General Synod first-timers should be open to seeing the event as a process that may transform them, a Quebec priest and four-time General Synod veteran says.
Archdeacon Pierre Voyer, of the diocese of Quebec, says that he discovered one important thing when he attended his first General Synod many years ago.
“When I came to the synod, I had an idea on some things. But discussion, listening to the other people, discovering their experiences when we talked with each other-sometimes I was convinced when I came here I would vote for something, and at the end of the synod I voted against what I was thinking at the beginning,” he says. “It’s a kind of journey.”
Voyer says he also thinks it’s important for members, when confronted with a decision, to remember that they’re not there to represent the people in their parish or diocese.
“When we come to a synod, we work with our conscience,” he says. “I come here with my own reflection on something, and I think that’s important.”
Voyer studied theology in university, but did not come immediately to the priesthood. First he taught ethics to high school students for seven years. Then he began working for the provincial government in communications- writing speeches, organizing news conferences and editing an in-house magazine. Eventually he started volunteering for the Anglican church, and was ordained in 1988, deciding to work as a priest part-time while continuing to do communications work.
His Quebec City parish, Voyer says, consists of some 70?75 people, all francophone and many of them former Roman Catholics. Some were attracted to Anglicanism because of the Roman Catholic church’s policies on divorce and birth control, he says; others were seeking acceptance and love.
“They came to our church because we don’t have those kinds of rules,” he says. “I think it’s why they came first. But others come also…because somebody cared for them.”