Council considered the Open Meeting Policy presented by the Anglican Journal Board in its report #014-01-07-11 Revised. Council came to consensus on a number of changes to the policy as presented and proposed:
That the Council of General Synod adopt the Open Meeting Policy for use in the Anglican Church of Canada.
APPROVED BY CONSENSUS #18-11-07
It was noted that this policy applies only to meetings of national organizations, not to diocesan or parish organizations. The Chancellor suggested and Council agreed that the Open Meeting Policy be included in the Handbook of General Synod as a new appendix.
The policy as approved by Council is attached as Appendix C.
1. Open Meetings and the Anglican Church of Canada
Concern is sometimes expressed by members of the Anglican Church of Canada and media about decisions being made by church committees behind closed doors. They feel that the church should be more public in its discussions of important issues and open in its decision-making processes. Other members argue that they feel constrained by the presence of the public and media from being able to express themselves fully.
At present, there is no written policy in the Anglican Church of Canada governing when meetings should be open or closed. The intent of the draft policy that follows is to fill this gap. It is based on the following assumptions:
- That the Anglican Church of Canada seeks to be as open as possible in discussing issues and making decisions;
- That all meetings should be open by default unless they are closed for a specific reason;
- That there are limitations on what can be discussed and decided on in public; and
- That creating a policy that helps members of church committees decide when it is appropriate to close an open meeting and how to do it will provide clarity to the church, the public and the media.
2. Policy on open meetings in the Anglican Church of Canada
The purpose of the policy on open meetings in the Anglican Church of Canada is to enshrine the concept that the exercise of the ministry of the church in meetings is conducted openly and inclusively except under clearly defined circumstances as explained in section three.
2.2 Open meeting definition
An open meeting is any regularly scheduled or special meeting of a group that has been elected or appointed by the General Synod or the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada that may be attended by people who are not members of the group holding the meeting.
2.3 Groups affected by this policy
Any group that has been elected or appointed by the General Synod or the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
2.4 Conduct of business
The proceedings of open meetings are recorded and become part of the public record of the church, available for news reporting and historical reference.
Agendas and background material are distributed in advance to all members of the group present for the meeting. In addition, agendas and background materials may be distributed to staff, people who are invited to speak at the meeting, and members of the media.
Only members of the group and those invited by the group to speak, may participate in the meeting.
Only members of the group may vote.
3. Policy on closed meetings in the Anglican Church of Canada
The purpose of the policy on closed meetings in the Anglican Church of Canada is to define the circumstances under which the ministry of the church is exercised in a closed session and to provide a mechanism for moving from an open to a closed meeting and back again.
3.2 Closed meeting definition
A closed meeting is any regularly scheduled or special meeting, or a part of that meeting, of a group that has been elected or appointed by the General Synod or the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada which may be attended only by people who are members of the group holding the meeting and by those invited to attend by the members of that group.
3.3 Reasons for closing a meeting
A closed meeting may be held to discuss personnel issues, contract proposals, financial matters, litigation, and/or at the request of a member (subject to section 3.3)
3.4 Moving from open to closed session
A majority of voting members is required on a motion to close an open meeting. The motion must include the reason for closing the meeting and is part of the public record.
3.5 Conduct of business
The proceedings of closed meetings are recorded. Where appropriate, decisions made and reasons for them become part of the public record of the church, available for news reporting and historical reference.
3.6 Moving from closed to open session
When all issues to be dealt with in a closed session are completed, a motion to come out of a closed session shall be called for by the Chair.
3.7 Reporting after a closed session
If the closed session is part of an open session, the chair shall where appropriate, relate the messages agreed to by the members, to those excluded from the meeting.
A motion was introduced by the Planning and Agenda Team requiring the Commission on the Marriage Canon report be circulated to members and to the co-chairs of the Planning and Agenda Team followed by a teleconference to decide how and when the report would be circulated further.
Members fully discussed the motion proposed, the role of CoGS, options and processes, preserving the principles of openness and transparency, and how best to receive and distribute the report.
After much consideration, The Ven. Harry Huskins, at the request of the Primate, assumed the chair and the Primate proposed that a special council meeting be convened for the commission to make a formal presentation to members, for members to consider how to take it and the resolution to General Synod, and for public release of the report.
The Primate resumed the chair, the original motion withdrawn by consensus and a new motion proposed.
Be it resolved:
That this council affirms the Primate’s proposal to call a special session of this council for the purpose of receiving and considering the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon.
ADOPTED by unanimous consensus #07-05-15
COMMISSION ON THE MARRIAGE CANON – SPECIAL MEETING DATE
The General Secretary asked for a show of hands for two dates for a noon – to – noon special CoGS meeting to receive the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon.
It was agreed that the meeting will be September 22 and 23. For those who cannot attend, creating a video link for the presentation will be explored.
That at this meeting of the Council of General Synod, under "Committee Reports", we deal only with items arising from the "action" sections of committee reports.
That all future Council of General Synod meetings, committee report time be limited to "action", "discussion" items and points of clarification in the "for information" sections of reports. CARRIED #06-05-00
Bishop Harvey requested the latitude of the body in consideration of the FMD report.
That the Council of General Synod test this triennium (2007-2010) the increased use of a consensus decision-making model for matters requiring considerable reflection and discernment. CARRIED #05-11-07
The re-written resolution on electronic voting was presented.
That when votes are required between in-person meetings of the Council of General Synod, these shall be done by email. The request for such a vote shall:
- 1) Indicate in the subject line that it is a request from COGS for an email vote, and
- 2) Specify a deadline by which the email vote must be received by the General Secretary.
The outcome of the vote shall be determined by a majority of the votes received by the deadline (provided that votes have been received from a majority of the members of COGS and all Orders are represented as required by Section 35 a) of the Constitution).
All members of COGS are expected to vote.
A member of COGS who does not have email may be notified by mail that the vote will occur and may vote by mail.
"This month [November 2016], the new members of Council of General Synod (CoGS) -- who will help govern the church for the 2016-2019 triennium -- meet for the first time. ... a majority of them are fresh faces -- only about five of the 27 (excluding seven offices of General Synod) have served the council in the previous triennium or in recent years. This is an exciting development. The infusion of new blood in any organization is generally seen as a good thing, ripe with promise of alternative ideas and infectious energy". "One hopes that CoGS will uphold this ideal of transparency and accountability at all times. This extends to granting the 'Anglican Journal' unimpeded access and thinking twice about in-camera meetings". "Transparency and accountability are particularly crucial at this time when the church is faced with divisiveness over the issue of same-sex marriage. Canadian Anglicans are looking at their church for clarity, honesty and for courageous leadership on this and many other critical issues of the day".
That the Council of the General Synod recommend to the General Synod that section 35 of the Constitution of the General Synod be amended by re-lettering paragraph e) to be paragraph f) and adding the following new paragraph e):
e) All motions in the Council of the General Synod shall be decided by the votes of all of the members of the Council taken collectively. CARRIED #26-11-05