After General Synod?

Published January 1, 2001


Anticipating possible change in the structure of the national church, the four ecclesiastical provinces have agreed to continue the canons, or laws, of the church in case of the insolvency of General Synod.

British Columbia and Yukon, Rupert’s Land, Ontario and Canada, at their provincial synods last year, implemented an agreement reached by the four archbishops of the provinces, said Archbishop David Crawley, metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon.

“The metropolitans and the primate (Archbishop Michael Peers) met last spring. We agreed we had to do something to preserve the canons should something happen to the national church,” Archbishop Crawley said.

The resolution enables the four provincial synods to assume the responsibilities and duties of General Synod and enables the primate to organize the creation of a new organization to replace General Synod as the embodiment of the national church. General Synod’s finances have been shaken by the costs of defending itself against lawsuits brought by those who claim they were abused in Native residential schools.

At the Province of Canada’s synod last May, Archbishop Peers, said, “I see two visions for the future. It (the national church) will be as it is now or it will be a culmination of values that I hope survive from the present system, in a new format.”

At its November meeting, the Council of General Synod received an update on the residential schools situation, but the three-hour meeting was closed to news media.

In a report, CoGS said General Synod has completed a detailed count of the legal claims arising from residential schools, not counting class actions. Direct claims against General Synod, all of which are also direct claims against the Government of Canada, total 507.

Third-party claims in which General Synod was named as a defendant by the government total 376. Treasurer Jim Cullen reported that residential school expenses as of last Nov. 16, total $771,000.

Meanwhiles, Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, said Anglican representatives held a third meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray, who has been asked by Prime Minister Jean Chretien to find a solution to the residential schools crisis that does not involve bankrupting churches.

Two previous meetings with Mr. Gray also involved members of the Roman Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches, which also managed residential schools.

“We are talking of models, or approaches, that will allow us to frame out some broad agreements and break the logjams on how we can settle claims,” said Shawn Tupper, director of the residential schools unit for Indian Affairs.

He said the government has met twice with each church and there have been two ecumenical meetings during the election. With the election over, Mr. Gray will be meeting with church representatives shortly, he added.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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