Although much of Synod was seen under the dark media cloud of the defeat of the Marriage Canon amendment, so much good work was done as well. I left with a sense of hope for the future, and I believe that the Spirit of God was working to make a much better outcome than any of us could have hoped for.
The Indigenous Self-Determination rationale was very well thought out, well presented, and well received. Successfully being voted in, this now means that conversations will begin within the Indigenous community to determine the structures, polity, and procedures for a self-governing Indigenous church, one that reflects the practices of an Indigenous way of life. Archbishop Mark McDonald is now the spiritual head for all Indigenous expressions of the Anglican Church in Canada. This very historic moment represented a move towards reconciliation in our church. Archbishop Fred anointed Archbishop Mark and presented him with a metropolitical cross, a symbol of his authority and responsibility. The Primate also made an apology for the “spiritual harm” done to Indigenous Peoples and for denying their own spirituality.
Over the past three years, the Council of General Synod has been working on a document that would help the Synod learn how to “live well” with each other after the vote on the Marriage Canon. The group spoke to all dioceses, listened to the concerns, paid attention to community needs, and carefully crafted a document called, “A Word to the Church,” which set out for us a way to move forward. This document affirmed that there are a variety of understandings around marriage; it affirmed that our existing canon does not prohibit same-sex marriage; it affirmed difference; it affirmed a commitment to stand together regardless of the outcome. This document was accepted wholeheartedly, and praise for the working group was extended.
It came as a shock to many that the canon failed in the Order of Bishops. There were many stunned faces in the room. Tears, anger, and disappointment closed our evening. However, after some time, some clarification, and a greater understanding of the implications, a hopeful turn shifted in the Synod. The document, “A Word to the Church” was sufficient to allow a local option clause to be adopted by any diocese who wanted to marry same-sex couples, effective immediately. This realization took a little while to settle in, and during that time, there was harmful media activity suggesting that the Anglican Church had turned its back on the LGBTQ2 community. This is certainly not the case. There was a sense of frustration that the Church is not of one mind, however, love, acceptance, and care was shown in all manner of ways to the wider community.
The Faith, Worship, and Ministry working group have been writing “collects” for the three-year lectionary that coincide with the readings of the day. That was a huge undertaking, and now those resources have been authorized for use. They will be available to purchase soon.
I was most impressed with the behaviour and conduct of our young people at Synod. Each diocese had the opportunity to send a youth delegate, aged between 16 and 25. Those who were there conducted themselves with a maturity that some of the older delegates did not display. They passionately brought to the floor of Synod a motion for the Anglican Church to take seriously the Climate Change emergency that is facing our planet. Their motion was supported by many Indigenous delegates, as they spoke about the effects that CO2 emissions are having on the reserves, noting that the resulting change in climate is also affecting the animal population in the North as well as the Indigenous way of life.
Finally, we said our farewell to Primate Fred Hiltz, and we welcomed Linda Nicholls as our new Primate and head of the Church of Canada in a beautiful and moving service.
The whole week was full, and we worked very hard, but it was emotionally exhausting too. It certainly has been a great experience and, as tough as it was, one I would love to do again. – Helen Kennedy, incumbent at St. George’s, Transcona
Photos by Anglican Church of Canada / Milos Tosic.