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?"
The Organization Committee supported the concept of a large ecumenical public service of witness in the afternoon of May 6 in the Centennial Auditorium in connection with the Synod.
On it being announced that this would conflict with another activity in the Auditorium on that day, the following motion was presented.
That the Committee on Organization consider the concept of a large ecumenical public service of witness one evening during the week in the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts in connection with the meeting of the General Synod 1973. CARRIED
A new style of decision-making will be tried by the Anglican Church of Canada when its General Synod meets in Regina, May 3-11.
The 290 delegates - bishops, clergy, laymen and women, and youth - representing parishes and dioceses from coast to coast, the Yukon, the Arctic, and Labrador, are already gathering hometown opinion and feelings to bring to the Regina session.
Policy-making plenary sessions will be interspersed with centering on four major themes: Quality of Life and Community, Quality of Faith, Quality of Ministry, and Quality of the Church. They will be dealing with issues such as ordination of women, overseas policy, public social responsibility, the condition and needs of the Church in the North including the state of affairs surrounding the James Bay hydro development project. They will also deal with a proposed new rite of Christian initiation, combining the rites of baptism and confirmation, community issues in the contemporary parish, long range planning, and current program.
They will also hear a progress report from the Task Force on Human Life, set up at General Synod in 1971 in Niagara Falls, to explore dimensions of when life begins and ends as they relate to abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, and half a dozen other aspects of the whole range of morals and ethics affecting respect for human life.
Special guests representing indigenous churches overseas, or Anglican mission outside Canada had been invited by General Synod to take part in the consideration and policy-making process of General Synod. They include Bishop J.W.A. Howe, Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council, London, England. Bishop Howe is the world-wide fieldman for mission conducted by the Anglican Communion and will be giving the theme address on the Quality of Ministry as it relates to overseas policy; Bishop David Goto, Bishop of Tokyo and Chairman of the National Council of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Primate) of the indigenous sister church in Japan; Bishop Clive Abdulah of Trinidad, Bishop Antonio Ramos of Costa Rice, Dean Martin Mbwana of Dar Es Salam, Tanzania, Rev. Walter Lini of New Hebrides, Rev. Edmundo Desueza of the Dominican Republic, Rev. Welby Walker, recently returned from the Windward Islands, and Miss Dorothy Robinson, recently returned from Uganda. Their role will be largely in a reflection process with Canadians about mission policies, and Canada's trade and aid with the Third World.
The tone of General Synod's deliberations will be set by the Primate, Archbishop E.W. Scott, in an address during the opening service at St. Paul's Cathedral on the evening of Thursday, May 3. The address will be, in part, a "state of the union" message, setting out where Archbishop Scott sees the Church as it is functioning in Canada and in part, a "speech from the throne" setting out the responsibilities of General Synod in its deliberations as he sees them.
Following the service, there will be an address of welcome by the Hon. Stephen Worbetz, Lt.-Gov. of Saskatchewan. The Mayor of Regina, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Regina, the President of the Regina Ministerial Association, the President of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada, and representatives of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Orthodox Church will attend the opening session on Friday morning.
Business sessions begin the following morning. In the meantime, delegates will be receiving advance copies of reports and resolutions in the next ten days and background material for the issue discussion groups by early April. They are urged to caucus as diocesan groups to discuss the issues and to formulate opinions at their particular stand on issues and resolutions. They are also urged to contact parish groups, other community groups and to bring to the discussion a broad perception of the opinions and mood of the people in their areas. Officially, each delegate will vote as an individual but is encouraged to bring as broad a range as possible of opinion representing his or her area.
Advance materials will include a cassette tape outlining the themes of General Synod, some of the issues, and a description of the role and responsibilities of delegates, to set an atmosphere of involvement and commitment prior to arrival at Regina.
The decision-making process differs primarily in two ways: in the prior discussion and opinion-gathering at home, and in the use of issue-discussion groups at General Synod.
In the course of synod, delegates will spend thirteen hours in six sessions of issue-discussion groups. The groups will formulate the resolutions on those issues which will be correlated and brought to the floor of the plenary sessions for decision and policy direction. Committee reports and their resolutions will go directly to the plenary sessions.
