Bishop's Charge to Synod 2010


129TH SESSION OF THE SYNOD OF

THE DIOCESE OF OTTAWA

Anglican Church of Canada
October 14 - 16, 2010 AD

"Let the Peoples Praise You, O God."
(Ps. 67:5)


 

Bishop John Chapman I am delighted to welcome you all to the 129th Session of our Diocesan Synod! It is a weighty responsibility that you carry. Synod is the most significant council of our diocese, your voice is important, and your full participation is encouraged.

I am especially grateful to the Dean, cathedral staff, music directors, musicians, greeters, altar guild and those hosting the reception following, for helping us begin our deliberations with a fulsome celebration of our shared faith and common mission around the table of the Lord - there is no better way for us to begin our work together.

For the last three years, I have attended the College for Bishops. While affectionately known as Baby Bishop's School, the event is not a light-hearted experience for the thirty plus Bishop's from the Episcopal Church in the United States and from Canada. Rather, it is an opportunity for Bishops representing diverse ministries and communities to come together to learn, share great joy and hope, as well as difficulties and challenges. One of the bishops that I have come to know is Bishop Sean Rowe from the Diocese of North Western Pennsylvania. I've come to know him as a wise and gentle leader in our church highly regarded within his own Province and in Canada. Particularly, Bishop Rowe is more sensitive and focused than most upon the church of tomorrow. Often his insightful comments have contributed greatly to our collective understanding of how we as a national, provincial and diocesan church may speak the Word to a society that we are only beginning to understand, if at all. Bishop Rowe has agreed to address our Synod in the days ahead. I welcome him and his spouse Carly, to the Ottawa Diocese. I am sure that Sean will be delighted to make himself available to you for informal conversations between sessions of Synod.

As well, it is my pleasure to welcome a number of new clergy into our midst. These clergy have come from other dioceses to share in the ministry and leadership of the church in our Diocese of Ottawa. These include: the Rev. Anne Quick, serving as incumbent of the parish of St. Stephen's, Ottawa; the Rev. Manassé Maniragaba serving as incumbent of the parish of Glengarry; the Rev. Richard Durrett, currently serving in the Canadian Forces; the Rev. Sue McCullough, serving as incumbent of the parish of Morrisburg; the Rev. Francois Trottier, serving as incumbent of the parish of Deep River. Congratulations as well to two of our newest priests ordained this past year, the Rev. Ross Hammond and the Rev. Robert Campbell.

Now, Dr. Thomas Long, a presenter at our 2009 clergy conference tells this account of a time when he was asked to serve on the Chaplain's Advisory Council at Princeton University.

He goes on to say, "...we met only once a year, and our basic task was to hear reports from the chaplains on campus about their work. They would report, we would ask questions, and that was that. One year, we had heard the reports of the chaplains and it was now Q&A time. An older member of the council asked the chaplains, "What are the students like morally these days?" The chaplains looked at each other. Who wanted to answer that? Finally one of them, the Methodist chaplain, took a stab at it. "Well," she said, "I think you'd be pleased. They are pretty ambitious in terms of careers, but that's not all they are. A lot of them tutor kids after school. Some work in the night shelter and the soup kitchen for the homeless ..." As she talked, the Jewish chaplain began to grin. The more she talked, the bigger he grinned, until finally it became distracting. "Ed, am I saying something funny?" she said, slightly miffed. "No, no, I'm sorry," he replied. "I was just sitting here thinking. You are saying that the university students are good people, and you're right. And you are saying that they are involved in good social causes and they are. But what I was thinking is that the one thing they lack is a vision of salvation." With all staring at him he said, "No it is true. If you don't have some vision of what God is doing to repair the whole creation, you can't get up every day and work in a soup kitchen. It finally beats you down." 1

"Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine ..." Or, in the words from our Synod theme, " Let the peoples praise you O God."

