Summary of the proceedings of the 142nd Synod of the Diocese of Ontario
Please note that video of the worship and plenary portions of Synod are available online at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTu8PFEwaQKDJtZMNGzNvVQ
Thursday, November 1st
Synod gathered in the evening of All Saints Day in our Cathedral Church of St. George for the Opening Eucharist. Bishop Michael welcomed members of Synod, people from throughout our Diocese, and guests including a delegation from the Diocese of Algoma led by our new Provincial Metropolitan, Archbishop Anne Germond, who presided at the Celebration of the Eucharist.
Bishop Michael began his 4th Charge to Synod by taking as his text Ephesians 4:4-19, noting that we gather, with the Saints, as people who have only Good News to share. He noted that our Synod theme “Rooted in Faith, Growing in Spirit” echoes Paul’s words to the Ephesians as he expresses his joy about this community now in Christ, without minimizing the reality of suffering that faith entails, using the phrase ‘for this reason’ three times. Acts 19 makes it clear that the impact of the lifestyle of Christians on the economy brought them under threat of real harm to an extent that we seldom experience. He upheld the example of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s fearless witness unto death in pursuit of a better, just society. ‘For what reason’ do we now gather? To walk together, following Christ. He spoke of the joy and hope of our recent Provincial Synod gathering under the theme ‘A Hopeful Church in Changing Times’ and the worship, study, and business of that gathering, including the election of Archbishop Anne. Bishop Michael took up our new Metropolitan’s chosen motto ‘Salt & Light’ and asked us to make them our words during this Synod.
Our Bishop strongly commended the ongoing and expanding ministry of reconciliation, in all its dimensions, particularly exemplified in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation. Noting the Coventry bronze image of St. Michael the Archangel subduing the devil in the context of the sway of the powers of evil in our world, he announced the creation of a new diocesan ministry of reconciliation – “From the Steps to the Streets” and, in conjunction with this, the creation of a new canonry of St. Michael the Archangel, to which he named Rev. Canon Michael Read, Canon of St. Aidan, who will lead this new initiative’s team.
Referring again to Ephesians, he noted the joining of gentile and Covenant peoples in this community of followers of Christ, and drew our attention to the ecumenical imperative. He welcomed our Synod Observer, Sister Pauline Lally of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, and honoured our continuing relationship with the Archdiocese of Kingston by inviting her to assume the Honourary Canonry of St. Vincent de Paul.
The Bishop’s Charge continued with a brief review of the process surrounding our consideration of the proposed amendment to General Synod Canon 21 on Marriage, with thanks to those who have been our Steering Committee. He introduced those who will present at this Synod on this topic, and made the announcement of a non-binding poll on the resolution, which will form part of our Diocese’s consideration of the matter to be submitted to General Synod.
Attention was next drawn to the Covenant Celebration Team and community partnerships flowing out of the initiatives of our 2016 Synod, with Bishop Michael commending the continuation of this program to us.
In a spirit of great thanksgiving, Bishop Michael noted that Art and Marjorie Keates and Jane Miller would be receiving Diocesan Certificates of Appreciation for their great work in support of our Archives. Announcing the intended retirement of our Chancellor, Roy Conacher, Bishop Michael thanked him for all he has done, to be recognized by being made Honourary Canon of St. Thomas a Beckett. He also confirmed the appointment of Garth Allen to the position of Chancellor. He indicated that he’d received a nomination for the Diocese of Ontario medal for someone who “lived and breathed the ministry of our Church” – Carl Redmond, and his delight in conferring this honour. With thanks to all the clergy, he commended the many contributions of Rev. Don Bailey, appointing him to the Canonry of St. Mary the Virgin. Noting the inevitable sadness that surrounds the closing of Camp Hyanto, he thanked all current and past Board members. Finally, he thanked members of the Synod Planning Committee and Diocesan Centre staff.
As we prepared to gather around the table of our Lord, Bishop Michael reminded us of those Saints whom he had called to mind in his Charge, praying that they might encourage us to be salt and light as we take our next steps in faith.
The liturgy continued, including the installation of the Canons named and recognition of those named Honourary Canons and the recipient of the Diocese of Ontario medal and a presentation to Bishop Michael of a gift from the Clergy of the Diocese of Advent Vestments crafted by Liz Smith.
The evening concluded with a reception in the Cathedral.
Friday, November 2nd
The day commenced with worship from the resources of the Iona Community.
Following confirmation of quorum by the Clergy and Lay Honourary Secretaries the business of Synod began.
