Needed: a resurgence of the spirit of Halifax

Published March 7, 2013

This column first appeared in the Mar. 2013 issue of Anglican Journal.

Over the past 138 years, the Anglican Journal has been well served by gifted, dedicated and talented staff and editors. My hope as I initiate my work as the interim managing editor is to maintain the high standard of excellence that has been a hallmark of the Journal and to continue to express the full range of opinions within the Anglican church that is rightly demanded of an editorially independent publication.

I embark on my new duties with this March issue and it is, by any measure, an extraordinary time to begin.

At the end of the month, as individuals and as communities, we walk the Via Dolorosa-the way of the cross-with our Lord, and experience both Christ’s Good Friday suffering and death on the cross and the glory of his Easter resurrection.
In Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, Justin Welby will be enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury and bless us with his ministry of leadership, teaching and reconciliation. Mid-month, the Council of General Synod, the governing body between General Synods, meets for the last time before the church assembles in Ottawa for both a Joint Assembly with our brothers and sisters from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and our own General Synod.
I may be in the minority, but I truly enjoy General Synod meetings. I have had the honour of attending three as a delegate and two as a General Synod staff person. To meet, talk, share, eat, worship, pray and study with other Anglicans who are part of my church, but in vastly different contexts across the country, has been a blessing.

To see young people energized and to meet aboriginal partners, to be inspirited by both Canadian and international guests and to listen to debates and discussions in the decision-making process of synod is a privilege that I wish every Anglican could experience. A unique energy and synergy is created when the church comes together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to take counsel in its work and mission. The 2010 General Synod meeting in Halifax was a wonderful example of this; over nine days and through many prayerful discussions, discernment and debate, the synod achieved a remarkable consensus in producing the pastoral statement on sexuality.

The Ottawa meeting will span five days-six sessions and a banquet are reserved for Joint Assembly and five sessions for Anglicans to meet as the General Synod. The Joint Assembly will provide important times of learning and inspiration.

At its meeting last fall, the Council of General Synod decided not to lengthen the meeting of General Synod but instead to allow longer individual sessions. The challenges that decision presents will be to not exhaust the delegates and to ensure that there is sufficient time to deal with the vital issues before the church. A partial list of these substantial matters would include significant changes in our structures, the continuation of standing committees, the size and function of General Synod itself, aboriginal concerns, financial issues and the pursuit of ministry in the service of God’s mission.

The agenda in Ottawa is crucial, and not one to simply rush through with an eye on the clock. General Synod will need a resurgence of the spirit that it achieved in Halifax to properly chart our future ministry and mission. This is neither the first nor the last time that the church will face significant challenges, but the question remains: with such decisive and essential issues before the church, will there be enough time to deal with them effectively?

Archdeacon A. Paul Feheley is interim managing editor of the Anglican Journal.


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