We are assured Sunday after Sunday that God wills for us complete fulfillment in the Kingdom of God through Christ. If this is not our prayer or our hope, the work of prayer, mission and ministry to which we are each called, will most certainly beat us down - sooner more than later. It is within the hearing of Jesus' call to us to be faithful that we in this diocese rise each morning committed to our baptism and to our work.

The primary issue for us at this Synod is that we encourage one another in a spirit of Godly hope. Not a hope that is fanciful, naîve or without a deep foundation, but rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not a hope that is wishful thinking or as one might hope for a sunny day, rather as Jesus speaks of it. The author of the Hebrews states for us that, "We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:19-21) I speak to you today of a hope that is grounded in faith, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

We have, my friends so much to do in the name of Jesus. So much work to do, teaching to offer, lessons to be learned. However, this work takes time. In the past, I have focused my charge on a number of particular challenges that I expect will unfold over the next year. Many of the tasks and ministries that I called us to embrace as a community of faithful followers of Jesus, do take time. For this reason, and this year, I am trying something new. I am calling the diocese to focus upon key ministries over a two-year period. Next year's charge will function as a report card at which time I will have opportunity to speak to you about the work that has been accomplished and what work is yet to be addressed.

Each of the ministries that I am calling us to embrace fall within the mandate of the Five Marks of Mission which were placed before the Anglican Communion in 1990 and still to this day, guide the mission of our church. I believe that they form the bedrock upon which our shared lives in faith rest. They are thoughtful, theologically sound, faithful to the mission of the church and above all, focus our faithful work in such a manner that hope is preached, nourished, shared and trusted. As I stated earlier, and tried to demonstrate with Dr. Long's illustration, without hope, without the promise of God's healing and redemptive presence in all that we do, "then it will beat you down."

These Marks of Mission include:

  • 1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • 2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • 3. To respond to human need by loving service
  • 4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • 5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Now, consistent with these Marks, I am calling the Diocese to focus specifically, upon the following:


MARKS OF MISSION #1 & 2: TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM; TO TEACH, BAPTIZE AND NURTURE NEW BELIEVERS

If we are to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, the first of the five marks of mission, and teach, baptize and nurture new believers, the second mark of mission, we must begin to think of ourselves not as a church that is dying but rather, a church that is poised for greater ministry, more vibrant mission and increased membership within the communities of faith. I spoke of this concern earlier in my Crosstalk article and I mention it again; it is time to change our focus. For so many years we have adapted ourselves to cope with a shrinking church. Significant membership decline has been with most of us for all of our church life. Enough! We are so conditioned to coping with shrinking numbers that we have lost our capacity to even imagine let alone strategize for a growing church. My friends we will grow, and indeed, we did grow in a small way this past year.

Church history teaches us that church size and church work has increased and diminished throughout history. However, every time it has diminished, the church has refocused its mission or perhaps I might say, recovered its mission. When this recovery is placed in the context of a faithful response to baptism and restored hope, mission follows. We are at such a juncture in this diocese. I call everyone in the diocese to recapture our hope in Jesus' presence in our midst and begin planning and working toward that which we have not seen for some time - growth. Not just in membership but in ministries within our parishes and in the communities in which we live. Growth in imagination and creative ways in which we may evangelize and make known the Christ we follow and obey. There are signs of this new vitality already. I see it, you see it, do not be frightened by it.

A refocused church and diocese will be a little unsettling. We will be called to witness and minister in new ways. For some places to grow, others will need to let go and die trusting in the fullness of Christ's resurrection. It is the way of God. Others will need to let go of old ways, so that new and more appropriate work can take shape that will further the mission of the church.

In order for us to address these first two marks of mission I am requesting the membership of the Diocese to attend to the following:

Cross-cultural Membership
It is as apparent to me, as it is to you, that our communities within the diocese are comprised of a variety of races and cultures. Yet as we know, white Anglo-Saxon people occupy most of our pews, with only a few exceptions. God calls us to reach out to all peoples. To this end, I am asking each parish in the Diocese to place on their parish council agenda time to research and study the demographic in which they serve. If these studies reveal a diverse demographic, then I encourage you to begin to put in place a strategy that will foster outreach into these various cultural communities extending the hand of holy hospitality. If the membership of our diocese is not visibly diverse within the next five to ten years, then our attempt to evangelize and minister to all peoples has failed; we will have opted to exist as a closed community and this is not our vocation or our call.

