Synod Pivots with the Pandemic

by The Venerable Bill Mous, Executive Officer
and Secretary of Synod

For the first time in its 146-year existence, the synod of the diocese of Niagara will convene virtually, pivoting with the pandemic to keep people as safe as possible and limit the potential for the spread of infection. 

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many aspects of our ministry have been drastically adapted by necessity, and our governance bodies are no exception. Parish councils, vestries, and synod councils have all convened virtually in recent months, given restrictions on in-person gatherings, to carry on the essential and important work of the Church. 

Drawing on the many learnings from conducting virtual meetings, members of 146th synod of the diocese will gather virtually on November 7 via Zoom videoconferencing to do what all synods are essentially called to do: the building up of our Church through prayer, discernment, and decision-making. 

“Seeing with the Eyes of our Hearts” has been chosen by Bishop Susan Bell as the theme for synod. Inspired by the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1 verses 15–19, the theme offers a lens to reflect upon the past year, giving thanks for the many ways our parishes have led with heart through the pandemic. At the same time, it also orients our synod towards the future as we continue to live into our diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP) and explore new and emerging avenues for mission.

The agenda committee is diligently working to finalize the plans for a half-day synod that will focus on the essential business of the Church. While the way we gather will be different, most of the happenings will be familiar to members. Bishop Susan Bell will give her customary charge at the outset of the proceedings. The auditor’s report for 2019 will be received and members of synod will consider the diocesan budget for 2021. We will also have a few resolutions proposing changes to our diocesan canons, including the addition of a new canon relating to our Cathedral. 

There will also be featured presentation about our diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP) which was approved by synod council in January. While the pandemic has shifted some aspects of the MAP, a great deal of faithful work on its three objectives has been undertaken since its launch. Members of synod will hear firsthand how we are enlivening our faith, reshaping our culture and structures for mission, and invigorating our social justice engagement, especially as it relates to climate justice.

In August, synod council approved an adapted procedure for the elections that are normally conducted by regional caucuses or paper balloting at synod. This year, provincial synod delegates and regional representatives to synod council will be elected through an online voting process in the lead-up to synod. The results will then be shared with members during synod. 

If you’d like to learn more about the work of our synod, the convening circular, complete with all synod reports and resolutions, will be posted on our synod webpage (niagaraanglican.ca/synod/2020) towards the end of October. You can also follow the activities of synod as they happen through our diocesan Facebook page and Twitter feed. 

This year’s synod will surely be a memorable one, but it will also be a very important one as our diocese seeks to faithfully follow God’s leading through this wilderness time and make prudent decisions for the good of the whole Church. 

In the coming weeks, please pray for our synod — being called to life and compelled to love — as members exercise their vital governance ministry during this extraordinary time.