By The Venerable Bill Mous
The 147th synod of the Diocese of Niagara will convene by Zoom videoconference again this fall, as a fourth wave of the pandemic, fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, causes a surge in local COVID-19 cases.
“Facing Forward: Called to Life, Compelled to Love” is the theme chosen by Bishop Susan Bell for synod as we look forward to the future with hope-filled expectation. Inspired by Philippians 4:4-9, the theme invites members of synod to carry on the work of ministry with patient endurance, one foot in front of the other, trusting in God and the things that God loves. At the same time, the theme also points to our diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP) and invites us to consider new, emerging, and uncharted opportunities for missional ministry.
Synods are a key structure in the governance of our diocese, but they are so much more than that too. They seek to build up the whole Church through prayer, story-sharing, relationship-building, discernment, and decision-making. The Synod Agenda Committee, building on the format of last year’s pioneering synod, is working to create the virtual space for all these things to happen as they finalize the plans for our annual meeting on October 30.
At the outset of the half-day synod, Bishop Susan Bell will share her charge to members, reflecting on its theme and drawing our attention to the ways the Spirit working in and through us in Niagara. Several inspiring presentations about our shared ministry as a diocese over the last year are also planned, including a report from the Anti-Racism Working Group. Members of synod will also hear how, through our Mission Action Plan, we are enlivening our faith, reshaping our culture and structures for mission, and fostering God’s justice, especially as it relates to the climate crisis.
The business parts of the synod will, of course, include receiving the 2020 auditor’s report, consideration of the 2022 diocesan budget, as well as a few housekeeping changes to the canons.
The election of General Synod delegates—which is set to meet next summer in Calgary—and regional representatives to Synod Council will happen using an online voting platform. This is a crucial part of our synod, as the Church needs talented, creative, and faithful disciples to help guide its course in the coming months and years.
To learn more about our upcoming synod, the convening circular, complete with all synod reports and resolutions, will be posted on our synod webpage (https://niagaraanglican.ca/synod/2021). You can also follow the activities of synod as they happen through our diocesan Facebook and Twitter feeds.
In the coming weeks, please also hold the members of synod in your prayers as they discern how best to help our diocese—and all its parishes—face forward through the decisions made at synod.