Daily Report #1
Wednesday and Thursday, July 4-5, 2001
An unofficial digest of the proceedings of
the 36th General Synod of
the Anglican Church of Canada
Wednesday July 4, 2001
1. The opening of General Synod
The 36th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada opened with an evening service at St. Michael's Church in Waterloo, Ont., when Chancellor Ronald Stevenson announced that a quorum had been achieved in all three houses: bishops, clergy and laity.
The Most Rev. Michael Peers, Primate, declared General Synod open and welcomed delegates, saying "you are no longer delegates to Synod; you are members of Synod."
In his sermon, the Right Rev. Steven Charleston praised the church in Canada for facing squarely and honestly the dilemma posed by history. Bishop Charleston is President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., but noted that he is also a native "member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma" and said he knows "what is means to build bridges of reconciliation and healing." He said he saw a church "not teetering on the brink of ruin but standing on the edge of glory." The congregation applauded when Bishop Charleston concluded.
The full text of Bishop Charleston's address is available on the General Synod Web site.
Thursday July 5, 2001
1. Welcome and Greetings
The Rev. Rodney Andrews, Prolocutor, welcomed members and introduced those who brought greetings: The Right Rev. Bruce Howe, Bishop of Huron on behalf of the host diocese; Elder Mary Sturgeon on behalf of the aboriginal communities of the Diocese of Huron; Ken Seiling on behalf of the Waterloo Regional Council and the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo; Bishop Telmor Sartison, on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The courtesies of General Synod were extended to some 47 indigenous partners from dioceses across Canada. Courtesies were also extended to: overseas partners the Right. Rev. Dr. Sebastian Bakare, Diocese of Manicaland in Zimbabwe, Church of the Province of Central Africa; Ms. Judy Berinai, Sabah Theological Seminary, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Diocese of Sabah, Province of South East Asia; ecumenical partners Sr. Donna Geernaert, Sisters of Charity, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Dr. Gary Walsh, President, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada; and USA partner Dr. Warren C. Rumshaw, Executive Council, Episcopal Church USA.
General Synod approved the agenda with one amendment "that the agenda of this synod as contained in the Convening Circular be amended for the afternoon of Sunday July 8 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. and, if necessary, from 7:00 to 8:50 p.m. in order that a full and open discussion may take place on the future of the National Church and how the ministry of the church can be conducted in the event of the declaration of bankruptcy."
3. Primatial Address
"Never before have we contemplated a possibility such as the one we are now facing. We have come to a moment in history in which we may be facing the winding up of the General Synod," the Primate said in his address to delegates. However, the residential schools issue was not the only topic he mentioned during his address.
The general theme of the address was friendship expressed in many ways. Archbishop Peers asked how it was possible for people who were unequal to be true partners and suggested that it might work better if we were friends instead.
"The theme of this Synod is one that recognizes that the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples has been one characterized by a history of colonialism, racism and broken trust," he said, adding "the work of healing has hardly begun, but it has begun. It will be the work of generations to come. It is our privilege to lay foundations, so let us pray that we lay them well."
On a positive note, Archbishop Peers said, "The profound blessing on which we reflect at this moment, is the gift of our friendship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.... This is not a merger in which two partners lose their identity in the creation of something new. We remain free to be who we are and the benefit will be not only transparency to each another, but a greater transparency even to ourselves. We will learn more about who we are as Anglicans even as we come to know more intimately our Lutheran friends."
The full text of the Primate's address is available on the General Synod Web site.
4. Residential schools briefing
The Primate gave background on the response of the church to the issue of the church's part in administering residential schools. The church issued an apology and established a healing fund.
After the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples which reported in 1996, was widely ignored, native people began to file lawsuits, mostly against the federal Government. The Government in turn has named the church as a third party in many of the suits.
To date the church has spent an estimated $5-million on costs associated with the lawsuits. Approximately 98 per cent has been spent on litigation with less than two per cent going to settlements.
The Council of General Synod decided that the costs of litigation would be paid for from national church assets and not from diocesan contributions. CoGS set three priorities: healing and reconciliation; survival of the national church; working with the federal Government to reduce the costs of the process.
In order to provide continuance in the event of the bankruptcy of the national church, the four ecclesiastical provinces in Canada have passed resolutions recognizing the canons of General Synod and appointing the Primate as the person responsible for initiating a process to create a new national structure.
Chancellor Robert Falby of the Diocese of Toronto explained that meetings between representatives of the four churches and the federal Government began June 28 and that there are three more sessions scheduled before the end of August. He described these meetings as "the last opportunity for General Synod to arrive at a settlement short of insolvency." He said that while the Government and the churches shared some common ground, such as the belief that those who were injured should be compensated, there remained "significant hurdles" to overcome.
