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Highlights from Day 2 of Synod

Synod opens with worship
The second day of Synod began at 9 a.m. on Nov. 25 with worship. About 638 voting and non-voting members attended the second day of Synod.

Enjoying Synod. All photos by Michael Hudson

Missional and Outreach Moment #2: The Faith Hub
The Very Rev. Andrew Asbil, rector of St. James Cathedral and dean of Toronto, spoke about drug use and homelessness in the area around the cathedral. He spoke about the outstanding work of the cathedral’s drop-in to address the needs. He spoke about how people from the nearby Roman Catholic, United and Anglican churches and others have come together to create The Faith Hub, to walk with and learn from those on the streets and living in poverty. He said the group hopes to create circles of support. He asked Synod members to pray for all those involved in The Faith Hub and invited people to join as volunteers.

Synod hears about Provincial Synod
Laura Walton, a Synod member and the Prolocutor of Provincial Synod, gave a report on the Provincial Synod for the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, which took place Oct. 13-16, 2015 in Toronto, and has continued its work over the past two years.

She said Provincial Synod has the unique ability to liaise with the provincial government on many issues and interact with regulatory bodies dealing with cemeteries and historical designations and competencies.

She said the Provincial Synod has worked hard in the past two years to increase the utilization of its members’ gifts. It is working towards a more effective and engaging strategy that lets those on Council continue Provincial Synod’s work between their twice-yearly meetings. There are currently three working groups focused on homelessness, eldercare and engaging OPCOTE in discussions about what the theological colleges are doing in regards to working on actions named by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Provincial Synod is also working with the senior management teams of the seven Dioceses in the Ecclesiastical Province, with an eye toward joint management and shared costs rather than each Diocese paying for the same item. It moves toward its next meeting in October 2018 in Ottawa with a focus on creating a 10-year plan that supports all the dioceses of the Province.

Synod receives reports and financial statements
Synod received and approved the following documents:

  • Priorities and Plans, 2015-2017 – Narrative Report. This report contains notable accomplishments as the Diocese transitioned to its new strategic plan, Growing in Christ. See Section B
  • Diocesan Council’s Report to Synod. This report contains a list of members, a summary of all policy and major items discussed or approved by Council, and a summary of grants, loans and other funding. One highlight of this report is that more than $19 million in grants and loans were awarded from 37 granting and funding streams from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017. See Section C
  • Financial Report for 2016, the Audited Financial Statements for the Incorporated Synod for 2016 and the Audited Financial Statements for the Cemetery Fund for 2016. See Section D
Synod’s youngest member.

Missional and Outreach Moment #3: Refugee Family in Haliburton
The Rev. Canon David Barker spoke of how the Rev. Anne Moore and others at St. George, Haliburton contacted AURA in 2015 to help refugees. They held a town meeting and 95 people showed up. People joined committees on life skills, health, ESL and many more to help the refugee family. They received more than $64,000 in donations. A Syrian family of 11 had been selected to come and they arrived last September. The family knew no English and the whole community was helpful to get them settled. The family got involved in the community. It was the small army of volunteers who helped on a daily to make it a success, said Canon Barker. It has been two years since the people of Haliburton started and they’ve all be changed by the experience, he added.  

Synod prays following attack
Synod prayed following the attacks on Nov. 24 on a mosque in Egypt, killing more than 300.

Auditors appointed
Synod appointed the firm Grant Thornton LLP, Chartered Accountants, to conduct the audit of the financial statements of Synod, the Consolidated Trust Fund and the Cemetery Fund for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, at a fee to be approved by the Audit Committee.

Synod hears financial update for 2017
Kathryn Rogers, the Diocese’s Treasurer and Director of Finance, gave a financial update for 2017. She said that due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, which are for the most part one-time situations, the Diocese is looking at ending the year with a small deficit. She said revenue is static and expenditures are, for the most part, under budget or in line, with the exception of higher than normal legal costs, and costs for relocation and retraining, which are expenses incurred to assist clergy during transitional periods. As well, the capital budget will be higher than expected. The plan was to replace the roof of the Synod Office in 2018 but rain leaking in forced that to be moved ahead by a year.

Synod learns about PWRDF work in Africa
Elin Goulden, the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy consultant, spoke about the Diocese’s $500,000 gift to PWRDF to help with work in Africa to improve maternal, newborn and child health, and to provide food security. She spoke about her trip in Tanzania to see this work, and said it has met with great success. Synod members watched a video about the work in Africa. William Postma, the executive director of PWRDF, thanked Synod and the Diocese for its support. He said the $500,000 from the Diocese has enabled PWRDF to receive more than $2 million from other sources for further work.  

