Niagara Falls, Ont.
Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, at their regular spring meeting, on April 19 chose four of their colleagues as candidates for the office of primate, or national archbishop: George Bruce of the Kingston, Ont.-based diocese of Ontario, Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Bruce Howe of the London-Ont.-based diocese of Huron and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton.
In a three-hour closed session, the 39 bishops voting began with a slate of eight nominees. They did not release the names of the other candidates and there were no additional names proposed from the floor, said Bishop Don Phillips of Winnipeg-based Rupert’s Land, secretary of the house of bishops. Voting went to 14 ballots, since under the rules of the election, no names were dropped from the ballot after each round. When a nominee received a majority of votes, or 20, he or she moved to the candidates’ list, in effect releasing those 20 votes to other candidates for the next round. Voting was fairly evenly spaced among the four finalists, with each taking about three or four ballots to attract a majority. Bishop Phillips declined to give the order in which the four candidates were chosen.
Bishop Bruce was present for the first half of the session, but had to leave at midday when he received news that his daughter-in-law, Margo, had died after a long battle with cancer.
After four names, the bishops voted to end the balloting. The new church leader is scheduled to be elected on June 22 by the 300 delegates at the triennial General Synod governing convention, which will meet in Winnipeg from June 19-25. The primate will be officially installed in office on June 25.
The process to choose candidates changed since the last nominations process in 2004, when the current primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison was elected; at that time, nominees were chosen at the bishops’ meeting, but it was felt that gave candidates little time to consider the nomination, pray and consult with family. This year, nominators secured the consent of nominees and sent names to Archbishop Hutchison’s office in Toronto, resulting in a smaller starting list. In 2004, meeting in Regina, the group began with a list of 20 names.