The Primate reported that the House of Bishops met in special session on January 31 and February 1 to discuss Plan of Union. At the conclusion of this meeting a Statement of Counsel was drafted that was the consensus of the House and adopted by the House.
Archbishop Scott read this Statement to the Council:
"The House of Bishops, having met to give further consideration to questions of Christian unity and in particular to Plan of Union, is led to this Statement of Counsel.
We are completely at one in affirming our primary and deep commitment to the unity of the Body of Christ. We reaffirm our intention to pursue this unity with all Christian people, and to continue with the United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) our common search for a true and lasting union.
We find ourselves agreed, too, that Plan of Union in its present form is unacceptable; most of us doubt that there is serious hope for a successful outcome to a further revision process. We base this conclusion in part on our perception that our churches have not yet reached a common mind on Faith and Order. We think also that the climate of feeling, at least in our own constituency, seems at the present time less favourable to organic union and more disposed towards other expressions of unity.
As a House we are increasingly aware of, and commit ourselves to, exploring such other approaches to unity and sense that we are supported in this by the people of our Church. We pledge ourselves to give leadership in the understanding and practice of the Lund Principle - 'That we should do nothing separately that we can do together'; in particular we stress new opportunities to share in nurturing and caring for people in the peculiar pressures and hurts of our times.
We acknowledge our corporate responsibility to work further and still more seriously at the great questions of Faith and Order; we discern the particular contribution that is required of us in a renewed and deeper understanding of episcopacy in the life of the Church.
We have not been able to make this statement without prayer and study and self-examination; we offer if to the Church with the continuing prayer that it may serve her unity."
Questions were requested from the floor and the Primate explained that a statement from the House was made in 11971 which was shared only with the Executives of the three churches. It was agreed by the Bishops present that this statement of the House of Bishops could not be released in conjunction with a statement of the National Executive Council after the NEC had completed its meeting. Caution was expressed that Bishops that have returned home could be put in a very embarassing position as they understood that this statement would be released directly after its presentation to the National Executive Council.
Following the presentation of the Statement of Counsel there was considerable discussion.
That this National Executive Council request that when the Statement of the House of Bishops is released at noon today that a statement be given to the Press that the National Executive Council, having received the Statement of the House of Bishops, will be studying and debating the content of that Statement and that the National Executive Council will give to the Press at the conclusion of its meetings, its decisions on this matter.
The above resolution was discussed at some length.
Moved by Goodman, seconded by Asbil,
That this motion be entertained for action. CARRIED
It was AGREED that the Council meet as a "Committee of the Whole."
The Primate brought into focus the discussions of the previous day, reminding the Council that it must deal with Plan of Union, that it was "our" document. Many items that are still under discussion in our Church have already been decided and put into effect in the other Churches. Decisions must be made, and these may have implications in a variety of ways:
- for our own Church
- with the United Church and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada
- our response to the media and the world outside.
The Council must project what the implications are and must sort out where they are going and make the implications creative rather than destructive.
The Primate suggested some important areas to consider:
- To explain as clearly as possible why our decision was made.
- To indicate directions in which we can still work together.
- To see if the other two churches can help us.
- To try to develop a deeper level of trust throughout all the churches.
On the recommendation of Bishop Somerville and Bishop Goodman it was AGREED to delegate three Council members to meet with the Executive of the General Council of the United Church of Canada to interpret the position of the National Executive Council. Bishop Frame, the Prolocutor and Archdeacon Morden were appointed.
Doug Hodgkinson outlined the planning for the day's three sessions. He suggested that the Primate chair a "meeting of the whole" to discuss the input to date, so that the National Executive Council could address itself to the recommendations of the Committee on Union and Joint Mission.
It was AGREED that representatives from the various Standing Committees be allowed to express the opinions of their respective Committees.
Clarification was asked re the Statement of the House of Bishops - are they or are they not in favour of organic union? It was indicated that the Statement of the House of Bishops is not a negative vote against organic union, but that Plan of Union as laid down is unacceptable, and that the House doubted if Union could be achieved by the "Plan" process.
It was noted that a few bishops did feel that further revisions could possibly lead to union and a suggestion was made that we enter into full communion with the United Church and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, which would be a step in the direction of organic union.