Congregational Development
Our strategic plan calls us to address congregational development. The Parish Growth and Renewal Committee was created and is working toward addressing this matter. Over the next two years, it is my intention to further the work of congregational development as directed by the strategic plan. I have spoken to you in previous charges about implementing a small church coach program. It is time for us to begin implementing such a programme to serve the parishes of the Diocese. In the months ahead, time will be set aside and volunteers sought to support this programme.

In addition, I will be asking our Diocesan Council to ensure that appropriate sub-committees and work groups work toward realizing the greatest possible potential from our real estate holdings. As you know, there are a number of properties situated in a geographic and demographic location that no longer serve the ministry and mission of the region or diocese. As well, there are areas within our diocese that could benefit from either new buildings or a creative configuration of existing buildings and ministries. All levels of leadership will need to work together to ensure that these assets effectively support the ministry of our diocese.

Clergy Leadership
The Parish Ministry Development Committee continues to serve the Diocese well. Also, the Clergy Leadership Institute and the other various clergy support instruments serve the diocese through the Post-Ordination Training Group, Fresh Start, the Bishop's Clergy Conference and Clergy Days. I do not need to expand on this except to say congratulations for work well done.

What I do wish to address at this Synod is vocations to priestly ministry. Typically, vocations do not just appear, not the good ones at least. Creative vocations are raised out of the church through prayer, prayerful encouragement and support.

While anticipated retirements logically call for attention to this matter, this is not why I want to raise it here at Synod in my Charge. Rather, if we are serious about our life together in the hope and promise of Jesus, we need the very best ordained leadership. Leadership that is prayerful, passionate, deeply committed, skilled, intuitive, healthy and intelligent. In other words, we require the very best women and men to provide leadership, teaching and sacramental presence in our communities of faith. This is a matter of utmost importance for us today and tomorrow. For my part, I will actively engage this work over the next few years. Together with Archdeacon David Selzer, we will re-examine our formation process, assessment instruments and educational and formation programmes. Every activity that calls and forms our clergy leadership will be examined.

Your role is different. First, and most important, I am asking each and every congregation in the diocese to include in your weekly parish intercessions, prayers for vocations to the ordained ministry. Years ago, Bishop Robinson, the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Ottawa, made a similar request and the result was outstanding. In fact, some of the clergy who serve you today discovered their vocations under the mantle of diocesan prayer and encouragement in those days. We need your prayers again. In addition to prayer, and mindful that it is the Church that calls women and men to the sacred order of deacons and priests, I ask you to identify individuals in your communities you may feel are called to serve the church as clergy. Once identified, please encourage them and commit yourselves to supporting their long journey through discernment, formation and education. Your conscientious attention to this unique ministry not only serves the diocese but the whole church.

Prayer
If we are to proclaim the gospel, teach, nurture and baptize as the first two marks of mission call us to do, then we must also address the prayer that supports this ministry. I am asking every congregation to intentionally address the matter of prayer in your various communities. It is through prayer that we live in relation to the Holy Trinity and one another. In 2011, the Diocese will host a prayer conference. It is my hope that this conference heightens our attention and work in this critical area of personal and communal ministry.


MARK OF MISSION #3: TO RESPOND TO HUMAN NEED BY LOVING SERVICE

Community Ministries
First may I congratulate all of our community ministries for their dedicated work and commitment. The Pastoral Counseling Centre continues to provide excellent professional therapeutic support for any who seek their services. This ministry has quietly served the Diocese for decades - we are grateful.

