Council of General Synod (CoGS) partners on March 16 left the governing body with messages ranging from a call not to abandon the Council of the North (CoN) and for Anglicans and Lutherans not to “take each other for granted.”
The Rev. David Pritchard (Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund), the Rev. Douglas Reble (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) and Martha Gardner (The Episcopal Church) gave their messages and their impressions at a partners’ panel the day before CoGS ended its March 14 to 17 meeting.
Pritchard said that as a priest in the Yukon, he has a “strong bias” for the CoN, composed of financially assisted dioceses in Canada’s north. He expressed the hope that as the next members of CoGS continue to address the structural changes at General Synod, they would consider “a host of reasons” for deciding the fate of the church’s ministries. He noted how some have said that his own church, St. Saviour’s Carcross, was not worthy of support since attendance was down to eight people. But the church, located in a First Nations Community of 400 people, continues to minister to people who have been affected by the legacy of Indian residential schools, he said. “It is a presence that is so badly needed,” he added.
Reble, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) representative to CoGS, expressed the hope that his church’s full communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada would continue to grow.
“We can’t take each other for granted. We say and do things differently, but we must continue to build our relationship…continue to get it right and equip leaders about the reality of that need,” said Reble.
Reble also noted that the Anglican Church continues to struggle with change. “You are one of the most bureaucratic organizations I’ve ever had an opportunity to work with. The challenge with that is that it’s hard to change,” he said. “It’s not a criticism but an observation. You need to be more nimble…there has to be a will.”
Reble also urged CoGS to work toward the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in church.
He praised the Anglican Church of Canada for its work in indigenous ministries and healing and reconciliation with indigenous people. “I am proud to be part of this church, for its spirit of justice, and hospitality,” he said, adding that it is “a leader among Christian denominations” in making sure that its indigenous members are “given a clear voice.” He noted how the church has shown its willingness to “adapt and change” its governance to make it relevant to the needs of indigenous Anglicans.
Gardner urged CoGS to make Vision 2019, its strategic plan, “part of the language” of its meetings. She also said it was important orient new CoGS members about their work, noting that her church has adopted a “buddy system” so that new leaders of the executive council can benefit from the experience of previous ones.