Ottawa Synod 2015: Highlights

Bishop's Charge to Synod

Saying that this Diocese is blessed with significant ministries, able ministers and priests, abundant volunteers and committed parishes, Bishop John Chapman opened the 134th session of Synod. He recalled Jesus' words to the invalid-"Pick up your mat and walk"-and challenged the Diocese of Ottawa to answer the call to new life, alert and on its feet. Do not sit and wait for a purposeful and prayerful whole to emerge in the Diocese before making changes and doing new things, said Bishop Chapman. Focus now, right away, on the little pieces, those small holy moments that make the Diocese buzz with relevance, hope and energy.

At the Synod Eucharist, Bishop John asked Dean Shane Parker to install the Rev. Rhondda MacKay to the Canon of St. Andrew, the Rev. Jim Roberts to the Canon of St. George, and Ms. Monica Patten to become a Lay Canon of the Diocese. Stephanie Boyd and Kim Chadsey were thanked by Bishop John in their new roles as Communications Officer and Lay Secretary, respectively.

Interfaith Greeting: Rabbi Emeritus Steven Garten greeted Synod. He asked us to consider gathering together despite differences in religious practice, to transform the actual into something holy that brings us together.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa: Guest speaker Canon Mukasa, Africa Relations Coordinator, Global Relations, for the Anglican Church of Canada and Africa Relations Officer for the Episcopal Church, gave addresses on "Custodians of the Faith in Secular Society." He highlighted increasing levels of positive dialogue facilitated through prayerful communication between African and North American churches, despite theological differences.

Refugee Working Group: Don Smith, Chair, spoke of the current global refugee crisis. As a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Diocese is putting in place many new arrangements to respond to the crisis and to the interest of many to be involved. Sixteen of our parishes have now expressed interest in sponsoring refugees.

Companion Diocese of Jerusalem: Catherine Chapman and the Ven. John Bridges announced that the women's conference scheduled for November has been postponed due to current tensions in Israel. The thirty diocesan delegates are still looking forward to the event in the future.

Arnprior Deanery Panel: The Ven. Mary Ellen Berry and the Rev. Karen Coxon presented a history of the Deanery rising out of a rural, itinerant ministry, to the present day network of churches embracing a ministry of hospitality, music and tradition. Members spoke about a church that accepts all people, and is a place of prayer and peace.

Property and Finance: Tony Maxwell, Chair of the Investment Subcommittee, spoke of the good performance this past year of the Consolidated Trust Fund, totalling $31.8 million, and highlighted the need of our Diocese to consider more investments with a socially conscious focus (ethical, environmental, and social).

Parish Ministry Committee: Congregational Resource Day will be held on May 7 of next year and will feature the theme "Embracing Hospitality: Open Hearts, Open Doors." Youth and stewardship events are also planned, with strong support for both.

Diocesan Budget 2016: Peter Martin, Chair of the P&F Committee, spoke of seven ministry categories, and related expenses and revenues for each. The Parish Fair Share Task Force is working to simplify calculations and develop policies to deal with issues such as bequests, financial anomalies and parish amalgamations. The "Anchor Model" was implemented to provide smaller parishes with priestly services. With work on the priorities of the Embracing God's Future Roadmap still currently unfolding, Synod approved a one-year budget for 2016, after which the Diocese will revert back to a three-year budget.

Provincial Synod: Members from the seven dioceses that comprise the Eccesiastical Province of Ontario gathered at St. Paul's, Bloor St., in Toronto from October 14-16 under the theme "The Church in the Public Square." Archbishop Colin Johnson was re-elected Metropolitan of Ontario. Also elected were Laura Walton as Prolocutor, Garry Barker as Lay Secretary, the Rev. Canon Rob Towler as Clerical Secretary, and Jean Bédard as Chancellor. Funding was approved to produce videos to promote Anglican theological institutions in Ontario. Provincial Synod next meets in Ottawa in 2018.

Anglican Foundation of Canada: The Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, Executive Director of the AFC, spoke about funding available to parishes for various proposals, including church renovations, accessibility issues, outreach projects and innovative ministry. Synod approved a motion to encourage parishes to enrol as members of the Foundation. The Diocese may submit three proposals each year, which are approved through Diocesan Council.

Future Financial Development: Synod voted to table for discussion until next Synod a proposal before it to approve the establishment of an annual appeal.

Reconciliation and Healing with Indigenous Peoples: Synod endorsed the Response of the Churches to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the ongoing work of General Synod, including the Primate's Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice. Synod also directed Council to further the work of reconciliation and healing in partnership with Indigenous peoples through building and maintaining of respectful relationships, diocesan education, and action.

Community Ministry Committee: Sue Garvey, Chair of the Homelessness and Affordable Housing Task Force, reported on the work of this CMC task force, whose purpose is to make recommendations for achievable goals in the area of homelessness and affordable housing, as raised at Synod 2014 when it endorsed the 2013 Joint Assembly resolution on the subject.

Diocesan Council: Synod approved the following slate of nominees for Council: Tim Kehoe will serve a three-year term, and the Rev. Kerri Brennan, the Rev. Beth Bretzlaff and Arlene Armstrong will all begin second three-year terms.

Acclaimed Nominees: For Trinity College Corporation - The Rev. Canon David Clunie, the Rev. Canon Roger Young, David Jeanes and Jane Waterston. For the Advisory Panel on Termination of Clerical Appointments - The Rev. Canon Catherine Ascah, the Rev. Canon Pat Johnston and John McBride.

Divestment of Fossil Fuel Holdings: Synod approved the divestment of diocesan holdings in fossil fuel extraction companies, and approved a memorial to General Synod regarding its holdings in the same area.

Embracing God's Future: Synod approved an action plan related to Priority 1 (Buildings and the shape of parish ministry); an action plan concerning Priority 2 (Engagement with the world); and a charter for a Parish Ministry Institute connected to Priority 3 (Lifelong formation).

Government Relations: The Rev. Laurette Glasgow, Special Advisor for Government Relations, spoke of the Anglican Church's election guide Compassion, Justice, and Reason: An Anglican Approach to Election 2015. This non-partisan resource provided briefs on a variety of issues such as homelessness, child poverty, refugees, and reconciliation.

Cathedral Hill Development: David Morgan, Interim Chair of the Cathedral Hill Foundation, spoke of the new Great Hall of the Cathedral, Archives space, and future plans to refurbish the crypt space. The newly occupied condominium is located between Roper House and the Cathedral. The 12-14 storey commercial tower (Phase Two) to be built to the east of the Cathedral is still planned, pending sufficient pre-sales to begin construction in the spring of 2016.

Climate Change: Synod directed Diocesan Council to chart a course for complete decarbonisation of all the buildings of the Diocese that will involve measurable benchmarks and a defined set of actions.

Synod directed Diocesan Council to provide education on climate change and fossil fuel divestment at the personal, parish, and diocesan levels.

Refugee Work: Synod endorsed the Call the Prayer and Action on Syrian refugees issued by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada.

Synod directed Diocesan Council to develop processes to allow community organisations and individuals to sponsor refugees privately, and to pursue funding to undertake operations.

General Synod Members Approved: Clergy - The Rev. Beth Bretzlaff, the Ven. David Selzer, the Rev. Monique Stone, the Rev. Mark Whittall, alternate: the Rev. John Wilker-Blakley. Laity - Kim Chadsey, Ron Chaplin, Audrey Laurence, John McBride, alternate: Stephen Giles.

By Meg Stewart

Download a copy of the Synod 2015 Highlights (.pdf)

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