Motions to approve the agenda, elect The Rev. Valerie Kelly and Heather Grimshaw as Honourary Secretaries, offer courtesies of the house, appoint Garth Allan, Rev. Don Bailey and Robin Jones as members of the Diocesan Court, accept all reports (except the report of Synod Council), accept the report of Synod Council, affirm loyalty to the Queen, and ratify the election of Synod Council members at pre Synod meetings were passed. The newly elected members of Synod Council are: Katharine McLean (Leeds-Grenville), Reverend Trish Miller (Leeds-Grenville), Shane MacKay (Frontenac), Venerable Bill Clarke (Frontenac), Peter Cory (Quinte), Reverend Ada Clifton (Quinte), Pauline Eskerod (Hastings), and Reverend Lynn Mitchell (Hastings).
Bishop Michael also appointed the following members to Synod Council: Brenda Hobbs, Viren Oogarah, Doug Cowley, Canon Michael Read, and Voila David.
Bishop Michael declared ballot boxes open for election of delegates to General Synod 2019, directing members to the biographies of those who had offered to stand. No further nominations were made from the floor.
General Synod Canon 21 on Marriage
Bishop Michael provided a brief history of the process of consultation and study to date, noting that General Synod 2016 had instructed Dioceses to ‘consider’ this matter. He invited us to view this as an opportunity to move beyond simple Parliamentary Procedure and to discern together as the Body of Christ. He reviewed the process he’d directed our Diocese to undertake, including the ‘Toolbox’ created, encouraging discernment throughout our Diocese and sharing the considered opinions of these discernment gatherings. All material received and gathered will be shared as the considered view of our Diocese under the cover of a motion to memorialize General Synod. He noted that after hearing presentations from today’s speakers and their responses to questions from the floor and having small group discussions the members would be asked in a secret, non-binding poll to indicate whether they agree, disagree or are undecided regarding the amended resolution coming before General Synod for second reading.
Archdeacon Wayne Varley moderated the panel:
Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat presented a Biblical rational in support of changing the Marriage Canon.
Rev. Dr. Glen Taylor was called upon to offer a Biblical rational opposing changing the Marriage Canon.
Rev. Dr. Christopher Brittain spoke of the context of Anglican Communion.
Archdeacon Varley thanked the speakers and invited questions from members.
Before going to the cathedral steps to participate in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, members watched a video on The Good Shepherd Mission’s Cowdy Street Habitat for Humanity project.
Following lunch Synod resumed with the three presenters responding to questions from members moderated by Archdeacon Varley.
Bishop Michael concluded this portion of the agenda with a call for us to commit to the ongoing work of reconciliation as we move forward with this discernment process.
Members then took part in small breakout groups to answer two questions:
1. What do you have personally invested in the outcome of the vote?
2. Regardless of the outcome, what concrete actions can we take so that the Diocese of Ontario models walking together with different perspectives on this issue after 2019?
As we returned to plenary session the Video “Reading Buddies” which tells of Christ Church Belleville’s literacy program, inspired by similar programs in other congregations in our Diocese.
Rev. Dr. Bill Morrow presented the summary from the caucus of breakout group facilitators, such summary to be included in the memorial to General Synod.
The previously mentioned non-binding poll ballots were distributed, completed and gathered and the motion to memorialize General Synod was carried.
Evening Prayer at the Cathedral included the installation of new members of Synod Council and recognition of the Archives team as noted in the Bishop’s Charge.
The evening concluded with a reception featuring music by ‘Off The Grid’ and ‘Steel City Rovers’
Saturday, November 3rd
Synod began with Morning Prayer.
Archbishop Anne Germond spoke, thanking Bishop Michael for the invitation for the delegation from the Diocese of Algoma to be with us during our Synod. She commended us for the courageous conversations undertaken on Friday and urged us to keep talking together in companionship, reminding us that the root of this word speaks to sharing bread together, which is at the heart of our life together in Christ. She noted the importance of reconciliation in our Diocese and that reconciliation had been one of the seeds in the Algoma Diocesan bundle of 2017, with a particular focus on reconciliation between Indigenous People and settlers. She presented Bishop Michael with a hat to keep him warm on the steps of the Cathedral on Fridays and said that Algoma is looking forward to receiving the delegation from our Diocese at their May Synod. She also presented a gift for Jeanie Oulton and a picture for the Synod Office.
Canon Michael Read thanked those who enriched our Synod worship by their offering of music – Marilyn Bowler and Scott and Tara Cameron, especially in the composition of our Synod theme song
Canon Michael Read indicated that this gathering had been a wonderful experience of sharing within our Ecclesiastical Province. Highlights included: thanking our former Metropolitan, Archbishop Colin Johnson; the election and moving service of installation of our new Metropolitan at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, including Archbishop Fred Hiltz’s wonderful homily. Additionally, Bishop Bill Cliff’s sharing of the Gospel and the journey of our faith was deeply touching. Canon Michael said that the event was a deeply spiritual experience. Bishop Michael thanked all who had attended as our delegates.
