Come and walk Ascension’s outdoor labyrinth, and stay for light refreshments and conversation.
You are warmly invited to share in a Contemplative Eucharist with Prayers for Healing and Anointing
at 7pm on the second Thursday of the month.
(7pm on the first Thursday of the month)
The Venerable Alan T. Perry, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada has said on more than one occasion that General Synod is the Anglican Church of Canada at its best.
I experienced moments of what I would describe as the Anglican Church of Canada at its best when:
- we authorized gender transition and affirmation liturgies;
- the Assembly 2023 Resolution on Peace and Justice in Palestine and Israel was carried;
- resolutions on Addressing the Climate Emergency, Water and Moving Toward Net Zero in the Anglican Church of Canada were carried;
- we received and approved One Flock, One Shepherd: Lutherans, Anglicans, and Moravians – Called to Walk Together in Full Communion – the Declaration on recognition of full communion relations between the Anglican, Lutheran and Moravian churches in Canada;
- resolutions on Dismantling Racism and Faith Formation and a Commitment to Call to Action #59 were carried as amended;
- we heard from the Strategic Planning Working Group and adopted Five Transformational Aspirations to guide planning, priority-setting, resource allocation and collaboration with provinces and dioceses in the 2023-25 biennium;
- we heard from Indigenous Archbishop Chris Harper and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), and the resolution with a Message of Support to Sacred Circle was carried; and
- a motion on Consensus Decision making was carried.
It was the second time in our history that the General Synod met in collaboration with our Full Communion partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Their Special Convention met the same time as General Synod, and we had a number of joint sessions involving both bodies for worship, fellowship, Bible study, presentations and other discussions. Elections and legislative business were conducted separately.
Table discussions and joint worship with Lutherans were highlights in the week. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings we shared in Holden Evening Prayer, a setting of the Lutheran Vespers Service by Marty Haugen, and I look forward to offering this at Ascension!
The week was not without its low points, though. The resolution to Amend Canon III to Extend Term of Office of Primate was debated at length and defeated on Wednesday and reconsidered and defeated again on Thursday. This vote required two-thirds majority in the three Orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, and it was among the Bishops that it failed. This highlights in our system that the current requirement of two-thirds of each Order has the possibility that a small minority (one-third plus one) of any one Order could block a change, despite a majority of each Order as well as two-thirds of all of the members of General Synod being in favour. We debated a Motion Responding to GS 2019 Resolution C005 – Changing the Threshold for Required Votes by Orders. Bishop Shane spoke eloquently and in strong favour of this motion, as did others, but in the end it was deferred until General Synod 2025.
The schedule of the week was intense, with the agenda setting 13-hour days for us. The residence was a 15-minute walk from our meeting place, and while I did do some good socializing in the breaks, I balanced that with returning to my room when possible. I have a FitBit, and I’m able to report that I logged 78, 250 steps last week!
I am so grateful to Wes, and the Ascension community for the blessing and laying on of hands that you sent me on my way with on Sunday, June 25th. Wes invited me to go with the spirit of Ascension, and I felt Ascension’s love and support and prayers with me all week: thank you.
As Anglicans, we are part of a wider structure and framework that holds us as we participate in God’s mission starting at our beloved Church of the Ascension on Echo Drive. Sometimes the way that structure holds us can feel restrictive and inhibiting. I felt some of that this week at General Synod, but I have come away with an even stronger conviction that it’s not about doing away with the structure and framework, but rather about how we inhabit it. Power isn’t, in itself, wrong, but we are asked to be aware of power and how it is used. We are asked to face abuse of power and to resist it non-violently. There is work to be done on how we inhabit the structure of the Anglican Church of Canada. That work is underway already and it is visible in our relationship with Sacred Circle. It is visible in the resolution to change the threshold for required votes by Orders, and in the resolution on consensus decision making. There is hope in this – thanks be to God.
Yours in faith,
But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Matthew 28:5-7)
These verses are from the Resurrection story in Matthew’s Gospel.
Many of you know that my daughter Annabel and I have just returned from the Holy Land, where we made a pilgrimage with our Bishop, Shane, and nearly 30 other pilgrims.
One of the last things we did in Jerusalem was to walk the Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which according to tradition dating back to the 4th century, contains the sites of Jesus’s crucifixion and the tomb where he was buried. As I knelt at the site of the crucifixion, I felt an overwhelming heaviness, and profound grief. I had expected to feel this kind of emotion. What I felt at the site of the tomb, though, was unexpected! I thought I would feel similar grief and sadness there, but not so! What I felt, reverberating, was what we hear in Matthew’s Gospel: he is not here, for he has been raised as he said. He has been raised, and he has gone ahead to Galilee; there you will see him. We left Jerusalem and made our way to Galilee the very next day and we spent the remaining days of our pilgrimage there. The “he is not here” at the tomb was not absence, but rather a profound sense that Jesus was not in the tomb because in being raised, his presence saturates all of creation.
This – this saturating presence – is what we celebrate in the Resurrection. We celebrate this all the time, but especially on this feast of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday.
The Resurrection has never been about about cold hard facts. It’s not about a convincing telling of what happened with all the right details. It’s about God’s passionate and powerful love, made known in Jesus, saturating not only the walls of that empty tomb, but all of creation. It’s about the Resurrection – the Risen Christ – infusing our lives, infusing all of creation.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the women go – they run! – with both fear and joy. Jesus is raised, and that infuses their fear with deep assurance that lets them feel joy at the same time. God’s assurance in Jesus that death is not the strongest power, that love is, infuses all our dark emotions – especially fear – with joy, with hope, and with the potential for transformation.
May each of you feel that saturating presence this Easter. May your hearts and minds and souls be infused with the assurance that love is stronger than fear, stronger than death, stronger than anything. Every blessing to you and yours,