Monday, November 18, 2013

Prayer and Resolutions at the Council of General Synod on Nov 16

A moment for the Philippines

At 1:30 COGS reconvened and began the session with a time of silence and prayer for the people and the churches of the Philippines.

Laura Marie Piotrowicz shared a letter she had received from a bishop in the Philippines regarding the prayers and support of the Canadian church.

Housing and homelessness

The Primate introduced Henriette Thompson, General Synod's public witness coordinator for social and ecological justice, who spoke on the Joint Declaration on Housing and Homelessness and Responsible Resource Extraction, and the efforts to continue the process initiated with that declaration.

Ms. Thompson offered the example of Edmonton and its 10-year "Homes First" strategy. After a short clip from a news program detailing the strategy, Bishop Jane Alexander of the diocese of Edmonton spoke about the church's involvement in that plan, and the resistance they have met while supporting the work to eliminate homelessness in Edmonton.

Bishop Alexander then answered questions from the floor, and heard comments from those assembled on efforts to alleviate homelessness in their own communities.

Responsible resource extraction

Ms. Thompson then moved to the next part of her presentation, covering responsible resource extraction. "We all consume these resources, so we all need to find our place in this story." Ms. Thompson spoke on inter-organizational connections the church has (e.g. KAIROS) in dealing with this issue.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald spoke on the connection between resource extraction and Indigenous concerns. The major concern at the pre-assembly Indigenous meeting in Busan was resource extraction, particularly mining, and particularly by Canadian companies. Bishop MacDonald made further remarks on the issue of Canadian mining.

Commemoration of the Primate's Apology

The Primate began the commemoration with a welcome, calling it "an opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Peers for his leadership in considering, enacting, and delivering the apology with such passion."

"Michael Peers set this church on a trajectory towards healing and reconciliation from which we must not and never will turn back."

A presentation by Ms. Ginny Doctor, Coordinator of Indigenous Ministries, followed. She noted that the Archbishop Peers' apology in 1993 changed her life, leading her to dedicate it to shaping whole and healthy Indigenous leaders. She showed two videos on the legacy of residential schools, the apology of Primate Michael Peers, and the reception and acceptance of that apology.

ACIP co-chair Sidney Black offered a deeply emotional reflection on Archbishop Peers and the apology. "Good things, wonderful things, sacred things happen when we walk with people who are culturally distinct from who we are. In 1993 I believe such a thing happened. I believe that God sent a man to begin that journey of healing... Your grace, my love and admiration for you is exceedingly great. I pray that we will continue always to grow in our love and friendship with each other."

After a recitation of the Apostle's Creed, prayer, confession of sins and an exchanging of the peace, Archbishop Peers addressed the group, recounting his past growing up near a reserve in British Columbia and his early encounters with First Nations people; his growing awareness of the church's treatment of and attitude toward Indigenous Anglicans during his first years in ministry; and his involvement in the beginning of Indigenous self-determination in the diocese of Keewatin.

Archbishop Peers' address was marked by frequent moments of personal reflection and humour, recounting a life of relationship with Indigenous Anglicans.

Bishop Mark MacDonald gathered Indigenous elders and clergy to present a blanket to the Archbishop, which they draped across Peers' shoulders. They then gathered around the Archbishop, while the Rev. Margaret Waterchief prayed for him, as she did at his apology in 1993.

A hymn was sung and those assembled celebrated the Holy Eucharist.

Afterwards there followed another hymn, brief announcements from Bishop Mark, and a message of thanks from the Primate to Archbishop Michael Peers.

The Primate's Commission

The Primate then spoke on the commission on the doctrine of discovery, the nature of reconciliation, and justice for indigenous persons and communities.

Both prayer and the UN declaration of the rights of Indigenous peoples will ground the work of commission.

After a multi-language benediction from the Primate, Archbishop Peers, Bishop Mark MacDonald, Bishop Adam Halkett, and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, a closing hymn was sung and COGS adjourned for dinner.

COGS reconvened at 7:30 with a prayer from the Primate. Coordinating committees were given the option of meeting separately or observing the COGS session.

Canon XXI on marriage

On the agenda was a motion from General Synod for COGS to author a motion on an amendment of Canon XXI to allow marriage of same-sex couples for consideration at General Synod 2016.

The Primate shared reflections on the matter from the House of Bishops meeting last month. Archbishop Hiltz had proposed at the House of Bishops that a commission of the council (mandated and appointed by the council; not a Primate's commission) be set up to consider the matter, said this Fall meeting of COGS should deal with it, and opened the floor for comments from the House. The bishops expressed concern that the commission would have insufficient time, and it would be difficult to have theologically diverse membership. There was also interest in a suggestion that the House give attention in its meetings regarding supporting documentation, and international consultation.

Some of the House had observed that in 2010 the church had appeared to have arrived at a place of peace, but no longer since General Synod 2013. Those concerned asked if there were a way to hold the peace.

The Primate invited COGS members to have conversation in table groups on two questions. The first: What are you hearing with respect to this matter on the ground in your context? The second: Assuming that a commission were established, what messages would you want to give that commission at the very outset of its work?

At the end of table conversations, the Primate asked that notes from COGS members' tables be collected to be passed on. The Primate then invited representatives from each table of COGS members to share their discussion points with the room.


COGS resolved that, in conformity with the General Synod resolution:

1. That this council establish a commission to carry out a consultative process as directed by the General Synod.

2. That this commission report to COGS its findings and any recommendations as to what matters COGS should consider in writing the text of the directed enabling motion.

3. That the Primate and the officers of General Synod appoint the members of this commission before December 31, 2013

4. That the commission bring a progress report to the next meeting of COGS as to how it is carrying out its work.

Source: Anglican Church of Canada

Related Article
Highlights from the Council of General Synod: General Secretary's Report and the Primate's Reflections (Nov 16)

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