Constitution and Canons
Roy Conacher noted that the process resulting in draft documents presented at our last Synod and now in this brand new set of documents, was undertaken in order to comply with the Provincial “Not for Profit Act”. In addition, they reflect the normal cycle of change requiring updates, the need to simplify our governance, ensure relevance, and provide structure for the mission and work of the church. He thanked the members of the Canons Committee.
The Draft Constitution and Canons presented makes use of the updated documents of the Diocese of Toronto as a template in conversation with our previous documents. He reviewed the process of consultation with various groups within our Diocese and noted that input had been solicited and received. Many hours were spent determining the current form. The key objectives are clarity and consistency in governance, transparency, and accountability.
The Chancellor noted that the Draft Constitution is a new document, required by Provincial legislation. The Constitution is based upon the previous Canon A. A significant recommended change is in the composition of Synod, with the number of Lay Delegates per Vestry changed to two and Vocational Deacons to four. The Canons are designed to provide a framework, with policies and processes then to provide necessary detail. He noted that the Canons create a new Executive Board, provide for settlement of differences, clarify the process on clerical appointments, provide specifics on parish amalgamation and re-alignment, detail audit or review requirements, speak to financial accountability, and structure Parish Advisory Council. The Cemeteries Canon was based upon that of the Diocese of Montreal. A new Canon provides for Diocesan administration of a Parish, and other revisions reflect the current Diocesan structure. If approved, the new Constitution and Canons will come into effect at the end of this Synod and will continue to evolve. He moved, seconded by Robin Jones, that Synod accept and approve Draft Version 4.0 of the Canons and Constitution.
Archdeacon Charles Morris, seconded by Archdeacon Nancy MacLeod moved the following amendment:
That the Constitution, Chapter (1)(d)(i) be changed to read:
(d) such Clergy of the Diocese licensed by the Bishop who are: (i) in full-time or part-time diocesan or parish ministry, including transitional deacons and vocational deacons licensed to a specific ministry by the Bishop, but excluding honorary associates unless they are acting as priests-in-charge;
That Canon 17 5. be changed to read:
A Vocational deacon who wishes to resign or retire from the ministry to which they are licensed shall do so in writing to the Bishop. A Vocational deacon who in the judgement of the Bishop is no longer carrying out the ministry to which they are licensed shall be deemed to have resigned. The same retirement policy applies to Vocational Deacons as priests.
That Canon 17 9. be deleted (as it is made inapplicable by the above changes), and 10. be renumbered to 9. The amendment was carried.
Canon Andrew Chisholm, seconded by Diane Davis Duerkop, moved to amend the Constitution to say that the number of lay members of the synod that each vestry is entitled to elect shall be 2 for parishes with an average weekly attendance of 1 to 75, 3 for parishes with an average weekly attendance of 76 to 100, 4 for parishes with an average weekly attendance of 101 or more. Following debate, a friendly amendment was made by the mover and seconder to change the word ‘parish’ in the original amendment to ‘vestry’. The motion, as amended was defeated.
The following concerns were expressed:
Concerning Canon 9 and its implications for clergy on leave, and whether other changes may have been included in the new documents that call for careful review.
The 66% approval requirement in Canon 1 was discussed.
The need for these documents to reflect new realities, including regional ministry configurations, was flagged, as well as reasonable procedures regarding approval of e-transfers.
The liability of wardens was discussed.
Clarification of Canon 9’s provisions for consultation with the Bishop’s Advisory Council.
The matter of conflict of interest among lay leaders, especially in small parishes was discussed.
Inclusion of a list of definitions in the Constitution was suggested.
The voting privileges of assisting clergy will require clarification.
The Motion, as amended, was carried.
Common Ministry and Mission
Alex Pierson introduced this topic. On behalf of the Finance Committee, Rev. Michael Rice reviewed the background regarding the determination of CMM and outlined the process that had been undertaken with respect to review of our structure. He noted that the conclusion of the review had been to retain the current system. Some discussion regarding future options for consideration took place.
Chief Financial Officer Alex Pierson introduced the budget in terms of its reflection of our ministry and mission planning and as a management control tool.
He spoke of the recent happenings in the Diocese including the move to the new Diocesan Centre, the seeding of new ministries, and the desire to create more opportunities for consultation. He noted the reality of ongoing change and highlighted some of the challenges facing our Diocese that impact our budgeting process.
He continued by providing an overview of the development of the budget. Beginning with clear guiding premises, a transparent process and detail, a comprehensive model, balanced finances, level funding based upon clear modelling, and a commitment to looking forward. At its heart, the budget is intended to be focussed on church vitality.
Discussions are ongoing regarding ministry models that are both affordable and effective in responding to the needs of the community and how to best support that. Investment in the people, who ARE the church needs to be at the heart of conversation regarding how we also maintain necessary buildings. Investing in mission is a clear mandate and the diocesan role in support of mission and ministry needs to be clearly reflected in our budget.
