That the House of Bishops move in to an in camera session with the Primate's Principal Secretary, Primate's Executive Assistant, the Director of Communication and Information Resources, the Directory of Faith, Worship and Ministry and Bishop Sitembele. CARRIED HB Res. 08-10-07
Message to the Church
Bishop Phillips distributed a draft "Letter to the Church from the House of Bishops" to be issued following the meeting. He asked for comments. He said that the drafting group's recommendation was that the letter be put on the national website. A discussion followed which concluded with the bishops agreeing to send the report to the Church.
A Letter To The Church, From the House of Bishops
October 30, 2007 -- London, Ont.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
For our first full meeting since last summer's General Synod, we were hosted by the Diocese of Huron, currently celebrating its sesquicentennial and we attended a special Sunday service at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont. at which it appeared the entire Anglican diocese turned out to mark the occasion. The theme of the celebration was 'Years of Light and life'. Light, life and fellowship were the theme of the sermon preached by our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz.
Several segments of our gathering were in the company of our brother and sister bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and in furtherance of the Waterloo Declaration on Full Communion, we commended for occasional use the new Evangelical Lutheran Worship resource in Anglican churches, where authorized by the local bishop.
This meeting of the House of Bishops was also a House and Spouse gathering. Once every triennium we come together with our spouses in this way to talk about issues relating to Episcopal ministry that touch in a special way our lives with our families. One particularly useful session of the House and Spouse gathering was a facilitated discussion on Wellness in the Episcopal Household.
Much of our gathering as a House was spent describing and reflecting on the different journeys different ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses have travelled since General Synod. We heard reports from several bishops who spoke of the effects of General Synod's resolutions on same-sex blessings and these reflections ranged from parts of the country where this issue is paramount in the life of the church to others areas where it is only a very small part of the church's life or scarcely considered at all. We heard from the bishops of Ottawa and Montreal about the adoption of motions by their respective synods that call upon them to authorize the blessing of civil same-sex marriages, and both bishops described the debate around these motions as courteous and respectful of divergent views. We had a discussion about the April 2007 Statement from the House of Bishops to Members of General Synod and heard from several bishops about how the Statement is being understood. It was agreed that the statement continues to have the same status as it did originally.
We were reminded by our Primate that contrary to impressions created by much of the Canadian media that covered General Synod, the gathering was anything but a one-issue synod. Motions adopted in support of ministry in the North, conversations around issues of governance and the primacy, support for the Companion Dioceses program, support for the Millennium Development Goals, the day spent with our Lutheran brothers and sisters, the success of the publication of the Anglican Journal Daily, were all evidence of things that bring us together and manifestations of the General Synod theme Draw the Circle Wide – Draw it wider still, Archbishop Hiltz reminded us. "It's time," the Primate said, "for this church of ours to celebrate the things that are holding us together and that continue to hold the Communion together."
In regular business we dealt with a number of issues which we feel are of interest to the church:
We heard a detailed report on the status of the implementation of the renegotiated Residential Schools Agreement and on the church's progress in the next stage of this healing journey, as well as the establishment by the federal government of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There was a presentation and discussion of the many aspects of the ongoing work of healing and reconciliation in our dioceses and at the national level.
We spent time discussing a response to the Anglican Communion's Joint Standing Committee report dealing with the responses of The Episcopal Church to the requests made of that church by the Windsor Report and the Primates' Meeting earlier this year. Our discussions touched on things to affirm in the report, things that alarm us, and things that give us hope. The Council of General Synod, when it meets in a few weeks, will have a similar discussion. The Primate will then respond to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
We discussed communications and the presence of the media at our meetings, striving to achieve a balance between the transparency and accountability to the wider church which is fostered by allowing media to cover our proceedings, with the necessity of providing a safe space in which bishops may speak openly among themselves about the challenges of their ministry. This is a discussion to which we will return.
Lastly, we bade farewell to three members of the House: Bishops Ralph Spence of Niagara, Michael Bedford-Jones of Toronto and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton.
We ended our time together with a Eucharist celebrated with our brother and sister bishops from ELCIC.
That Bishop Burton, Archbishop Morgan and Bishop Wallace of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land, be nominated for the House of Bishops' Agenda Committee for the 2001-2004 triennium. CARRIED Res. # HB 08-04-01
Canon Light announced that the co-chairs of the House and Spouse Agenda Committee are Bishop Ralph Spence and Mrs. A.J. Finlay and that the committee had investigated possible meeting places. He said that the Governor General and Mr. John Ralston Saul had agreed to attend the meeting which is scheduled for April 26 - May 1, 2001. There was some discussion about whether or not planning for the House and Spouse meeting should continue. The general consensus was that it should.
