The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meets next month at a time, in the words of its leaders, when values and issues are changing rapidly and the "very possibility of `faith' as a credible stance of life has been questioned."
The comment of the long-range planning committee in its introductions to reports to the 26th synod, meeting in Regina May 3-11, is underlined by Archbishop Edward W. Scott, primate of the church.
In a report prepared for the assembly he says if Anglicans are to respond to the demanding issues before them and to give leadership in complex situations they will need, among other things, "a greater sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit" and to display "greater willingness to make hard decisions." He may expand upon this when he officially opens the assembly in St. Paul's Cathedral May 3.
About 290 members of synod, clerical and lay, from the 28 dioceses of the church will attend the sessions in Regina's Hotel Saskatchewan.
Four main topics or themes have been set out for discussion: quality of life and community, of faith, of ministry and of the church. The themes provide opportunity for debate and decision on a wide range of social problems disturbing the church and the country in the 1970s.
A preamble, prepared by Dean Herbert O'Driscoll, to a report of the long-range planning committee says:
"To some extent it could be said that the criteria of faith in previous decades were quantitative. The strength of the church tended to be judged by quantities (that is, activities, budget) and faith tended to be seen in terms of private piety and attendance at worship...
Such categories have been found, not so much to be discredited, but to be inadequate...Between us and the comparative innocence of the late '50s too much has been said, too many paperbacks written, too many tides of opinion have flowed for everything to remain as it was.
In the 1970s the many options of a plural society vary from actual alternatives to the Christian faith to a whole spectrum of attitude and styles within the Christian faith itself...
Faith is no longer a piece of familiar furniture placed securely in the living room of the mind."
The committee says further, in another report on the quality of life and community, that the rate of change in the world "continues to be a major factor in challenging individuals and institutions to be flexible."
The free-wheeling tone of the committee's observations may typify the free and frank discussion expected at this synod with members participating more fully than in the past.
Six sessions - totalling 13 hours - have been scheduled for group discussion. Each session will bear upon a particular issue. Resolutions formulated by these groups will be correlated and sent to plenary sessions for decision and policy direction. Committee reports and resolutions go directly to the plenary meetings.
The synod meets every two years. Its last meeting was in Niagara Falls, Ont., in February, 1971, when some of its sessions were held jointly with those of the general council of the United Church of Canada which also meets biennially.
It was the first time in the history of Canada's largest Protestant denominations that their highest courts had met together.
Negotiations for organic union of the churches have been under way for more than a quarter-century but no definitive move on union will be taken at this synod.
Members of synod are the 55 bishops from the four ecclesiastical provinces of Canada (Quebec and the Atlantic provinces), Ontario, Rupert's Land and British Columbia and clergy and laity chosen by the dioceses with a youth delegation of 15.
At least 25 women, seven of them from the youth delegation, are among the lay members along with eight observers from Anglican Church Women who participate in discussions but do not vote.
Among controversial topics before the synod will be that of abortion and here the views of the women are expected to be expressed freely.
A strong bloc of women commissioners forced the abortion issue to the floor of the general council of the United Church two years ago when that church went on record as accepting abortion in certain social, economic and therapeutic circumstances. The United Church is the only Christian church to take such a stand but it does not support abortion on demand.
The Anglican Church opposes abortion and one of the questions to be posed at this synod by one committee, the task force on human life, is: "What does it mean to be human if the foetus can be aborted?"
Other questions also are posed by the task force in its report on human life and community:
"Who am I if bodily organs can be transplanted?"
"What quality of life are people living in our cities?"
"Why should anyone go to the moon when there are vast needs and agonies on the earth?"
That this General Synod received with gratitude the declaration of the House of Bishops affirming determination to lead the Church in advancing into the Seventies and pledges the support of the Church to the Bishops in their work towards that goal. CARRIED
[Recorded as No. 139 in Acts of Synod, p. 72. List of Acts includes actions which are NOT resolutions/acts.]
"The following papers are a collection of [five] essays that were written at the University of Oxford during the author's sabbatical from parochial ministry during the 1996/97 academic year. ... I aspired to understand more precisely the nature of the Anglican Church's propensity to accommodate the values and norms of its wider culture. Along with many other faithful Anglicans, I have been increasingly distressed to witness the Church bow more and more to the modern equivalent of the Roman Caesar". -- Intro.
Contents: Introduction -- Inclusive Language for God : the Impact on the Doctrine of God and Implications for Worship in the Anglican Church of Canada -- Beyond the Debate over Religious Pluralism: Toward Mission in a Plural Society -- Transforming the Family: Social Influences and Theological Responses -- The Church in Conflict: the Pastor as Conflict Manager -- Reconciling Authorities: an Impasse in the ARCIC Dialogue.
