Synod Pivots with the Pandemic to Meet Virtually in November

146th Synod of Niagara to Convene via Zoom

Posted September 23, 2020

For the first time in its 146-year existence, the synod of the diocese of Niagara will convene virtually, pivoting with the pandemic to keep members as safe as possible and limit the potential for the spread of infection.

"Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many aspects of our ministry have been drastically adapted by necessity," observed Archdeacon Bill Mous, executive officer and secretary of synod, "our governance bodies are no exception." Parish councils, vestries, and synod councils have all convened virtually in recent months, given restrictions on in-person gatherings, to carry on the essential work of the Church.

Drawing on the many learnings from conducting virtual meetings, members of Niagara's 146th synod will gather virtually on November 7 via Zoom videoconferencing for the building up of our Church through prayer, discernment, and decision-making.

“Seeing with the Eyes of our Hearts” has been chosen by Bishop Susan Bell as the theme for synod. Inspired by the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1 verses 15-19, the theme offers a lens to reflect upon the past year, giving thanks for the many ways parishes have led with heart through the pandemic. At the same time, the theme will also orient the synod towards the future as the diocese lives into its Mission Action Plan (MAP) and explores new and emerging avenues for mission.

The agenda committee is diligently working to finalize the plans for a half-day synod that will focus on the essential business of the Church. "While the way we gather will be different, most of the happenings will be familiar to members," noted Archdeacon Mous. "Bishop Susan Bell will give her customary charge at the outset of the proceedings, the auditor’s report for 2019 will be received and members of synod will consider the diocesan budget for 2021."  There will also be a few proposed amendments to our diocesan canons, including the addition of new canon relating to our Cathedral. 

One fo the featured presentations will involve the diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP) which was approved by synod council in January. While the pandemic has shifted some aspects of the MAP, a great deal of work on its three objectives has been undertaken since its launch. Members of synod will hear firsthand how we are enlivening our faith, reshaping our culture and structures for mission, and invigorating our social justice engagement, especially as it relates to climate justice.

In August, synod council approved an adapted procedure for the elections that are normally conducted by regional caucuses or paper balloting at synod. This year, provincial synod delegates and regional representatives to synod council will be elected through an online voting process in the lead-up to synod. The results will then be shared with members during the course of synod.

The convening circular, complete with all synod reports and resolutions, will be posted on the synod webpage towards the end of October. Updates on the proceedings will also be shared on the diocesan Facebook page and Twitter feed.

"This year’s synod will surely be a memorable one," predicted Archdeacon Mous, "but it will also be a very important one as our diocese seeks to faithfully follow God’s leading through this wilderness time and make prudent decisions for the good of the whole Church."

In the coming weeks, the Bishop invites you to pray for the work of the synod – being called to life and compelled to love - as members prepare to exercise their vital governance ministry during this extraordinary time.