On the evening of May 9, an ecumenical Festival of Faith service will be held at the Saskatchewan Centre for the Arts. It will be a community service, involving General Synod delegates, laymen and clergy from the broader community of Regina and the district. Dean Herbert O'Driscoll of New Westminster diocese is designing the program of service, music and film, to express the Christian faith in various art forms. It is expected that 2,500 persons will attend.
On the evening of May 5, delegates will be guests at the production of a drama, "the Trial of Louis Riel," to give them a taste of the history and pioneer mood of the Canadian Prairies. In addition, delegates will have a part in the Centennial Celebrations of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and will delve into the issues before them through a series of movies and audio-visual presentations.
Archbishop G.F.C. Jackson of Qu'Appelle (Regina) is in charge of local arrangements for General Synod and for the extra-agenda items.
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Note to Editors:
Further background stories and information will be made available in the ensuing weeks as the reports and study materials become available. If you have special requests or requirements, please contact either of the following:
3. That the Organization Committee, through its task force, be authorized to request from the Hotel Saskatchewan the latest possible date by which our reservation must be confirmed, and that the Committee endeavour before that date to secure a guaranteed commitment from the University of Saskatchewan. That the Task Force be authorized to finalize arrangements with the University of Saskatchewan if a guaranteed commitment is forthcoming by that date, failing which, to confirm arrangements with the Hotel Saskatchewan. CARRIED
Most Reverend Edward W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has been described as a modern man with a deep awareness of his heritage. In 1971, then Bishop of Kootenay, he was the youngest bishop ever elected to the highest post in the church. He succeeded Archbishop Howard Clark who had retired after 11 years in office.
Archbishop Scott, 53, will preside over the 26th general synod opening in Regina May 3. In an accounting of his stewardship prepared for that assembly he says he set himself five major goals:
To try to spend some time in every diocese by June, 1973; to work towards unity of purpose throughout the church; to seek to make possible "greater input into national structures from the parish and diocesan levels"; to continue to develop the pattern of national staff work so it could both respond to diocesan and local needs and "feed into the planning and activities at each level insights from other parts of Canada."
"I think progress has been made in working towards all of these goals," Archbishop Scott reports.
"A major reason this is so is the great support and cooperation I have received from the archbishops, bishops, national staff, clergy and lay people in all parts of the country."
His report continues:
"Our church is being called upon both to respond to many demanding issues and to give leadership in complex situations. If we are to do this in confident and yet humble service to our Lord, we will need, among other things:
A greater sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
A more open context for theological study and dialogue.
Greater willingness to make hard decisions.
Deeper commitment to express, in personal and corporate decision-making, the conviction we share as followers of Jesus Christ."
Archbishop Scott has long been known as an advocate of change in the church to make the church more effective.
At a news conference after his election in 1971, he said:
"God's basic concern is with the world, not with institutions."
Watch for women to take a significant step forward when the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meets in Regina on May 3.
That's when the long-standing question of admitting Anglican women to the priesthood will come to a vote.
The National Executive Council of the Anglican Church of Canada announced last November that a recommendation to ordain women as priests would be presented to General Synod, the biennial assembly composed of clergy and lay delegates from parishes across Canada. This action follows a report from the committee on ministry.
At present in the Anglican church, a woman may be ordained a deacon which enables her to use the prefix Reverend; to preach sermons; officiate at weddings, christenings and funerals and carry out normal duties of a curate. But, unlike her male counterpart, she may not be ordained to the priesthood. She is denied the authority of consecrate the bread and wine for communion, and may not pronounce absolution or hear a confession.
Such discrimination in the 20th century is disturbing to the ordinary person in the pew and to vocal feminists outside and is causing distinct rumblings in ecclesiastical circles.
Traditional church attitudes such as, "Jesus appointed only male apostles," or "Paul insisted that women should keep silent in church" have been attacked in a report urging the Church of England to take action. The report also reminds that Jesus' relationship with women was in considerable contrast to the customs and conventions of his day.
Today it is not surprising that sex has entered the foray. "Is women's sexuality the real bar to priesthood?"
Five years ago at the Lambeth Conference it was accepted that there was no conclusive theological evidence why women should not be ordained to the priesthood. All Anglican churches were then asked to study the matter.
