Dr. David Gould has been a delegate to 16 General Synods.
St. Catharines, Ont.
It was only by chance that Dr. David Gould of Algoma first became a delegate to General Synod at Vancouver in 1965. “I became an alternate delegate four days before General Synod,” he recalls. Since then, he has only missed one (1967), chalking up an attendance of 16 meetings of General Synod.
His impression, he says, is that of a church that has changed with the times – one that became more inclusive towards women, youth and children, and one where traditional barriers between bishops, clergy and laity were eventually broken.
The meeting Dr. Gould found most memorable was 1975, when General Synod voted to ordain women to the priesthood. That same General Synod, however, also brought him the greatest disappointment when the plan of union between the Anglican Church of Canada and United Church of Canada collapsed. “It was a real downer to lose because I had a lot invested into it,” he says, adding that he can still recall then-Archbishop William Wright of Algoma’s remark about “how the great sin was being divided.”
A lot has changed since 1965, he says. Once upon a time “all clergy wore cassocks and sat in their own corner. The laity wore suits and formal wear. The house of bishops met separately. There was no youth at that time and there were only token women,” he says. The bishops sat with delegates for the first time in 1969. The change has been “for the better,” he says, adding that the recent addition of a choir was welcome (a choirboy since the age of seven, he was part of this year’s General Synod choir).
What has not changed is “the willingness of people to listen, the prayerfulness and application of prayer in the work we do,” he says.
Dr. Gould has participated in three primatial elections and says the only difference he noted in this General Synod was that “the entertainment is highly superior.” (During the waiting time while votes were counted, pianist Angus Sinclair entertained the delegates with sacred and secular songs.) Other than that, “I can’t say the process was any easier.”
A cardiologist by profession, Dr. Gould has had much input at General Synod: he presented research on the common cup when fears of infection arose during the discovery of AIDS in the 1980s, and he was a member of the faith, worship and ministry committee that worked on the Book of Alternative Services. “I wrote the eucharist service,” he says jokingly. (He actually typed it.)