During her relatively short episcopate Bishop Melissa’s focus is going to be on congregational development, that is what she told 260 lay and ordained delegates at the first Diocesan Synod over which she presided.
The Bishop said that she most likely will serve only seven years—a short period of time for a bishop in the history of the diocese. In 2021, she will be 70, and according to the canons (church laws and regulations) of the Anglican Church of Canada, she must retire.
Congregational development “will not be the only thing I or we will do, of course, but it will be at the centre of what I as your Bishop will do my best to focus on,” she said in her sermon at the opening Eucharist.
“I will focus on it with no distinction between so-called liberals and conservatives [or] so-called Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals. It will be with a zest for growth in general and among the many cultures and ethnicities here in the diocese as well as among younger people.”
“All can have a vibrant life within the big tent of what I understand to be our Anglican heritage.”
The opening Eucharist included the collating of two Archdeacons, and the installation of a number of Regional Deans as this was the Synod that would mark the official beginning of the new diocesan structures and boundaries approved by Diocesan Council and Synod over the past year.
There have been some slight geographic alterations to the Archdeaconries and a new Archdeaconry (Lougheed) added. The former Archdeacon of Westminster, the Venerable Grant Rodgers was collated Archdeacon of Lougheed and the Reverend Elizabeth Northcott, rector of All Saints, Ladner is now the Venerable Elizabeth Northcott, Archdeacon of Westminster. To access information and a map of our diocesan REGIONAL GROUPINGS, please click the link.
After Synod was convened, it was time to vote on Resolution 1 which simplifies the Diocese’s structure resulting in fewer Synods and a smaller Diocesan Council. There are some other canonical changes contained in Resolution 1 as well, most notably around the eligibility of ordained persons to participate in Synods. Diocesan Legal Registrar Don Paul and Dean Peter Elliott presented the resolution.
With little opposition, the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster passed that motion and created a simpler structure for itself in order to cut down on bureaucratic regulations and processes and free up time for mission.
The changes include these:
• Beginning in 2015, Diocesan Synods will be held every two years instead of annually, as at present. During the intervening year a ministry conference will take place. Special synods can still be called by the Bishop.
• Diocesan Council — the body that makes decisions for the Diocese between synods — has been almost halved, cut from 41 members to 22.
• The number of Standing Committees of the Diocesan Council has been reduced from five to just two — a Finance Committee, and a Committee for Mission and Ministry Development.
The goal of the changes is for the Diocese to become “lean and effective,” Dean Peter Elliott told Synod delegates. The dean was a member of a group set up to recommend ways to implement the changes. They had been approved in principle at the 2013 Diocesan Synod.
The makeup of Diocesan Council retains a balance between lay and clerical members (priests and deacons). Two council members must be youth (under 25).
The eight Diocesan archdeacons and the Diocesan Dean will no longer all be on the Council. They will now choose two of their number to serve.
The Bishop may still appoint one additional lay member and one more clergy member, which could raise the membership of Diocesan Council to 24.
Electronic polling—by phone or by computer—will be authorized by a regulation that Diocesan Council intends to make, said Diocesan Registrar Donald Paul. He said a steering committee will determine what items need to come to a full Council meeting, and what can be dealt with by electronic poll.
A significant component of the 115th Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, And Always We Begin Again, were the four teaching sessions facilitated by Bishop Melissa following the model of Benedictine Obedience (listening in order to respond or act). The first topic was Congregational Development. She took to the stage, and with two flip charts gave delegates from the Diocese’s 67 parishes her ideas on what Congregational Development is all about.
First of all, Congregational Development is for all parishes, not just for those that are large and appear to be struggling, “It’s for all sizes, all locations, and all conditions,” she emphasized.
The goal is to have “faithful, healthy, and effective” parishes that seek as their main task to be the body of Christ—to gather people into a spiritual community, nurture them, and equip them to become “the Christian folk.”
“We want to help people to become more and more in the image of Christ out in the world,” she said.
Parishes should feel connected to the unique Anglican Church tradition, and able to actively respond to challenges and opportunities that arise, the Bishop said. They can renew themselves when changes come: a neighbourhood changes, a leader dies, money becomes scarce, members or leaders misbehave.
Congregational Development equips parishes to become sustainable—or working toward greater sustainability. All their parts should fit together: vision for ministry, leadership, culture, size, property, finances, and so on.
Combined with the talks were table exercises in which groups of ten delegates all from different parishes seated around round tables discussed the Bishop’s ideas and were asked to answer questions such as “What is God calling your congregation to work on in its own development?” and "In your life, who or what do you listen to in order to inform your response and action?"