Centre 454
While the Centre continues its ongoing ministry and fight to end poverty, a work you are all familiar with; a new and creative opportunity has been added to their responsibilities. For the last five years the Centre has employed an outreach worker. Their mandate was to assist individuals with multiple disabilities navigate their way through the onerous application process in order to access their entitled benefits. In 2010 the City of Ottawa implemented a Poverty Reduction Strategy. Part of the plan was to approach Centre 454, request that the Centre expand their services to those with multiple disabilities, and the city would increase funding so that three additional staff could be employed. The programme has been so successful that on November 1st of this year, Centre 454 will be awarded the 2010 Joe Assabgui Community Champion Award in recognition of the programme "... as a splendid example of innovation that improves outcomes for people in need ..." My congratulations to the staff of Centre 454.

Cornerstone
Most of you are aware that Cornerstone, in addition to its ongoing ministry for women in this diocese, has launched an additional programme that will provide safe, affordable, permanent and supportive housing for older women currently living on the streets in communities throughout our diocese. Toward this end, Cornerstone has received a total of 9.6 million dollars through grants and city rebates. Congratulations to the leadership and staff of this critical ministry in our Diocese - a project that will bring healing and comfort to many of our marginalized senior women. As they continue their capital campaign for the remaining funds necessary, I ask you to keep Cornerstone in your prayers.

Child Poverty
Last year, I called the Community Ministry Development Committee to begin researching the issue of child poverty in the diocese. Their work is ongoing. Not unlike our other community ministries, it takes time to move from a concept to a full and funded operation. Be assured that their work continues and I trust that in the course of time plans for initial implementation will come before this Synod.

May I also take a moment to thank those parishes that applied for a diocesan mission and outreach grant. I am told that each and every one of these projects enjoyed success - lives where touched, healed and nurtured.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie and a number of our diocesan youth continue to live in partnership with the Diocese of Louisiana. You may remember that last year, the youth of our diocese agreed to a formal partnership with the youth of the Diocese of Louisiana. This partnership continues to flourish, each diocese benefitting from the other through shared work, story, care and understanding.


MARK OF MISSION #4: TO SEEK TO TRANSFORM UNJUST STRUCTURES OF SOCIETY

If we are to continue to provide a voice for our society that is rooted in the Gospel and just practice, we must continue our dialogue with elected government officials and their supporting staff. I am pleased to be able to report to you that the Government Relations Panel that I called for in last year's Charge has been put in place, met and is producing fruit. These are early days but already the committee has opened doors and facilitated conversations that I know will further the mission of our diocese. I am grateful to the Panel membership for their counsel and expertise.


MARK OF MISSION #5:
TO STRIVE TO SAFEGUARD THE INTEGRITY OF CREATION AND SUSTAIN AND RENEW THE LIFE OF THE EARTH


Environmental Concerns: A Working Group of Diocesan Council
This past summer, the Anglican Church of Canada approved resolution 180A at General Synod in Halifax that declares publicly our commitment as a National Church to address climate change and its negative impact seriously. The ACC has committed to encouraging and supporting their dioceses and parishes to participate in eco-justice and creation care activities with both other faith communities and secular organizations. The resolution also encourages the Council of General Synod to estimate and then reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Council.

Most importantly, not just for the Anglican Church of Canada but also for our diocese here in Ottawa, the first part of the resolution is to join with other faith communities and secular groups to press the Government of Canada to adopt a comprehensive action plan with firm targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 25 to 40% by 2020 based on 1990 levels as a central concern for social and ecological justice.

This is not only a great responsibility for the Anglican Church of Canada and the Ottawa diocese in particular, but it is also a great opportunity for us to demonstrate clear and timely leadership in the faith communities, and to offer a witness and prophetic voice in the public square.

We are also in a unique position. One of our own priests, Dr. Mishka Lysack, now an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, is the team leader for several multi-faith projects in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary that are drawing together leaders from not only other Christian denominations but other faith groups, such as Jews, Muslims and Baha'is. He has offered to work with us and has already formed a remarkable leadership team here in Ottawa from different faith communities and NGOs. I am suggesting to you that we begin, as a first step, to work with Dr. Lysack over the next months.