Members were invited to reflect on the wide range of support for the entire diocese that the budget reflects. Numerous efforts that are now in the planning stage and others that are under development reflect our priorities as we move forward, always mindful that change and opportunity will continue to be our reality. In summary, the budget is intended to reflect our real ministry and mission priorities in an effective and efficient manner.
The CFO reviewed the top 10 highlights of the budget – inflation / cost of living at 2%, flat total income, core operation costs held flat, decrease in support for the National Church, training an development increased by 20%, programs increased by 12%, removal of Hyanto costs, $91,000 allocated to new ministry seeding, and overall balance in all aspects.
Efforts continue to increase non CMM income, including through investments, and this, combined with relatively level CMM results in a slight improvement in our overall income picture,
Rev. Nancy Beale, seconded by Rev. Michael Rice, moved that the 2019 Diocesan budget, as presented, be approved. The motion was carried.
With the budget approved, Alex Pierson made a ‘call to action’ to be involved in this ongoing process.
Members viewed the ‘Full of Beans’ video on the food security program of St. Paul’s, Brockville.
Responses to Bishop’s Charge
Al Danforth began, noting that he would be focussing on areas of good news in our Diocese. Our Synod theme was reflected in the Charge, and the example of the Ephesian church gives us hope for new life even in the midst of struggle. The Covenants are a witness to the many seeds that have been planted throughout our Diocese. He drew attention to some of these wonderful programs and encouraged parishes to take this opportunity to plant seeds. He concluded by quoting from the text of the Bishop’s Charge: “Jesus calls, we respond and the first thing we do is move. ‘Follow me’ declares Christ and we are instantly set in motion, leaving the past behind and following the path laid by Christ toward the future that God has prepared.”
Robin Jones reflected on the social justice aspects of the charge. Compassion and comfort were evident throughout the Charge, especially in the context of the ministry of reconciliation. His call for our engagement in this ministry should make us all want to reply “I want to be part of this.” The emphasis on taking this ministry from the steps to the streets, from our hearts and lips to concrete action. She noted the recent information event to combat Human Trafficking in Athens as an example of this much needed action. She referred to the Charge’s attention to the ministry of Archbishop Oscar Romero as a witness of the call to move from the steps to the street. She noted Bishop Michael’s emphasis on our call to engage graciously in the political forum, upholding Christian values of peace, justice and hope, especially in the midst of the current use of divisive, degrading language.
Rev. Andrew Wilson’s response centred on the ministry of reconciliation, specifically as it regards the General Synod Marriage Canon 21. The need to look ahead to the aftermath of the vote in 2019 is critical. There will be hurt, sadness and anger among people we love no matter what the vote’s outcome. How will we respond? Bishop Michael has called us to a ministry of reconciliation that must be heard in this regard. The new ministry of reconciliation created in the Charge is ideally placed to take the lead, so both Bishop Michael and Canon Michael Read are asked to work to foster reconciliation in our Diocese and our Parishes. We will need the spirit of patience and perseverance the Charge calls us to, beginning right now, so that we will be ready to move forward. He prayed that this might foster renewed life in our Christian community.
Official Synod Observer’s Remarks
Bishop Michael spoke to the importance of this role.
Sister Pauline Lally noted that we began our Synod in the legacy of All Saints. Referring to the Charge, she drew our attention to our calling to remain true to the struggle and indicated that she had indeed seen us doing so. She observed this in our presentations and deliberations on Canon 21. She felt that our invitation to her, as a Roman Catholic, to be with us during this Synod was a demonstration of the deep trust between our denominations and noted her appreciation of our hospitality. She said that the distribution of documentation in advance had been a great help in preparing for this event. She experienced deep sharing and respect for diverse opinions, compassionate, attentive listening. Sister Pauline said that her horizons were broadened and she was in awe of the working of the Spirit at this sacred assembly. She urged that we keep the dialogue open. With respect to the Canons, she saw a procedure that allowed all a voice and showed a strong interest in our governance. Concerning our worship, she offered the suggestion that we make opportunity to allow silence. She gave thanks for her appointment as an Honourary Canon and asked that God would bless us in being faithful to the Gospel.
Archdeacon Nancy MacLeod and Canon Blair Peever were elected as clergy delegates to General Synod, with Reverend Nancy Beale as alternate.
Anne Patterson and Haroldine Neil-Burchert were elected as lay delegates to General Synod, with Peter Cory as alternate.
A motion to destroy the ballots was carried.
The results of the non-binding poll concerning the amendment to Canon 21 were: 107 in agreement with the change, 43 in disagreement, 13 undecided and 1 spoiled ballot for a total of 164.
Dean Don Davison made a motion of thanks to all who contributed to this Synod.
Synod concluded with worship from the resources of the Iona Community and a final blessing and dismissal from Bishop Michael declaring the conclusion of Synod 2018.