The Anglican Church of Canada does not set out deliberately to be confusing to the remainder of the Communion, but manages to in spite of its best intentions. The Communion refers to it as "The Province of Canada" and to Primate Archbishop E.W. Scott as its Metropolitan. The Church itself, however, is organized into four Ecclesiastical Provinces and has therefore, in addition to the Primate, four Metropolitans. To add to the confusion, Canada as a country is a federation of ten civil units which are also called Provinces.
Within the four Ecclesiastical Provinces (Canada, Ontario, Rupert's Land and British Columbia) there are thirty Dioceses. In addition to the Diocesan Bishops there are about a dozen Bishops Suffragan. There are just over three thousand Clergy in parish and specialized ministries. The total membership on the rolls of its three thousand congregations is about one million.
One of the primary problems facing the Canadian Church is what the Archbishop of Canterbury, on his recent tour, described as "the tyranny of distance." Canada is a vast land, a vastness which is difficult for others to comprehend. The Diocese of the Arctic, the largest territorially in the world, contains 2,750,000 square miles with a total population of only 35,500. A single parish in the Diocese of Qu'Appelle in Saskatchewan has ten separate congregations in an area of 3,600 square miles. In some countries that could well be a small diocese! Here it is served by two priests.
Contrasted with this, the Church faces, in many places, all the problems of densely populated urban areas. The Diocese of Niagara, for example, covers only 3,000 square miles but has 117 congregations, and about 130 clergy. Toronto, the largest diocese, by population, in North America, has about 156,000 souls on its parish rolls, 237 parishes and nearly 300 clergy!
Canada has about 300,000 aboriginal people. Of these, roughly one-quarter is Anglican. There is a significant number (150) of ordained native clergy ministering in the Church. The Canadian Church is in the forefront of support of native people in their legal and practical struggles for recognition, aboriginal rights and claims to hereditary lands.
The Anglican Church of Canada has ordained women to the Priesthood since 1976. There are now well over one hundred female Priests. The Primate of the Church, speaking from his experience travelling about the Church has declared, "I am convinced that the ministry of women in the Priesthood has enriched our whole concept of ordained ministry. It has brought a new element to the gatherings of Priests and a new dimension to all the pastoral work of the Church wherever they minister. There is, also, a new sense amongst women of being fully members of the Church when they see women Priests ministering. In this sense the whole community is enriched."
The General Synod of the Church meets every three years. Each diocese sends its Bishops, plus an equal number of Clergy and Lay members, the total number varying by the number or ordained Clergy in the Diocese. It will next meet in June of 1986 in Winnipeg, the See City of the Diocese of Rupert's Land. At this meeting of the Synod, a new Primate will be elected to succeed Archbishop Scott who is retiring after fifteen years as Senior Metropolitan. Between General Synods the National Executive Council meets twice a year and has the executive authority of the General Synod. The NEC consists of 15 each of the orders of Bishop, Clergy and Laity, with each of the 30 Dioceses having at least one member. General Synod has a National Office in Toronto with a total executive and secretarial staff of about 130.
The Anglican Church of Canada is a strong supporter of the Partners In Mission process at all levels of the Church. Individual Dioceses are urged to hold such Consultations, and the National Church endeavours to supply Partners to other parts of the Communion whenever asked. A third national PIM Consultation for the Canadian Church will be held in March 1986. At this gathering the Church will examine three questions, which at this time are being considered in each of the Dioceses. Presentations from each Diocese will be incorporated in the deliberations of the national consultation. The questions are:
* What are the most important issues in ministry and mission today?
* What are some of the specific areas where we can discern God calling for the transformation of both church and society today?
* What changes could improve the partnership among international, national, regional, and local levels of the church?
It is hoped the focus on those questions in advance, the deliberations at the consultation and the continuing work on the report from it, will shape the mission and ministry of the Church in all aspects of its life.
In a recent letter Archbishop Ted Scott named these questions as vital to the real focus of our mission. He asked, "Are we as Anglicans becoming more like Jesus Christ? As we influence the wider world, and all we do, are we helping it become more the kind of world God wants it to be?"
Canada is a diverse, pluralistic, multi-lingual society, still growing, still seeking its own identity and sense of purpose in the world community. The Anglican Church of Canada is, in many ways, a microcosm of that society, and shares the exciting potential and problems of a young and vibrant member of the family of God.
The Most Rev. Edward W. Scott, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has announced his intention to resign as primate on June 15, 1986.