As well, I will be asking Diocesan Council to form an Environmental Working Group. Their tasks will include providing Council with information and guidance that will help their management and oversight of the various environmental issues currently before our diocese.

Regarding General Synod and the Matter of Same-gendered Blessings
General Synod 2010 was a highlight in my life as a Christian and in my time as your Bishop. In a manner that was typically Anglican, and dare I say, Canadian, we managed to find ways to live together in the midst of difference and diversity of opinion and practice. It was a grace-filled conversation that everyone present, regardless of their politics, bias, theology or fear, felt the Spirit of the living God present and working in our midst. A formal statement was prepared which I have appended to this Charge and you may wish to read on your own. But it is sufficient to say for now, that consensus was reached regarding the following: First, we decided that it would not be helpful for us to make any legislative decision, so we did not. Second, there was unanimous acknowledgement that pastoral practice will vary from time to time in different parts of our church. This is the very nature of the Canadian Anglican Church - diversity will always characterize our church in all of its richness. Third, imposition of a decision or practice by one party over another will not help us move forward. Fourth, we will " ... live together sharing in the mission of Christ entrusted to us, accepting that different local contexts call at times for different local discernment, decision and action." I am pleased to say to you that these General Synod deliberations ended with applause, prayer, song and goodwill amongst all - a blessed moment.

Ongoing Dialogue With the International Church
You may recall last year that I was quite enthusiastic about a programme that was put in place by our National Office in partnership with the Anglican Communion Office in Lambeth. Five Canadian bishops were partnered with five bishops selected from various parts of the Anglican Church in the province of Africa. I since reported on this event in Crosstalk citing the meeting as a hopeful gathering in which we shared each other's stories struggles and joys. The Canadian delegation left our time together hopeful and optimistic that even in difference, the bonds of our Communion are very strong.

I am pleased to add that our conversations will continue in 2011. The same Bishops from Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara, New Westminster and Ontario along with our African counterparts will gather, but this time, bishops from the Church of England will join us as well. The gathering and conversations will be held in Dar-es-Salaam the last week of February 2011. I am particularly pleased to report to you that I have been blessed with an opportunity to provide leadership for a portion of our deliberations. I will do my utmost to represent you honourably.

Our Partner Diocese, the Diocese of Jerusalem
What a thrill it was for us to host Bishop Suheil Dawani and his spouse Shafeeqa this past summer. He speaks warmly of his time here with us, as well as the time he spent at General Synod in Halifax. Some of you will have encountered Suheil and Shafeeqa as we tried to expose them to a variety of ministries in the Diocese which included rural ministries, city parishes and community ministries. The Bishop and Shafeeqa also were able to enjoy some social time with our Archdeacons.

My visit to Jerusalem with two members of our Jerusalem Panel (Canon John Bridges and Ms. Margaret Bloodworth) was a powerful and Spirit-filled time for all of us. What we have discovered from each other is that there is much we each have to learn and contribute from our time together. The Jerusalem Panel is currently working on a variety of proposals that will enhance and "make real" our ministry and education together.

I will report in detail next Synod but in the meantime, I will keep you abreast of our ongoing work through Crosstalk and the Web. For now, I can say that we are trying to figure out how to create parish partnerships as well as engage in conversation and experience around those issues that address ministry to women.

Ms. Kerri Brennan has just returned from an extensive student placement in the Diocese of Jerusalem - sponsored by the National Church. She will be speaking of her experiences around the diocese so please, if you can, try to listen to what she has to share.

The Matter of St. George's Ottawa and St. Alban's Ottawa
I am pleased to be able to say that we continue the process of mediation. We are negotiating with one entity, ANiC and not each individual congregation. This seems to me to be a good thing. As you might guess, I am not at liberty at this time to share with you the status of those negotiations except to say that they continue. Before any decisions are made or actions taken in the matter of these two properties, be assured that all decisions will of course be brought to Diocesan Council for their approval. Our Canons and By-Laws require that property matters must receive approval from the Diocesan Bishop and the Diocesan Council.