The Right Rev. James Cruickshank, Bishop of Cariboo, described how his diocese is dealing with its situation. Its last Diocesan Synod gave itself a one-year deadline to achieve an alternative to bankruptcy because of litigation costs associated with abuse at the St. George's residential school in Lytton, B.C. He reported that no progress had been made to date and that the diocese will be wound up by Oct. 15 2001.
In response to a question from the floor about whether or not the Primate's 1993 apology had precipitated the lawsuits, Chancellor Falby responded that it had not and that, even it had, it was the right thing to do.
5. Full Communion with the ELCIC
Members of the Joint Working Group gave presentations on the process leading to the creation of the Waterloo Declaration and the vote to be held Friday, 6 July on full communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
In general, the precepts of the declaration are that each church maintains its own autonomy; that both recognize the catholicity and apostolicity of the other; and that both believe the other holds the basic elements of the Christian faith. A vote to accept full communion will mean that communicants of the two churches can transfer memberships, communicate, share ministries, liturgies and ordinations.
Members of the Joint Working Group on hand for the presentation:
The full text of the Waterloo Declaration is available on the General Synod Web site.
The Rev. Richard Stetson
The Right Rev. Bill Huras
The Rev. Bill Bulger
The Rev. Roger Nostbakker
Ms. Carol Christenson
Ms. Anne-Marie MacIntosh
The Ven. James Cowan
The Right Rev. Fred Hiltz
The Rev. Mary Holman
The Rev. Dr. Richard Leggett
Ms. Heather Laurie
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan
6. Planning for the Future
In order to assist them with their deliberations, debates and decisions through the rest of General Synod, delegates viewed a video which provided background on three major issues: residential schools, joint communion with ELCIC, and inclusion and dignity.
The Most Rev. Terry Finlay referred delegates to resolutions 132A and 133 on the residential schools issues that they will be asked to debate.
Ms. Verna Firth asked delegates to review the document, "Plan of Anglican Work in Support of a New Partnership between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Anglicans: A New Agape"
Mr. Jim Cullen, Treasurer of General Synod, explained the financial situation and Mr. David Ashdown, member of the Financial Management Committee, said that resolutions would be introduced at General Synod to withdraw from negotiations with the federal Government if substantial progress had not been made by the end of August, 2001, and to authorize CoGS to take whatever steps are necessary, up to and including declaring bankruptcy.
7. Ecumenical and Overseas Partners
Ms. Ellie Johnson introduced the ecumenical and overseas partners present at General Synod.
Dr. Gary Walsh spoke about the issues the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is dealing with and how it is reaching out to denominations.
Dr. Warren C. Ramshaw, Episcopal Church USA, talked about the issues the American and Canadian churches share, such as relationships with indigenous peoples, women, and gays and lesbians.
Ms. Judy Berinai of the Sabah Theological Seminary in Malaysia, talked about her position as an indigenous person in Malaysia and as a woman in a church where the ordination of women is not allowed.
The Right Rev. Dr. Sebastian Bakare, Bishop of Manicaland, Zimbabwe, talked about his book, My Right to Land in Zimbabwe, and his identification with the indigenous peoples of Canada.
Sr. Donna Geernaert of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops spoke about the importance of ecumenism and the hard work that is involved.
The following housekeeping resolutions were carried:
A001, accepting the minutes of the 35th General Synod;
A003, that reports in the convening circular be received;
A004, that notices of motion and memorials and supplementary material be received;
A005, that the nominating committee be responsible for arranging balloting and scrutineers.
Resolution A071, reception and recognition of clergy from churches in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada, was carried.
The following amendments to the Constitution were carried:
A031 to change the membership of CoGS to include one youth member from each province;
A030 renumbering cross-references between sections and deleting references to the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund as a standing committee of General Synod because of the incorporation of the fund as a separate entity.
The following amendment to a canon was carried:
A070, A resolution to amend section 14 of Canon III, The Primacy, deletes a reference to the General Synod Assessment that no longer exists and substitutes a reference to proportional gifts made by dioceses.
In addition, Resolution A076, that first reading be given to the resolution that Canon XXI be amended, was carried. The resolution involves extensive revision to the Marriage Canon, including elimination of diocesan matrimonial commissions.
The text of the amendments to Canon XXI is available on the General Synod Web site with the exception of the following amendment which replaces Section 25, clauses c and d. The amended text reads:
"c) On receiving an application the chaplain may forward the application to the Chancellor of the diocese in which the applicant resides or to the Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Forces who shall designate a diocesan chancellor to hear the application."