Another notable item during the four short talks and subsequent listening and reporting sessions was the question “What kind of Christian Camping does the Diocese want?” This took place on Day Two.
Synod delegates gave their input as to whether the Diocese should provide young people with a Christian camping experience—and what kind it should be.
The Rev. Ruth Monette, the Acting Director of Mission and Ministry Development, first summarized a report of a WORKING GROUP ON CAMPING MINISTRY (click to access)—and put it in context with several other reviews that have been done over the years.
Since the mid-1920s the Diocese has provided a camping experience on Gambier Island, for the past 50 years or so in partnership with the Camp Artaban Society, she said, which owns the property located in Howe Sound.
Faced with growing annual deficits, the Diocesan Council decided to suspend its relationship with the Society, which curtailed 2013 summer programs. To resume at Camp Artaban would cost about $3 million for capital improvements plus more money to cover annual deficits, Monette told Synod.
She asked delegates to say whether restarting Camp Artaban as a “sleep away” experience was the best way to provide the camping experience and listed possible alternatives.
• A sleep away camp elsewhere
• A camping experience for families
• Day camps
• Trek camping – sending youth on trips into the wilderness, hiking though mountains or kayaking up the coast.
Delegates addressed the issue in table groups, and their responses were recorded and collected to help guide Diocesan Council, who will make the decision about Camping Ministry. In Synod, a wide range of opinion was expressed.
Any program, however, will require significant funds, Monette warned, and to attract young people the program must be excellent. “Good enough is probably not good enough,” she said.
“As a Diocese do we want a viable, sustainable Camping Ministry?”
Although Synod 2014 didn’t have an official partner, the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Venerable Michael Thompson was present for the Synod and presented the HOMILY AT MORNING PRAYER (click to access) on Day Two. Archdeacon Thompson also brought greetings from General Synod and gave a 15 minute address near the end of Day Two on General Synod’s role in mission and ministry and General Synod’s relevance to the dioceses.
Generosity at Synod 2014: The Free Will Offerings given at the 115th Synod to be directed to care+share totaled $4806.35. Also, $995 was raised through the sales of the souvenir umbrellas prepared for the Consecration and Installation, March 1st. A total of $5801.35
During the closing worship the newly elected were commissioned by Bishop Melissa:
Archdeaconry of Burrard (Clergy) – The Reverend Lois Boxill
Archdeaconry of Burrard (Lay) – Mark Munn
Archdeaconry of Capilano (Clergy) – The Reverend Janice Lowell
Archdeaconry of Capilano (Lay) – Ian Thomas
Archdeaconry of Fraser (Clergy) – The Reverend David Price
Archdeaconry of Fraser (Lay) – Joan Cope
Archdeaconry of Lougheed (Clergy) – The Reverend Trudi Shaw
Archdeaconry of Lougheed (Lay) – Maureen Simons
Archdeaconry of Vancouver (Clergy) – The Reverend Andrew Halladay
Archdeaconry of Vancouver (Lay) – Cameron Gutjahr
Archdeaconry of Westminster (Clergy) – The Reverend Dale Yardy
Archdeaconry of Westminster (Lay) – Belinda Kishimoto
Treasurer – Bob Hardy
Youth Delegate to Diocesan Council – Kimberly Blair
Youth Delegate to Diocesan Council - Anne Kessler
Anglican Initiatives Fund Administrator (Clergy) – The Reverend Stephanie Shepard
Anglican Initiatives Fund Administrator (Lay) – Margaret Briscall
Bishops Advisory Committee on Appointments (Clergy) – The Reverend Kelly Duncan
Bishops Advisory Committee on Appointments (Lay) – Helen Brown
Board of Discipline (Clergy) – The Reverend Christine Rowe
Board of Discipline (Clergy) – The Reverend Charles Balfour
Board of Discipline (Clergy) – The Reverend Jeremy Clark-King
Board of Discipline (Lay) – Terry Love
Board of Discipline (Lay) – Betty Vogel
Board of Discipline (Lay) – Margaret Briscall
Clerical Secretary to Synod – The Reverend Andrew Halladay
Lay Secretary to Synod – Melanie Delva
Subsequently the Venerable Stephen Rowe and the Venerable Lynne McNaughton were elected as the two representatives on Diocesan Council from the 8 Archdeacons and Diocesan Dean grouping.
The first meeting of the new Council is scheduled for June 10th, 2014, at St. Augustine’s, Marpole.
Please click the link to access the SYNOD 2014 LINKS PAGE on this website.
PHOTOS 4,7,9,10,13 by Neale Adams, Remaining Photos by Randy Murray