Published July 1, 1998
  • The diocese of Keewatin’s table featured a stuffed gorilla dubbed “Keewatin No,” meaning “Keewatin northern person.” This particular primate turned up in the diocesan office in Kenora, Ont., several years ago, according to Bishop David Ashdown, and sits at the desk of any staffer who happens to be out. He was a calming presence at synod, Bishop Ashdown noted.
  • Delegates to General Synod on the scattered campus of Brock University in St. Catharines walked a total of about 70 km during the eight-day meeting. Maureen Lawrence, who attended with her husband, Bishop Caleb Lawrence of Moosonee, used a pedometer to measure distances walked. She found the amount covered on an average day was 10 km or a little more than six miles – from dormitories to the plenary hall to the Pond Inlet post-meeting recreation space. Some members gratefully accepted lifts on golf carts driven by volunteers from the host diocese of Niagara.
  • The diocese of Calgary’s delegation was decked out in red t-shirts and hockey jerseys – cheering on the Calgary Flames NHL team, which was battling the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup finals. They also presented the new primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison with a Flames jersey and foam finger; the primate, noted that while he was known to smoke, now he could “burst into flames.” Distinctive clothing was not confined to members of synod – several times, Archbishop David Crawley and members of the head table donned white visors promoting the Anglican Appeal, prompting one observer to say they resembled croupiers in a gambling hall.
  • While the Essentials coalition gathered conservative synod members and supporters each day of synod for coffee, desserts and strategizing in a white, canvas tent, the day after the primatial election brought a surprise guest: Archbishop Andrew Hutchison. While the new primate acknowledged that his views on many church matters differed from those in the tent, he appealed to conservatives for their prayers and support. “Please don’t leave me alone,” he said. Addressing the matter of same-sex blessings, he said it appeared increasingly apparent that there would be no “black and white decision,” thus, it would take “more patience, more hard work and more discussion.”
  • In an attempt to break the tension after a session of debate on the issue of same-sex blessings, synod member Archdeacon Peter Zimmer of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (formerly the diocese of Cariboo) approached the microphone with an impromptu motion. Moved by himself and seconded by members Peter Clarke, Peter Coffin, Peter Elliott, Peter Fenty, Peter Hobbs, Peter Irish, Peter Inukpuk, Peter Monk, Peter Tovell, Peter Wall, Pierre Voyer and Louise Peters: “Whereas there are at this synod more Peters than any other name, such as Michaels and Davids, who are, as we all know, common as dirt, we declare this to be a day of commemoration of Saints Peter the Many and offer our condolences to those of you not so similarly blessed.” (The house of bishops has long featured a spate of members named David or Michael.)
  • The seat of clergy member Rev. Alan Perry was situated directly in front of one of the microphones on the plenary floor. The bright spotlights on the mic prompted him to wear sunglasses during most sessions of synod and, so accessorized, he was often visible in a corner of the big screen on the floor and on the Web cast. On the final night of synod some delegates decorated his chair with a beach blanket, umbrella, sand and seashells.
  • Who wants to be a primate? On the eve of the primatial election, some youth requested the three candidates to join them for breakfast so they could quiz them. Bishops Caleb Lawrence of Moosonee and Ronald Ferris of Algoma, and Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Montreal awoke bright and early to meet the youth over cereal, milk, French toast and coffee. The three candidates were non-committal about whether they would agree to wear a mitre in the shape of a pink flamingo. On the serious side, however, the breakfast meeting made the bishops “more human,” said youth delegates Rachel Taylor of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior and Louise Cooper of New Westminster.
  • Lay and clergy members sang hymns in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre while awaiting results of the electoral ballots. Pianist Angus Sinclair invited requests after the first ballot; one member called out Purple Haze, in reference to the shade of shirts sported by bishops. Mr. Sinclair, accompanist for the Three Cantors, a trio of priests from Huron and Niagara who sing and raise funds for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, banged out a few notes of the Jimi Hendrix rock classic.
  • Synod proved to be hazardous for several delegates. At the opening worship service on May 28, one delegate suffered an angina attack (pain due to narrowing of the cardiac arteries), but recovered after a stay of a few days in a local hospital. On May 30, at a farewell dinner to Archbishop Michael Peers, there was a call for a doctor as a female guest experienced a fainting spell. Synod boasts as least one medical doctor among its delegates, Dr. David Gould of Algoma. A third delegate was admitted to hospital for extreme vertigo and, on the day after synod ended, a freelance writer working with Anglican Journal was also treated in St. Catharines’ hospital for angina.
  • During a telephone interview between CBC Radio’s As it Happens and Archbishop Hutchison, a distracting cellphone began ringing to the tune Ode to Joy. The new primate-elect did not miss a beat, reached down to his briefcase and held it out to a newsroom staffer to silence the phone, his own.


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