Assembly 2023: Green Shoots Sprout Up in Calgary
General Synod met from June 26 to July 2, 2023
Posted July 3, 2023
"There’s a lot to love about our Church and the experience of gathering Christian Anglicans from across the country to worship, fellowship, and do the business of the Church, is one of those things," says Bishop Susan Bell.
From June 27 to July 2, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada was hosted by the Diocese of Calgary as part of an assembly with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. "Let there be Greening" served as the theme and a touchstone for the gathering.
“It was very exciting to walk into a room of Anglicans from all parts of the Canadian Church and know we were going to be listening, learning, and talking together as we received reports, watched presentations and discussed resolutions,” reflected Canon Kathy Morgan, one of Niagara's eight members in attendance. “There was even more excitement as our Lutheran friends joined assembly and the conversations became even fuller.”
In her Primatial Address, Archbishop Linda Nicholls gave a wide-ranging overview of her ministry and that of the church nationally in recent years, especially through the pandemic. The primate reflected on Anglican identity and the Anglican Church of Canada's place within the worldwide Christian Church. She concluded her remarks by noting that the Church is entering an intentional time of discernment about its mission for the future, pursuing new pathways for mission and seeking to support the emerging self-determining Indigenous Church.
To guide planning, priority-setting, and resource allocation, General Synod members adopted five Transformational Aspirations for the Church, to be lived out in the coming years in collaboration with provinces and dioceses.
Some of the many green shoots of God's mission and ministry that sprouted up throughout the worship, presentations, discussions, and decisions included:
- authorizing pastoral liturgies for journeys for gender transition and affirmation;
- furthering the work of dismantling racism in the Church;
- adopting a motion to address the climate emergency;
- sharing a new parish engagement resource for social and ecological justice issues;
- receiving the Sacred Circle's Covenant and Our Way of Life document; and
- entering into a full communion relationship with the Moravian Church.
"General Synod was an occasion of rejoicing and some difficulty," reflected Bishop Bell. "It was often a pleasure, sometimes a strain, but always a privilege to serve as the governing body for our Church." The bishop noted that a lot of good work was accomplished through the assembly, observing that the Spirit was woven through the discussions. "We learned a lot about our emerging church post-pandemic, and also in the light of the self-determining Indigenous church. A new reality and relationship is being revealed."
The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, addressed General Synod. In his remarks, he highlighted Canadian contributions to the global Church and praised the Anglican Communion's "inter-connectedness across continents, cultures and languages." A State of the Union address about the full Anglican-Lutheran full communion relationship was also offered during the assembly.
Canon Ian Alexander and Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs were elected to serve as prolocutor and deputy prolocutor of the General Synod. In a separate election, Bishop Susan Bell and Adam MacNeil, Niagara's youth member, were elected to serve on the Council of General Synod, the executive body of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Those from Niagara attending the assembly made significant contributions to the organization, worship, discernment, motions, and debate.
"Some days felt long and challenging, and yet the display of respect, civility, kindness, and generosity among the delegates were all signs of how we are committed to being the body of Christ together, attentive to the leading of the Spirit in our midst," said Adam McNeil. "I had the privilege of expressing my support of the motion to authorize pastoral liturgies for gender transitions and affirmations. I felt deeply proud and honoured to join with many others in affirming the dignity and beauty of our trans and non-binary siblings."
In addition to Bishop Susan Bell, Kathy Morgan, and Adam MacNeil, Niagara's delegation included Canon David Anderson, Andrew Clinkard, Dean Tim Dobbin, Susan Little and Jodey Porter. Canon Greg Tweney and Archdeacon Bill Mous also attended as assessors, and Sister Heather Broadwell attended as a religious order representative.
"It was a joy to think and pray with the members of our delegation from Niagara, each of whom brings enormous strengths and gifts to this work," said Bishop Bell. "My profound thanks to each of them for their time and dedication; they did our diocese proud!"
For a full overview of the resolutions that were adopted, please visit the General Synod website.