Glimpses of wisdom and grace while serving at the national church level

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 on May 6, 2019

Susan Little

Susan Little 1The Council of General Synod (CoGS) began with the conclusion of General Synod 2016 in Toronto and ends in Vancouver this summer. 

CoGS carries on the work between General Synods. 

I was privileged to serve throughout this three-year span (2016-2019), called “The Triennium”.

Listening and discerning God’s voice is the business of the Church and responsibility of CoGS. Although CoGS’ business fills 12-hour days, the most important time spent occurs each day in scripture, prayer and song. 

The principle is clear: if we are open to God’s Spirit working in us and through us, we must be intentional about listening to God. 

Listening to one another is also a key for the Church. When we listen to the “lived experience” of being Anglican elsewhere in Canada, CoGS makes wiser decisions for the whole Church.

The purpose of General Synod is Ministry and Mission. To accomplish this, Church House Staff works with a committee system — the lifeline of our Church’s work — to which each CoGS member is assigned. 

Two issues from General Synod 2016 are going to be front and centre in Vancouver; both directly affect Ministry. One is the second reading of proposed changes to the Marriage Canon, allowing same gendered people to marry in the Church, and the second is the Self-Determination of our Indigenous peoples.

The Marriage Canon resolution is the product of much consultation and study across the whole Church and of regular modification by CoGS. Its comprehensive document is deemed ready and worthy for consideration by General Synod 2019.

The Self-Determination of our Indigenous peoples is rooted in a new model of governance, created by the Council of the North and the Anglican Council of Indigenous People (ACIP). At General Synod 2019, they will seek to affirm their right to self-govern and to determine their Mission and Ministry while remaining firmly within the Anglican Church of Canada.

Although CoGS’ business fills 12-hour days, the most important time spent occurs each day in scripture, prayer and song.

Change has been occurring everywhere, and CoGS has responded to new realities, including … 

Gradual change from print to digitalized newspapers has helped to reshape the future of the Anglican Journal over this Triennium. While print format will continue for a few years, its new structure will ensure editorial freedom for diocesan papers. The Anglican Journal’s new working model has already successfully begun, boding well for an improved overall communications system for the Anglican Church.

Similarly, mirroring the changing face of our Canadian Church, new liturgies, prayers and rites have appeared.

Mission means taking our gospel message to the streets, literally! 

Significant work to raise awareness of human trafficking and slavery, and of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and men, has occurred from ecclesiastical provinces, dioceses, regions and parishes. Community action across the country is responding. 

On a larger scale, Mission using the historical model of Companion Diocese partnerships has begun to favour a new model. Although very successful partnerships continue to thrive, global realities keep arriving on our doorstep. The future may well be to use a global regional approach to discern ministry priorities.

Mission most powerfully appears at CoGS when the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) presents its latest work. PWRDF reveals how it helps when disasters occur and how it supports development when people need interventions in their lives. 

The Primate’s initiatives — The Healing Fund and Giving with Grace — enable funding to help the whole Church witness how God is working among us.

I have been blessed to glimpse God’s people deliberating, discerning and growing in wisdom. 

May God’s Spirit continue to prompt the Church to move wisely and confidently into the next triennium.

Susan Little is a member of St. John the Evangelist Hamilton. She served on the Nominations Committee, Partners in Mission Co-ordinating Committee and The Working Group on the Marriage Canon.

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