Provincial synod votes for change

Provincial Synod members agreed to have fewer face-to-face meetings and use the saved money to fund initiatives for “mutually enriching activities.” Photo: Marites N. Sison
Provincial Synod members agreed to have fewer face-to-face meetings and use the saved money to fund initiatives for “mutually enriching activities.” Photo: Marites N. Sison
Published July 1, 2015

The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada wound up its 47th session of synod with a motion that was as close to disbanding as it could get.

Late in the day Saturday, June 27, a surprise motion was put forth by Archdeacon Edward Simonton of the diocese of Quebec, seconded by Ron Cutler, bishop of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island. It passed with two or three nay votes and no discussion by synod members.

Cutler said that after some research, they realized they could not move to disband. Instead the motion to alter and modernize synod rules was put forward.

“We have become slaves to the creatures we have fashioned,” said Cutler. “We cannot vote ourselves out of existence, but we can vote ourselves into relevance.

“Did your friends know what you were coming to? The vast majority of Anglicans have no clue what we are,” said Cutler.

Provincial Synod is, in fact, the governing body of the Eastern Canadian region of the Anglican Church of Canada. The first act to enable provincial synod to meet was signed by Queen Victoria in 1856 – before Canada was even a country.

It has, as its purpose, the following:
? The providing of occasions for fellowship and of a forum for the consideration of topics of particular concern within the Province.
? The planning and promotion of teamwork among bishops, clergy and laity within the Province.
? The exercise of canonical and legislative authority and jurisdiction in all matters affecting the general interests and well-being of the church within the Province.
? The supervision of the program of the Advisory Council for Postulants for Ordination within the province.

Read more about the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada on its website.

The provincial synod met in Fredericton at the St. Thomas University Conference Centre on Forest Hill Road from Thursday to Saturday, culminating in attendance at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday morning. Delegates attended from the seven dioceses that make up the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada: Eastern Newfoundland, Central Newfoundland, Western Newfoundland, Nova Scotia & PEI, Fredericton, Quebec and Montreal.

The surprising motion will see more video conferencing technology used to meet, resulting in fewer physical meetings.

Synod will meet when it’s ready to meet, not every three years as was the regulation, said Simonton.

It would use the saved money to fund initiatives for “mutually enriching activities.” The motion also would de-emphasize procedural and legislative aspects of the synod and allow maximum participation by non-members from the dioceses.

This comes on the heels of last summer’s Train The Trainer initiative held in Montreal for youth leaders that was funded by cancelling a meeting of the synod council.

Other motions and actions of note during Provincial Synod:
? The election of new executive: prolocutor: the Rev. Eli Evans, Parish of Hearts Delight, Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland; deputy prolocutor: Margaret Jenniex, Diocese of Central Newfoundland; lay secretary: Judy Colp, Diocese of Nova Scotia & PEI; clerical secretary: Canon Gordon Redden, Diocese of Nova Scotia & PEI; treasurer: Peter Irish, Diocese of Fredericton.

? Tweaks to the Safe Church legislation and a report from the Diocese of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island on their efforts to implement it.

? Information on the Train The Trainer initiative held in Montreal last year and its successes; Council of the North’s challenges and successes.

? Reflections by Archbishop. Fred Hiltz, primate: 1 – on General Synod 2016 and the motion to deal with the blessing of same-sex marriage; 2 – on the verse from John 21 that says, “Feed my lambs.” He outlined the abysmal state of poverty among children in Canada, and the need to put that verse into action to improve the lives of children in our country, particularly aboriginal children.

? Reports from each diocese on their current state, challenges and successes.

? Motion passed to ask each diocese to send and pay for the expenses of at least one delegate to the Ask & Imagine event in May 2016 for youth leaders. Provincial Synod pledged $18,000 to help fund the event.

? Motions passed to have the metropolitan send two letters to all federal politicians and political candidates, this being an election year, to be distributed through the dioceses, urging them to more seriously address the issues contributing to child poverty; and urging them to implement the 94 calls to action stemming from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

? Motion passed to establish a social justice working group to engage the Province and co-ordinate action on issues of social justice. The initial members of this group are Archdeacon Michael Johnson (Montreal), the Rev. Cathy Lee Cunningham (NS&PEI), Archdeacon John Meade (Western NL) and Peter Reccord (Eastern NL). This sprang from table discussion on issues of concern.

? Provincial Council, a subgroup of Provincial Synod, has the following members, nominated and accepted: Peter Reccord (Eastern NL); the Rev. Joanne Mercer (Central NL); David Chafe (Western NL); the Rev. Cathy Lee Cunningham (NS&PEI); Rachel Barrett (Fredericton); Ruth Sheeran (Quebec); Archdeacon Michael Johnson (Montreal); and youth members Bailey Bowden (NS&PEI) and Élodie Lambert (Montreal).

? A motion was passed to collectively support the Princess Basma Hospital in East Jerusalem, with each diocese determining its level of commitment. This hospital, visited by several Provincial Synod members recently, treats mostly Palestinians, and works extensively with autistic children, bringing in the mothers to train them as well as treating their children.

? A motion to organize a Train The Trainer event around evangelism was referred to council to work on. A motion was passed for synod to consider holding a provincial youth conference.





  • Gisele McKnight

    Gisele McKnight is editor of the New Brunswick Anglican, the diocesan newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Fredericton. She is also communications officer for the diocese.

Related Posts

Skip to content