That the Agenda Committee of the bishops' and spouses' meeting continue to make plans for this event, but pay minimum deposits in the event that unfolding circumstances might prevent it taking place in the accustomed manner." CARRIED Res.# HB-05-5-00
Archbishop Peers began the session on the House of Bishops' List by speaking about two principles. They were, the breadth of information as directed in the canons and then, the internal standard within the House.
The Primate reminded the bishops that one of the standards of the House is that its members do not talk about individuals (on the House of Bishops' List) by name in an open session.
The Primate referred to the canons on licensing and discipline Canon 17, Canon 18 (relinquishment), and Canon 19 as an introduction to the conversation about the House of Bishops' List. He pointed out that the information sent to various people differs in the canons. For example in Canon 17, bishops, metropolitans and the primate are informed. However when the issue is suspension then there is obligation only within the diocese, and the bishops and the clergy are informed. The focus of the discussion at the meeting of the House of Bishops was on relinquishment and abandonment, for which the obligation is to inform only the bishops.
The Primate's Principal Secretary spoke of an incident which occurred when the editor of the 'Anglican Journal' asked to see the House of Bishops' List. He asked "who should have access to the list" ? The canons state that the list should be kept by the Primate's office, and so he said his question was about the availability of information beyond what is canonically required.
During the discussion, which followed, it was suggested that the role of "priest", is a public position and that all have the right to know. The manner for informing should be by circulating information of who is active. Questions about specific people should be referred to the bishop. To do otherwise (listing those who are relinquished) might be viewed as undermining an individual's reputation in the community.
Bishop Bedford-Jones requested time on a future agenda to discuss the national standards about letters bene decessit.
The House reviewed the House of Bishops' List. Canon Light reminded the House that being put on the list was quite different from having anything to do with relinquishment and abandonment. Names are put onto the list by Letters of Bene Decessit to the Primate. He reminded the bishops that (at their meeting in the fall 1999) the Primate had agreed to send a letter to those on the House of Bishops' List. A draft of that letter was distributed to the members. Canon Light said that along with the letter there would be a form asking for information (correct address, next steps - preferred action to be taken...etc.). Canon Light requested that the bishops assist him in getting correct addresses and determining the status of those people currently on the House of Bishops' List.
"That the House ask the Primate in consultation with the Chancellor of General Synod, to propose recommendations for a common standard among dioceses with respect to licensing and transfer of clergy in the Anglican Church of Canada, including a clarification of the implications of such a common standard for legal liabilities". CARRIED Res.#HB-08-05-00
Bishop Mason requested that copies of the Primate's letter mailed to those on the House of Bishops' List, be sent also to the bishop of canonical residence, as well as the bishop of the area in which the individual lives. The primate agreed to do so.
There was some discussion about future meeting dates. A document listing the House of Bishops' meeting dates from the spring of 2004 to the spring of 2007 was distributed.
Archbishop Crawley shared his feeling that the spring meeting in 2004 might be an appropriate time to honour Archbishop Peers on the occasion of his retirement as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. He asked whether that meeting should include the bishops and their spouses. Archbishop Crawley reminded the bishops that the spring 2004 meeting would also be the time for nominations of primatial candidates.
That the meeting in the spring 2004 be the House & Spouse meeting. CARRIED Res. #HB-03-04-04
Bishop Howe said that the Diocese of Huron would be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2007. He served notice that the diocese would be extending an invitation to the House of Bishops to hold one of its meetings within the diocese during 2007.
Bishop Matthews distributed and read out the writing group's most recent draft of the bishops' pastoral statement, "A message to the Anglican Church of Canada" on the topic of blessing same sex unions. Questions and comments from the floor were invited. Discussion followed. The bishops had run out of meeting time and so it was agreed that the document should continue to be worked on. Generally it was agreed that it was preferable to offer a pastoral statement, but not appropriate to deliver a canonical response.
We entrust completion of the House of Bishops' document "A Message to the Anglican Church of Canada" to its authors and that it be forwarded to the House of Bishops for their final input. CARRIED HB Res. 04-04-07
[Niagara Falls, Ont.] Apr, 20, 2007 -- To Canadian Anglicans, from the House of Bishops
Brothers and sisters in Christ
The House of Bishops met at Mount Carmel retreat center in Niagara Falls from Tuesday April 17 to Friday April 20. We write this letter to the Canadian Church so that Anglicans will know what we did and how the meeting was for us. As has been our custom for the last while, we devoted the first part of our days together to prayer and Bible study.