Two years later at the Anglican Consultative Council at Limuru, Kenya, a breakthrough came. By a narrow vote of 24 to 22, representatives of the 45,000,000 members of the 90 Anglican communities, decided that any bishop in the communion, with the consent of his provincial synod, could ordain women to the priesthood.
Bishop Gilbert Baker of Hong Kong acted promptly and ordained one Chinese woman and one English woman as priests. In so doing, the Bishop said, "I believe that someone has to make a start and it may be that, because of our peculiar position as the only active diocese in the Anglican Church in China, God is enabling us to act where others might find it difficult."
It has been suggested that the acceptance of change is slow because it might upset ecumenical harmony and widen the gap between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and the Anglican communion.
The controversial issue continues and the course to be followed on the Canadian scene will be set by those who stand up to be counted on May 3.
This summary of events and decisions at General Synod, Regina, is offered by the national office and the press room staff as a "memory freshener" to delegates who will be reporting back to their diocesan executives, parish vestries, task forces and planning groups. Most of it is in point form, so that you can interpret events personally, and detail is necessarily sparse. You are free to use it, or not.
Precise details, minutes and quotes at length, will be available as soon as possible from the General Secretary's Office in the official journal of Proceedings of General Synod. Meanwhile, you can refer to the minutes supplied daily to delegates.
* * *
There were about 300 delegates present for General Synod - the 26th of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the first to be held in Saskatchewan.
The theme of the Synod was Quality - of life and community, of Faith, of Ministry, and Quality of the Church. These themes kept showing up in various ways as the delegates studied, debated, and finally voted on the issues raised throughout the sessions.
The people planning General Synod seemed to be making a real effort to make sure that all delegates had a chance to make a full contribution to the thinking and decision-making.
There were very few resolutions from the headquarters staff, which was a marked decline from previous Synods, and also the delegates spend about a third of their time in groups of about 20, discussing the major issues and feeding their resolutions into the whole Synod for final decision. Thus, most of the resolutions came straight from the discussion groups and therefore really represented the thinking of the delegates and not a process of rubber-stamping prepared reports.
In his opening address, the Primate emphasized the need for parishes and dioceses to become involved in deciding the policies of the Church, and at the same time warned delegates against the danger of trying to make decisions that they have no right to make or power to carry out. And, he reminded delegates that the Church is the body of Christ and, as such, is concerned with the totality of human experience and man's eternal destiny.
AREAS OF DECISION
Ordination of Women:
After long debate, General Synod voted to accept the principle of ordination of women to the priesthood.
- Implementation will not take place until the house of Bishops has worked out a pattern for this to take place.
- There is to be an educational program throughout the church to prepare parishes and congregations for the change.
1. A new pattern for Christian initiation which rejoins Baptism with water, laying-on of hands, followed by first communion as a single service. This seems to reflect more accurately what was done by the Church in the first three centuries and is the pattern presently followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
2. An alternative form of institution and induction that demonstrates a more contemporary concept of the relationship between the rector and his parish was approved for use, subject to the approval of the Bishop of the diocese.
- This new form has been referred to the House of Bishops for study and authorization for trial use as an alternative to the present Prayer Book service. It will probably be used first in some dioceses designated as experimental areas.
- The age at which children initiated under the new form would begin to receive Holy Communion would depend on the parents and the interest of the child.
- Anyone initiated under the new form during its trial period will be recognized as a full member of the Church.
- The principle of the combined service was approved at the last General Synod at Niagara Falls in 1971.
Constitutional changes to provide for the possibility for union with other churches were given "first reading" by General Synod. They will have to be approved a second time at the next General Synod before becoming effective. This makes 1977 the earliest possible date for possible Church Union.
- Step-by-step procedures for effecting union from initial presentation of a plan until approval or rejection were approved.
1. Preparation of a plan of union and submission to General Synod.
2. Referral to diocesan synods and taking of a national referendum.
3. Majority approval is required in each diocese and the majority must be both among the clergy and lay members, voting separately. The bishop votes as a member of the clergy.
4. In the national referendum a three-quarters majority will be needed for approval, in each of bishops, clergy and laity voting separately.
5. If approval is given by diocesan synods and the national referendum, the plan must receive final approval from General Synod.
