The Council of General Synod (CoGS) considered a number of resolutions for General Synod 2010 during a meeting March 11 to 14 in Mississauga, Ont. These resolutions include:
* a new strategic plan for the Anglican Church of Canada, called Vision 2019;
* the Anglican Communion Covenant;
* adding the two representatives from the Anglican Council of Indigeneous Peoples as full members of CoGS; and
* strategies to facilitate discussion of difficult issues such as sexuality among delegates to General Synod 2010.
CoGS voted to adopt Vision 2019 and to recommend it for consideration by General Synod 2010. (See ‘CoGS backs Vision 2019’ Mar. 15)
CoGS members heard a report on the Anglican Communion Covenant from two members of the Covenant Design Group: Dr. Eileen Scully, interim director of the Faith, Worship and Ministry department at the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada; and Dr. Katherine Grieb from the Virginia Theological Seminary. The Covenant has been proposed as an agreement among all the provinces of the Communion on their shared faith, mission and interdependence and as a mechanism to help resolve conflict over issues of sexuality
The fourth section of the covenant looks at how the provinces relate to one another and resolve disputes. Although this section has been approved by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and sent out to the provinces for consideration, it has raised concerns for some.
Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster gave notice that the Covenant “will not assist the churches to grow together in unity.” He said his diocesan council expressed concern that the Covenant could be used in a punitive way against member churches who have taken actions to which other provinces object. Some churches in the diocese of New Westminster have been authorized to bless same-sex unions since 2003,
The bishop said the diocese of New Westminster intends to call “on the wider church to undertake a comprehensive consultation on the implications of this proposed covenant… so the church as a whole may make an informed decision concerning its adoption.”
Scully added that the diocese’s response fits well with a motion that Faith, Worship and Ministry intends to present to General Synod 2010 on the need for a time of deep consultation and study. CoGS decided to send the Covenant to General Synod for consideration, but followed the lead of the House of Bishops in not recommending the Covenant for adoption.
The members of CoGS also unanimously approved a motion to recommend to General Synod that the constitution be amended so that two members appointed by the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) to CoGS will become full voting members.
CoGS also approved a format proposed by the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee for conversations about human sexuality at General Synod 2010. The committe proposed that:
* each group involved in work on sexuality since General Synod 2007 report back to General Synod delegates;
* delegates would discuss these reports in diocesan break-out groups of about 24 people:;
* written feedback from these diocesan groups would be woven into a first draft of a pastoral statement from the synod;
* the draft pastoral statement would go back to the diocesan groups for further discussion;
* a single statement would be crafted and delivered to all delegates.
The resolutions committee would then present a resolution to the delegates for a vote.
In other business, CoGS voted to authorize Archbishop Fred Hiltz, in consultation with Susan Johnson, the national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the co-chairs of the Canadian Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission to explore the pros and cons of sharing a national office in Ottawa.
Archbishop Hiltz, who is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, added that a greater presence in the nation’s capital could “position us in new and different ways in terms of our work with government leaders and our capacity to have influence and shape public policy.”