Missional and Outreach Moment #4: A Safe Place
The Rev. Erin Martin and Kit Woods talked about A Safe Place, a safe place at St. James, Sharon for LGBTQ youth in the area. “Young people need a safe place to be themselves and know they’re loved and accepted for exactly who they are,” said Ms. Martin. The group averages about seven to eight LGBTQ youth and their allies at regular meetings. “We’ve seen a transformation in the kids and volunteers,” said Ms. Martin. A couple of months ago, the church launched an adult version of A Safe Place, where parents can talk in safety.

Canon Joan Cavanagh-Clark (left) with Synod Office staff.

Synod approves diocese’s priorities and budget
Synod received the document Priorities and Plans 2017-2019 and the Financial Budgets for 2018-2019, and approved the Diocese’s priorities and financial plans contained therein. Diocesan Council will implement and report back to Synod on the plans and take corrective measures from time to time as best serves the needs of the Diocese. See Section E

Parish assessment rate approved
Synod approved an assessment rate for parishes of 24.70 per cent for 2018 and 2019. This is the same assessment rate as in 2017. See Section F

Missional and Outreach Moment #5: Amalgamation of St. Peter and St. Simon the Apostle, Toronto
The Rev. Geoffrey Sangwine spoke about the amalgamation of the former St. Peter, Carlton Street and St. Simon the Apostle, Bloor Street, to become St. Peter and St. Simon the Apostle, Toronto. He spoke about the churches’ histories and ministries to their neighbourhoods. He reflected on the process that brought the churches together. At the heart of the amalgamation was their desire to be stronger as one parish rather than to be two weaker ones, he said. They focussed on getting to know each other. They are asking how they can reach out to the challenged neighbourhood around them with the hope of the gospel.

Date set for installation of canons
The installation of canons will be held on Jan. 21 at 4:30 p.m. at St. James Cathedral.

Election for coadjutor bishop likely June 9
Archbishop Johnson said the likely date for the election of a coadjutor bishop will be June 9.

Members elected to Provincial Synod
Under the constitution of the Diocese and the constitution of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, Synod is required to elect four clergy and four lay members to serve as members of Provincial Synod. The Provincial Synod meets every three years and considers matters of interest in the provincial sphere such as theological education, social issues, government relations, chaplaincies, and vocational diaconate ministries. The next Provincial Synod will be held in 2018 in Ottawa. Clergy voted for clergy and laity voted for laity, following the rules of the Constitution.

The following lay members were elected to be members of Provincial Synod:

  • Lawrence (Larry) Barker, St. Luke, Burnt River
  • Jean Glionna, Holy Trinity, Thornhill
  • Susan Schuschu, St. John, East Orangeville
  • Laura Walton, Christ Church, Batteau
  • (Mr. James Beckwith, St. Peter, Erindale will be a substitute lay member of Provincial Synod)

The following clergy were elected to be members of Provincial Synod:

  • The Rev. Jeff Potter, St. Stephen, Maple
  • The Rev. Canon David Harrison, St. Mary Magdalene
  • The Rev. Karen Hatch, St. Margaret in-the-Pines
  • The Rev. Canon Douglas Graydon, St. Andrew on-the-Lake

The following clergy will be substitute members of Provincial Synod:

  • The Rev. Canon Joan Cavanaugh-Clark, Parish of Minden-Kinmount
  • The Rev. Canon Jacqueline Boutheon, Christ Church, Scarborough
  • The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan, St. Paul, Uxbridge
  • The Rev. Brad Smith, St. John the Evangelist, Peterborough

Lyds Keesmaat-Walsh of the Parish of Fenelon Falls was elected to be the youth member of Provincial Synod. Stephen Warner of St. Peter, Erindale is the substitute member.

Synod hears feedback on marriage canon process
Marge Watters Knebel, ODT, gave feedback from yesterday’s presentation about a process for discussing the proposed changes to General Synod’s marriage canon. There were more than 500 suggestions from yesterday, she said, which will be collated and used to shape the process. She said there was a deep desire for prayerful and deep listening across differences. Among the requests was the inclusion of youth, LGBTQ, and Indigenous people in the conversations. There were comments about the need for parish engagement in the process, and the need for resources for parishes. She provided much more feedback from yesterday’s session.

Archbishop asks four questions in wrap-up
Archbishop Johnson thanked the Rev. Canon Claire Wade, who is stepping down as the honorary secretary of Synod. She was presented with flowers and received a standing ovation.

Speaking to Synod, Archbishop Johnson said, “You are an amazing group of people” who provide enormous leadership in the Church and where they live. “I am deeply grateful for the work you do,” he said. He thanked the staff of the Synod Office.

He asked Synod members to take home four questions:

  • What are two characteristics that you have most admired in a bishop?
  • What are two critical issues that are affecting the life of this Diocese and its mission?
  • What are two characteristics that a bishop should have to lead this Diocese in its mission in the next decade?
  • What would you need in the process of the election to figure out if a candidate had those characteristics?

He asked members to email the answers to his office.

Synod ended with prayers, a hymn and a blessing.

Social media highlights
Catch up on the social media activity from day 2.