A task force studying the office of the primate is suggesting limiting the senior bishop’s term to a maximum of nine years.
The committee is circulating a questionnaire that asks whether a term limit is desirable and suggests that the description of the duties of primate be expanded to reflect “new global realities and the contemporary focus of the office.” For instance, the group suggests that the description should state that the primate represents the Anglican Church of Canada internationally and ecumenically.
“Introducing the concept of a fixed term would be a significant development in how primacy works in our national church,” said Archdeacon Patricia Johnson of the diocese of Ottawa, chair of the task force, in a news release. “Why a nine-year term? It seemed to the task force members long enough for a leader to share a vision with the church and short enough to allow for renewal for both the position and the person.” Such a term would also cover three triennia, since General Synod, the church’s governing body, meets every three years.
The questionnaire is being sent to active bishops, members of the Council of General Synod and some General Synod members. The task force, which has met once, was formed in response to a request from the 2001 General Synod.
At present, the primate serves until retirement at the age of 70 or until resignation. The current primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, was elected by the 1986 General Synod and will be 70 years old in 2004, when General Synod next meets.
The task force will report to the May meeting of the Council of General Synod, the group that governs the church in the years between General Synods. The council will make recommendations to the 2004 General Synod.