The second day (and first full day) of Synod began at 8:00 with worship led by the Rev. Ed Swayze and with Primate Fred delivering the homily. The Primate was simple and searching in his reflection on Matthew 6, and Jesus’s injunctions on fasting, prayer and almsgiving. The Primate focused on the relationship between authentic gratitude and humility. It was an excellent orientation to a full day.
Following worship, the Bishop gave a charge to Synod oriented around building partnerships with the Diocese of Big Beaver House and Bishop Lydia, building partnerships with the Diocese of Tarime and Bishop Mwite, and the Lift Up Your Heart initiative following the conclusion of the strategic plan. There was far too much in each point to fairly summarize here. I am bringing home a copy of the charge to share with you and hope that I will have an electronic version to distribute broadly. Suffice to say that at each point we were called to an expanded vision of generosity, including (but certainly not limited to) our money. We will be implementing the Lift Up Your Heart initiative through the month of September. Please watch for special updates in ETW about this important initiative.
The morning concluded with a report on the Tarime trip made by a delegation led by +Stephen and Fawna and a final exercise from the Strategic Planning Committee to help them advise the Executive Committee on ways to continue developing the work begun with the S.P. as we move into the future.
After lunch, I attended two breakout sessions. One, again, dealt with the winding down of the current Strategic Plan and building on it for the future. The discussions were particularly concerned with Youth ministry and its ongoing importance in our deaneries. This will be an interesting conversation for Executive to take up. There seemed to be a consensus that Youth work should be funded, even as we also agreed that a uniform pattern of funding and job descriptions across the deaneries might not be the most effective way of ensuring the continuation of good ministries. We’ll see. . . . I also expressed a concern that at least some of the resources recouped from the closure of parishes and the sale of buildings be set aside for new ministries, and especially church planting. Again, we’ll see how that goes.
The second breakout session was led by +Stephen and was a reflection on the repeated cycle of sin–grace–faith in the Prayer Book Holy Communion service. It was, as you can imagine, an intense and important time to meditate on how the pattern of our worship is meant to inspire gratitude toward God for his great gift to us by the Spirit who draws us into the life of Christ. A particular stress for +Stephen (and following from his charge) is that the sacrament can never be divorced from Word read and proclaimed. Without the Word, the sacrament is a mute sign. I think he’s right.
After a quick dinner with Jay to talk more about church planting, I went with the delegates to Algoma U. for a tour of the archives, the residential school, and the chapel. It was a very good (and plain spoken) articulation of our history, warts and all.
Well, my friends, that was today. Tomorrow, we are into a legislative session. Hopefully not too tense. We’ll see. . . .