CoGS in brief

Members of Council of General Synod (CoGS) take part in the Blanket Exercise, a hands-on activity for teaching Canadian Indigenous history, June 3. Photo: Tali Folkins
Published June 7, 2018

In other news, the spring 2018 meeting of Council of General Synod (CoGS):

  • Was told that General Synod ended December 31, 2017 with a surplus of $521,000 of core revenues over expenses, before transfers to internally restricted assets.Revenues for the year were $11.9 million, $450,000 less than the previous year, Archbishop Colin Johnson, bishop of the dioceses of Toronto and Moosonee, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario and chair of General Synod’s audit committee, told CoGS in a presentation on General Synod’s financial statements Saturday, June 2. Proportional gifts from dioceses—the largest component of revenues—were down slightly, among other things, he said.However, Johnson said, expenses for the year were $11.4 million, or $1.2 million less than 2016. The largest component of this decrease was governance costs—again related to 2016’s meeting of General Synod, he said.

    General Synod earned just under $1 million in investment income and received $212,000 in undesignated legacies, bringing the total excess of revenue over expenses for 2017 to $1.7 million before transfers into internally designated net assets, he added.

  • Heard an update about the recent work of the national church to combat human trafficking and modern slavery. Ryan Weston, General Synod’s  animator of public witness for social and ecological justice, discussed some of the highlights in that area since CoGS endorsed, last June, an anti-human trafficking resolution approved by the Anglican Consultative Council in 2012.
    Hearing from the survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery has been “really important and foundational” in guiding the church’s work to combat these practices, says Ryan Weston, General Synod’s animator of public witness for social and ecological justice. Photo: Tali Folkins

    A meeting last September of people from across the Anglican Church of Canada involved in fighting these practices was followed by two ecclesiastical province-wide gatherings this April, both funded with help from the Anglican Foundation of Canada, Ryan said.A meeting for the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, held in Pickering, Ont., attracted 17 participants from seven dioceses; a gathering for the ecclesiastical province of Canada drew 15 participants from six dioceses to St. John’s, Nfld. At each meeting, Ryan said, attendees heard from people working for various organizations to fight human trafficking and slavery. They also heard accounts by survivors of these practices.

    These first-hand accounts “were really important and foundational things to hear, and to help inform our work,” Ryan said. “I think work in this area needs to be guided by the experience of survivors, who understand the situation best and who recognize what the needs are.”

  • Learned that the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, starting in September. As part of its celebration, the agency is gathering a collection of 60 stories from its work over the years, and will be sharing them from September until the meeting of General Synod in July 2019, PWRDF board member Gillian Hoyer said in a presentation with executive director Will Postma. PWRDF will also be producing commemorative videos, and is hoping to visit gatherings of Anglicans across the country, she said.PWRDF was established by General Synod in 1959, a year after  Anglicans joined efforts to help families affected by the collapse of a mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia, which killed 75 miners.
    As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) will be sharing 60 stories from its work over the years, says PWRDF board member Gillian Hoyer. Photo: Tali Folkins

    Hoyer and Postma also presented some of the results of a case study PWRDF recently completed, looking at two community centres in South Africa that are both former PWRDF partners. The two community centres were both formed in the early 2000s, Postma said, in order to care for people with HIV and AIDS, and to address some of the stigma around these illnesses. Initially, care for the patients focused on allowing them to die with dignity. Participants at the centres’ programs are now experiencing very different results, Postma said. He showed members of CoGS a slide with recent comments by patients, stating that they are now taking treatments and are in good health.

    Postma also said PWRDF quadrupled last year its projected expenses for emergency response around the world. At the previous meeting of CoGS last November, Postma announced PWRDF had issued three times as many appeals for emergency response in the first nine months of 2017 as it had the entire previous year.

  • Discussed the possibility of more discussion by the national church of medical assistance in dying. After members were asked Saturday, June 2 to discuss in table groups what things, if any, they felt the church should be spending more time addressing, two out of six tables felt there should be more conversation about medically-assisted dying.“We know that there’s stuff on the website, but we would like to have a chance to respond to it, and see where the process is going,” one table representative said.Earlier this spring, the office of General Synod released a study guide for helping Canadian Anglicans reflect on medical assistance in dying. The study guide followed, and is meant to accompany, a report by the church issued in 2016.
    A CoGS table group in discussion Sunday, June 3. Photo: Tali Folkins

    Members at the same table also expressed a desire for more discussion around a theology of suicide, and how the church should respond to those who have committed or attempted suicide, and their families.

    “We have work done on [medical assistance in dying], but it’s now happening,” said a representative for another table. “What does that present to Christians with respect to people being involved in it in any way, shape or form?”


  • Tali Folkins

    Tali Folkins joined the Anglican Journal in 2015 as staff writer, and has served as editor since October 2021. He has worked as a staff reporter for Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His freelance writing credits include work for newspapers and magazines including The Globe and Mail and the former United Church Observer (now Broadview). He has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College and a master’s degree in Classics from Dalhousie University.

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