New CoGS Sets Church Priorities: Negotiations `Discouraging'

Article excerpt

Orillia, Ont.

At its inaugural meeting last fall, the Council of General Synod (COGS) elected last summer, wrestled with how to continue guiding the church through the residential schools crisis as well as with contingency plans if negotiations with Ottawa fail.

COGS approved a hold-the-line budget for 2002 and heard that General Synod will, in all likelihood, remain solvent until at least the end of 2002.

Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, reported to CoGS that although they are continuing, negotiations with the federal government have been a "pretty discouraging enterprise."

COGS, which governs the church between the triennial General Synods, meets twice a year.

Next steps are being planned in case negotiations fail, Mr. Boyles said. Dean Peter Elliott of the diocese of New Westminster is heading up a task force to develop an alternative Anglican proposal to present to government if the talks fall apart.

"The task force will also make clear the implications should the government fail to respond, and the General Synod exhaust its reserves on litigation," Mr. Boyles said.

Members agreed to continue a mandate given to the officers of General Synod to make decisions on the future of the church. The officers were given decision-making powers over residential schools litigation, negotiations with the federal government and the church's financial viability.

The officers were also authorized to continue negotiations and approve agreements connected with the redevelopment of the national office property, which has been sold.

In other matters, COGS:

* Approved a study on clergy and staff wellness, and created a new task force to ensure implementation or a new statement or principles, approved at General Synod, on church treatment of parishioners and staff. The wellness study will be led by Bishop Fred Hiltz, the newly elected diocesan bishop of Nova Scotia. Bishop Hiltz heads up a task group already charged with studying support and training for ordained people in the first five years of ministry. The group will report at the next CoGs meeting next May. …