Financial Development
Our plans and our hope for the future mission of this diocese over the next two years are ambitious - you already know this. Indeed, our plans and our hope for the next ten years are equally ambitious. If we are to be faithful stewards, guided by the work that has already been provided and will continue to be provided for us by Mr. Francis Christensen and the Stewardship Committee and the Financial Affairs Committee, our financial commitment to the work of ministry in our parishes, diocese and National Church must be addressed. It has been decades since the Diocese of Ottawa has embraced any form of financial campaign and the same could be said for many of our parishes. We are fortunate that parish and diocesan finances are as good as they are considering how little attention this important ministry has received historically. I know from my growing knowledge of the diocese, my own stewardship experience in both the university and the church, that we do have the capacity. Our ministries and mission is very clear and faithful to our baptismal call. It is our responsibility to find the means to continue the wonderful work that is currently unfolding in our parishes and diocese. God calls us to faithful giving and faithful financial planning. May I be so bold as to voice what the scriptures already call us to do....

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work."

It is my expectation that we will, as a Synod, put in place an appropriate financial strategy and five-year campaign that will support the ongoing mission of our beloved diocese and the hope of grace that rests in all God's people.

The Financial Development Panel has completed its work at this synod. The Panel now passes on to you, the Synod of Ottawa to decide on the matter and then put in place an appropriate financial mission plan. May I thank you in advance for your faithful attention to the question that will be placed before this Holy Body tomorrow.

A New Cathedral Canon
While all leadership in this Diocese is exemplary, our tradition does allow me, from time to time, to call from our midst certain individuals, who through faithful service or a unique ministry offering, to be recognized in a special way. Tonight, I have opportunity to name one individual who will be raised to the office of Canon in God's Church. Shortly, I will ask Dean Parker to recognize the Rev. John Wilker-Blakely, and install him in his rightful seat in our Cathedral Church as Canon of St. David.

Since our last Synod we have wished farewell to two of our clergy who have reached their retirement years. These faithful stewards of the Church include, The Rev. Barbara Maynard and The Rev. Canon Rick Marples. These individuals have served the Church well and will continue to serve the Church but only in a different venue. Thank you and may God speed in your retirement.

+As well, we pray for the repose of the souls of The Venerable Ross Moulton, the Rev. Douglas Norman and the Rt. Rev. Patrick Lee.

Close to home, I would like to thank on your behalf our Episcopal and Synod Office staff. Archdeacon Ross Moulton, thank you for your gift of presence and ministry, may your soul rest in peace. Archdeacon Paul Blunt, for stepping out of retirement to help the Episcopal Office in our particular time of need. The territorial Archdeacons for the endless hours they offer to me, and their devotion and care for the Diocese. Archdeacon Sally Gadd, also stepped out of her retirement to give of her wisdom especially toward furthering our ministry in Quebec. And Archdeacon David Selzer, thank you for agreeing to join our Episcopal staff. Already, and in such sort time, I have come to rely upon your gentle and wise presence. Dean Shane Parker continues to provide the Episcopal office with wise counsel and untiring support. Jude Green, without whom my day would never start or conclude, thank you. Michael Herbert and Dr. Bill Prentice, continue to provide our diocese with faithful leadership, care and vision. Bill Gilbert, Sandra McDonald, and Beverly Skelton in finance, and Jane Scanlon in Stewardship, thank you for your careful work. Dr. Glenn Lockwood and his army of volunteers continue to keep our archives in good order and accessible. May I also thank Lisa Chisholm-Smith, Andrew Stephens-Rennie and Leslie Worden whose imagination and love for church continue to serve our parishes and diocesan programmes. Art Babych and Brian Sarjeant continue to ably ensure that our ministries are made known to the wider community. And thanks to Susan Lewis for her dedicated work in communications this last year. Neil Gorman, Wendy FitzPatrick and Pat and Trudy Hammond at Temple Pastures carefully support all these ministries and work. As well, may I extend our gratitude to the Directors of our Community Ministries, Mary Martha Hale, Sue Garvey, Pat Connolly, Janet McInnes and their staff. And, special thanks to Joyce Couvrette without whom this synod would not be happening. Finally, may I thank our new committee chairs. Each has patiently ushered in our new governance structure with patience and dare I say forbearance. Thank you Jim Carruthers, the Rev. Mark Whittall, Dr. Linda Privitera, the Rev. Cathy McCaig, Linda Morrison and Garry Smith.

