‘New ways of being church are emerging’

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‘New ways of being church are emerging’
Graphic: Saskia Rowley

CoGS members share some thoughts on the strategic planning process

As the tumultuous year 2020 drew to a close, and as Canadian Anglicans looked towards another year of uncertainty, the Anglican Journal informally surveyed members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) about the presentation on the national church’s strategic planning process they’d heard Nov. 6. What had stood out for them, and what were they taking away? What do they think the church needs to know about the planning process? Here’s what a few of them told us. Their responses have been lightly edited.

Canon Paulette Bugden, Clergy, Ecclesiastical Province of Canada
Community: Deer Lake, N.L.
Parish: Parish of Deer Lake
Diocese: Western Newfoundland
Member of CoGS since: 2019

1. What do you make of this presentation, from your place of prayer back home?

The information which was shared from the listening groups is very encouraging because it shows we have a shared interest with some of the same difficulties and same joys as the rest of our Anglican Church of Canada. Seeing the priorities of mission, anti-racism, the self-determining Indigenous church and, on the flip side, buildings not being such a high priority gives me a lot of hope for our Anglican Church and the work of the SPWG.

2. What will you, as a CoGS member back in your home parish and diocese, do with this information?

I will share with my fellow Anglicans how the whole church in Canada is going through the same thoughts and feelings that we are here in a small corner of the country.

New ways of being church are emerging and I believe that is good. As a church leader, I feel it is necessary to help parishioners realize that being church is not just about gathering for worship in a building. The third Mark of Mission says, “To respond to human need by loving service” and to do this we have to be outside the building. The thoughts and ideas from these listening groups have also brought this to light along with many other ideas which I will, hopefully, share with the parish and diocese through information sessions and synod executive meetings.

3. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Canadian Anglicans about the national church’s strategic planning process so far?

The fact that the theme for this triennium, “A Changing Church, A Searching World, A Faithful God” was set before the onset of COVID-19 seems to me to have been a foreshadowing of what was to come. The church, as we know, is very slow to change; however, now change has been thrust on us and the SPWG has shifted its focus to deal with the current situation, and also to continue beyond the pandemic. The church’s issues before the pandemic still exist, along with all the new issues; therefore, it is a bonus to have listening groups from all over this country from different age groups and from many slices of our lives, languages and culture.

Dale Drozda, Youth, Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon
Community: Kamloops, B.C.
Parish: St. Paul’s Cathedral
Diocese: Territory of the People
Member of CoGS since: Previous and current triennium

1. What do you make of this presentation, from your place of prayer back home?

It is great to see that, despite all of the changes we have been experiencing with the shift to online church and rapidly changing regulations, key themes still emerged in the listening groups. It is an interesting and important time to be strategic planning because of the idea that there is a will for us to not just return to “normal,” so it is good to think about what this will mean for the years ahead. I am glad to see dismantling racism and supporting the self-determining Indigenous Church are emerging as key areas of focus for the plan.

2. What will you, as a CoGS member back in your home parish and diocese, do with this information?

I will be sharing information about the listening group processes and the information shared by the listening groups with my parish and dioceses; there are a lot of shared themes, despite the fact that locally many places are facing different challenges right now. I will also share that the SPWG will be looking at international models of strategic planning, diocesan strategic plans and will be considering resources while planning.

3. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Canadian Anglicans about the national church’s strategic planning process so far?

We have been surrounded by constant and necessary change for the safety of our communities. Whereas normally strategic planning is done with a lot of flipcharts, hands-on workshopping, and other methods that require more face-to-face interaction, just like so many other areas of the church, the Strategic Planning Working Group has needed to adapt. The resulting process of connecting with listening groups has had a beautiful outcome. I would encourage Canadian Anglicans to check out https://www.anglican.ca/changingchurch/ to get an idea of the work being done for the strategic plan.

Archdeacon Val Kerr, Clergy, Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario Community: Niagara, Ont.
Parish: N/A
Diocese: Niagara
Member of CoGS since: 2019

1. What do you make of this presentation, from your place of prayer back home?

It was a great presentation which highlighted our goal of inclusion in a very important process of the direction of the church.

2. What will you, as a CoGS member back in your home parish and diocese, do with this information?

I share whatever I can with our bishop and fellow archdeacons at our twice-a-month meetings.

3. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Canadian Anglicans about the national church’s strategic planning process so far?

While we were well into a strategic planning process, this pandemic had us having to rethink what we had been working on to come up with a method of connecting with the wider church. The listening groups were well thought out and actually came as mixed blessings. While it was impossible for us to meet in person, using Zoom enabled us to meet with people virtually to hear what was important to them as we journey forward with our planning.

To me this process was a way of the Spirit working among us to help us refocus on where it is God is calling us at this time. We are in the midst of exciting changes in the church and listening to the whole body of Christ, to me, is a great way to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Canon Murray Still, Anglican Council of Indigenous People Community: Winnipeg, Man.
Parish: St. James Anglican, St. Stephen and St. Bede
Diocese: Rupert’s Land
Member of CoGS since: 2018

1. What do you make of this presentation, from your place of prayer back home?

I like the focus on Indigenous ministry and mission. It is heartwarming to know the Church sees this as a high priority. This fits with the self-determination work now underway in the Indigenous community. Despite the current pandemic, the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP) has been meeting online. A big piece of the work involves the drafting and approval of a constitution for a fifth Anglican province in Canada. This work is shepherded by the national Indigenous archbishop, ACIP and the Indigenous House of Bishops Leadership Circle. National programs and partnerships are also continuing.

2. What will you, as a CoGS member back in your home parish and diocese, do with this information?

The self-determination of Indigenous Anglicans is of importance in all dioceses where Indigenous people are present. Rupert’s Land has one of the highest populations of Indigenous people. Within the diocese, we have hosted many Sacred Circles and our current B15 Resolution allows for exploration of ways to include Indigenous ways of life into our governance. So far, we have seen this in the appointment of a male and female elder to advise the bishop of Indigenous matters at Synod.

3. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Canadian Anglicans about the national church’s strategic planning process so far?

For me, partners shared with other denominations are beneficial, and I value the voice at our meetings. At ACIP, we have explored a partnership with the Red Cross, who will assist us in crisis training and suicide prevention, for example. Are there ways to partner with Indigenous communities in assisting with the many challenges faced today? Can we learn from other dioceses and other denominations what works and what resources can be shared? Are we sharing the national resources? What can we learn from partnering?

Scott Potter, Youth, Ecclesiastical Province of Canada
Community: Saint-Jean-sur- Richelieu, Que.
Parish: St. John the Evangelist
Diocese: Montreal
Member of CoGS since: 2019

I suppose that what I took from the SPWG presentation was that Christianity, if it is to begin turning back the tide in Canada, will do it ad hoc and contextually, with dioceses, communities, and individual Christians working to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbours as themselves.

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Tali Folkins
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the <em>Law Times</em> and the <em>New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal</em>. His writing has appeared in <em>The Globe and Mail</em> and <em>The United Church Observer</em>.

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