By Martha Holmen
After six days of passionate conversation, prayer and fellowship, General Synod delegates, staff, volunteers, observers and guests gathered once more on the evening of July 12 to celebrate together.
“We come here to celebrate the fact that God is faithful to us and keeps calling us back into deeper faithfulness,” said Archbishop Colin Johnson. “It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the closing banquet. I’m delighted that so many of you were able to stay and join us tonight. It’s good to have you here.”
The banquet was hosted by the Diocese of Toronto to mark the end of General Synod. The menu featured a 100-kilometre feast. Every dish – including mushroom soup, Ontario chicken stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, apple tart and more – was found within a 100-kilometre range of the venue in Richmond Hill.
Before the meal was served, Archbishop Johnson welcomed in particular several guests of General Synod, including the Most Rev. Francisco de Assis da Silva, primate of Brazil; the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba; and the Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell, moderator of the United Church of Canada.
Archbishop Johnson also took the opportunity to acknowledge a personal celebration. “My wife Ellen and I are so glad to invite you to our anniversary party,” he joked with guests. Archbishop Johnson and Ellen celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on July 10.
Dinner was accompanied by a mix of jazz and Dixieland music led by Bob DeAngelis, a Juno Award-winning clarinetist. Mr. DeAngelis often plays at jazz vespers services held in several parishes in the diocese.
After the meal, Archbishop Johnson offered his heartfelt thanks to the many volunteers who gave of their time during General Synod. “The local arrangements committee would not have been able to do all of the necessary tasks without the enthusiasm and the commitment of over 60 volunteers,” he said.
He also thanked General Synod staff for their tireless efforts, and Primate Fred Hiltz received a long standing ovation for his leadership.
Bishop Melissa Skelton of the Diocese of New Westminster, along with Archbishop John Privett, metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, then invited everyone to join them in Vancouver for the next session of General Synod in 2019.
To close the evening, Bishop Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, led guests in singing the Doxology, a short hymn of praise to God. Then, in contrast, Bob DeAngelis led the room in a lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” accompanied by clapping and dancing throughout the room.