A succession of resolutions brought by the Faith, Worship, and Ministry (FWM) Coordinating Committee, along with recognition for the Canadian Council of Churches, passed at the 42nd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
FWM’s director, the Rev. Eileen Scully, gave the introduction on July 15 to the motions, which sought approval of General Synod for new liturgical texts, statements on ecumenical and interfaith relations and documents from global bodies including the Anglican Communion and the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The first resolution passed, A129, affirmed the “Arusha Call to Discipleship”, a document from the WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in March 2018. The resolution encourages “programmatic bodies within the General Synod to integrate the ‘Arusha Call to Discipleship’ into the guiding principles of baptismal living for the shaping of national ministries,” and commends the document to dioceses “for study and inclusion in their consideration of evangelism, witness and discipleship.” The motion passed with 208 members (99.5%) voting “Yes” and one member (0.5%) voting “No.”
National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Mark MacDonald, currently North American president of the WCC, offered reflections on the motion. Speaking in favour of the “Arusha Call to Discipleship,” he recalled two themes from his opening homily at General Synod: the shift of Christians from simply being “members of an institution” to becoming a true “community of disciples,” and challenging the “culture of money” that the archbishop characterized as a form of idolatry in the modern world.
“What ‘Arusha’ is calling us to be is calling us back to our original love and dedication to God, and following Jesus Christ as disciples to reject the spiritual formation that is happening in the worldwide metastasizing culture of money, and begin to be shaped once again by the values of our Christian faith,” MacDonald said.
The second resolution, A128, saw General Synod officially adopt “The Anglican Communion Charter for the Safety of People” and the “Protocol for the Disclosure of Ministry Suitability Information between the Churches of the Anglican Communion.” The motion passed unanimously, with 207 synod members (100%) voting “Yes” and one abstaining.
Resolution A128 commends the charter to dioceses and other bodies of the Anglican Church of Canada to use as the basis for revising and creating policies and training materials related to “safeguarding and right conduct,” and directs the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to review the policy base of General Synod in light of the charter, with an eye to reporting back to the next General Synod in 2022 on developments and revised policies.
The resolution also expresses gratitude for the Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission for its work in creating the “Charter for the Safety of Persons” and its protocols, and directs CoGS to include discussion of safe church policy and practice in its agenda each triennium.
Speaking on Resolution A128, Scully praised the work of Mary Wells from the diocese of Toronto. In 2017, Wells was appointed to serve on the Anglican Communion Safe Church Commission, having established her reputation through a long history in social work.
“One of the many things I’ve learned from Mary, and that she brings to these international conversations, is a firm and stubborn commitment that we not settle for a risk management approach,” Scully said. “Rather, the charter prioritizes a victim-centred approach and the creation of a culture of safety…. It encourages us and shows us how we can do more in the perennial work” of safe church policy.
Four further resolutions concerned the approval of new and revised liturgical texts, products of the liturgical task force established by General Synod in 2010. Many of the texts have been in trial use for the last three to six years. On July 16, General Synod passed all four motions.
Resolution A124 authorized for use “Alternative Collects for the Revised Common Lectionary.” The motion carried with 183 synod members (87.1%) voting “Yes,” 27 members (12.9%) voting “No,” and eight abstentions. Resolution A125 authorized for use “Gathering Rites for Paschaltide,” with 198 members (95.2%) voting “Yes,” 10 members (4.8%) voting “No,” and eight abstentions.
Resolution A126 authorized for use “Thanksgivings Over the Water.” The motion passed with 208 members (97.7%) voting “Yes,” five members (2.3%) voting “No,” and four abstaining. Finally, Resolution A127 authorized for use “Seasonal Forms for Daily Office” and “Daily Prayer for Ordinary Time,” with 194 members (97%) voting “Yes,” six members (3%) voting “No,” and 10 abstentions.
Bishop Andrew Asbil and Dr. Richard Leggett—the latter of whom has served as chair of the liturgy task force for six years—spoke on the work of the liturgical task force as an introduction to the resolutions.
Drawing upon observations from the introduction of the Book of Alternative Services, Asbil said that while “the gospel is perennial, unchanging, but ever new in its transformation and configuration of the world,” where liturgical forms are concerned, “it is vital that its form wear the idiom, the cadence, the worldview of the people who are engaged in that process with every generation.”
Leggett described the approved liturgies as an option for Anglicans who wish to use them.
“In the great tradition of Anglicanism,” he said, “all may use them, some should, but none of you must.”
Gratitude for the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) was the subject of another resolution passed by General Synod.
Resolution A120 offers congratulations to the president and executive of the CCC, and recommits the Anglican Church of Canada to its “membership and full participation in the life and witness of the Council.” CCC General Secretary Peter Noteboom spoke on the history and work of the council prior to the passing of the motion.
He noted that the founding of the council 75 years ago coincided with preparations for the Normandy landings on D-Day during the Second World War.
“This was the last year of that terrible war…. Here in Canada, church leaders were saying, ‘We need a council of churches that will prevent this from ever happening again,’” Noteboom said. “So the pursuit of peace is built into our DNA, from the very time that we were founded, and that shows up in our history.”
While the CCC is built on ecumenism and Christian unity, the work of the council from the start has included peace and disarmament. More recently, it has focused on justice issues such as poverty, Indigenous rights, equal access to resources and fighting human trafficking. Interfaith outreach and intercultural learning programs are an important part of the CCC’s work, while the council is also increasingly reflecting on the theological implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Two further FWM resolutions were passed at General Synod 2019: one on ecumenical relations between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada, and the other affirming “A Common Word” as a way of building closer relationships between Christians and Muslims. Details on each of these resolutions will be published in separate articles for the Anglican Journal.