Dean Peter Wall, chair of the General Synod planning committee, briefs Council of General Synod members about preparations for the General Synod and Joint Assembly this July. Photo: Marites N. Sison
Preparations for the General Synod and for Joint Assembly between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) are moving full steam ahead, said Dean Peter Wall, Anglican co-chair of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission and chair of the General Synod planning committee.
“We are in good shape,” Wall told Council of General Synod members at their spring meeting March 13 to 17. The Joint Assembly—scheduled July 3 to 7 at the Ottawa Convention Centre—is the first since full communion was achieved in 2001 between the two churches.
“This is exciting, wonderful stuff we’re embarking on,” said Wall. The assembly makes “a significant statement to the world about the nature of the church…it’s living out some of the commandments in the Bible about the unity of church,” he added.
Wall addressed concerns that had been previously expressed about a compressed General Synod, saying that the planning committee is confident that delegates will have enough time to deal with its business agenda. (The General Synod has been shortened to four days from the usual nine days as a result of the Joint Assembly.)
“Reports and presentations will be both shorter in length and fewer in number than in the past; ‘speeches’ will be kept to a minimum; and the time necessary for the work has been identified,” added Wall in a written report. “This clearly is crucial in terms of the significant work being done on restructuring; we have been able to identify up to 4.5 hours of synod to devote to this important agenda item.”
The joint agenda would include discussions and action around the two churches’ work on mission and development, in particular, the issues around homelessness, affordable housing and responsible resource extraction.
“What we’d like to do is have a common voice,” said Wall, adding that since the assembly has no legislative authority or power, it potentially could have joint resolutions that would then be ratified by both Anglican’s General Synod and the Lutheran’s National Convention.
On Saturday morning, July 6, Anglicans and Lutherans will gather—“rain or shine”—
on Parliament Hill for a “public act of worship and witness” to be led by local youth from Ottawa. Local Anglicans and Lutherans are being invited to join the gathering, which will focus on issues and reflections concerning water.
In his report, Wall also said:
* Delegates, staff and visitors can now register and get more General Synod and Joint Assembly information online at www.jointassembly.ca
* Representatives from the worldwide Anglican and Lutheran churches have been invited as guests at the assembly. They include the Anglican Communion’s general secretary, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, and the director for Unity, Faith and Order, the Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan; the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches; Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States; and Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Representatives from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Council of Churches have also been invited.
* The Ottawa Convention Centre is a “wonderful venue” for the event—it offers world-class facilities for daily worship, sessions, committee meetings, meals and displays. Its glass walls will allow delegates to take in a stunning view of Ottawa and the Rideau Canal.
* Accommodations—at Ottawa hotels and university residence facilities—are within walking distance to the convention centre.
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Marites N. Sison is editor of the Anglican Journal.
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