archbishop Crawley said he would ask that it all be donated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS plague in Africa.
In concluding his remarks, he said that “true community can only be built on diversity. Diversity strengthens; homogeneity weakens.”
Archbishop Crawley’s presidential address is available on the General Synod website.
1. Welcome and Greetings
The Primate opened the 37 th session after morning prayers and introduced those who brought greetings: Timothy Rigby, mayor of St. Catharines, Prof. David Atkinson, president of Brock University, and Rt. Rev. Ralph Spence, Bishop of Niagara.
The courtesies of General Synod were extended to Indigenous partners representing the 225 indigenous Anglican Church communities in Canada, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Indigenous Covenant Implementation Commission.
Courtesies were extended to ecumenical partners Prof. Richard Schneider, president of the Canadian Council of Churches; Bishop Raymond Schultz, Rev. Sonja Free and Rev. Paul Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Rev. Bob Mills of the United Church of Canada; Canon Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Church of the USA; and to overseas partners Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, representative of the Anglican Church to the United Nations; and Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo; and representatives of the church in Cuba.
The following resolutions were carried:
A001, accepting the minutes of the 36 th General Synod;
A003, that reports printed in the convening circular be received;
A004, that notices of motion and memorials printed in the convening circular be received;
A005, that the nominating committee be responsible for arranging balloting and appointing scrutineers in any election where such is required;
A050, to amend rules of order and procedure regarding the courtesies of the Synod to include the treasurer, overseas, ecumenical and Indigenous partners and representatives of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund to participate in any discussion without the right to vote;
A002, to adopt draft 12 of the agenda;
Synod members passed with applause a resolution to send affectionate greetings to Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Edmonton, to express the love and support of Synod as she faces the days ahead. Bishop Matthews withdrew from the primatial election after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
3. Presentation on strategic planning
Dorothy Davies-Flindall, the Prolocutor, introduced a presentation on Serving God’s World, Strengthening the Church, a proposed new strategic plan, and Letting Down the Nets, a proposed new fundraising plan to support the strategic plan.
Synod members watched a video presentation that provided background on the church’s previous strategic plan which ran from 1995 to 2004 and on the development of a framework for the proposed new strategic plan.
The video shown to members of Synod is available on the General Synod website.
Peter Elliott, Deputy Prolocutor, reported on some of the findings of the committee as the result of diocesan consultations in 2001 and a survey in 2002. The committee found that every diocese faced stewardship and congregational development issues; that the focus in planning must be at parish and diocesan level as well as national.
Geoffrey Jackson, Diocese of Ontario, reported that Letting Down the Nets, the new proposed fundraising plan identifies four areas of focus:
4. Presentation on blessing of same-sex unions
Rev. Stephen Andrews, chair of Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee, and the Rt. Rev. Fred Hiltz, Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, led a presentation on the development of resolution A134, blessing of same-sex unions.
Rev. Andrews described the hours of discussion as the committee crafted a draft resolution. Bishop Hiltz described how the Council of General Synod refined the resolution and developed a process for presenting it to General Synod.
The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, Secretary of the Lambeth Commission on Unity, congratulated the Canadian church for its courage in engaging in the debate and attempted to place it in the context of the worldwide Anglican Communion. (The commission has a mandate to report on ways to keep the worldwide communion together in the face of differing views of the place of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion and a one-year deadline to write it.)
He observed that Canadian Anglicans are not alone in considering such issues. Anglicans in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are also engaged in debate. Other churches – Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Old Catholics – are talking in both North America and Europe.
Canon Cameron said that many Anglican provinces in Asia, Africa and South America, vehemently opposed the blessing of same sex unions, that some have declared themselves no longer in communion with the Diocese of New Westminster and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (where an openly gay bishop was recently consecrated), that some primates had attempted to interfere in the administration of the Canadian church by claiming to offer episcopal oversight to dissenters.
He said that no matter what the Anglican Church of Canada decides, there will be negative fallout.
“If you say no, there is a danger that you will be letting down thousands of gay and lesbian people who are part of your Canadian church family, as well as others who are looking to you to set a new standard,” Canon Cameron said. “If you say yes, then the work of the Lambeth Commission becomes horribly complicated because the reaction of many other provinces will be that the Anglican Church of Canada refuses to hear their voices or concerns.”
5. Nominations for prolocutor
Judith Darling, Diocese of Ottawa, Very Rev. Peter Elliott, Diocese of New Westminster and Peter Irish, Diocese of Fredericton, were nominated for the position of prolocutor.
General Synod passed the following resolutions. As canonical changes, they received the support of at least two-thirds of the order of clergy and laity, and the order of bishops, voting separately.
A072 Resignation process for a primate
Revision to add a procedure for accepting a resignation when one is offered.
A071 Duties of the primate
Updating Section 4 of Canon III to reflect the evolution of the office.
A084To suspend rule of order 13
To permit the introduction of an amendment to Canon III.
A084to amend Section 3(a) of Canon III
So that the term of a primate begins with his or her installation and not with his or her election to the office.
A078 Canon VI: the treasurer
To place the position of treasurer among the officers listed in the Constitution.
The following motion was defeated because fewer than two-thirds of the order of clergy and laity voted in favour of it. The motion was passed by the order of bishops.
A070 Term of office for primate
To create a term of office of nine years with the possibility of three additional years upon application.
The following motions were passed by two-thirds of the three orders of bishops, clergy and laity, all voting separately.
A030 Terms of reference for the Information Resources Committee
To change membership numbers and the name of the committee to the Communications and Information Resources Committee, as a result of the incorporation of the Anglican Journal with its own board.
A031 Constitution: addition of the treasurer as an officer of General Synod
To restore the position to that of an officer of General Synod without vote at Council of General Synod.
7. Election of the prolocutor
Very Rev. Peter Elliott was elected Prolocutor for the 2004-2007 Triennium on the second ballot. He received 161 votes; Peter Irish received 116 votes. Judy Darling was eliminated on the first ballot.