Archdeacon Morden, who was a member of the General Commission and its Executive presented a statement to the Council in which he said that it was with real sadness that he had come to a point of view about union negotiations which was much the same as that expressed in the House of Bishops Statement. He spoke about the general difference [sic i.e. indifference] and apathy toward the Plan and the process. He made reference to a change in the ecumenical climate and of other possibilities before the Church which were not available in 1943 or even 1965 (ie. the procedure being followed internationally by the Anglican/Roman Catholic Commission). He considered that any revision process would further inhibit the churches in being able to work together. He recommended that the Church seek a mandate from the people and if they said "yes" to the goal of organic union that it be moved forward by stages beginning with an agreed statement on Faith and Order which would "help create an ethos of understanding" and then move on to accomplish "a complete mutual recognition of ministries, and then, in due course, to organizational and constitutional issues."
It was stated that the House of Bishops did not meet with the initial idea of preparing a statement but as they studied Plan of Union it eventually came about. The Bishops could have left the Plan to go to a vote at the next General Synod but it then would possibly be defeated, and it would be difficult to propose an alternative. The Statement assumes that other avenues are still open. Something must be agreed upon that can actually be used - not just something that is to be read.
The Primate reminded the Council that all three Church Executives have been asked to re-affirm their commitment to ongoing negotiations on church union, not just the Anglican Church of Canada.
At this point it was recommended that at least one representative from the National Executive Council go to the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada. Bishop F. Nock and Admiral H. Rayner agreed to represent the Council.
The Primate requested some informal testing on what had been discussed, and it was AGREED that in its present form Plan of Union is not acceptable; but it was also AGREED that the search for a true and lasting union with the United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada is a primary goal.
Moved by Shepherd, seconded by Carter,
That the Council move out of a Committee of the Whole to accept a motion. CARRIED
That the National Executive Council affirms that the search for a true and lasting union with the United Church of Canada and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada is a primary goal.
The Prolocutor took the Chair and requested Mr. H. Chambers, with the assistance of Archdeacon Hobson and Mr. R.W. Porter to present the report of the Pension Committee.
Mr. Chambers said that there were three items outstanding from the National Executive Council meeting in November, 1974:
- The Proposed Canon VIII
- The Proposed Pension Regulations
- The Pension Office report on Retirement Incomes
Mr. Chambers reported that these items had been considered by the Pension Committee.
That this National Executive Council approve, subject to ratification by General Synod, Canon VIII as amended and instructs the General Secretary to arrange for this Canon to be presented to the General Synod for ratification in June. CARRIED
It was noted at this time that a communication has been received from the Executive of the United Church to say that they were very pleased to have the three delegates from this Council attend their meeting, and also a similar message had been received from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada.
The Primate reviewed what had happened during the previous session. The Council was reminded of the "notice of motion" that had been made by Dean Carter, however, it was agreed that before this motion was considered the meaning of the word "revision" be discussed so that a decision could be arrived at vis-a-vis the recommendation from CUJM concerning revision of the Plan and postponment of the time schedule for two years. The National Executive Council AGREED to meet as a Committee of the Whole.
It was suggested that the churches had pushed too hard at the Plan and not enough on "Faith and Order." The present Plan could be revised but should be done step-by-step.
One suggestion was made that the "Plan of Union" should be set aside and "Principles of Union" be studied again. The agreements that were made on the Principles of Union were not carried over into the Plan, and possibly a new Plan should be developed. It was pointed out, however, that anything suggested at this stage will have to go to the other churches for negotiation.
Moved by Shepherd, seconded by Rayner,
That the Committee go out of Committee of the Whole. CARRIED
That this National Executive Council re-affirm its commitment to ongoing negotiations on church union amongst the Anglican Church of Canada, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada and the United Church of Canada. CARRIED Unanimously
It was AGREED that a press release be made on this vote as soon as possible.
This report was presented by Dean R. Lundy, Chairman of the Board. Mr. Lundy placed before the Council the serious financial difficulties facing the Canadian Churchman due mainly to printing and distribution costs. This inflationary factor would increase the cost of each issue by $2,856. The Board of Trustees had looked at three alternatives:
1) To seek additional funds
2) To eliminate one complete issue
3) To cut the size of a number of issues throughout the year.
In view of the fact that 1975 marks the 100th anniversary of the paper and is a General Synod year, and because of the significant role that the Churchman plays in articulating such programs as the Appeal for the North and Overseas and PWRDF, additional funds were requested from the National Executive Council.