Cafe-style conversations at CoGS

Published May 25, 2012

Members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) discussed issues facing the church using a popular method of dialogue known as “World Cafe.” Photo: Marites N. Sison

See more photos from CoGS here.

Mississauga, Ont.Taking a cue from a growing international method of dialogue known as “World Cafe,” the Council of General Synod (CoGS) began its spring meeting here by breaking from the usual parliamentary-like proceedings.

Instead, it allotted an entire day to meet in small discussion groups in a more relaxed and open cafe-like setting that includes coffee and red- and white-checkered tablecloths on small round tables. The focus: “to consider clear directions and a plan for the efficient utilization of financial, staff and structural resources in the achievement of the priorities and practices set aside in Vision 2019.”

Some of the best ideas are hatched when people discuss issues outside the pressure of agenda and timelines, the Ven. P.J. Hobbs, chair of the Vision 2019 implementation team, explained to members. Dean Peter Elliott, chair of the planning and agenda team for CoGs, told members their World Cafe day would be one of ” discussion, intentional and rigorous thought, play and movement.”

CoGS members are being asked to share their thoughts and ideas around finance, governance and the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP), which is trying to implement a self-determining ministry within the church. They are being aided by guide questions and videos, and apart from face-to-face chats, they are free to put forward their thoughts and ideas in an online forum or by scribbling notes on paper.

In a video to jumpstart discussions around finance, General Synod treasurer Michele George spoke about the “fragility” of the church’s revenue. “If one of the larger dioceses is unable to make its commitment (of proportional giving) there’s a real risk that General Synod won’t be able to meet its zero deficit without significant cuts to its budget,” she warned. For the last decade, diocesan giving has steadily declined at an annual rate of 3%, she noted.

CoGS members were then invited to ponder the question: “How might God be using the current financial situation of General Synod to tell us about our future in carrying out Vision 2019?”

Results of the discussions will be shared at the plenary this evening. Watch for the online Journal report tomorrow.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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