Synod Examines Church's Governance; Lack of Consultation Raised by Members

Article excerpt

Members of General Synod took a step toward changes in the governance and structure of the Anglican Church of Canada by approving a motion allowing the primate, after consultation with the house of bishops, to begin discussion with the provinces and dioceses about the "possible reform" of the church's provincial and diocesan organization and structures.

Discussions concern such possibilities as the elimination of the provinces and the transfer of their powers to General Synod, adjustments of diocesan boundaries to reflect modern day transportation patterns and demographics, and reduction in the number of dioceses.

However, Synod referred two motions to the Council of General Synod (COGS), the church's governing body between General Synods, "for further work;" the motions dealt with changes to the way the church deals with amendments to its canons (laws).

One motion proposed changes to the church's declaration of principles, its constitution and rules of order, so that amendments, other than those concerning doctrine or discipline, may be made at one meeting of General Synod. Under current rules, these amendments require the approval of a two-thirds majority of each of the three orders of General Synod (bishops, clergy and laity) at two successive synods. (General Synod takes place every three years.) Between sessions, they must also be taken to all diocesan and provincial synods "for consideration."

A recurring argument made by those opposed to the motions was lack of consulta tion and information.

"People need to know what the issues are in order to make an informed decision. We're away from the seats of power and often what happens is we don't get a voice," said Bishop William Anderson of the diocese of Caledonia. …