Convening virtually for the first time, the dioceses within the ecclesiastical province of Ontario joined together on October 13 and 14 to pray, worship, carry out business, and reflect on the church’s mission for the 37th time. The theme of this year’s Provincial Synod was “In All Our Relations: Love One Another,” inspired by 1 John 4:7–-21.
Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province, located in Sault Ste. Marie—historically known as “Bawating” in Ojibwe—focused participants’ attention on the legacy of the Residential School system in her welcome address. While the Anglican Church of Canada has a long road ahead in reconciliation, the Metropolitan remarked that Bawating stands as a place representing the hope and healing that is possible when we truly love one another.
Archbishop Germond also connected the theme of loving one another to the ways Anglican Christians in Ontario have supported one another during the pandemic, demonstrating the obedience and prayerfulness with which neighbours have loved neighbours. “As our world was being torn apart by fear, uncertainty, panic, and hopelessness,” the Metropolitan shared, “we had the privileged vocation of being living signs of a Love that can bridge all anxieties and heal all wounds.” She extended thanks to many across the province who have served selflessly during the pandemic, including Canon Judy Rois, retiring Executive Director of the Anglican Foundation, and the Diocese of Niagara’s Archdeacon Bill Mous.
This theme was echoed by many of the delegates elected from the Diocese of Niagara.
Jodey Porter, a lay delegate, reflected that even with the joyful announcement of our successes, there is still much work to be done. Porter, as layperson experiencing vision impairment, drew attention to the “sacramental act of inclusion” embodied by the ministry of National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop Mark MacDonald. That voice of inclusion, however, was balanced by the frustration of utilizing a platform like Zoom, which, while often a blessing during the pandemic to draw people together, remains challenging for many to navigate—“like trying to get in a building without a wheelchair ramp.” Jodey emphasized the inspiring nature of Primate Linda Nicholls’ opening homily to prune our spiritual and church life “back to the essentials” and reground ourselves theologically and culturally as Anglicans.
This synod marked the seventh Provincial Synod for The Reverend Rob Towler, one of the diocesan representatives on Provincial Council, who observed that the theme “was a good framework for beginning the work of the upcoming triennium.” Towler was “very impressed by the Provincial House of Bishops, in particular the energy and effort they put in to being a united team as we all faced an unprecedented situation.”
Likewise, The Reverend Deacon Rod McDowell recalled the Primate’s call to be compassionate with one another as we live into Christ’s mandate to share God’s love with all. McDowell was thankful, especially, for the “Missional Moments” shared by each diocese that demonstrated how the various dioceses within the province have been living into that calling.
To learn more about this year’s Provincial Synod, view the convening circular, and read the Metropolitan’s Report, visit province-ontario.anglican.ca/synod.