This, our last meeting of the triennium was an appropriate time for us to be blessed by a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. His Grace was with us for less than 24 hours, but his presence was a significant and valued gift. He lead us in prayer and conducted a retreat on the theme of apostolic ministry during which he delivered a number of reflections that gave us profound insights into our ministries and how we do them. We found the Archbishop of Canterbury’s humility, wisdom and humour filling both intellectually and spiritually. During breaks in the day, Dr. Williams met with the bishops of all four ecclesiastical provinces. His time with us was spirit-filled and especially important to us on the eve of a General Synod where many important decisions will be made and where a new Primate will be elected and installed. His reflections set the tone for our meeting.
We also heard from several other people whose presence and ministries enrich us.
Bishop Mark MacDonald joined us for the first time since his appointment earlier this year as National Indigenous Bishop and he spoke stirringly about a life spent in ministry with indigenous peoples. He spoke to us of how and where native people see God. He gave us a vision of a new partnership with indigenous people. He told us that the kind of renewed church that can emerge from this partnership will be very different, though exactly what it will look like we cannot yet know. Bishop MacDonald expressed a strong commitment to work with us towards that future.
Bishop Peter Coffin, who will soon retire as Bishop of Ottawa but who remains with us as Bishop Ordinary to the Armed Forces, spoke to us of spending Easter with Canadian troops in Afghanistan, at a time when there were several Canadian casualties. Bishop Coffin personifies the importance of this ministry at a critical time in world affairs.
We heard from Bishop Philip Poole who, with Bishop Coffin, attended the TEAM (Towards Effective Anglican Mission) conference in South Africa, an experience which Bishop Poole said moved him to tears. The conference examined how churches are responding to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. Bishop Poole said he was profoundly stirred by the energy and joy that the people he met bring to being church despite their very difficult circumstances. The gathering, he said, brought home to him, the many valuable ministries of the church.
We spent much of our time in consideration of the primacy, both what it has been and what it can become and, for this purpose, we were joined by former Bishop of Ottawa John Baycroft who presented us with a valuable reflection on a primacy rooted in Episcopal ministry and on different ways in which that ministry can be exercised. He spoke to us of the past as a means of envisioning a future for this crucial ministry.
As part of our discussion on the primacy, we agreed overwhelmingly to ask the General Synod when it gathers in June to establish a task force made up of members of the Orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity “to undertake a detailed and comprehensive study of the nature, role, duties and authority of the Primate” and if necessary to recommend changes to the Canon on the primacy for consideration at the General Synod in 2010.
Wednesday evening, we attended a dinner with Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, our Primate, and his wife Lois, so that we could express our profound appreciation for his three-year ministry as Primate. Archbishop Andrew’s leadership of the church and his chairing of our house in the past three years bear eloquent witness to his passionate dedication to the principles of communication and reconciliation. He began his primacy by saying he would “bring people to the table” and he has strived consistently to do so.
We spent much of the following day in prayerful consideration of possible successors to Archbishop Hutchison, our 12th Primate, and as a result of these deliberations, we will submit a list of four nominees to the General Synod. They are Bishop Bruce Howe of Huron, Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Bishop George Bruce of Ontario and Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton.
As we considered candidates for the primatial election, news reached us of a death in the family of Bishop Bruce who was therefore obliged to leave us before the end of our gathering. We pray for him, for his family and for his deceased daughter-in-law.
We devoted a significant amount of time to a discussion of a statement from the bishops of Rupert’s Land about the resolutions on same-sex blessings produced by the Council of General Synod for the consideration of the General Synod. We also heard a substantive presentation by bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario about how we as bishops should prepare for the outcome of the vote by General Synod on this issue, regardless of what that decision might be. We agreed that we as bishops must be prepared to offer a pastoral response regardless of the outcome of the vote at General Synod.
On our last day together we worked on a draft statement to members of the General Synod and to members of the church that offers pastoral responses to a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions. This document will be developed further by its authors and will then be submitted to members of the House for approval by email and, we hope, for inclusion in the Convening Circular.
Dean Peter Wall and Mr. Angus Sinclair led the bishops in music from the Evangelical Worship Book. Dean Wall reminded the bishops that the Waterloo Declaration stated that the Anglican and Lutheran churches were free to use each other's liturgy. He reviewed sections in the Worship Book that included liturgy and hymns. Dean Wall informed the bishops that the Evangelical Worship Book was a collaboration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCiA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCiC). The bishops then sang some hymns from the Worship Book.
Bishop Pryse introduced Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican) and the Rev. Paul Johnson (Lutheran) who staff the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission.
Questions and comments were invited from the floor.
That Evangelical Lutheran Worship be included in the list of liturgical resources authorized for use in Anglican Church of Canada. CARRIED HB Res. 07-10-07
Bishop Cowan said that at ecumenical gatherings hosted by Anglicans, Lutherans are (with Anglicans) not ecumenical guests.