A the March 21, 2018 meeting Bishop Skelton advised Diocesan Council, the elected and appointed governing body of the diocese that she intends to convene a Special Synod on October 13, 2018. The purpose of the synod will be to consider changes to Canon 2, the set of rules which govern how a bishop is elected in the Diocese of New Westminster.
While the last episcopal election on November 30, 2013 led to a great result – the election of Bishop Melissa Skelton - those who were closely involved realized there was room for improvement in the process.
The current rules have strict time constraints: within thirty days of the “vacancy of the See,” the Diocesan Council, with the consent of the Metropolitan, “shall summon the Synod for the election of the Bishop;” then the electoral synod must be held “within three months of the date of the summons.” There are also areas of practice and procedure not addressed by the Canon that should be captured either in the revised Canon or in regulation. This timeline leaves only four months to complete a number of tasks, including but not limited to:
- The preparation of a Diocesan Profile
- The nomination of qualified candidates
- The design of a process for the candidates to become known to the synod delegates
- An opportunity for delegates and candidates to engage in question and answer sessions
- Holding the synod in a suitable venue within the timeframe allowed.
The Canon 2 Task Force was created to address these concerns and to recommend changes to the Canon to allow for a better, less frantic timeline and a more transparent and fair process.
Already a task group of Diocesan Council has been at work creating a new version of the Diocesan Profile which currently consists of 8 pages or headings within the main Diocesan Profile module located under the first navigation button the website - "ABOUT". At the moment the working titles for the 8 pages are:
- Introducing Our Diocese
- Our Region
- Our Parishes
- Our Leadership
- Our Programs and Ministries
- Our Governance & Finance
- Our History
- Our Challenges and Opportunities
This will be a “living document” accessible to all as part of the diocesan website. It will be updated regularly to become a tool not only for the next episcopal election but for those who may be seeking employment in the diocese and others who want to know what the diocese is all about.
The Canon 2 Task Force is working on revisions in order to:
- Make the time constraints less rigid to allow for a fair and transparent process
- Clarify the role of Diocesan Council
- Clarify the membership and roles of the Search/Nominations Committee
- Ensure the membership of the Search/Nominations Committee reflects the diversity of the diocese
- Ensure the nominations process including the vetting of candidates is done with transparency and fairness
- Plan ahead for an appropriate engagement process with candidates and synod delegates, based on feedback received at Synod in May 2017
- Allow for a smooth and efficient interim period between the resignation of the outgoing bishop and the Consecration of the incoming bishop.
The proposed revisions will comprise the main agenda for the Synod to be held at the Synod Offices and St. John's, Shaughnessy Saturday, October 13, 2018 . This will be the 118th Synod the Diocese of New Westminster
Synod Delegates elected at 2018 Vestry meetings will receive email correspondence about the call to Synod and parishes will also receive documents in the mail.
The current membership of the Canon 2 Task group is: Stephen Muir (co-chair), Jennifer Dezell (co-chair), Peter Elliott (past chair), Ronald Harrison, Melanie Delva, Stephanie Shepherd and George Cadman (ex officio).
The Venerable Stephen Muir is Archdeacon of Capilano, Rector of St. Agnes, Co-chair of the Canon 2 Task Force. This article was produced with notes from George Cadman, QC, ODNW, Chancellor of the Diocese
- A full house at St. Mary's, Kerrisdale for the last Special Synod held November 2012
- The guest facilitator for the last Special Synod was the Reverend Canon Melissa Skelton of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.
- Archdeacon Stephen Muir and Deacon, the Rev. Eileen Nurse at the March 21, 2018 Diocesan Council meeting. Rev. Nurse is part of the work force team creating the Diocesan Profile.