By Jeff Kischak
In her charge to Synod on Monday, Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Bishop of Huron, has urged the participants to recognize that we are a church in transition.
The Diocese faces both incredible challenges and unique and new opportunities in our shared and committed life together as the body of Christ to our world.
In order for us to live up to the high nature of our calling, we have to foster our creativity, courage, discernment, and our ability to listen deeply to one another.
As Ven. William Harrison, director for mission and ministry, pointed out in his report “What the Future Looks Like”, the model of congregational life that many of us grew up with is one that is simply no longer feasible. Instead of us wondering if the church is dying or speculating if we can expect declining attendance to level out at some future point, it is more evident and relevant for us today to recognize that the church is changing, said Harrison.
In particular, the diocese heard on Monday from the members of the Youth Committee several honest and poignant stories describing their challenges to support or even attend Church.
Yet, it is from these challenges that fresh and exciting expressions and alternative forms of worship, meeting and reaching out to new members are emerging. As Rev. Dr. Barry Craig, Principle of Huron University College suggested, there is tremendous energy, optimism, and concern for important social issues that we can channel if we are willing to recognize the best work and places that the Holy Spirit is calling out in each of us.
The work of building bridges to members of our communities is not always easy. In particular, we heard from ‘Bridge Builders’ who reminded us of the terrible impact that the doctrine of discovery has had on our indigenous partners and the effect it has on our capacity of truly being one body in Christ.
In the early afternoon, members of this year’s Synod broke up in small groups to engage in conversations concerning changes to the marriage canon.
Near the end of the day, Ven. Graham Bland talked about challenges facing stewardship program and warned “that it is time for us as a church to be on the move again; that what the world needs is what we as a church has found in Christ.” What this calls for is a return to a faithful and generous stewardship that invites us not only to rethink our language and ways of doing things but to live truly transformed lives receiving and sharing joyfully with our neighbour all that God had abundantly given us.
On Monday Synod honoured its retirees and payed tribute to the churches disestablished since the last Synod.
The day ended with diocesan banquet. Master of Ceremony was V. Rev. Paul Millward and the guest speaker was Rt. Rev. Michael Bird, Bishop of Niagara.
At the banquet Bishop Linda Nicholls presented Nancy Harvey and John Thorpe with Order of Huron.
Synod will end its 176th session on Tuesday afternoon, May 30.