All of our Diocese of Rupert's Land delegates arrived at the University of Alberta in Calgary. The registration team welcomed us well. Thank you Tannis, Gary, Andrew, Brittany and Simon for answering the call to this vital ministry of governance.
A meal was shared prior to the opening Eucharist, it was exciting and wonderful to make new friends and rekindle older relationships.
Archbishop Chris Harper welcomed us to GS 23, by giving us a teaching and providing smudging for all present. We then moved to our worship space indoors, where Archbishops Linda (presider) and Chris (preacher) gathered, led and massed our community into our synodical posture.
There is a beautiful and strong sense here that the One Body of Christ has gathered. The Body desires to do the hard work of hearing God's voice amid the clutter and clatter of our present time and discern God's call to the Church. This feels refreshing and hopeful.
Almighty God, equip your Church for mission, and a signal of your love to all people. Make us vehicles of your grace and love; we ask through Christ. Amen.
A joyful surprise began the day as Tannis Webster, Rupert's Land delegate, led morning prayer for the Synod.
The tone and feeling of Synod is cordial, generous and hopeful, among other positive descriptors.
Our Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls offered her address to General Synod. Recounting the last four years + Linda spoke about profound resiliency, adaptability, and creativity of the Church during the difficult pandemic period. She passionately thanked the Church and leaders for courageously meeting challenges, embracing changes, and being people of great faith. The primate spoke also about other challenges we faced during the past 4 years that have greatly shaken and disturbed the Church and world around. She commented that our structures and practices must always be prepared to meet such challenges well as the Body of Christ. The synod offered the Primate a standing ovation.
The synod got to work on resolutions. There was a general feeling of disappointment when a resolution calling for a lengthening of the primate's term failed to be carried in the Order of Bishops, while passing in both orders of Lay and clergy.
Later in the afternoon Archbishop Anthony Poggo, Secretary of the Anglican Communion, spoke with great thanksgiving for the ministry and witness of the Canadian Church. + Anthony assured us that he and his office are present to be an assistance to the Anglican Church of Canada.
Great presentations from Church House and Anglican Foundation Canada (AFC) brought a wonderful touch of joy to our day. Our diocese was highlighted in the AFC presentation.
After the AFC presentation, we finally joined our ELCIC family for worship and reception - it was so good to join in faith and celebration.
God of our longing, fill us with the anticipation of the coming of your Son, so that in joy and hope we might witness to your love. We ask this through the Holy and undivided Trinity, one God. Amen.
Another beautiful day began as ELCIC and ACC delegates continued to develop rich relationships between one another and as a full communion Church.
It takes dedication, desire and hope to speak as a full communion Church, and that speech is sounding as spirit led. Opportunities like Assembly are not always available for Churches across the country to share in such a robust manner, so our time and sharing are of great importance as we understand and celebrate our solidarity in Christ's body.
Bishop Susan and Archbishop Linda have set the bar high by their personal and working relationship, they have clearly demonstrated how God is deeply imbedded in this full communion.
ACC delegates continue to meet, for the work of General Synod. Our methods of conducting business are sometimes feeling to me like they are not enough to accomplish the tasks before us. It is clear to me that the hearts and minds of all delegates are in the game, yet there are moments when we struggle to see Christ leading. In the midst of one such moment a delegate called for the Gospel of the Day to be read aloud, I saw relief upon faces as the Word was proclaimed.
Disciples of ELCIC and ACC are committed to our shared Assembly and our Conference and General Synod ministries.
God of light, shine through the cracks of our Church, that we may see clearly your pathway to all disciples. In Christ. Amen.
We are at the halfway point of Assembly, that is the sharing of ELCIC Special Convention and ACC General Synod. Rupert's Land is fortunate and blessed to share closely with Manitoba Northwest Ontario Synod ELCIC a robust relationship and partnership in ministry and mission. I am particularly thankful for the relationship I share with Bp Jason Zinko.
