The changing face of ministry

By Jeff Kischak 

2017 Synod of the Diocese of Huron wrapped up its three-day gathering on Tuesday afternoon at the London Convention Centre.

The events of Tuesday’s session were very much a continuation and follow-up of several key themes introduced on Monday. The delegates heard from a wide range of voices and groups commenting upon changes in the diocese and issues concerning the Five Marks of Mission. In addition, there was a follow-up to the conversations over the proposed changes to the Marriage Canon.

Synod also discussed and carried a number of motions ranging from clergy group benefits to the custody of parish records.

In terms of the changing face of ministry which is presenting the diocese with several unique challenges, as well as opportunities “to lead a life worthy of our callings”, Synod heard from both the Anglican Church Women and the Brotherhood of Anglican Churchmen. Both groups described the ways in which they are currently implementing their ministries through programs which encourage spiritual development, fellowship, and education. They also highlighted the challenge of attracting new members, particularly among young families.

Rev. Canon Dr. Greg Smith

Rev. Canon Greg Smith presented the objectives of Huron Hunger Fund (PWRDF) In relation to the Five Marks of Mission that the Anglican Church of Canada has laid out. He talked about the challenges facing the Pikangikum First Nation over the lack of safe drinking water and also about the housing problems and the diocese’s efforts in partnership with the First Nations since 2013 to raise over $440,000 for 14 homes to be equipped with clean water and waste removal facilities. Our work with the First Nations, along with our efforts in other countries such as Cuba, Rwanda, and Mozambique, speak to our Anglican commitment to live out the gospel in our world, said Smith.

Several speakers representing the Justice League of Huron talked about the devastating effects to God’s creation that various corporations have been responsible for. They also mentioned the effects that this has had on the drinking water of both indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Canada and around the world. There are 73 communities in Ontario alone that have been under water advisory or “do not consume” warnings. Access to clean, safe drinking water is not only an environmental issue, it is also a justice issue.

Social Justice Huron

In a follow-up to discussions held Monday over the proposed changes to the Marriage Canons, it was noted that there was an overwhelming appreciation for the opportunity to speak our minds and to listen to each other respectfully and deeply. It is the hope of this year’s Synod, that it will be possible to take these discussions back to parishes and deaneries for further and deeper conversations in order to bring the fruits of this dialogue to General Synod in 2019. Bishop Linda responded to several questions put forward from both clergy and lay members including concerns over the conscience clause, pastoral concerns among the community, as well as ramifications within the wider Anglican and Christian community.

Among highlights of this year’s session was the presentation of the work of Huron Church Camp which represents one of our largest outreach programs in the diocese.  We heard several stories from its participants describing the impact of the values, friendships, and opportunities for community that are created at this unique place in Huron. At this year’s Synod, the diocesan youth were able to raise an impressive $2700, which will go towards a future CLAY event and a safe water project.  There is a lot to celebrate in the ministry of the diocesan youth and all those involved in its ministry.

In closing, many people remarked that there was truly a sense of God’s spirit present and working among us. In particular, Bishop Linda commented how closely Bishop Michael’s address at Monday night’s dinner echoed several of the key themes mentioned during this year’s Synod involving our sense of common mission and efforts towards evangelization. In her closing remarks, she implored us to leave with a sense of how we are all one team in our calling and in our working together for the sake of God’s mission in this world.