CoGS expresses concerns on medical assistance in dying, moves forward with discipleship and evangelism task force

Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, speaks to Council of General Synod (CoGS) on March 9. The primate will contact Canada's minister of health to express concerns over the expansion of medical assistance in dying and the need for palliative care, following a resolution passed by CoGS. Photo: Screenshot
Published March 13, 2024

Council of General Synod (CoGS) has passed resolutions on the need for further discussion and education around medical assistance in dying (MAID), the formation of a discipleship and evangelism task force, and a review of the process by which ecclesiastical provinces elect CoGS representatives.

General Synod last year referred all three resolutions to CoGS, which passed them at a March 9 online meeting held over Zoom.

Resolution C003, on MAID, reaffirmed “the teaching of Scripture that life is a divine gift, the call of the Baptismal Covenant to ‘respect the dignity of every human being,’ and the teaching of Jesus Christ that he has come so that people may have ‘abundant life’ (John 10:10).” It requested that Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, write to Canada’s minister of health expressing concerns about the expansion of the MAID program as well as the church’s support for a robust palliative care system.

The resolution also directed Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice and Faith, Worship and Ministry (FWM) to work together with CoGS members to find ways of educating the church on issues related to MAID—using existing resources produced by FWM and others, making them more widely available and encouraging their use in dioceses and parishes.

Bishop of Qu’Appelle Helen Kennedy moved Resolution C003, which CoGS passed unanimously. Kennedy said the resolution served as an update and opportunity to republicize new work the church had done on MAID. General Secretary Archdeacon Alan Perry referred specifically to a series of essays, Faith Seeking Understanding: Medical Assistance in Dying, recently published in print and digital formats. The primate said she would be happy to write to the minister of health “especially around the need for a robust palliative care system,” adding, “It’s hardly robust in some parts of the country.”

CoGS members take part in a discussion over Zoom. Photo: Screenshot

CoGS also passed Resolution C006, which directed the FWM Committee to form a discipleship and evangelism task force focused on the main transformational commitment of five making up the Anglican Church of Canada’s new strategic plan: to be a church that “invites and deepens life in Christ.”

Key responsibilities of the task force include developing a network of local leaders to create print and digital resources for dioceses and parishes to support Anglicans in “inviting others into the transformational love of Jesus,” and collaborating with dioceses already engaged in similar work and with the Spiritual Formation for Discipleship Network, an existing national platform of Canadian Anglicans.

The task force will also consider how to equip Anglicans to be invitational in their own contexts; identify funding needs and opportunities; and explore ways to do this work alongside full communion partners such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Moravian Church Canada, and potentially other groups.

Deputy Prolocutor Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs, who moved Resolution C006, stressed “the importance of this transformational commitment in all our lives. Our call is to invite and deepen our own life and others in Christ and all the things that undergird what we want to be as church … first of all [by] learning how to be invitational and increasing our own discipleship.”

“We are aware this is a lot of work and that FWM is already a very busy committee,” Phibbs added. “We have no expectations that they’ll have all this done in the next 18 months before General Synod. But we have to start somewhere and we have to start sometime.”

The third resolution passed, C012, directed the Governance Working Group to review the process by which ecclesiastical provinces elect members of CoGS at meetings of General Synod and to then present a report to CoGS on recommended options.

Archbishop Nicholls said the current process for electing CoGS members can be arcane and sometimes confusing. An explanatory note accompanying C012 said rules governing the process by which provinces elect CoGS representatives are “inconsistently followed and arguably incoherent, in that dioceses often do not provide the requisite full slate of nominees, or those that do are obliged to nominate individuals who do not actually wish to serve” on CoGS. Resolution C012, it said, aimed to develop a new system of election for CoGS members that would take these factors into account.

After passing the three “C” resolutions, CoGS members presented and discussed feedback on its last meeting in November.

The council then split into breakout groups to discuss action on four deliverables General Synod had requested. These included commissioning a document on the history, structure and governance of the Anglican Church of Canada (Resolution A101), creating an implementation group for the five transformational commitments in the new strategic plan (A102-R1); and confronting the historical reality of the Anglican Church of Canada’s involvement in residential schools (A202-R1), slavery and other forms of racial injustice (A202A) and taking steps to address their continuing impact. CoGS decided to form working groups that will look into how to move forward on each of these resolutions.


  • Matthew Puddister

    Matthew Puddister is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Puddister worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Puddister has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He also supports General Synod's corporate communications.

    [email protected]

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