Day 4 was filled with important discussions and decisions. While in the posture of Assembly Bp Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ELCA, Bp Franklin (Bp Curry's designated) of The Episcopal Church TEC, Bp Johnson of ELCIC and Primate Nicholls presented and celebrated our relationship - Churches Beyond Borders - a full-communion open-sharing reality. That celebration concluded with a short worshipful celebration where each Church gave a gift of a chalice.
Assembly received a presentation regarding our imminent formalization of full-communion with the Moravian Church in North America. That formalization will happen in Day 5. ELCIC, ELCA and Tech all enjoy full-communion relationships with the Moravian Church, and now within Churches Beyond Borders we the ACC welcome our family as they welcome us. The exciting piece that I now consider is that we might be meeting Moravian disciples in DRL even though no formal parishes exist.
Late in the morning General Synod 23 carried the following resolution to "authorize Pastoral Liturgies for Journeys for Gender Transition and Affirmation" which makes official the trial liturgical texts of ceremonies prepared by Faith, Worship and Ministry of ACC. I am excited that these liturgical resources are available for disciples in the Diocese of Rupert's Land immediately.
Provincial caucuses met last evening to choose membership for the Council of General Synod. The Diocese of Rupert's Land offered a full recommended slate of nominees: bishop, clergy, lay and youth, but did not succeed in placing a member on Council. However great delight was had by all as we navigated the electoral method employed.
Finally, today Bp Susan and Primate Linda presented a response to the ongoing crisis among Palestinians in the Land of the Holy One. Presentations by ELCIC, ACC and Rabbi Gihla of Edmonton highlighted the complexities and deep wounds of many if not all people in that region. The rabbi responded courageously and passionately offering perspectives we had not yet heard. The other speakers warned us about carrying our western culture world-view into the midst of that context; the people who suffer in the Land of the Holy One are not so interested in our tourism, yet very much interested in relationships. I am thankful for the leadership of + Susan and + Linda, calling us to carefully consider the hope of the people of the Land of the Holy One.
God of our longing, we thank you for the precious gift of life you have placed in the human family. By your love guide this human family to peace and hope, so that we might steward the vast abundance of your economy with great care and integrity; we ask this through the holy and undivided Trinity, One God. Amen.
Our delegates have remained in a posture of prayer for the victims of a tornado that touched down south of Calgary.
Saturday began in Assembly, led in morning prayer by the Moravian Church. Our shared ELCIC and ACC time is joy filled and hopeful, we appreciate one another, we have found solidarity and strength in the One Body of Christ.
On Sunday we celebrated Eucharist then bid our ELCIC family farewell. Relationship-building and mission encourage us collectively to yearn to be ministry and mission in the One Body of Christ.
Sessions of General Synod continued both Saturday and Sunday. We are struggling in work sessions. To some degree this is tiredness, and in other ways I think we struggle to lead and work in new and different times. I am grateful for the climate of collegiality, careful discourse, and faithfulness that has permeated our work. God is clearly at work, and all are clearly yearning to hear God's voice through and around another.
On Saturday evening a presentation from Sacred Circle brought GS 23 to great joy and hope for the entire Church, and not just Anglicans, Lutherans and Moravians. May God the creator continue to pour blessings upon all our relations.
Gospel Jamboree was a blast! Archbishop Chris and Bp Lydia demonstrated the hospitality of Jesus we ought to employ in this world.
In her sermon, Bp Susan Johnson begs of us "to do justice NOW, love kindness NOW, and walk humbly with God NOW. We are not obligated to complete the that work. Neither are we free to abandon that work" Jesus has left us one another, we are not alone.
God our guide, now lead us back to the communities of disciples in mission from which we came; and bless the places and people to whom we return. Teach us again to live with gratitude in your Church, so that we may faithfully and freely embrace your call to proclaim your love for the whole of creation; we ask in Jesus Christ out light and life. Amen.
*Photo of the Assembly Partners from General Synod 2023. Missing are Tannis Webster, and the clergy and lay delegates of Mishamokweesh.