As the structures of General Synod change and “the way we work” changes, the chair of the faith, worship and ministry (FWM) has asked national church leaders not to lose sight of the importance of work concerning ecumenical and Anglican Communion-wide dialogues.
These dialogues need to be “at the forefront and monitored,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew Asbil, in his report March 15 to the spring meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body between General Synods.
Historically, the church has been through structural changes, said Asbil, noting how standing committee membership has changed from 45 to 15 members. What hasn’t changed, he said, is the “vast amount of work” that FWM has been doing. “We have a funny task of herding all ministry areas, but we are also a working group,” he said.
While FWM believes a standing committee works well, it nonetheless welcomes the opportunity to work in new ways, he said. But, he added, it needs to be determined what work “needs to go forward, what can be put in hibernation and dropped for the time being.” This July, General Synod will consider a resolution that will change all but two standing committees into co-ordinating committees, with a membership of five.
Reflecting on FWM’s work over the past triennium, Asbil noted that the issue of human sexuality is no longer the church’s focus. Instead, it has gone “back into the broad perspective of the church and looking ahead into the future.”
After Asbil’s remarks, the FWM committee presented CoGS with several resolutions, which were adopted and recommended to the General Synod meeting this July. These include a recommendation that the General Synod receive the final report of the Primate’s Commission on Theological Education and Formation for Presbyteral Ministry and that it adopt, and commend for implementation to dioceses, the Competencies for Theological Education for Ordination to the Priesthood in the Anglican Church of Canada. The 2010 General Synod, noting the absence of a clear and common set of guidelines within the church about who may become a candidate for ordination, had asked that a commission identify the competencies for priesthood. The competencies were identified after extensive consultation with heads of theological colleges, provincial synods, diocesan committees of ministry, the primate, and the national indigenous Anglican bishop, among others.
Several CoGS members noted that the report on presbyteral ministry was among the highlights of work FWM has accomplished in the past three years.
Another motion calls on General Synod to direct the FWM to develop policies around creating safe churches, by addressing such issues as “physical abuse, sexualized violence, bullying and harassment.” If approved, it will also mandate the group to develop a national screening policy for lay and ordained ministry across the church.
General Synod will also consider motions on adult formation and lay leadership, which calls for a working group to “provide ways and means to share best practices and initiatives and to institute networking and information sharing about Christian formation and lay leadership training.” The group will also plan a national consultation on lay leadership and adult formation in 2016.
CoGS also approved the following resolutions:
- Resolves, subject to available funds and council priorities, “to establish a task group to determine how we best coordinate our Anglican Communion and Ecumenical relations”;
- Recommends that General Synod receive the Jerusalem Report of the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission and instruct the commission to “coordinate a process of study and response”;
- Receives the Rites Relating to Marriage: Report of the Canterbury International Anglican Liturgical Consultation 2011 and, “subject to available financial resources and Council’s priorities, coordinate and finalize the Canadian response to this Report”; and
- Resolves, subject to available funds and CoGS’ priorities, to provide means on continuing the “ethical reflection” concerning the theology of money and social media.