THE JUNE EDITION of the Anglican Journal traditionally marks the close of the publication year and presages a couple of summer months when things slow down at Church House, staff take holidays, the hours are shorter and the pace more relaxed.
Except in a General Synod year, which this is. The 36th session of General Synod will convene this summer, July 4 to 11 in Waterloo, Ont., for what promises to be a seminal moment in the life of the church. Our theme is "Towards Healing, Reconciliation and the New Life." We hope and pray that progress may be made in each of these components.
The past five editions of the Journal and two of MinistryMatters have attempted to look ahead to this General Synod through the eyes of organizers and staff, people most closely associated with some of the central themes through the work they do. We have examined the context of General Synod and looked at key issues from a proposal that would bring Anglicans to full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, to, in this edition, how the story of General Synod will be told to church members and to the world.
However, unlike most General Synods which can become predictable events through a careful canvassing of key members and staff people, this particular gathering has more about it that is imponderable.
Never before has the future of the Anglican Church of Canada depended to such an extent on institutions and tribunals that have nothing inherently to do with the church. Never before have opportunities for leadership been so effectively stripped away from our leaders, nor have rank-and-file General Synod members been, to such an extent, denied much control over what the inaugural years of the new millennium will look like for the church. It must be quite an experience for people like the treasurer, the general secretary and the primate, to ponder how to provide leadership and direction with hands securely fastened behind their backs by lawyers and judges. It must be quite a challenge to be considering strategy and the future, when the things that make up the future are no longer in the church's hands.
For not in parish vestries nor diocesan centers nor even here in the General Synod offices is the future of the Anglican Church of Canada being decided this year, but rather in political corridors of power in Ottawa and in the chambers and courtrooms of jurists pretty well across the country. Negotiations with the federal government over a settlement to residential schools lawsuits continue, even as the lawsuits themselves continue, sapping the financial resources of all the churches so embroiled. It may well be that by the time General Synod meets in July decisions will have been made and courses chosen that tie even the hands of the 300 or so delegates who will convene as the church's highest governing body in Waterloo. …