Following the 9am Opening Eucharist, the front 30% of the ballroom at the Italian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver was reconfigured by ICC and Synod staff to make the space more conducive to a two-day meeting. The completion of the set change indicated that it was time to begin the Constitution of Synod. Prior to the business of the diocese getting underway, Bishop John Stephens greeted the Delegates to Synod (they wouldn’t be Members of Synod until the Quorum was certified and that certification - Moved, Seconded and then voted on) and said,
“First of all I’d like to say that it is really great to see all of you in person. This is the first time we as Synod have gathered in-person since 2019… and that seems like a long time ago.”
This was met by enthusiastic applause.
Chancellor, George Cadman, KC, ODNW, AAM, affirmed that a Quorum of 88 Clergy and 136 Lay Delegates had been duly registered for a total of 224. A Quorum must be, not less than: the bishop; one quarter of the clergy and one quarter of the Registered Lay. Two Hundred and twenty-four was substantially more than the minimum. The Head Table for the 122nd Synod consisted of: Lay Secretary to Synod, Belinda Kishimoto; Clerical Secretary to Synod, the Reverend Justin Cheng; Vice Chancellor of the Diocese, Kevin Smith, ODNW; Bishop John Stephens; Chancellor, George Cadman; Registrar, Donald Paul, ODNW; Legal Assessor, Jennifer Dezell, ODNW and Executive Archdeacon of the Diocese, the Venerable Philippa Pride. Archdeacon Pride had suffered some hip and leg injuries earlier in the month which did not prevent her from performing her many duties throughout the two days. The two secretaries were tasked with timing the speakers and for that they were equipped with a bell and gavel.
The 122nd Synod consisted of six liturgies, led by a variety of clergy and lay with special thanks to the Reverend Lorne Manweiler, Rector of St. Philip, Dunbar and Regional Dean of Point Grey for accompanying the hymn singing on an electric keyboard. The Reverend Manweiler, a skilled organist did a marvelous job with the hymns, complete with some very nice reharmonizations. There were a dozen program and ministry reports and presentations. Over the two days, the Treasurer, Bob Hardy presented the 2023 Audited Financial Statements, the 2023 Diocesan Budget, the 2024 and 2025 Diocesan Vision Budgets. Treasurer Hardy’s PowerPoint presentations assembled in collaboration with diocesan Director of Finance, Shailene Caparas were clear, concise and easy to read. The three financials were received by Synod with overwhelming majority votes. Rounding out the business of Synod were Elections and Resolutions.
Street Outreach Initiative (SOI) based at St. James, under the leadership of the Reverend Fr. Matthew Johnson was the recipient diocesan ministry of donations made by Members of Synod. Donations were received at all liturgies and were encouraged during break times. In the early afternoon the tradition of auctioning off the plants that decorated the Synod Hall's presentation and worship space continued. Chancellor, George Cadman was happy to auction off the six orchids. All six were sold at an average price of $180. The proceeds from the sale also went to SOI. As of this writing a few days after Synod the total is approximately $9,000.
For those who may want to dive more deeply into the 122nd Synod, the SYNODS section of the diocesan website is currently being populated with content from Synod, including the reports and presentations that were made available to diocesan communications. Also, the Synod was livestreamed and the links to the archived livestreams on the diocesan YouTube channel are here:
Bishop John’s sermons on YouTube are available:
Earlier in the Synod planning process it was identified that the Homelessness and Housing Affordability Task Force Report and Recommendations; Exploring and Identifying Diocesan Priorities workshop and table discussions; Property Development Committee presentation would be the key events at the 122nd Synod. In order that Members of Synod had some access to background prior to May 12 & 13, two diocesan pre-Synod gatherings were held via Zoom in late March to discuss the first two agenda items mentioned.
Co-Chairs of the Task Force, the Reverend Simbarashe Basvi and Mrs. Vicki Potter, ODNW presented the Task Force Report and Recommendations at 2pm on Day One. The Report is comprehensive and covered lots of ground. Originally there was one Resolution with six subsections, however, they were broken out into 6 resolutions to be examined individually. That version of the Report is linked here and below in .PDF. For details on the Resolutions please refer to the SYNODS webpage on the diocesan website.
The initial Exploring Priorities segment began on Day One at 11am and ran for just over an hour. Bishop John with Deacon, the Reverend Helen Lingham and the Venerable Philippa Pride supplied some context and then described the two-day process. Initially, Members of Synod were asked to confer in their table groups and identify priorities for the diocese for the next 1-2 years. The notes were collected, and the Reverend Lingham and the Venerable Pride met to go over the content submitted and identify the priorities that had been explored. They selected 13:
Upon arrival on DAY 2 for the early 8am elections, Synod staff created 13 stations around the ICC Ballroom each with a blank sheet of newsprint with the ‘priority’ title at the top and beside that sheet another sheet with some descriptions of the priority culled from the table reports of the previous day. At the next session titled “Identifying Priorities” Members of Synod were given three round stickers and asked to place one only on three preferred priorities. The top five of the 13 to be considered diocesan priorities and the work of Diocesan Council over the next 1-2 years. They were as follows:
Members of Synod were invited to come to the floor mics and offer observations and opinions on the Priorities chosen and that continued until the Resolutions segment of Synod which closed out the business portion of Synod.
Synod concluded with Closing Prayers and Bishop John’s blessing on all those elected, acclaimed, and appointed to positions of responsibility in the Diocese of New Westminster.
And where would the Diocese of New Westminster be without volunteers. Jane Dittrich, ODNW was happy to assemble an All-Star team of folks to work the Registration Tables and also fill in where needed, showing up both days at 7:15am. A few of these helpers were Synod Delegates... however... Along with Jane, many thanks to:
The current Members of Synod registered for the 122nd will continue in their roles until the next Synod, the 123rd which will convene the Friday and Saturday of the week in May either before or after the May long weekend.
Four parishes were featured in the Reverend Joyce Parry-Moore’s two brief reports to Synod on Day One and Two. The Reverend Parry-Moore is the recently appointed Minister for Climate Justice on Synod staff, and she is also the new Vicar of the Parish of St. Aidan and Bartholomew (St. Bart’s), Gibsons. The four parishes profiled are all parishes that had successfully applied for diocesan grants to move ahead with projects that address the Climate Crisis. Please follow the links to view the videos on the diocesan YouTube channel.
Here is a link to a YouTube video consisting of images summarizing the ministry of the Mission to Seafarer’s and Senior Port Chaplain, the Reverend Peter Smyth and his team. The program report took place mid-afternoon of Day One, and following some introductory remarks, the Reverend Peter Smyth turned the mic over to Prince Camota, who came to Vancouver in December 2021, from the Philippines having worked as a seafarer for 5-6 years as an OS- Ordinary Seaman and AB- Able Bodied Seafarer on bulk ships. He has a brother in Vancouver and as is the case with some seafarers from the Philippines, he is looking for better opportunities. Prince is presently studying and hopes to work in the marine sector. His story of life at sea as a crewmember was compelling and many Members of Synod were moved by his words.
Here is a link to the care+share promotional video which introduced the Reverend Tellison Glover’s report and the moving of the resolution to establish the care+share recipients for 2024-2025. This proved to be the fourth resolution of Synod and specifically directs the relevant Synod office staff in collaboration with diocesan ordained and lay leadership (archdeacons, regional deans) to determine where the donations will be directed based on regional needs. This is a process amendment to the 2021 model for care+share disbursements to several parish compassionate food service ministries that ultimately created the "Feed My Sheep" two year initiative.
Photos: Wayne Chose and Randy Murray