Revised resolution stands

Archbishop David Ashdown Photo: Art Babych
Archbishop David Ashdown Photo: Art Babych
Published June 8, 2010

On Mon. Jun. 7, members of the 2010 General Synod approved on first reading a revised resolution that changes the formula for determining the number of clerical and lay members that each diocese can have in the national church’s governing body.

The resolution now guarantees a minimum of two clergy and two lay representatives from each diocese, in addition to its bishop or bishops and youth member, explained Archbishop David Ashdown, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land.

It also changes the current method of allocating remaining clergy and lay members of General Synod based on the number of licensed clergy to “attendance at Easter communion services in a particular diocese to the total attendance in the 30 dioceses.”

The resolution will not change the size of General Synod, which currently has more than 350 members.

Explaining the rationale for the resolution, David Jones, chair of the Governance Working Group, had explained earlier that since licensing practices vary across the country, this was “no longer an appropriate unit” for measuring representation.

The revised resolution was presented after an earlier version, which proposed to change the “unit” for counting additional lay and clergy delegates to “weekly church attendance” failed to receive the required two-thirds’ majority vote from each order of bishops, clergy and laity. The resolution was revised and revisited after Archbishop Ashdown and Archbishop Claude Miller, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, put forward a motion to reconsider it, noting that it had received at least a 60 per cent vote from each order.

Although eventually approved, the revised resolution still met opposition from some members when it was debated on the floor.

The Rev. Iola Metuq, diocese of the Arctic, couldn’t support it because the needs of remote communities in the North “haven’t been heard; our voices will be less.”

Others said attendance at Easter communion services was not an ideal time to count membership since people tend to go south during that time of year. Some suggested counting attendance at Christmas services or the First Sunday of Advent, but these were met with similar opposition from other quarters.
Supporters of the resolution argued that there would never be a perfect formula, but that the three-year period before the resolution is presented to the 2013 General Synod for second reading would provide time to assess whether or not this proposal would indeed work.

“It can still be amended or if we don’t like it at all, we could toss it,” said Archbishop Ashdown.

Catherine Speechly-Pell, diocese of British Columbia, asked that the Council of General Synod (CoGS) look closely at how church statistics are gathered to ensure consistency.


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