General Synod is on the horizon, and for some Anglicans, it will be their first time to see representatives from across the national church all coming together in one place—so what can they do to make the most of the experience?
The Anglican Journal asked three veteran synod-goers—a lay person, a priest and a bishop—to share their insights and tips on how to make the most of General Synod without burning out.
Ann Bourke, vice-chancellor of Council of General Synod (CoGS), said new delegates should not feel like they have to “do everything,” and should be mindful of their own needs and limitations.
“Don’t hesitate to take some time for yourself every day—either back in your room or outside for a walk,” she said. “It’ll replenish your energy and make you more willing to go back into the community. For me, I sometimes have to just disappear and close the door.”
She also recommended diving into the convening circular, which contains the documents, reports and resolutions being considered by General Synod, before arriving.
“Everybody, in the end, will have to have a view, one way or another, because everybody will have to vote,” she said. While delegates should go into synod with open minds, having a strong knowledge of the business ahead of time makes it easier to participate fully.
Canon Laverne Jacobs, former Indigenous ministries co-ordinator for the national church, said that while it is important for delegates to familiarize themselves with synod business, they don’t have to know everything.
“Synod is a community, and in a community we help each other,” he said. “There are other people with different expertise…It doesn’t all depend on [one individual delegate].”
One thing Jacobs enjoys about synod is the opportunity to get together with people who share his interests. “Enjoy the fellowship of the community that is there and take the time to get to know people—and take the time to enjoy the community,” he suggested. “And, if you can, get rest! Because that is important, too.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Archbishop Colin Johnson, bishop of the dioceses of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario.
“Remember to have fun,” he advised. “Much of the work of any synod takes place in the hallways, the corridors, the gatherings around the synod, as well as on the floor of synod.”
Johnson said that bishops attending General Synod for the first time should also keep in mind the needs of their diocesan delegates, and “make sure that members…from their diocese have a place to have conversations together with other members of their delegation.”
He added, however, that this should be balanced against the need for delegates to “listen to the perspectives of people from different parts of the country.”