When it comes to hospitality events at General Synod this July, diversity will be the overriding theme, an organizer says.
“I think it’s so hard to describe [the diocese of] Toronto in the sense of what would be its central characteristic-it really is our diversity,” says Laura Walton, chair of the local arrangements committee for General Synod 2016. “So when we were looking at a theme, we thought about what talks about Toronto’s ministry, and who are we ministering to, and who is doing the ministry,” and the theme that emerged was diversity, she says.
Thus, says Walton, the opening reception, slated for 9 p.m. Thursday, July 7, will feature hors d’oeuvres from Indigenous, Chinese, East Indian, West Indies/Caribean, Hispanic and other cultures found in the diocese. Organizers plan to link the food with the ministry of the diocese, she says, with printed explanations of the kinds of ministry being done in parishes where certain ethnicities predominate.
The reception will open with a short welcome speech by Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, and will include a recently produced video highlighting the ministries and diversity of the diocese, Walton says.
This diversity is not just ethnic, but also geographic, she says. The diocese includes much more than the city of Toronto itself-it stretches northeast, for example, to Algonquin Provincial Park and northwest to Georgian Bay. The fact that the diocese includes rural as well as urban parishes is something organizers hope to express by featuring what Walton calls a “100-km meal” at the closing banquet in the evening of July 12.
“The chef will be looking for food that is all local, all found with a 100-km range, so it will all be from the diocese of Toronto, we’re hoping,” she says. The banquet will likely be highlighted by comments from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and some closing words from Johnson.
Another high point of the banquet: entertainment by a jazz ensemble led by Bob DeAngelis, a Juno Award-winning clarinetist. One of the local arrangements committee members heard DeAngelis’s group perform jazz vespers at an Etobicoke church, Walton says. Following up on this referral, the committee found they really liked the group-and the fact that the group is based in Toronto fits in nicely with the local theme of the 100-km meal, she says.
Partly because of the limited time available, Walton says, this meeting will not feature parish visits, although delegates will be greeted by local volunteers when they arrive in the city.