Choosing the most suitable candidates to sit on the Anglican Church’s seven standing committees is a bit like juggling several balls in the air while balancing on a high wire, says Archdeacon Rod Andrews.
And as far as some people were concerned, the 12 members of the nominating committee dropped a few balls when they released their first draft.
“For every committee, there are many more nominations than positions available,” said Mr. Andrews, who chaired the committee during synod.
“As an example, on the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee, which is very popular and many people would like to serve on it, there are 12 positions available but we received almost 50 nominations. And of the 50 nominations, all of them had a very good reason to be nominated; many credible people who brought considerable skills, expertise and dedication.”
The committee took a number of factors into account in its selections. It sought a balance of men and women, a combination of bishops, clergy and lay people, representation from various geographical regions and from among youths and visible minorities.
Not least, the committee also had to strive for a mix of liberal and conservative candidates.
“Sure, that sort of thing does come into play because in the Anglican Church, we’re looking for balance,” Mr. Andrews said. “We’re looking for a very reasonable approach to the faith and having people who are able to express the varying theological views that are prevalent in the church is helpful.”
Early in synod, the committee released its first draft of names. Delegates were permitted to give comments on the names before the committee came out with its final report.
Some people such as Ian Ritchie, a spokesman for the conservative coalition Essentials, were not pleased with the first draft. Dr. Ritchie (not himself a member of General Synod) felt it was overloaded with liberal-minded people.
“I would say that after the second report of the nominating committee came out, I was much happier than I had been previously,” Dr. Ritchie said.
“I think it will certainly be a better balance than we’ve seen before, even perhaps for decades in the Anglican Church of Canada … I think there will be an effective and articulate voice on the committees, at least on many of the key committees of General Synod, eco-justice and faith, worship and ministry. There will be an effective and articulate voice that can put forward many of the concerns of the Essentials movement.”
Other people were unhappy with the committee choices for reasons of geography. Rev. David Pilling, from the Diocese of Central Newfoundland, complained there were not enough people chosen from Atlantic Canada.
“Proportional representation should not be just tokenism because right now, it’s just tokenism,” Mr. Pilling said.
But another delegate from Newfoundland told members of synod not to worry about regional representation. Bishop Donald Harvey from Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, said “The point is to get the best people to work for the church and whether they all come from the same place doesn’t matter.”
Mr. Andrews said the hardest part was realizing some very good people would not be included.
“We hope that those people who don’t make it will contribute their skills to the national church in some way and we certainly know that they will continue to serve their parishes and dioceses and make a contribution.”