Council of General Synod (CoGS) members began their first meeting of the triennium with World Café, a community-building exercise intended to help members get to know each other and identify areas of priorities in their work. They were joined by new members of General Synod co-ordinating committees, who also met for the first time.
Archdeacon Michael Thompson, the Anglican Church of Canada’s general secretary, said the exercise was designed to be an appreciative inquiry of sorts that would identify what ministries “are already embodying the call of God to mission,” what partnerships are helping the church function more deeply and where effective ministries are taking place. This doesn’t mean being “starry-eyed,” said Thompson, but having “gratitude for what God has already given us.”
As members sat down in groups, they were served tea and cookies, and asked to reflect on the following questions: What inspires me to do the work that I do in the church? Where in your contexts do you see God at work? Where is God’s call being embodied? From your perspective, what partnerships/relationships should we be fostering and sustaining through the triennium? What three principles and/or guidelines are essential in moving forward in partnership and mission with others in this triennium?
Participants were asked to write their responses on a roll of brown paper at their tables, then between questions, move around and change places so that they could view other responses.
Some CoGS members said the church’s emphasis on social justice ought to be celebrated. “It’s inspiring to see how we come from different perspectives, but we’re arriving at the same place of love and mission for others,” one group reported in a sharing session.
There were comments about how the Marks of Mission have become part of the fabric of their parish and home life, and how this binds them with other members of the Anglican Communion.
Jennifer Warren, a lay member from the ecclesiastical province of Canada, spoke about how she was cared for at church when her parents had to do shift work when she was young. “The adults in the community looked out for me,” she said, adding that it led to her involvement with the youth synod.
On what partnerships should be sustained, members identified indigenous ministries, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund and the Anglican Communion, among others.
With regard to principles that should guide partnerships and mission, groups identified the following: broad consultation, interdependence in Christ, common values, involvement of all levels of church, prayerfulness and integrity, Marks of Mission, clear expectations, real listening, priority setting with measurable outcomes and transparency, among others.
Archdeacon P.J. Hobbs, who led the discussions, called the collated responses a “living document,” and “an expression of spirit and wisdom” that could “inform and ground” the work of CoGS for the triennium.
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