Church maps could be redrawn

By on April 1, 2007

Mississauga, Ont.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS) voted to bring to General Synod motions that would change the Anglican Church of Canada’s governance and structure, including the way it deals with amendments to its canons (church laws) and the way its provinces and dioceses are organized.

(The church is arranged geographically in 30 dioceses, each of which belongs to one of four ecclesiastical, or church, provinces.)

A recommendation that would decrease the membership of General Synod by 50 members of clergy as well as change the composition of CoGS was forwarded “for further development” to the new members of CoGS who will be elected for the next triennium, 2007-2010.

A proposed motion, drafted by a governance working group, changes the current requirement that amendments to most of the church’s declaration of principles and canons be approved by a two-thirds majority of each of the three orders of General Synod (bishops, clergy and laity) at two successive sessions. The only exception would be proposed changes to matters of doctrine.

Approval of the change means “that the requirement for reference of such legislation to dioceses and provinces would also be abandoned,” the group said. It said that referring legislative changes to dioceses and provinces (for consent or consideration) has been “an impediment to efficient and effective governance.”

The other motion asks that the primate, after consultation with the house of bishops, initiate discussion with the provinces and dioceses regarding “possible reform” of the provincial organization, which could include the elimination of the four ecclesiastical provinces from the church’s structure and the transfer of the provinces’ powers to the General Synod. Other reforms proposed include reducing the number of dioceses and adjusting diocesan boundaries to reflect modern transportation patterns and population shifts.

Towards this end, CoGS passed a motion to “encourage” the treasurer of General Synod “in his efforts to gather church statistics from the dioceses” and asked the General Secretary, along with the treasurer, to urge dioceses to co-operate in this work. The church’s most recent statistics are from 2001.

Archdeacon Jim Boyles, former general secretary and a member of the governance working group, cited declining finances, “the heaviness and complexity of church structures” which had been designed in previous ages, the pace of life and increase in modern communications, and the need for renewal as factors that drove the need to review the church’s governance.

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