To vote on the question of union a person must be 16 years old, baptized, an "adherent" of the Anglican Church, and ask to have his name placed on the electoral roll of a parish.
An effort to have the qualification changed from "adherent" to "communicant" was defeated. Voting in the United Church would be confined to "members" defined by Rev. George Morrison, secretary of the General Council of the United Church, as a person who has been baptized, confirmed, and has a record of attendance at Holy Communion.
The Hon. Robert Welch, Ontario provincial secretary for social development, addressed synod on the theme of Quality of Life and Community.
"While it is evident the Church is becoming increasingly concerned with the qualitative aspects of life in the community, what are we actively doing to share and pass on our religious values?"
"Of all formal organizations in society, surely the Church is the major one with the teaching and sharing of values as its primary responsibility. I would suggest to you that it is in this very area that the Anglican Church of Canada is achieving its least success."
"If we are concerned with the quality of life and community, then we must deliberately articulate those values which we believe lie behind a better life and word towards helping others to understand their implications for everyday living."
Bishop Remi de Roo, of Victoria, brought greetings from the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops.
- He drew attention to studies being made jointly by the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches on common prayer, pastoral matters, mixed marriages, ministry and authority, and referred to the recent joint statement on the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist.
- He said many limitations and difficulties remain before unity among the churches can be achieved, in practical, theological and psychological areas.
"I can't stress too much the importance of growth toward unity, but unity can't be established on pragmatic grounds alone, no matter how serious they may be."
"The big challenge now is for us to start working at the grass-roots level to build a constructive dialogue..."
Rev. George Morrison, secretary of the General Council of the United Church of Canada, told delegates of a trend toward regionalization within his church. "We have a highly centralized church and this is now being broken down, as I think it should," he said.
There is also a new "sense of a need for awe and wonder" and a reawakening of a sense of worship at the local level, Dr. Morrison said.
The next General Council of the United Church would be in 1975 and, he noted, the next Anglican General Synod would be in 1975 at Quebec City. There could be some opportunity for shared sessions. The United Church will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its union in 1975.
Church in the North:
General Synod gave approval to establishment of a Primate's Council on the Church in the North. Its goal is to establish a self-determining church.
- It will consist of the metropolitan of Rupert's Land, four bishops with jurisdiction in the north, and eight other persons representing both north and south. The Primate said it was his intention to appoint a majority of the eight from the north.
- Delegates from the diocese of the Arctic tried to have three Indians and three Eskimo placed on the Council. Their amendment was defeated.
- Archbishop Frederick Jackson of Qu'Appelle said: "We're talking about a whole Church, not an ethnic church. Surely we are concerned about all the people of the north and the whites should be of as much concern to us at the natives."
- The council is to appoint a staff officer to do research and support co-ordination between northern dioceses.
- A plan for program development in the north is to be ready by 1976, with a target year of 1982 for complete self-determination for the church in the north.
1. The Church was directed to express its concern to the Quebec government regarding the James Bay Development Project. About 7,000 Cree Indians and Eskimo, mostly Anglicans, fear their hunting and trapping way of life will be destroyed by the proposed damming and diversion of rivers in the area.
BACKGROUND: The Indians of James Bay were not consulted about the proposed James Bay Development Project. They are supported in their protest by Bishop James Watton of Moosonee and Bishop Tim Matthews of Quebec. Costs of Rev. Lynn Ross, liaison man for the Committee of Concern on James Bay, are being paid by Primate's World Relief and Development Fund. An attempt to obtain an injunction to block the project now is before the courts.
2. The federal government was urged of its moral obligation to recognize and respect the aboriginal rights of the native people of Canada.
3. Canadians were urged to respect the rights of native peoples to continue their chosen way of life and to maintain and preserve their culture, traditions and language.
- National Executive Council has been directed to develop a plan to raise new money for support of clergy working in the north and overseas.
1. ABORTION. After a two-hour debate, during which time several amendments were incorporated into the resolution, and a motion to refer for further study was defeated, passed the following:
"That this General Synod, while admitting the necessity of therapeutic abortion in special circumstances, as set out in the Brief of the Anglican Church of Canada to the Government of Canada, presented in 1967, commends the Government of Canada for the present law which is in accordance with this philosophy, and respectfully requests that this law be rigidly enforced so that abortion on demand be not possible, and directs National Executive Council to take all necessary action, including general distribution of the above mentioned brief throughout the Church, to promote both education for family planning and measures in support of families and individuals facing serious difficulties in this area."
