Synod 2020: New, learning, just, diverse!

By Rev. Canon Keith Nethery

Some random thoughts on the first “Virtual” Synod of the Diocese of Huron.

New! Learning! Just! Diverse!

Simple words, but oh what power.

Thank you Bishop Todd for the challenge to us all! Rosalyn Elm as Archdeacon for Reconciliation with our Indigenous People. Brilliant appointment of a person who will do great things in this area of ministry.

If you read last months column, the following comment will carry some significance. The old curmudgeon would like to say that virtual is the way of the future. While the first run at using technology had a bump or two, it shows what we can do. Money saved, the planet saved by sharply reduced travel costs.

Efficient, clear, concise and understandable are some things that come to mind.

Mark Charlton’s Financial Report was a perfect example of how to convey meaning in a creative, yet accessible manner.

Thank you to all the “tech” folks who made this event happen. I know you had some moments of sheer panic when things didn’t go perfectly. You need to know that for the first time trying this, it worked wonderfully.

I missed the people! A big part of Synod for me has always been wandering the halls, catching up with people I know and care about. It is a joy just to survey the congregation at the opening service as St. Paul’s Cathedral from the safety of the

Canon’s benches. I might not get to talk to everybody, but it is a wonderful reminder of just how connected we all are. Which brings me back to what Bishop Todd exemplified. We are a community, we need to interact, to love one another, to work for the benefit of all.

A surprise to me was that I didn’t miss the banquet. I think that comes in the fact that it was one day, and a shortened day at that. (Given the fact that I had to lead recording of our virtual service and preside and preach at our Saturday evening Eucharist, I was exceedingly happy that we were done early!) Synod is a grind and I feel it even more as I become a more “seasoned veteran.” Late Sunday and all day Monday and we are all exhausted when we are supposed to be enjoying a wonderful meal and a time of fellowship.

That leads me to a suggestion. Might we consider a rotation of a virtual synod followed by an in-person synod in rotation? It would give us different views of the same thing, which I think is always a good idea. The relaxed nature of an online, one day, focus on the issues and the business; followed by the community building, in person relationship and joint worshipping norm that we have had for many years.

Just for fun – I got to watch Margaret Walker’s screen! I’m sure we had the best screen! And you folks that had to watch the lesser screens… Yeah okay, I’m just having some fun. I’m sure all the screens were good!

Was I the only one who wanted to have a door prize for the most “un-synodly” dressed person in attendance? I’m certain I would be in the top two or three. I have no intention of telling you what I was wearing, but if you share your fashion statement, I’ll put it in next months column. Pictures would be welcomed. Or maybe not!

I thought the multi part version of the Bishop’s Charge was a good idea. Having related reports interspersed between the segments brought increased focus and meaning to our Bishop’s words.
What would Synod be without amendments to the Constitution and Canons?

Maybe I better not answer that one in a public forum! But let me say that I am glad there are those who do that work and keep our rules up to date. I fear however it is like plucking weeds in your yard, an endless and yes, thankless task.

So, a serious thank you to those who do this.

I really can’t believe that those who wrote the Constitution of the Diocese of Huron didn’t have the foresight to allow for an online virtual Synod!

Let me say again that I am fully convinced that Zoom, podcasts, webinars and other mediums that an online world allows, are an important and vital part of where the church goes from here.

Thanks for the two very different faith witnesses. It is so important to understand that Anglicans come from different backgrounds, cultures and understandings.

That was yet another strong way to support the Bishop’s message. In fact, three or four more such witnesses would have been most welcome.

Thank you to those people who stepped way beyond their comfort level and participated in a virtual Synod. I’m certain that many people experienced Zoom for the first time as we met. I know for them it was a big, complicated and scary leap of faith.

Diverse! Just! Learning! New! Simple words with great power. Are we up to the challenge presented to us by our Bishop? Todd, I truly hope that at some point soon you find some “normalcy” in your Episcopal ministry. Talk about not being able to see what was coming! It is amazing that not only you have survived the first eight months of nothing normal, but that you are thriving as well. Your first Synod shows a strong continuation of what you said before you were elected.

Thank you! Thank you to your family who are a huge part of who you are! Know that I pray for you! I’m excited to see the path the Spirit puts us on going forward.

Rev. Canon Keith Nethery is the rector at St. James’ Westminster, London.
[email protected]