Highlights from Day 1 of Synod

Posted on November 14, 2015

The following are highlights from the first day of Synod, Nov. 13. See photos from the first day.

Synod begins with Eucharist
The Diocese of Toronto’s 156th regular session of Synod began Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. with a Eucharist, followed by lunch and the business session. The theme of the Synod is “Treasures New and Old” from Matthew 13:52, and Archbishop Colin Johnson reflected on that in his Charge. Synod is being held at a new venue this year – the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites in Richmond Hill. About 624 voting and non-voting members attended the first day of Synod.

Archbishop delivers Charge
In his Charge to Synod, Archbishop Johnson spoke about how leaders in the church, both clergy and lay, need to draw on both the traditional and the new as they “stand on the edge of chaos, seeking what was, and is, and is to come.” Read the full text or watch a video of the Charge.

Archbishop names new canons
Archbishop Johnson named the following honorary canons of St. James Cathedral. They will be installed on Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at St. James Cathedral.

  • The Rev. Canon Andrew Wesley
  • The Rev. Canon Beth Benson
  • The Rev. Canon Claire Wade
  • The Rev. Canon Janet Read-Hockin
  • The Rev. Canon Jenny Andison
  • The Rev. Canon Judy Paulsen
  • The Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner
  • The Rev. Canon Paul J. Walker
  • The Rev. Canon Simon Li
  • The Rev. Canon Stephen Vail

Missional Moment: Just Reach Out
Sue Savage from the Parish of Penetanguishene spoke about its free community breakfast, funded by a diocesan Reach Grant. The breakfast now averages 27-35 guests a month. The parish was recently approached by a nearby church, and the breakfast now happens on two Thursdays a month instead of one. Ms. Savage encouraged others to approach their priest or their bishop with ideas. She said that when you can put a smile on someone’s face first thing in the morning, you know your mission is successful.

No mandatory retirement for office holders
Synod approved changes to the Constitution and Canons that abolished mandatory retirement for office holders in the Diocese (clergy, the secretary of Synod, the registrar, the chancellor, the vice-chancellors and the Diocese’s solicitor). See Section F – Constitution and Canon Changes

Synod defeats motion to reduce size of membership
Synod defeated a motion that would have reduced the size of its membership. A number of members spoke against the motion, saying it would have excluded too many clergy and laity from the decision-making body. (To read the motion and its background, see Section F – Constitution and Canon Changes). Archbishop Johnson said the opposition to the proposed changes showed how much many members valued Synod and their participation in it. He said some of the proposed items in the motion that did not need canonical change, such as the creation of Synod Forum days, might still be considered. He said the matter will go back to Diocesan Council.

Missional Moment: We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight
James Liu of St. James Cathedral and Morning Wang of St. George on Yonge spoke about the Diocese’s Mandarin ministry. Their goal is to attract people into the church building and bring them to Christ, in an Anglican context. Starting in 2014 with no staff and little budget, they now enjoy the support of four parishes and many volunteers of all ages. They have used events such as prayer services, Stations of the Cross, Doors Open Toronto and reading the Book of Proverbs to teach Mandarin-speaking people about the Anglican Church. Ms. Wang said they use everything that can be used to share the Gospel in order to invite more people to walk into our faith.

Committee composition revised
Synod has agreed that half of the membership of committees of Synod and Diocesan Council can be comprised of people who are not members of Synod, provided they are Anglican and members of a vestry in the Diocese or a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and a vestry in the Diocese. The change was made to expand the pool of expertise available to the committees. See Section F – Constitution and Canon Changes

Electoral Synod time frame lengthened
Synod approved a change to the Constitution and Canons regarding a vacancy in the See (the position of a Diocesan Bishop). If a vacancy occurs in the See and there is no Coadjutor Bishop, an electoral Synod to elect a new Diocesan Bishop will be held within six months. Previously, it had to be held within four weeks. See Section F – Constitution and Canon Changes.

Missional Moment: I’ll Be Outside With Jesus
The Rev. Maggie Helwig spoke about ministry to marginalized and low-income people at St. Stephen in-the-Fields, Toronto, with the goal of creating a radically inclusive community. St. Stephen’s serves breakfast to 200-300 marginalized people every weekend followed by morning prayer, hosts a fresh expressions service every Saturday night, and hosts events that prioritize street ministry and social justice as they intersect with the arts. Ms. Helwig said St. Stephen’s strives to be a church open to complexity and challenge.

Synod prays for massacre victims
Synod paused to pray for the victims of the massacres in Paris on Nov. 13.

Bishop calls priests to consider school chaplaincy
Bishop Linda Nicholls and the Rev. Canon Susan Bell spoke about the ministry of school chaplains in the Diocese and introduced a new video calling priests to consider chaplaincy. Seven independent schools within the Diocese have chaplains, whose roles can include leading regular prayer services, teaching religious education classes and providing pastoral support to their school communities.

Bishop speaks about work of Commission on Marriage Canon
Bishop Linda Nicholls, the area bishop of Trent-Durham, spoke to Synod about the work of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, of which she is a member. The commission was created in response to a motion from General Synod 2013 to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples. “The one plea I have made in every presentation I have been asked to give, is please, please, please read the whole report,” said Bishop Nicholls. “Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest.” She said the report is only one part of a larger discernment that will take place at General Synod next summer. She asked Synod members to pray for all those, both in the diocese and across Canada, involved in the discernment process, and for General Synod when it meets in Toronto next summer. “This is an important and difficult discernment for us as a church,” she said. “We will find ourselves in different places, and there will be pain in the conversations. Pray that we will know the mind of Christ, that we will love one another in the process, and that we will, together, seek to do what is good and best for God’s church.” See the work of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, which includes the commission’s final report and submissions from individuals, dioceses, parishes and others.

Suzanne Lawson reports on Provincial Synod
Suzanne Lawson, a parishioner of St. Peter, Cobourg and a member of Provincial Synod, reported on the work of Provincial Synod, which convened in Toronto in October. She said Provincial Synod re-elected Archbishop Johnson as Metropolitan, elected Laura Walton of Christ Church, Batteau, as prolocutor and appointed Jean Bedard of the Diocese of Ontario as its new chancellor. In addition, members heard from Provincial Synod’s executive officers, attended workshops, listened to speakers, including the Primate, and approved reports. She said several aspects of the meeting gave her hope, including the theme – “Re-imagining Church in the Public Square” – a talk by Premier Kathleen Wynne and how the dioceses that comprise the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario are cooperating on matters of importance. For related story, see Archbishop Johnson re-elected Metropolitan.

Conversation continues on social media
Several members of Synod, along with the Diocese, shared their thoughts on the events of Synod through Twitter. Read a summary of the day on social media.

See highlights from Day 2.