Astonishing Grace and Tensions

 on August 30, 2023

I am deeply grateful for the trust this wonderful diocese placed in those of us elected as delegates to General Synod 2023. It was a privilege and joy to have been part of the Niagara team. As Bishop Susan has remarked, we are a diocese which indeed punches above its weight in terms of what we contribute to the health and vitality of the national Church. It is something I hope and pray we can feel goodabout.

While the prospect of meeting morning, afternoon, and evening across five full days with limited down-time was somewhat daunting, there was immense richness in simply being together with Anglicans and Lutherans from across the country, worshipping and eating together, sharing stories, wrestling with contentious issues, and celebrating clear movements of the Spirit amongst our various communities, especially in the Indigenous church. It is reassuring to be reminded that we are all part of a creative, diverse, and caring family.

There were moments of astonishing grace—the celebration of full communion between Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Lutherans in Canada and the United States; welcoming the Moravian Church into full communion; receiving the SacredCircle’s document, Covenant and Our Way of Life, which will guide the Indigenous church toward self-determination; the shared worship services with our Lutheran siblings; the passing of some significant resolutions addressing climate care, newly authorizing liturgies; and wonderful conversations with delegates from so many different ministry settings.

There were tensions—we are the church, after all! Our system of governance comes with some challenges, especially for the Indigenous members of General Synod who are accustomed to different ways of decision making. Some expressed frustration at a perceived lack of understanding of the challenges they are facing. A number of our dioceses are facing considerable financial pressures and declining membership which can feed uncertainty over ongoing viability. The diversity of our understanding of the church and ministry, of the role of Scripture, and how it is read can erode our trust in each other. It is vital we continue to pray for the unity of our beloved Church.

One of the metrics for the fruitfulness of these national Church gatherings is the impact they have at the local level. I am looking forward to ways in which we as a diocese and as individual parishes can engage with the Five Transformational Commitments for the Church and the parish engagement resource for social and ecological justice issues, particularly how they connect with our own parish MAP process. It will be important to give our best attention to relationships with Indigenous members of our church and to understand how we can support their steps towards self-determination. I hope that we can be more intentional about making connections with our local Lutheran faith communities, discerning opportunities for sharing in ministry and mission in our neighbourhoods. We need to continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem regularly and to familiarize ourselves with new liturgical resources, especially those supporting the transgender community. Indeed, there is much to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Again, I wish to thank you for the great gift of being able to represent this extraordinary diocese.

Skip to content