REPORT ON   41st GENERAL  SYNOD 2016. ( July 7th –July 13th 2016.)

                                                                  TORONTO, CANADA

General Synod 2016 was  creative blessed energy for the soul, spiritually uplifting, incorporating Indigenous Liturgy and  updating us on the discipleship and work in the Anglican diaspora. It was more than just the resolution on same sex marriage.

The Primate was outstanding, with  his sermons throughout, during our Eucharist services on theme `We are witnesses`` interspersed with little known aspects of our splendid traditional liturgy, and  together with the rich and dynamic liturgy  of our Indigenous peoples lead by Bishop Mark Mc Donald, both unknown to many  made this a signature Synod.  For example on the opening Eucharist Primate Fred walked around sprinkling the crowd with holy water in the rite of Blessing known as asperges.  The Asperges (sprinkling of the people with Holy Water) is performed before the Parish Mass each Sunday in some Anglo- catholic churches.

Rupert’s Land  delegates were : Bishop Don Phillips, Dean Paul Johnson, Tannis Webster, Vincent Solomon Urban Indigenous Ministry Developer, Chaplain Allison Chubb, Scott Blaikie, Matthew Terlinski and myself June m. James.

The evening of July 6th prior to the opening of Synod, visited with former students from my all  girls Anglican High School Bishop Anstey named after former Anglican Bishop of the Caribbean. As an aside, among the group  was  Deacon  Taylor in Ontario and another Canon Noreen Duncan is the liaison from the Episcopal church in the USA to the Anglican church in Canada.

I took the opportunity to visit the fifteen  booths in the trade and information corridors on day before and the following  morning before the official opening of Synod. The work of PWDRF continues to be astounding. Live streaming was available in these areas in case you  had to exit the  conference Hall.

The format of the day`s proceedings was that of morning started with prayers and gospel surrounding  the Theme “You are my witnesses” which was followed by discussion groups, called neighbourhood groups with representatives from different diocesan  jurisdictions.

On the tables were canvas cloths beautifully hand painted (one will be sent to each diocese)   which was the focal point of the dialogue, We were asked to name someone who had a big impact on your life  This continued for the three days and  I found I had listed my parents and husband.

There were also  diocesan groups meetings usually in the afternoons.

Other formal items on the agenda included elections of the Prolocutor, Deputy prolocutor and the Council of Synod.

In afternoons we heard various leaders outside Canada. The Bishop of Cuba, Bishop Griselda  Delgado Del Carpio told us that her grandmother  stated  her even if there was just the two of them attending church at a time when open religious life was frowned upon in Cuba then just the two of them would go. The Cuban church continues to grow focussing on mission, community projects; agriculture (planting, food security) education, housing, The Church in Canada was the conduit when the USA placed the Cuban embargo there are now (6000 Anglicans and 24 priests) providing financial and spiritual support. These  programs empower people to change their lives, they also  make the church very visible.                          

Michel Curry Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA a powerful orator  slated to speak when another  round of gun violence had occurred in Baton Rouge and in Minneapolis, had to shorten his presentation . Citing Spiritual malady , he added and I quote ``we in the USA are struggling now with how we can learn to become a country and culture where human life is sacred. Enough is enough``

Archbishop Josiah Idowu- Fearon  former Bishop of Kaduma in the church of Nigeria, now Secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council added ever since the first Lambeth conference in 1867 Canada has played and important and continues with  our current 77Million members. He noted that the struggle for legal, spiritual and physical safety of gay and lesbian community  continues in Africa, he remarked attitudes must change time and space are required.

The Bishop of Brazil, Francisco de Assis Da Silva commented about the effect on Brazilians with the fall in oil prices and effects on their  economy.      

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The number of those classified as poor had increased, middle class numbers decreased, and the decision to carry on  with the  Rio 2016 Olympics which took significant funds from government coffers was not welcomed by  those in the favelas. I was honored  to hold the chalice  at the station where the Bishop gave communion.

In the afternoons either neighbourhood or your own diocesan dealt with certain questions around same sex marriage. I was fortunate in that each group, members  showed respect for each other and their opinions.

On Sunday July 11th was the Indigenous day of worship and liturgy. It was  simply  amazing filled with the presence of the Creator Holy Spirit, the drumming (also an African tradition) at the conclusion gifts of a miniature prayer shawl were distributed. I received two and gave one to Linda.

For a vote to be passed all three orders, that of Bishops, Clergy and Laity must pass by 66% each. We were all given clickers which identified whether you voted and how you voted.( Final vote 68.42,66.67,71.96 respectively)

After the first count  because it was a surprise  to some, the recorded vote was requested and identified the next day that a clergy member had been incorrectly placed in the laity category. Of course by then the news media had the original vote. Overall  there was little happiness in either camp. There were nuances of disrespect which The Archbishop was quick to deal with and ask for Christian behaviour. First vote  rejected the resolution- the pastoral implication meant that those of the LGBTQ2S were disappointed and saddened.The synod sat in silence.

After recount  the next morning the pastoral implication was that a number of other members were saddened. Synod again sat in silence. There were no winners in this debate. This was only first reading, the resolution to marriage canon has to pass second reading in Vancouver. Until then nothing has changed.

I would like to conclude with the words of the Primate who prayed that church not be divided but strive for unity of the spirit in the bond of peace enunciated by Paul. “We need the as a church to work hard in maintaining our communion in Christ for in his reconciling love is our hope and life.”

Thanks for your attention to this journey……………June….June  M. James, Rector’s warden