Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My Council of General Synod (CoGS) Experience

I enjoyed my first meeting at Queen of the Apostles. I didn't think I would, but I did. I enjoyed getting to know the people. I especially enjoyed the morning Bible studies and the Happy Hours.

Despite the enjoyment, we have some serious issues before us such as an overall decline in numbers and finances (this we share with our partner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCiC).

The sexuality issue was not on the agenda for this meeting. I had wondered if there would be a report from Toronto on the recent developments regarding same-sex blessings in that diocese and on the state of the various court cases going on across the country. I realize CoGS does not exist to meddle in diocesan affairs but if, as Archbishop Colin Johnson suggested in a discussion on Governance and Management, the role of GoGS is to spend most of our time talking about strategic issues for the life of the church, choosing priorities from the many good things being done and setting priorities and parameters for those who are doing the work, it seems to me that our relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion would be an important part of that. That relationship is being seriously strained by recent decisions and actions in Canadian dioceses.

Here is a summary statement of meeting outcomes:
We structured our meeting and engaged with each other with a hopeful attitude, looking, not with a panic response, but strategically towards God's future.
We experienced antiracism training for a day to examine our own racist attitudes and to inform our work together as church leaders.
There is a sense of urgency about our financial situation. We need to recognize that the clock is running. We cannot become complacent, despite the good news of a budget with no deficit for the upcoming year. We need to engage with all those who can help fund ministries.
We affirmed that the Marks of Mission belong to us all and shape us.
We are anxious to engage the church in the implementation of Vision 2019 which the whole church at General Synod approved, a plan which will help to address the church’s financial needs and shape our priorities.
As individual members, we have found a way to stay connected with the practices and priorities (see Chapter 6, p17) of Vision 2019 and will take responsibility for elements of the plan.
We showed commitment to and witnessed progress in supporting the Council of the North in its work and walking with indigenous peoples on the continuing journey of healing and wholeness.
We worked together with cooperation, respect, understanding and thoughtfulness - on behalf of the whole church - with the Holy Spirit guiding the way.
What happens here is only effective if and when it reaches parishes and dioceses.
I think the Marks of Mission are an excellent framework upon which to build mission and values at all levels of the church. Vision 2019 with its vision statement: "A people seeking to know, love, and follow Jesus in serving God’s mission" and priorities is well done. I can work with it. It's simple, mentions Jesus and is resonates with our StB Mission Statement:
To follow and enjoy Jesus Christ in worship and service so that everyone will come to know Him. 
To sell missions and visions from the top down is not easy, however. Especially in the fiercely independent Anglican world.

More info and daily reports here.