"When I was elected, I said that I would remain in office for about 10 years," said Archbishop Scott in informing the Church's National Executive Council that he had presented a letter of resignation to Archbishop Lewis Garnsworthy of Toronto, the senior archbishop by appointment. "In fact, by June 1986, I will have been Primate for more than 15 years.
"I am making the announcement now," he added, "to enable careful planning for the June 1986 General Synod, which will have to become an electoral synod."
Archbishop Scott was elected "Primate of All Canada" on January 25, 1971, at the General Synod held in Niagara Falls, Ontario. As such he is considered the "presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada" and is "charged with giving leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy of the Church, including the implementation of decisions of the General Synod throughout the Canadian Church." In this connection he can also speak for the Church, after consultation with either the National Executive Council or General Synod.
Primate Scott, 66, was ordained to the priesthood in 1942; his first parish was Seal Cove in Prince Rupert, B.C. He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Kootenay in British Columbia in 1966 and was elected primate only 5 years later.
During his primacy, Archbishop Scott also served as Moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, the worldwide communion of Anglican churches. He is respected for a deep and quiet spirituality that has expressed itself in a commitment to ecumenism and to social justice, as well as to deepening and developing the life of the church at all levels.
"The last 15 years have been exciting and demanding, yet they have been years of growth within the Anglican Church," said the primate after the announcement.
Significant developments in the church during Archbishop Scott's primacy have included the decision in 1975 to ordain women to the priesthood, the Vancouver hosting in 1983 of the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, and the launching in 1982 of the Anglicans in Mission Appeal, which raised more than $50,000,000 from Anglicans to support the mission of the Church in the north and overseas, to upgrade pensions and for diocesan development. In addition, the Primate has presided over a growing commitment in the church to support native rights' claims, and many issues of public social responsibility.
"One of the things I will be doing to prepare for my final address to General Synod - and which I expect to expand into a book after my resignation - is to reflect on the developments that have taken place during those 15 years," he said.
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Attachments: Statement by Archbishop Scott; Biographical information.
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600 Jarvis Street
May 9, 1985
Statement by the Most Rev. Edward W. Scott on the occasion of announcing his intention to resign.
"I am announcing today my intention to resign as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada effective June 15, 1986. I am making the announcement now to enable careful planning for the June 1986 General Synod, which will have to become an electoral synod.
"When I was elected, I said that I would remain in office for about 10 years; in fact, by June 1986 I will have been Primate for more than 15 years.
"I had considered resigning before the 1983 General Synod, but after consultation with other people, I felt that there were a number of things that I could accomplish if I remained until the 1986 Synod. These included: carrying through to completion the Anglicans in Mission undertaking; working on the development of a continuity program to build on Anglicans in Mission and planning for the work of the church when the money collected through AIM has been used; being at the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver in 1983 as the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and being at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in 1984 as primate, when I would be able to present the evaluation report of the international committee on the work of the council which I had been heading up.
"The longer stay also gave me time to concentrate more attention on the Canadian scene than had been possible when I had to give a substantial proportion of my time to the work of the WCC.
"I feel now that these things will all have been accomplished and it is a logical time for me to submit my resignation.
"The last 15 years have been exciting and demanding, yet they have been years of growth within the Anglican Church. One of the things I am doing to prepare for my final address to General Synod - and which I expect to expand into a book after my resignation - is to reflect on the developments that have taken place during those 15 years. I also expect to remain continually involved in the life of the church, but with more emphasis on the local parish level; and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to give more time to ecumenical concerns in the church in Canada and elsewhere."
The Anglican Church of Canada has just completed a through-going self-criticism in the presence of third world critics. A four day "Partners in Mission" consultation wound up on Tuesday, May 29 at the University of Toronto.
The concept of Partners in Mission is an accepted one in the Anglican Communion throughout the world. It involves one of the twenty-seven independent, self-governing churches which constitute the Anglican Communion, in a process of critical examination of its programmes, life, structures and priorities in the presence of "Partners" from other countries, churches and cultures. Canadian Anglicans have acted as Partners in such consultations in several African churches and in Ireland, the USA, the Caribbean, South America and Asia.
During the past week more than a hundred Canadian Anglicans, representing the Church's thirty dioceses from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and north beyond the Arctic Circle, gathered in the nation's Capital. They were joined by Partners from Burundi, West Africa, the Sudan and South Africa, from the West Indies, New Zealand, Ireland and England, the USA and Asia. There were also representatives from the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches in Canada.
