The 25th Session of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is being held from January 25th to February 2nd, 1971, at Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Overshadowing general business, will be the election at the very beginning of Synod of a new Primate to replace Archbishop Howard H. Clark, who resigned in August of this year. A new Primate must be prepared to face one of the most onerous times in the Church's history.
Experience, flexibility, physical and mental strength, the ability to travel widely and almost constantly, a concern for the wider picture outside narrow denominationalism and nationalism, plus the greater pastoral and spiritual responsibilities that the office requires, demand a man of rare qualities.
The Primacy originated in the first General Synod of the Church of England in Canada in 1893. This meeting was quite a radical step in those days, as it signified the will of the Canadian Church to regulate its own affairs as a national entity, instead of referring everything to Canterbury. Of course, it remained heavily dependent on British support in men and money, for half a century longer.
In 1886, the Provincial Synod of Canada appointed a committee to consider the legislation necessary in the various dioceses for bringing about a confederation of the Church in British North America. The project was brought before the various Diocesan and the two Provincial Synods of Canada, and Rupert's Land, and eventually resulted in a Conference being held at Winnipeg on September 18th, 1890.
The Provincial Synod of Rupert's Land expressed its conviction of the necessity of Provincial Synods for local needs and feelings, and its opinion that any scheme, to be satisfactory for this Province, must recognize Provincial Synods in subordination to the General Synod.
As a result of the Conference of Representatives from the several Dioceses of Canada, held in Winnipeg in 1890, the First Session of the General Synod met in Toronto on Wednesday, September 13th, 1893. At this Session, the Synod was organized and the Most Rev. R. Machray, Metropolitan of Rupert's Land was elected by the Upper House as Primate of all Canada. At the same Session the title of Archbishop was given to the Metropolitan of each Province then in existence.
In the early elections one of the Metropolitans was always elected, but under the present Canon, any Bishop who is a member of the Upper House is eligible.
The Primate's functions are both pastoral and administrative. He has a pastoral relationship to the whole Canadian Church. He is charged with giving leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy of the Church. He is the chief Executive Officer of the National Staff.