The Diocese of Toronto’s 161st Regular Session of Synod was held Nov. 17-19. The opening service, including the Bishop’s Charge, was held in-person and live-streamed at All Saints, Kingsway on Nov. 17. The rest of Synod was held online. The theme of Synod, “Cast the Net,” comes from the Diocese’s visioning process. Here are the highlights from Synod on Nov. 19.
Today’s session of Synod opened with Morning Prayer from the Priory of the Order of the Holy Cross in Toronto.
Constitution and Canon changes
Due to time constraints, Synod voted on three motions together that dealt with the Constitution and Canons. Before voting, Chancellor Clare Burns took Synod members through the various proposed changes to the Constitution and Canons. For more information on these, see Section E of the Convening Circular.
“The Constitution, Section 32, deals with the election of members to General Synod, and Section 33 concerns the term of office of members of General Synod,” she said. “The Constitution and Canons Committee has identified that there is no equivalent provision to Section 34 (of The Constitution) concerning the term of office of members of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario (Provincial Synod) and has recommended that an equivalent provision be added to the Constitution, Section 34, to avoid any confusion over the term of office of members of Provincial Synod.
“Advances in technology have allowed elections of Synod to be completed electronically in partnership with an arm’s length third party service provider ensuring a secure electronic voting platform at Synod. While the traditional method of casting a physical paper ballot should not be removed from the Constitution, the Constitution and Canons Committee has recommended that Section 22 be updated to also contemplate the current practice of electronic voting.
“Next are changes to Canon 10. The Bishop is ultimately responsible for the non-disciplinary termination of all clerical appointments in accordance with Canon 10. Proposed changes would permit the Bishop to delegate this responsibility to a Suffragan Bishop.
“Under Canon 48, the Registrar is responsible for seeing that certain listed records are maintained “at the Offices of the Synod”. The register and other books, records and documents of the parish are not listed in Canon 48 so they do not fall under the responsibility of the Registrar. These records should be surrendered to the diocesan Archivist for preservation in the diocesan Archives.”
At this point, Synod voted on the three motions (#5B, #5C, #5D) in an omnibus motion that read: “It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod approve changes to The Constitution, Canon 10 and Canon 48 as recommended for approval by Synod Council and presented in the Convening Circular.” The motion was carried.
Chancellor Burns continued. “Considering the recent changes to the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (Ontario), which raised the audit requirement income threshold to $500,000 for non-public corporations, the Diocese reviewed its threshold as laid out in Canon 14 14(4). The Finance Committee reviewed the number of parishes that would require an audit under various income thresholds ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Since the cost of an audit is greater than that of a review engagement or a notice to reader, the Finance Committee has recommended an increase in the threshold. However, to ensure an adequate sample of parishes are audited, the Finance Committee recommended increasing the threshold to $200,000 (versus $500,000) at which point 18% of parishes would require an audit. The Finance Committee also recommended flexibility under Canon 14 14(4) to consider income fluctuations due to special circumstances such as a capital campaign or a property sale.”
Synod voted on the following motion.
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod approve the changes to Canon 14, as recommended for approval by Synod Council and presented in the Convening Circular.”
The motion was carried.
Synod voted on the following motions. For more information, see Section C of the Convening Circular.
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod receive the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and the Cemetery Fund for the year ended Dec. 31, 2021.”
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that the firm of Grant Thornton LLP, Chartered Accountants, be appointed to conduct the audit of the Financial Statements of the Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Toronto and, on behalf of unitholders, as Auditors for the Cemetery Fund for the year ended Dec. 31, 2022, at a fee to be approved by the Audit Committee.”
The motions were carried.
Priorities and Plans 2023 and budget
Executive Director Canon Robert Saffrey and Controller Patricia D’Souza presented the Priorities and Plans 2023 document and the Diocese’s budget for 2023. After their presentation, Synod voted on the following motion. More information can be found in Section D of the Convening Circular.
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod receive the document entitled Priorities and Plans 2023 and the Financial Budget for 2023 and approve the priorities and the financial budget contained therein and that Synod Council report back to Synod on this plan. It will be further moved that Synod approve that the Assessment Rate, as defined in Canon 4, remain at 24.7% for 2023.”
