Reflections on General Synod 2023

The Ven. Jonathan Hoskin and Freda Lepine share a moment of levity during General Synod. Photo Credit: Jim Tubman
By on September 29, 2023
Jim Tubman

This past June 27 to July 2, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) met in Calgary, on the University of Calgary campus. The route to General Synod was not a direct path for most of our delegates – some of the elected delegates and alternates were not able to attend on the dates it was scheduled for, and so the diocesan executive selected some new alternates. This was what sent me there. Our diocesan chancellor, Elizabeth Sims, and I flew out on the same plane the evening before, and I ran into an old family friend in the Calgary airport who gave us a ride to the campus (incidentally, my friend’s daughter is marrying my brother on the Thanksgiving weekend). For Freda Lepine and Flora Young, who drove down together from Wabowden/The Pas, the trip involved some backtracking around Prince Albert – but that’s their story to tell. I believe that Nadia Sinclair, our youth delegate, had a standard travel experience!

Our General Synod was scheduled to overlap with the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), who have been full-communion partners with our national body for over 20 years. Partnerships at the local level aren’t as abundant in our diocese as they are in some places across the country, though we are moving to work more closely as time progresses, where possible.  Because of our proximity, we had some sessions together with the Lutherans, and we shared meals and certain times of worship, also.

We covered several of the items that were the business of the General Synod, though time didn’t allow for us to address everything on the agenda. The matters that the General Synod was unable to attend to will be dealt with by CoGS (the Council of General Synod – sort of like our diocesan executive, which handles the business of the diocese between our synod meetings).  Members of CoGS are selected by the provincial bodies of our church: Canada (composed of the civil provinces of Newfoundland, the maritime provinces and Quebec); Ontario (composed of most of Ontario); Rupert’s Land (covering northwestern Ontario, the prairie provinces, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut); and British Columbia & Yukon (self-explanatory).  When our ecclesiastical province met, it selected two of our General Synod delegates to represent the province on CoGS for the next two years: myself and Nadia Sinclair.  Please pray for us both as we move to serve the Church faithfully on this council.

For me, there were many highlights.  I saw friends that I hadn’t seen for many years: friends from seminary and friends from other dioceses that I’ve served in.  I really enjoyed hearing our national indigenous archbishop share the Gospel on multiple occasions: twenty years ago Archbishop Chris and I were in most of our seminary classes together (except for electives, although some of those as well!).  At the time we were in the midst of Bishop William being inhibited, and so many people expressed heartfelt support for him and for us – it was moving.

My primary takeaway from it is that we are one.  Sometimes it takes a little more imagination to see that, than at other times.  But we are one.  When we disagree with one another, and even more so when those disagreements feel like they are drawn along racial lines, or economic lines, or even geographical lines – when we disagree with one another, it can be easy to lose sight of the unity that we have in Christ.  But we are one, and as we hold Jesus at the centre of our life together, as we learn to seek Him first and not ourselves, as we listen to one another as brothers and sisters rather than as enemies (which seems to be the default, when we have disagreements!), we will grow in our love for one another as we know His love more greatly.


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