Governance issues to come at General Synod

Governance issues to come at General Synod
(L to R) Chancellor David Jones and Archdeacon Sidney Black, ACIP co-chair, discuss the proposed amendments to Canon 22, the section on the church's national indigenous ministry. Photo: Marites N. Sison

At the July 3 to 7 General Synod, members will be asked to act on various motions dealing with church governance, including a new proposal for deciding clerical and lay membership that could reduce the size of the governing body, as well as amendments to Canon 22, on national indigenous ministry.

The proposed formula will calculate General Synod membership that dioceses are entitled to, based on average attendance at four liturgical celebrations-Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the second Sunday in September-over two years. The motion also states that minimum diocesan representation should be one clergy and one lay member, in addition to the youth member and bishop, rather than two of each.

In 2010, the Goverance Working Group (GWG) had proposed to change the unit for determining membership to “average weekly attendance” in the diocese, which did not change the General Synod size, currently at 350. But the proposal did not achieve the required two-thirds majority in each of the three orders of bishops, clergy and laity. (Current membership is determined by the number of licensed clergy in the diocese, a situation that has been deemed problematic because licensing practices vary across the church.)

General Synod 2010 reconsidered the matter and approved, on first reading, a formula that based the number of clerical and lay members on a diocese’s “proportional attendance at Easter Communion services,” which guaranteed a minimum of two clergy and two lay members from each diocese, in addition to its bishop(s) and youth member. That formula, however, would increase the size of General Synod.

The proposed new formula will use attendance statistics provided by dioceses. GWG chair David Jones expressed the hope that this would spur dioceses to provide attendance data, noting that the GWG has found it difficult to gather statistics to accomplish its work.

General Synod 2013 will also consider a motion to amend Canon 22, to include in the process for selecting the future national indigenous Anglican bishop (NIAB) members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP) and Sacred Circle.

“Canon 22 has had a good journey,” said Archdeacon Sidney Black, ACIP co-chair, explaining that the amendments were based on consultations conducted by the GWG with ACIP and Sacred Circle.

“In 2010, General Synod adopted the bare bones of the framework [for the national indigenous ministry. [The amendments] articulate what ACIP and Sacred Circle are about,” he said. “The next time we [Sacred Circle] meet, we will meet less as a convocation but more as a convention.”

Several CoGS members raised questions for clarification, including what the retirement age is for the NIAB and why there is no requirement that specifically states that he or she be indigenous.

Jones explained that the proposed age for the NIAB is 70, the same as for the primate and bishop ordinariate. He added that it was implicit that one has to be aboriginal to qualify as a NIAB. Randall Fairey, GWG member, added that it was a given, since the bishop’s membership at ACIP requires that he or she be aboriginal.

Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to <em>The Toronto Star</em> and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for <em>The New York Times</em>.

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