By Matthew Kieswetter
Bishop Linda Nicholls began the Monday morning session with the second half of the Bishop’s Charge, beginning where Bishop Bennett left off:
“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus
and your love toward all the saints,
and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you
as I remember you in my prayers.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all glory
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,
So that with the eyes of your hearts enlightened
you may know the hope to which he has called you,
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.”
A fitting opening that was as appropriate for this year’s Synod as it was in its original context in the Letter to the Assembly at Ephesus. Bishop Nicholls spoke about her prayer for those gathered being marked by “thankfulness, encouragement, and yearning,” while also expressing thanks for the many warm messages of welcome she has received in recent months.
Delegates to this summer’s General Synod, the gathering of the national Church, were brought together on the stage and prayers were offered. This year’s General Synod has two particularly important issues on the agenda: a proposed change to the Marriage Canon, and consideration of next steps vis-à-vis the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Ven. Stephen Haig spoke on behalf of the Diocesan Refugee Committee, remarking on an incredibly busy year, with 164 files submitted (representing approximately 400 people), and more coming in. He characterized the experience of sponsoring refugees as a “slow process punctuated by frenetic activity… but it is worth it.” A highlight was hearing from two speakers who came to Canada from Syria as refugees sponsored by St. Aidan’s in London. Thanks to monies collected at Bishop Nicholls’ Service of Welcome, and other donations that have come in, the Diocesan Refugee Committee can now make available money for parishes to assist in the first month of refugee sponsorship.
The Ven. William Harrison spoke about his promotion of evangelism in the Diocese, and how it comes out of the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Echoing Bishop Nicholls’ address, he encouraged those gathered to see themselves as ambassadors for Christ called to promote the Gospel’s message of reconciliation in the world. The reality of the world today is that Christians can no longer operate on ‘cruise control,’ expecting people to naturally feel drawn to attend a church. For the Church to grow and thrive there are three possibilities: immigration, having babies, and evangelism. In today’s context, evangelism is the most realistic option. “Take your pick!” remarked Archdeacon Harrison.
Huron University College, Renison University College, and Canterbury College gave updates and shared videos that spoke to their offerings and identities as Anglican Colleges in the contemporary university context. Synod was reminded that make the presence of these institutions known to friends and family members who are in or thinking about post-secondary education. Huron Church Camp shared good news: a surplus from last year, and work underway on much-needed bathrooms. The Rev’d Chris Travers will be spending the summer as the camp’s chaplain. He spoke about the importance of the camp in his formation.
The Rev’d Elise Chambers gave a presentation on the Diocesan Golf Tournament, which is both a fun social experience, and also the source of funding for many ministries in the Diocese.
Attendees were introduced to this year’s National Worship Conference, a joint Anglican-Lutheran venture, which is taking place in Waterloo from July 24 to 27 with keynote speakers Bruce Jenneker and Stephen Larson. The speakers, many workshops, and liturgies will wrestle with the connection between justice and worship.
Several speakers represented Social Justice Huron, speaking on its consideration of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the need for the people of Huron to emulate the servant-hearted leadership of Jesus. The Rev’d Matthew Arguin spoke about his experience in street ministry in London, encouraging churches to carefully consider their surrounding context, its assessed needs, and in turn, what the church community is being called to do. The Rev’d Tom Patterson spoke about the challenge of discerning and addressing underlying causes of poverty. The need for Christians to pursue the common good was underscored by this year’s theme passage from the Book of Micah: “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The EnviroAction Committee spoke about its ministry in the Diocese, and brought good news from the Sunday evening BBQ that only a half bag of garbage was produced. St. James, Statford was awarded both a light green and a medium green award for their environmental stewardship ministries.
Lenni Lenape Algonkian Iroquoian Council (LAIC) and the Bridge-Builder Ministry gave a dramatic presentation based on the ‘Bench Exercise’ from the University of Winnipeg, titled ‘Wake Up, There is a Call to Hope’ showing the relationship of the Church with Indigenous peoples. National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald spoke to how the Doctrine of Discovery has been officially repudiated, though its effects can still tarnish relationships and attitudes. He warned against paternalistic approaches and laws that undermine Indigenous self-governance. He called instead for the deepening of relationships between settler and Indigenous communities.
The Rev’d Rosalyn Elm and the Rev’d Tom Patterson spoke about the transformative power of dialogue and prayer in the Bridge-Builder Ministry, which creates a safe space to hear and dialogue about difficult matters. LAIC’s work in the Diocese was highlighted, and the important suicide-awareness program, ‘Brightening the Spirit, Breaking the Silence, was spoken of powerfully.
The Diocesan Youth led the Synod in a much-needed and memorable dance experience. The Youth also spoke to their work in promoting English as a Second Language and French as a Second Language as an important part of welcoming refugees, and to their advocacy regarding the challenges faced by First Nation communities. They encouraged Synod participants to sign letters that they had prepared, which will be sent to government representatives at the House of Commons.
The Anglican Church Women Diocesan Council spoke to the many ministries they support, such as Project Jericho, Monica Place, Huron Church Camp, Henry Budd College, and PWRDF, to name but a few. Their vibrant ministry and important role in the life of the Diocese was clear to all.
The Rev’d Canon Greg Smith spoke about the Huron Hunger Fund/PWRDF, especially to the new Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health initiative, encouraging each parish to host one or two fundraising events in support of this cause. Incredibly, $31 487.05 was raised in the collection at the opening Eucharist of Synod!
The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer reminded participants to make a prayer request or thanksgiving and to stick it to the prayer wall. When heading back home, delegates are asked to take a prayer home with them from the wall.
Huron retired several retirees for their loyal and diligent service over the years. Honoured this year were: The Rev’d Elizabeth (Liz) Chaplin, The Rev’d Robert Doerr, The Rev’d Victoria (Vickie) Edgeworth-Pitcher, The Rev’d Canon Marian Haggerty, The Rev’d David Hewett, Sjouk Lynch, The Rev’d Dr. Gary Nicolosi, The Rev’d Colin Pearce, The Rev’d Margaret Shortell, The Ven. Peter Townshend.
The Monday evening banquet was a wonderful event featuring the musical talents of Angus Sinclair and singer/songwriter Genevieve Fisher. The Rev’d Canon Dr. Kevin George’s unique and inimitable comedic talents were on display. (He remains a priest in good standing.) Bishop Bob and Kathie Bennett were presented with a beautiful decorative welcome rock signed by Synod participants.
Photo: Huron Church News