By Rev. Ann Webber
The 182nd Synod of the Diocese of Huron began with a barbecue and Synod Service at The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul on Sunday May 15. The service began at 7 pm, with The Right Reverend Todd Townshend, Bishop of Huron, as celebrant and preacher.
The service was marked by great joy at the ability to worship together, in person and online. Bishop Todd’s sermon centered on the pattern of God’s action in the world between the Ascension and Christ’s second coming: God initiates the action, there is a faithful human response, then once God’s action is recognized there is a deeper desire to respond and enter relationship with God and God’s people. $12,436.55 was collected for PWRDF during the service.
Bishop Todd called Synod to order on May 16. He thanked those who had made the previous evening’s meal and liturgy possible, as well as those supporting Synod throughout the day. Rev. Matt Martin thanked the College of Deacons for their annual Synod project which resulted in 6 car loads of food for local students.
The co-chairs of Proud Anglicans led the morning devotion, focussed on 1 Cor 12:12-27. Rev. Canon Marian Haggerty, the diocesan Canon Pastor, gave a moving commemoration of the faithful departed members of Synod including clergy, clergy spouses and past lay delegates to Synod.
Bishop Todd then gave a “Where we are” update for the diocese. He noted five factors that are marking this moment in the Diocese. 1) This is an ambivalent moment, there is suffering and there is joy and healing. This ambivalence marks progress and is something to celebrate. Bishop Todd thanked everyone for their work and acknowledged that people are exhausted. 2)We are seeking faithful equilibrium. Bishop Todd noted that our previous “normal” wasn’t working for everyone and encouraged us to reflect and discern how we can keep those who are not usually favoured by equilibrium front and center. 3) Our church culture is changing. We celebrate what does work, while we faithfully experiment around areas that are not working well. 4) We are amid significant leadership changes. Church House would like feedback on what is working well and what is not working. 5) Our financial resources for ministry. Bishop Todd is working with those who steward financial resources. His message was that we are going to be okay, due to faithful generosity of Anglicans past and present. We need to trust in God, who ultimately provides us with those resources.
The financial report was delivered by Rev. Dr. Stephen McClatchie. Dr. McClatchie highlighted that although the reports are not yet finalized, we have an over $200,000 surplus. He acknowledged that there is frustration and anger across diocese, and the Administration and Finance committee is working to the resolve issues. In response to a question, he highlighted that all CRA deadlines have been met.
Bishop Todd’s charge to Synod centered on how we are “on the road.” We have been sent out for the sake of the world and God comes alongside us on this journey. The format of the charge included two break-out sessions, where groups were encouraged to reflect on their individual journeys in relation to the Church’s journey. Bishop Todd then turned to vision and planning, updating Synod on the four areas of focus from Synod 2020: becoming a Learning, Just, Diverse, and New Church.
Bishop Todd noted that some great progress has been made and that we will spend at least one more year with these priorities before making a diocesan strategic plan. Bishop Todd also updated Synod on the work the diocese has been doing to steward our gifts and resources. Finally, Archdeacon Rosalyn Elm was invited to speak. She noted that Covid has been especially hard in the Indigenous communities in the diocese, but that there is great hope. The complete charge is available on the diocesan website.
Social & Ecological Justice Huron presented Motion #4, to reaffirm previously made commitments and to continue to work for the safeguarding of God’s creation. The motion was moved by Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle and seconded by Rev. Canon Tom Patterson. The motion was carried. Motion #5 was made by Rev. Robert Clifford and seconded by Rev. Marty Levesque to ask General Synod to contextualize the information and prayers provided for Charles Inglis’ life. This motion was carried.
David Embry then moved, and Paul Henderson seconded, a motion to change Canon 34. This motion changed the canon substantially by increasing the benefit, eliminating the differences between lay employees of the Diocese and cleric employees, and simplifying the benefit for easier valuation. The motion was carried in both lay and clergy orders. A motion to approve the nominations to the Diocesan Council from Deanery Council was then moved by Canon James Ferguson moved and seconded by Rev. Pat Henderson. The motion was carried. A video remembering the Churches that have closed since the 2021 Synod was presented.
Canon James Ferguson presented a motion, which Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs seconded, to adopt the amendments to the Constitutions and Canons which were produced by the Canons and Constitution Committee this year. Substantive changes were made to Canons A, 12, 18, 19, 26, 35 and then housekeeping changes were made to additional canons. The motion was carried in both the lay and clergy orders by at least the 2/3 required.
Rev. Canon Gerry Adam gave an update on Camp Huron including its ministry during COVID and how camp can operate in the future. Young leaders and staff were able to attend an energizing and exciting weekend camp last year. Canon Adams noted that to support the camp people can: register campers now, support financially, pray for the camp and join camp for worship! She thanked everyone for the support the camp received during Covid.
Rev. Andra O’Neill spoke to Synod about stewardship of financial resources, highlighting how good stewardship is our best possible response to God’s love. Rev Andra is working to help identify and gather resources to support the mission and ministries of the diocese. A video presentation was made honouring Huron’s retirees since the 2021 Synod.
Throughout the day, Synod heard faith witness presentations from Claudine Day and Kyle Gascho. There were several question periods where questions were asked and responded to as fulsomely as possible, given the time constraints. During the breaks, resources available to parishes were highlighted through video from Integrated Digital Solutions, Camp Huron, the Congregational Coaches, and Proud Anglicans.
The business of the day drew to a close with Bishop Todd giving his concurrence to all motions passed during Synod and the Secretaries thanking the many people who made Synod possible. Synod was then adjourned. The day ended with a commissioning of the Territorial Archdeacons for the four new four Archdeaconry areas: Sam Thomas (South), Megan Collings-Moore (North), Osita Oluigbo (East) and Jane Humphries (West).
Rev. Ann Webber is the Deacon Assistant to the Rector at St. Michael and All Angels, London.