In their final report to the consultation, these Partners said, "We have come from continents which have experienced poverty, despair, effects of nuclear holocaust, inhuman racist regimes, military dictatorships, trampling of human rights and division of nations on ideological grounds. We have come too, from countries which are rich and affluent, and from sectors in the Third World which share in those riches and those who do not. In these situations we have experienced sufferings of all kinds - the rat-race of consuming more and more, of being bored, lonely and fearful. Yet we know that through these sufferings we also experience hope for we worship the crucified and risen Lord. In this spirit we share four examples of challenges we see based upon what we have seen and heard at this Consultation."
Their four areas of challenge were the Natives of Canada, the French Fact, the Ministry of the Laity and the Ecumenical Dimension.
The Partners observed, "The Natives of Canada have suffered through hundreds of years of genocide. Entire tribes and people have vanished from the face of the earth. Many of them today live in poverty, illness, early death rates and little or no education. To correct these wrongs requires a change in attitude, a death to the old ways and a rebirth under God." They agreed that they "must commend the Anglican Church of Canada for its long history of ministry to the Native People," but questioned whether native people have been trained for or allowed to assume positions of leadership in the church's structures.
They declared that "lumping the Native problem with the white rural or white isolated area problem will not work." The Partners had all travelled fairly extensively in Canada prior to the Consultation. From that experience and from their discussions in Ottawa, they concluded that there is a "strong undercurrent of prejudice against the Native People in Canada." They acknowledged that there are no simplistic answers, but urged the creation of a more adequately staffed Native "desk or portfolio" on a national basis.
The Partners described the French Fact as, "A people under the threat of losing its identity, its right to live according to its culture, can hardly act as a partner and may become, as a consequence, a burden to the country instead of taking its place as an enriching part of the cultural mosaic of Canada." They continued, "In a word, a whole mentality must be surrendered in order to communicate within the new milieu," and urged that "The Church must study this matter in the spirit of Christ, that is, in a spirit of love, detachment and sharing."
They added, "while fighting for the rights of this or that group, we must not forget that rights are first and foremost human rights; they are not French, they are not English; they are human, but they apply to French or English or Indians or West Indians."
An "inherited clericalism...which is still accepted as the norm" came under sharp criticism in the section of the Partners' report on the Ministry of the Laity. "The real participation of the laity in the mission of the church may pose a threat to the clergy" but that participation must not be "considered a privilege, a temporal innovation or a concession to the spirit of modern times." "A multitude of habits, ready-made judgements and reactions need to be stripped away from us before we can expect to progress very far in dealing with the key issue of the ministry of the laity."
In discussing the Ecumenical Dimensions, the Partners declared, "The general impression given is that the Anglican Church of Canada is self-sufficient and does not naturally look outside itself, whether to other churches in Canada or to other Anglican churches around the world, for working partners in the process of developing the issues which face them in their common service of the Mission of Christ to the world."
Although in principle the Anglican Church of Canada is committed to the "Lund Declaration" (that churches should not do separately what it is possible from them to do ecumenically), the Partners suggested that should mean "looking first to see what things can be done together and not regarding ecumenical cooperation as an optional extra."
The over-all report from the total membership of the Consultation is wide-ranging and lengthy. The discussions gradually crystallized into eight areas in the life of the church today:
- Mission: Theology and Practice
- Christian Lifestyle
- Commitment and Stewardship
- Ministry: Lay/Clergy
- Social Justice and Action
- Ethnic, Cultural and Linguistic Groups
- Communications and Structures
In each section there was a thorough evaluation of the present situation in the Anglican Church of Canada and an attempt to discover strengths and weaknesses in its life. Strategies for the future were also developed.
These reports will now receive wide distribution in the Dioceses and Ecclesiastical Provinces of the Church and in various national committees of General Synod, for study and discussion. They will have a major influence on the Church's National Programme Committee and National Executive Council when they meet this fall, and on the General Synod of the Church which will be held at the University of Trent in Peterborough in June 1980.
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"[Abstract]: This essay explores 'Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ' (MRI), an influential document issued in 1963 at the close of the Anglican Congress in Toronto. A foundational statement on mission and communion, MRI inspired both the structures and ethos of contemporary Anglicanism. However, the production of this imagined global community unwittingly contributed to the decline of Anglicanism in Canada. Drawing from Charles Taylor and Benedict Anderson, this essay will trace the reinvention of Anglicanism in Canada from the religious wing of the British Empire to a modern vision of a worldwide communion nonetheless depended on the very structures and power relations it sought to replace. As such, the decline of Anglicanism in Canada was not the product of outside forces like secularism as much as the result of a theology that failed to engage the issues facing everyday Canadians".