National House of Bishops experiences ‘currency of grace’ at January meeting

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“We left this January meeting having wrestled with how we are the church and how we will remain united in Christ whatever the outcomes at General Synod 2019," said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. File photo

Anglican bishops from across Canada gathered for a special meeting of the National House of Bishops in Niagara Falls, Ont. from Jan. 14 to 17. The focus was on necessary preparation for a primatial election and on three resolutions that will be brought to the floor of General Synod this July in Vancouver.

“The National House of Bishops has worked very hard since General Synod 2016—not only on the issues from General Synod 2016 and the ministry of the whole church, but on how we work and live together,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. “We left this January meeting having wrestled with how we are the church and how we will remain united in Christ whatever the outcomes  at General Synod 2019.”

“One bishop commented that in our work there was a ‘currency of grace,’ a statement that resonated with members of the House. This is not to say there isn’t diversity and there aren’t differences among us, but there was space, respect and grace-filled conversation in how we went about our discussions, and for each other.”

The bishops spent a full day in retreat with Hiltz, reflecting on the nature of primatial ministry within Canada and across the Anglican Communion. This day was in preparation for the beginning of the nomination process for the primacy.

They also spent two days focused on issues that will come before General Synod when it meets in July 2019. These included the proposed replacement of the Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the conversion of the Jews with a collect for reconciliation with the Jews; the second reading of the proposed amendment to the marriage canon (Resolution A051-R2); and changes to Canon XXII in response to the evolving self-determining Indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada.

“The house recognized that it has no jurisdictional authority on what comes to the floor of General Synod; this is the work of the Council of General Synod,” Hiltz said. “But as the nature of episcopal leadership is to encourage, teach, serve, and uphold the faith, the house considered what—if anything—it would like to share with the council on matters coming before the synod.”

The result was a report to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) from the bishops’ perspectives about possible ways forward concerning the proposed amendment to the marriage canon. CoGS will consider any possible amendments to A051-R2 when it meets this March 14-17.

“This particular meeting of the national house—more so than any meeting—modelled a graceful way to have a conversation about a matter with which we have deep differences. At the heart of that was a unanimous commitment to our unity in Christ,” said Hiltz.

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