The subject of Church Union was widely discussed. The Primate reported that no executive action will be taken at General Synod. It was reported the Issue Group tried to have the name 'Church Union' changed to 'Church Unity', but the attempt was too late - the material had been sent to the printers. Archdeacon Light enumerated Unity resource material to be supplied General Synod delegates.
"That we request the Chair to appoint a small committee to draft a suggested resolution for consideration of this House dealing with the manner in which the Anglican Church of Canada will deal with submissions from Anglican Dioceses, Parishes, etc., regarding the Plan of Union." CARRIED
It was agreed that the House of Bishops, at the Fall meeting, study the Plan of Union and the Agenda Committee was requested to arrange for same.
The Primate introduced a problem confronting Bishop Burch concerning a Mar Thoma Church clergyman operating in his Diocese. After discussion, it was generally agreed that Bishop Burch would have the support of the House in authorizing clergyman of Mar Thoma Church to officiate in his Diocese.
In opening the Fourth Session, the Primate offered his thoughts to the House for reflection.
Archbishop Scott expressed reluctance to summarize the present situation, as he said he would not wish to impose his reactions upon others but felt it necessary to call attention to some points.
He expressed appreciation for the careful work which had been done by the House on the previous day, and thanked the Bishops for their willingness to work diligently and conscientiously. The Primate stressed that, in the comments made, there is no suggestion of blame of persons who had worked on commissions and said that the three negotiating churches had been faithful to their task and had worked with deep commitment and sincerity towards the preparation of the Plan of Union.
On behalf of the House, Archbishop Davis thanked the Primate for his comments.
"That we move into small groups to explore all possibilities of which one will be revision of the Plan of Union." CARRIED
On behalf of the groups, reports were presented by Bishop Nock, Bishop Ford, Bishop Sperry and Bishop Hill.
Bishop Snowden referred to the Motion of the National Executive Council which requested that the Task Force be discharged, that the House of Bishops be requested to take appropriate action on the report, and that consultations to consider the existing documents be held between the Churches involved.
The question arose as to what is actually meant by "recognition." The report does not provide specific recommendations for action. Licensing must be done by a liturgical act.
Concern was expressed that one thing is said to the United Church and something quite different is said to the Roman Catholic Church.
The view was expressed that change will come through liturgies and it is, therefore, important that any altering of liturgies be carefully considered.
That this House express its appreciation to the Joint Anglican/United Churches Task Force on Mutual Recognition of Ministers.
While some members of the House might wish to express disappointment that the outcome of the Task Force's work is not an advance on the existing situation, yet we are all aware of the diligence with which the Task Force struggled over a long period - with this most difficult subject - and we express our thanks. CARRIED #24-6-83
The Chairman spoke on the "Report from the Committee on Union and Joint Mission" and the "Motions passed by the Interchurch Relations Committee relating to the Plan of Union". He then asked Archdeacon Light to comment on these matters. He informed the House of the recent meeting held in Greenwich, Connecticut, which included both American and Canadian representatives. He said that the work of C.O.C.U. is still continuing but the tide is low at the moment. The Bishop of Athabasca spoke of the situation in England following the failure of the Anglican/Methodist union to come to fruition. In spite of this there seems to be a continuance of joint mission.
The House then entered into group discussion on the kind of leadership the House of Bishops' should be giving in the area of Church Union. When the House re-convened, and the groups had reported, it was finally decided to ask Bishop Short to meet with the reporters from the groups and present a resolution to the House later in the meeting. Those concerned with this in addition to Bishop Short were:- Bishops Bothwell, Maguire and Archbishop Davis.
The Resolutions presented on Thursday afternoon, December 6th, were
"We concur in the recommendation of the Interchurch Relation Committee [i.e. Inter-Church Relations Committee] that the Anglican Consultative Council comment on Canadian Plan of Union be circulated." CARRIED
"We recommend that the Primate be requested to set a definite time by which each Bishop will be expected to submit to him as brief a personal criticism as possible of the Second Plan of Union, so that an analysis can be made of the criticisms for presentation to the House of Bishops' for discussion at a meeting determined by the Primate." CARRIED (with one dissenting vote)
"We recommend that the National Executive Council and the Interchurch Relations Committee be informed that this House of Bishops', while accepting the timetable recommended by the Interchurch Relations Committee, including the possibility of deciding in General synod to designate 1976 as the year for taking the official vote, will not ask members of this House to restrict the expression of opinion by vote on the present Plan in diocesan Synods or elsewhere." CARRIED