Anglican delegates to the 2013 General Synod/Joint Anglican-Lutheran Assembly, scheduled July 3 to 7 in Ottawa, will need to brace themselves for the possibility of longer sessions and shorter breaks.
The joint assembly is the first since full communion was achieved in 2001 between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). As a result, General Synod has been shortened to four days from the usual nine days.
At the Council of General Synod (CoGS) meeting Nov. 15 to 18 in Mississauga, Ont., concerns were raised about whether or not this triennial meeting would provide enough time for critical discussions about budget and plans to restructure General Synod. “We, as a group, have to make certain that what happens at General Synod earns respect and trust of those at General Synod and the church as a whole,” said Chancellor David Jones.
A resolution that would allow General Synod officers to modify the length of the meeting was met with mixed reactions. In the end, CoGS approved a resolution making it possible to modify the length of the sessions during the four-day meeting. The suggestion to “stick to the actual length but be more aggressive with time,” was made by Calgary Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson, of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land.
The Rev. Doug Reble, the ELCIC representative to CoGS, expressed concern that extending the meeting of General Synod beyond four days would make the event seem “less and less like a joint assembly. Part of having a joint assembly is you come together and you leave together.” He added that lay delegates with work responsibilities are more inclined to attend a shorter meeting.
Cynthia Haines-Turner, from the ecclesiastical province of Canada, also opposed the proposal. She said she felt shocked initially at the prospective of a four-day meeting but subsequently had been reassured that goals could be met.
Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, spoke out against the proposal saying longer discussions do not guarantee good decisions. “We need to be more disciplined,” he said.
Quebec Bishop Dennis Drainville, of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, said General Synod will be making “extraordinary decisions” and “if we need more time, we need to take that time.”