Council of General Synod (CoGS) has approved Draw the Circle Wide…Draw it Wider Still as the theme for General Synod 2007, which will be held in Winnipeg.
The decision came after discussions at the plenary and committee meetings held prior to CoGS, which raised concerns that the theme, which focuses on inclusion, might be interpreted as setting a particular agenda for the meeting. The issue of same-sex blessings will be a major issue for resolution in 2007.
General Synod, the church’s governing body, is held every three years.
“This is the third consecutive General Synod in which the theme has focused on inclusion, and we are concerned that some may be suspicious of an ‘agenda’ in the choosing of the theme,” said the national church’s communication and information resources committee (CIRC) in its report to CoGS. “In the current climate of suspicion, can we find a theme that does not appear to favour one or another of the stances that are currently at odds?” The committee suggested the theme “From despair to hope” as an alternative.
The General Synod Planning Committee responded that the theme “incorporates concepts of inclusivity: language, race, culture, theology and the dignity of all people.” It added that the circle, “with Christ as its centre, can be infinitely wide and draws all to Christ” and is “a symbol of creation and life, (which) is significant to indigenous people representing healing, sharing, and teaching.”
The planning committee also said that it had met to respond to concerns raised about the theme but that it acknowledged that the theme “does indeed speak of the inclusivity of our church – inclusive of all people and all perspectives and points of view” which is “Anglicanism, after all.”
Dean Peter Wall of Niagara, who introduced the theme on behalf of the committee, said the theme was also drawn from Draw the Circle Wide, a song composed by Bishop Gordon Light of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior of British Columbia.
At the plenary, Bishop Rodney Andrews of Saskatoon said that while he was sure that he would receive complaints about the theme, he also felt that “there’s no perfect imagery” that would satisfy everyone.
Archdeacon Dennis Drainville of the diocese of Quebec voted in favour of the theme saying there would be questions no matter what theme is adopted. “I could live with any other theme but I have to say that as someone seen to be on the other side, I need to be constantly reminded that we’re all part of the circle.”
Meanwhile, the planning committee also announced that the site for the meeting had changed. University of Manitoba would no longer be the site for the meeting but negotiations are underway with Ramada Marlborough Hotel and Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg. The Ramada is being considered as the conference site while Radisson Hotel, which is located a block from it, would provide additional accommodations for delegates.
Mr. Wall said the venue was changed after the university told the committee that it could not guarantee accommodations for all delegates. “The university was unable to negotiate with us,” he said.