Hundreds upon hundreds of wonderful Christians, in the name of our Lord are giving of their time and talent toward God's mission - far, far too many to name, unfortunately. You know who you are and I thank you in the name of our diocese. Your generous spirit and deep faith have contributed toward the faith and well being of so many.

Finally, but by no means least, my deep gratitude to our secretaries to Synod, Canon Judy Darling and the Rev. Jessica Worden-Bolling and as well, Rob Hamilton and the Synod Planning Work Group.

My friends, I said it always and I say it again; our faith while sometimes troubling is truly the source of all light and joy. We gather these days in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I implore you all to welcome these holy days of deliberation, sacred conversation and the exercise of our baptism.

Thank you and may God bless you and may God bless our Synod.

♰ John: Ottawa


APPENDIX #1

Discernment on Sexuality
General Synod 2010

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Halifax, Nova Scotia in June of 2010. Together we entered into intentional conversations in order to hear where our Church is at this time in its life in relation to the matter of blessing of same gender unions. Our conversations were marked by grace, honesty and generosity of spirit towards one another. There was robust participation in the conversations. In dialogue we shared our passion for the mission of God in the world and our thoughts, feelings and convictions. We were attentive to each others' perspectives, experiences and stories and we shared a commitment to continued theological reflection and scriptural study as a foundation to our ongoing dialogue and discernment.


We engaged these conversations within the particularity of our Canadian context - a country that is diverse and many cultured. Canadians have been learning how to dialogue across their diversities over the course of our national life. We do so with deeply held commitments to transparency and openness, an approach that is not without risk and that we affirm as a great gift. Often, in processes of discernment, the task is to see our way through a paradox.

Our conversations affirmed the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in our churches, aboriginal voices in our midst, and the wide range of perspectives on the issue of same gender blessings across all dioceses. Our dialogue has been a positive and helpful step in our discernment. At this time, however, we are not prepared to make a legislative decision. Above, in and through all of this, and despite all our differences we are passionately committed to walking together, protecting our common life.


We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts. We accept the continuing commitment to develop generous pastoral responses. We recognize that these different approaches raise difficulties and challenges. When one acts there are implications for all. There can be no imposition of a decision or action, but rather we are challenged to live together sharing in the mission of Christ entrusted to us, accepting that different local contexts call at times for different local discernment, decision and action.


We are in a time of ongoing discernment which requires mutual accountability through continuing dialogue, diocese to diocese and across the wider church. It also requires continued theological and scriptural study and dialogue on the wide range of matters relating to human sexuality.

For many members of General Synod there is deep sadness that, at this time, there is no common mind. We acknowledge the pain that our diversity in this matter causes. We are deeply aware of the cost to people whose lives are implicated in the consequences of an ongoing discernment process. This is not just an 'issue' but is about people's daily lives and deeply held faith commitments. For some, even this statement represents a risk. For some the statement does not go nearly far enough.

In the transparency and openness we have experienced with one another, we have risked vulnerability but it is in such places that we grow closer in the body of Christ and behold each other as gift. Abiding with each other, and with God we are sustained through struggle, patient listening, and speaking from the mind and heart together. We have experienced these conversations as a gift for us here at Synod and hope that they will be a further gift to the Anglican Church of Canada and to the wider Church.

 

1 Thomas G. Long, Preaching From Memory to Hope, Westminster John Knox Press, 2009,
 page 123-124

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