From the Dean's Desk: Diocesan Synod

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The 77th Synod of the Diocese of Calgary took place on October 13 and 14, 2017. In his Charge to Synod, as well as in a pastoral letter circulated to all delegates, the Archbishop talked about the importance of healing and reconciliation. Indeed, the theme of this year’s Synod was “Toward Healing and Reconciliation”. The guest speaker was the Right Rev’d Lydia Mamakwa, first bishop of the Indiginous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamakoweesh, a diocese in Northern Ontario which was established on 1 June 2014 out of the former Diocese of Keewatin. In her two keynote addresses, she spoke of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Churches’ response and follow-up to the 94 Calls to Action, especially in the area of education. The Synod was also address by the Right Rev’d Sidney Black, Indigenous Bishop for Treaty 7 Territory, who gave a moving talk of his own residential school experience and how deciding to be positive has freed him from bitterness.
 
Greetings were brought from the Synod of Alberta and the Territories of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (with whom the Anglican Church of Canada is in Full Communion) by the Rev’d Dr. Julianne Barlow, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary by the Rev’d Adrian Martens, and from our Companion Diocese of the Windward Islands by The Ven. J. Everton Weekes who not only gave us an update on our Companion Diocese but also an open invitation for members of the Diocese of Calgary to go and help them at any time.
 
There were important presentations from committees, among them from the Rural Ministry Committee which was helpful to any parish. The Rev. Clara King shared about re-engaging rural areas in the church. She made three points:
1) that this is an opportunity for the Diocese to become a hub of resources and programs;
2) the importance of building up a spiritual life and the capacity of whole congregations, not just some leaders;
3) and we all need to make a commitment to focus on what we can change not what we can’t. 
 
There were a number of administrative matters that were dealt with, including electing members of Synod to Diocesan Council, Provincial Synod, and General Synod. The Dean was elected as delegate to General Synod, which next meets in Vancouver in 2019. There were two administrative motions. One dealt with minor amendments to the Canons of the Diocese of Calgary and the other with a motion from the outgoing Diocesan Council requesting that the incoming Council focus its energy on creating a mission strategy for the Diocese. Both were passed almost unanimously. The crucial motion brought forward to the Synod was one which asked “That this Synod requests the Bishop to grant permission to any clergy who may wish to bless the unions of faithful, committed, Christian same sex couples. In requesting such permission, clergy and lay people of the Diocese of Calgary shall be entrusted to follow their consciences.” This brought a number of people to the microphone, all in a respectful way. The motion passed by nearly 60%. The Archbishop indicated that he would give his response (whether he will permit parishes that have expressed a desire to respond pastorally to committed, Anglican, same-sex couples to offer a service of blessing or not) within a month’s time.