Who are the 70?

Published April 11, 2013

Last fall, Dr. Walter Deller put this question to the directors of General Synod ministries. It came at the end of a very scholarly dissertation on chapter 11 in the Book of Numbers. Feeling the burden of leadership for the people of Israel, Moses took his concern to the Lord. He instructed Moses to gather around him 70 elders from among the people and said he would come down and speak with them. He also said he would take some of the Spirit that was on Moses and put it on them as well. It’s a story about shared leadership for a people consecrated to God.

“Who are the 70 in our church?” Walter asked. We quickly thought of General Synod committees, the Council of General Synod, the House of Bishops and diocesan leaders in ministry development. There are easily 70, and many more, able and spirited leaders across our church. Upon further reflection, I think there are actually multiples of 70.

As we consider doing much more of the work of General Synod through task forces and specially appointed commissions, we are challenged by Walter’s question.

Who are the 70 with a passion for great liturgy? Who are the 70 with a charism for making disciples and building communities of faith? Who are the 70 with a heart for social justice? Who are the 70 who call us to be steadfast in our covenant with indigenous peoples? Who are the 70 with an abiding commitment to international partnerships in the gospel? Who are the 70 with skill and savvy for making better use of information technology to tell our story? Who are the 70 who are calling us to deeper commitment in sharing our financial resources for God’s mission?

Our challenge will be to name them and celebrate their giftedness. Our joy will be to thank the Lord for their desire to serve the church.

Thanks for your question, Walter!

ARCHBISHOP FRED HILTZ is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.


  • Fred Hiltz

    Archbishop Fred Hiltz was primate of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2007 to 2019.

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