New procedures to elect primate allow time for prayer

Published July 1, 1998

Canada’s next primate will be elected under new procedures adopted by synod.

A key change is a requirement that candidates be nominated at least a month before the election, replacing the current system of nominations and elections the same day.

Under the new system, the bishops must meet between 30 and 120 days before the election to nominate from their own number persons they believe to be fit candidates. Names of nominees, together with biographical information, will then be sent to clergy and lay members of General Synod.

Seconding the motion to adopt, Bishop Terence Finlay of Toronto said it “meets the need for adequate advance information — and for time for prayer.”

He acknowledged some people feared the gap might lead to “the U.S. pattern where people are actually campaigning.”

This point was taken up by the Primate who said that politicization of the process could discourage some people from letting their names stand.

“The Council of General Synod needs to address this, so the church can have adequate information, but candidates can be assured they won’t emerge mauled from the process.”

Because of the high cost of bringing electors together for a special meeting, it has become customary to hold primatial elections at the same time as General Synod which is the body that elects the primates. Primatial resignations have been timed to make this possible.

If the primatial office becomes vacant more than 12 months before General Synod is scheduled to meet, a special meeting must be convened.

The current system requires the electoral synod to convene, after which the bishops met separately to nominate candidates, a sometimes lengthy process carried out while the clergy and laity waited — not always patiently.

When the names were finally handed down, delegates complained they had little information about the candidates except their names and whatever had surfaced in speculative gossip.

Expressing approval of the changes, Archbishop Peers said primates of the Anglican Church of Canada are the most fortunate because they know they have the support of bishops, clergy, and laity.


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