Council paves way for election of special bishops

By on April 1, 2007

Mississauga, Ont.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS) will recommend that the coming General Synod amend the church’s regulations to pave the way for the election “by an appropriate electoral body” of a national indigenous bishop and the bishop ordinary to the Canadian Forces.

At its spring meeting, CoGS approved a resolution that would “give first reading” to two amendments to a section of the church handbook’s Declaration of Principles (which defines this governing body’s authority and jurisdiction). The amendment introduces two new clauses that would allow “the appointment, election, confirmation, consecration and resignation” of a national indigenous Anglican bishop and of a “bishop ordinary” with jurisdiction over the chaplains of the Anglican Church of Canada on duty with the Canadian Forces.

The amendment would also grant the national native bishop membership to General Synod. The change requires the approval of two-thirds majorities in each order at two successive synods and the consent of the synods of the church’s four ecclesiastical (church) provinces.

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The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) has welcomed the move, calling it “encouraging.”

ACIP had expected that a resolution allowing for the election of future national native bishops would not happen until the next meeting of General Synod in 2010. However, said Donna Bomberry, the national church’s indigenous ministries co-ordinator, the church’s governance working group (see related story) recommended introducing it at the coming meeting in Winnipeg since other changes to the national church’s governance and structure would also be recommended then.

ACIP wants the election of national native bishops to be done through a gathering called a Sacred Circle, represented by Canadian indigenous Anglicans. The task would now be for ACIP and the recently appointed national native bishop, Mark MacDonald, to determine who the participants will be at the Sacred Circle, who will have voice and vote and what the vision will be for the future.

Bishop MacDonald, whose appointment was announced in January by the primate, currently has pastoral and spiritual oversight over all native Anglicans in the country. While he may perform episcopal duties like confirmations or ordinations, he is expected to respect church protocol and do so only at the request or invitation of the diocesan bishop.

Archbishop Hutchison said the amendment would also allow for the election of someone other than a current bishop to be bishop ordinary to the Canadian Forces. At present, the primate appoints someone who is already a bishop to the post.

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