BACKGROUND: United Church General Council meeting in Saskatoon in 1972 said that up to 12 weeks of pregnancy abortion should be a private matter between a woman and her physician.
2. SOCIAL ACTION UNIT. General Synod authorized establishment of a Social Action Unit or Department.
- It will have authority to vote shares held by the Church at shareholders meetings, and to consult with corporate directors and officers.
- The Church presently has about $28 million invested, most of it on behalf of the Church Pension Plan.
- The unit will be responsible for developing policies reflecting the Christian view of social problems.
- Examples: pollution, justice, racism, housing, equality of opportunity for minority and depressed groups.
- The Primate said the Church must become involved in policy-making at the time it is being made rather than to react negatively to a policy after it has been set.
There was a strong spiritual thread running through General Synod. This was expressed first in this resolution:
"That this General Synod recognize the need for spiritual renewal and request the House of Bishops and each delegate to General Synod to take steps to challenge our people to use all available resources to enable and support the charismatic renewal in the Church, and to discover and share our personal commitment to Jesus Christ and our relationships with each other, in order that we can minister sacrificially to the community at large."
And, for the first time, General Synod set goals for itself for the next two years:
Statement of Purpose (as approved by General Synod 1969)
"As an agent of General Synod, to share Christian insights and resources so that persons and communities may come to the fullness of life in Jesus Christ and may be enabled to fulfill their potential in a changing world."
To deepen our involvement with and commitment to the life and work of the Church in other parts of the world - as they develop their leadership and work for social good, and as they confront us with the deeper dimensions of the Gospel.
To increase the strength of Canadian dioceses in their own planning, develop[ment] and execution of programs as they work for social change, as they support parish and experimental ministries, as they seek personal and professional development and communications skills.
To raise the awareness of churchmen and other Canadians about the "concrete realities of life" in the third world and in Canada, and about the faith, life and work of the Anglican Church of Canada and to increase the commitment of Canadian Anglicans to that work, including the commitment of our money.
To sharpen the focus and effectiveness of our Christian mission, through research, through support and ecumenical and regional planning and experimentation through collaboration with other institutions and agencies.
Delegates recognized that the work of the Church in the North and overseas would cost money.
- Each diocese will be asked to set before each of its parishes the goal of sharing in the outside work of the Church in relation to the amount spent on parish expenditures.
Union of Canada's largest non Roman Catholic churches talked of for more than a quarter-century, won't come any closer when the general synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meets for the 26th time next month. It will be referred to dioceses and parishes for grassroots discussion.
The meeting in Regina will be asked only to approve a recommendation of the national executive council that a committee on union and joint mission be set up to replace the general commission on church union.
The general commission has completed its work with formulation of a plan of union and adopted the name, Church of Christ in Canada, for a proposed new church.
A step-by-step report on the commission's work is to go to synod with the national council's recommendations. Little debate is expected and no definitive action towards union can be taken.
Involved in the union negotiations is organic union of the Anglican Church, which has about 1.1 million confirmed members; the United Church of Canada, which claims about 2.2 million members and adherents, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with about 7,000 members, scattered across Canada.
The plan of union is now before the membership of all three churches.
"Union or unity is not something that can be imposed from the top," says Archbishop E.W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who is anxious to make adequate provision for discussion at local and regional levels of the church.
"Unless people at local levels feel involved in part of the discussions then I think too much activity at national level is destructive rather than creative," Scott says.
Dissolution of the general commission on union means the breakup of a team of clergymen known familiarly in church circles as the "heavenly twine."
Canon Ralph R. Latimer has been the executive commissioner for the Anglican Church on the commission and for five years has worked closely with Rev. Robert Craig, his counterpart for the United Church.
Canon Latimer's work ends May 31 with dissolution of the commission but the executive council is asking synod to approve his appointment to the committee on union and joint mission. His term on the committee will be to June 30, the effective date of his retirement as a minister of the church.
Dr. Craig is ex-secretary of the continuing committee.