The motion was carried.
Confirmation of General Synod and Synod Council members
Chancellor Burns spoke to Synod. “At the Pre-Synod meeting, I reported on a survey of Synod members conducted by the Secretary of Synod earlier this year. Since the Synod members who responded to the questions indicated their overwhelming agreement that those elected in 2021 to General Synod and Synod Council should continue to hold these positions, the planning for Synod took this into account.”
Synod was asked to formally approve these decisions in the following two motions. The motions can be found in Section A of the Convening Circular.
Motion #3A – General Synod members
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod hereby confirms that the members elected at the 160th Regular Session of Synod to serve as General Synod members for the 43rd Session of General Synod continue to represent the Diocese of Toronto.” For clarity, the clerical names are the Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen Fields (St. James Cathedral), the Rev. Molly Finlay (St. John the Baptist, Norway), the Rev. Roshni Jayawardena (Trinity-St. Paul, Port Credit), the Rev. Canon Erin Martin (All Saints, King City) acting substitute, the Rev. Mark Regis (St. Mary and St. Martha), the Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner (Grace Church, Markham), and the Rev. Canon Claudette Taylor (Epiphany and St. Mark, Parkdale). Lay Members are Chris Ambidge, ODT (Church of the Redeemer, Bloor St.), Yvonne Murray, ODT (St. John the Divine, Scarborough), Vice-Chancellor Gail Smith (St. Andrew, Scarborough), Marion Thompson, ODT (St. Peter, Oshawa), David Toycen, ODT (Trinity, Streetsville), Laura Walton, ODT (Holy Trinity, Clearview), and Mary Walsh, ODT (St. John the Baptist, Oak Ridges).
Motion #3B – Synod Council members
“It is moved by the Rev. Andrew MacDonald and seconded by Sheila Robson that Synod hereby confirms that the members elected at the 160th Regular Session of Synod to serve as Synod Council members remain in their positions for the duration of the Pilot Governance Project.” For clarity, the elected members are Chris Ambidge, ODT (Church of the Redeemer, Bloor St.), the Rev. Canon Simon Bell (St. Margaret, Barrie and Trinity Church, Barrie), the Rev. Canon Dr. Stephen Fields (St. James Cathedral), the Rev. Canon Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert, SSJD (St. George on Yonge), the Rev. Maria Ling (Grace Church on-the-Hill), Heather McGregor, ODT (St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto), the Rev. Jesse Parker (St. John the Evangelist, Port Hope), David Toycen, ODT (Trinity Church, Streetsville), Laura Walton, ODT (Holy Trinity, Clearview), Eirene Wee (St. Paul, Bloor St).
The motions were carried.
Missional and outreach moment
Synod members learned about St. John, Bowmanville’s prayer labyrinth, which was created not only for parish members but whoever needs to have a deeper and closer relationship with God. The labyrinth was made out of grass on the lawn of the church.
Election of Honorary Secretaries of Synod
Synod voted on the following motion:
“It is moved by Chancellor Clare Burns and seconded by Vice Chancellor John van Gent that the following be elected for the ensuing term:
- Sheila Robson, Honorary Lay Secretary
- The Rev. Lisa Newland, Honorary Clerical Secretary
- Constance Kendall, ODT, Assistant Honorary Lay Secretary”
The motion was carried. Afterwards, Bishop Asbil thanked the Rev. Andrew MacDonald for his leadership as he retires from the position of Honorary Clerical Secretary of Synod. He served in that capacity since 2019. “We are grateful for the guidance and support that Andrew has provided over the years, especially as we learned how to do Synod in new and creative ways,” said Bishop Asbil.
In his closing remarks, Bishop Asbil thanked everyone who made Synod possible, including Pamela Boisvert, the Secretary of Synod, and the sponsors of Synod. He thanked Chancellor Clare Burns, who is retiring as the Chancellor, and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. He also spoke briefly of Cast the Net, saying “it is an opportunity to go out into uncharted waters together.”
Closing prayer and hymn
Bishop Asbil gave the closing prayer and Synod members listened to a song from the praise band at Trinity, Streetsville.