Richmond Hill, Ont.
A mix of hope and concern, especially about the coming vote on same-sex marriages, was a common theme expressed by some members of General Synod 2016 as they arrived the morning of Thursday, July 7.
Delegates also said they were looking forward to other business of General Synod-especially the issues around the Indigenous church, to which an entire day-Sunday, July 10-will be devoted.
As another humid day began outside, members, guests and staff of General Synod, luggage in hand, gradually filtered into the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites, a complex just north of Toronto. Name tag-sporting Anglicans gathered in groups along a spacious and rambling corridor to shake hands and chat, or browse among nearly 50 display booths. The Anglican Journal spoke to some about their hopes and expectations for the next six days.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of difficult struggles and moments, particularly around the marriage canon,” said Tannis Webster, a lay delegate from the diocese of Rupert’s Land. “That seems to be the predominant piece of work that we’re going to be handling and discussing. I’m not exactly anxious about it, but I want to see the outcome.”
Melanie Delva, a lay member from the diocese of New Westminster, said she had made up her own word-“exciety”-to describe the mix of feelings she was experiencing in anticipation of this General Synod and the vote, slated for the afternoon of Monday, July 11, on changing the marriage canon. Delva said she was concerned that the potentially divisive issue of same-sex marriages not threaten the unity of the church.
“I’m excited about the potential that we have to do great work…I’m more anxious about the relational stuff,” she said. “I want us, no matter what happens on the marriage canon, to come out still as the body of Christ. That for me is the most important thing.”
Delva said she felt other issues had been to some extent overshadowed by discussions of the marriage canon in media coverage of the lead-up to General Synod.
The Rev. Bill Mous, of the diocese of Niagara, said he hoped the members of General Synod would “come away from this time together living into the gospel message more faithfully with hope, with a sense of deeper inclusion for all of the disciples who comprise the Anglican Church of Canada, with a greater sense of care for creation in our practices, with a deeper commitment to walking with our Indigenous brothers and sisters as well.
“That would certainly be my hope-that we’re a more faithful, a more inclusive, a more loving, a more integral church at the end of it,” he said.
Members also spoke of the social aspect of General Synod, and of how they relished the opportunity to maintain relationships with other members from across the country.
“I’m really excited to catch up with some friends that I never get to see outside of General Synod,” said Delva, a veteran of the 2010 and 2013 gatherings.