An unofficial digest of the proceedings of the 37 th Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Dr. Walter Deller, Principal of the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, summarized the issues raised during table discussions on Saturday about the first two sections of Resolution A134 on the blessing of same-sex unions. Section one affirmed that Christians are one people despite differing views. Section two affirms that dioceses may decide whether to bless same-sex unions.
He noted that reaction was extremely varied with section two raising a number of questions regarding where jurisdiction truly lies; what terms like “committed union” actually mean; and the place of the church’s discussion in the larger social context of Canada, among many others.
Members of the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee then explained the rationales behind sections three, four and five of Resolution A134. Section three affirms the value of continued dialogue. Section four affirms respect for different approaches taken to the debate by various cultural communities. Section five affirms providing Episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all points of view.
General Synod passed a motion to move into committee of the whole to allow members to share their reactions and views with Synod at large rather than limiting them to table groups.
2. Point of Personal Privilege
The Prolocutor rose on a point of personal privilege to commend to the Synod the staff of Anglican Video who had just won an award from the International Television and Film Association for its video, Our Church Lives.
3. Anglican Council of Indigenous People presentation
Todd Russell, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People introduced presenters of the Indigenous Covenant Implementation Commission (ICIC). Rev. Arthur Anderson, Diocese of Qu’Appelle, led prayers.
Nina Burnham, Diocese of Huron, provided historical background on the changing relationship between Indigenous people and the Anglican Church.
Yolanda Bird, Council of General Synod, provided background on the development of the Covenant of 1994 and its implementation up to 2003.
Gloria Moses, Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, provided background on the oppression of Indigenous people, including the residential schools settlement agreement.
Rev. Mervin Wolfleg, Diocese of Calgary, said Indigenous people want four things: to tell their stories; to be recognized in their several nations; to explore and interpret the Bible; and to continue their journey as they always have.
Willard Martin, Diocese of Caledonia, described the challenges faced by the ICIC in moving forward because of resentment caused by residential school abuse and the settlement reached with the federal government.
Justice Brian Burrows, Chancellor of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, said ICIC’s work will have to be accomplished on whatever timetable Indigenous people want to use and that any new structures will have to avoid hierarchical structures, paternalism or dependence.
Eunice McMahon, Diocese of Algoma, described the hurt she carries 50 years after leaving the residential school where she lived for 10 years and lost her language and culture. She warned against the dangers of assimilation.
Verna Firth, Diocese of the Arctic said ICIC plans to produce a draft report and model of a new self-determining Indigenous Anglican community in time for the Sacred Circle in Manitoba in 2005.
Rev. Andrew Wesley, Diocese of Toronto, asked members of Synod to walk together with the members of ICIC so that people can learn to understand each other.
4. Reports from ecumenical partners
General Synod received reports from partners Bishop Ray Schultz, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and Dr. Richard Schneider, President, Canadian Council of Churches.
Bishop Schultz reported that priests of the two communions are increasingly serving each others’ congregations and that work continues on expanding other mutual areas.
“We are committed to not doing alone anything that can be done together,” Bishop Schultz said. He mentioned that his church has similar problems to those of the Anglican Church and concluded by saying, “It’s nice to be with family.”
Dr. Schneider said that the ecumenical movement is greatly interested in the Anglican Church of Canada’s current debate on blessing same-sex unions.
“The decision is doctrinal and a church-defining moment,” he said. “Whatever you decide, you must announce it with a prophetic voice.”
5. Report of the Nominating Committee
Louise Peters presented the Nominating Committee’s report on the membership of Council on General Synod which Synod adopted.