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The Very Rev'd Peter Elliot, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, wrote this piece about the national church's General Synod that is taking place in Vancouver July 10-16. We are sharing his words here with his permission. Some members of St. Clement's will be volunteering at the Wall Centre during the convention and at the primatial election and worship gatherings at Christ Church Cathedral. We are all requested to remember the Synod delegates and work of the gathered assembly in our prayers.

Once every three years, Canadian Anglicans gather for a convention—it’s called a Synod, and in the distinctive lexicon of our church, the national gathering is called General Synod: and it meets this coming week in Vancouver, with many parts of it here at Christ Church Cathedral.

It is comprised of bishops, clergy and laity from each of the 30 dioceses across the country. Each diocese sends its bishop (or bishops), and a representative number of clergy and laity elected from their diocesan synods. Our diocese of New Westminster is represented by our Archbishop Melissa Skelton, three clergy—one of which is the Cathedral’s Marnie Peterson, and 4 laity (3 adults and one youth member). The General Synod begins with an opening service at the Cathedral on this coming Wednesday evening July 10 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through until the following Tuesday, when the closing service will be here also on July 15 @ 4:30 p.m. All of the other sessions will be held at the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel (Nelson and Burrard Street).

Synods, whether diocesan, provincial or national, have four major components: worship, education, election and legislation. It’s my privilege to chair the Worship Committee of this General Synod, ably assisted by our Vicar Helen Dunn. We are coordinating 20 liturgies throughout the course of the General Synod: each day opens with worship, there is a brief service at noonday and one to close the session. Synod sessions begin this coming Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and conclude on the following Tuesday at 3 p.m. There will be celebrations of the Eucharist at 7:30 a.m. at CCC on Thursday morning (as usual), Friday and Monday.

Education sessions will be offered throughout the course of the Synod, our Archbishop Melissa with Father Martin Brokenleg offering several sessions on cross-cultural dialogue. There will be elections for Officers and Members of National Councils and Committees, and at this General Synod a new Primate (national Archbishop) will be elected, because of the retirement of our current Primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz. The election of the Primate will take place at the Cathedral on Saturday July 13, beginning with a celebration of the Eucharist at 9 a.m.

There are a number of legislative issues before this General Synod: two in particular are noteworthy. There is a resolution that, if passed, would create a self-governing and self-determining indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada. This comes as a result of many years of deliberation and holds the promise of ending a long period of colonial domination of indigenous Anglicans. Also this Synod will consider a second reading of a change to church laws (Canons) to allow for marriage for same sex couples. Because this change has been determined to be a change on a matter of doctrine, it requires a ‘super majority’—2/3 of all bishops, clergy and laity voting.

The last time that a General Synod met in Vancouver was in 1965. It is a rare occurrence for a national Anglican gathering to be held on either coast, east or west because of the expense of bringing delegates—this year about 300 people here. It is an honour to host so many parts of this gathering here. 

Next Sunday, July 14, it will be our privilege to welcome the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz together with about 30 members of the General Synod to the 10:30 liturgy at the Cathedral. The Primate will preach.

Please join me in holding this important gathering of our church in your prayers

Peter Elliott

Christ Church Cathedral