Canadian G.S. Meeting partly ‘in camera’

CoGS chooses to conduct afternoon business in camera
A resolution passed by the members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to conduct part of their business on the first day of their meeting in camera. This meeting of CoGS from March 10-13, marks the last CoGS meeting for the current triennium.

In camera is a Latin phrase meaning “in the chamber” and is a legal term that refers to meetings held in private, where the public and media are not present to observe or document the meeting.

Why did CoGS decide to go in camera?
Given the communication from the House of Bishops at the end of February, the Planning and Agenda Team for the Council of the General Synod suggested to members of the Council that conversation be conducted in camera for two hours of their agenda today. This move was to ensure that members could process and work through the House of Bishops communication and to speak freely and without reservation.

Is CoGS allowed to move in camera? Does that mean that CoGS is a closed meeting?
All discussions and debates at CoGS are governed by the Rules of Order and Procedure of the General Synod as outlined in the Handbook of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Section IV of the Handbook, Procedure and Practice, notes: “The General Synod shall hold its sittings in public or in private at its own discretion.” Appendix F, which details the Policy on Closed Meetings in The Anglican Church of Canada, states that “A closed meeting may be held to discuss personnel issues, contract proposals, financial matters, litigation, and/or at the request of a member (subject to section 3.3).”

Has CoGS previously conducted business in camera?
While the Policy on Open Meetings states that “the exercise of the ministry of the church in meetings is conducted openly and inclusively except under clearly defined circumstances,” CoGS is no stranger to in camera sessions. Since the turn of the century, council members have met in camera numerous times to discuss specific issues:

At meetings in May and November of 2000, November 2001, and May and November 2002, CoGS members met in camera to discuss updates on work related to residential schools, including litigation and negotiations with the federal government regarding responsibilities for legal claims.
In November 2003, council moved in camera to consider a nomination for the position of archivist.
In November 2004, council moved in camera to hear a nomination for the position of treasurer from Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, then-Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In November 2005, council members moved in camera to discuss the appointment of a General Secretary.
In November 2008, council went in camera as the Management Team outlined plans to cut $1.3 million from the 2009 budget.
The Policy on Closed Meetings notes that if a closed session is part of an open session, the chair shall—where appropriate—relay the messages agreed to by the members to those excluded from the meeting.

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This official news bulletin from the Anglican Church of Canada, reflects the tension existing at this time over the proposed legislation dealing with Same-Sex Marriage/Blessing in that Province of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

A previous decision of the Canadian House of Bishops to announce – before the General Synod Meeting – that it’s considered vote would not meet the threshold for the proposed legislation – had cause some alarm in Church circles because of its seeming preemption of any action on the part of the whole body of the General Synod, which includes clergy and laity as well as bishops among its number.

This decision to hold the first few hours of the General Synod Meeting, ‘in camera’, indicates a need to sort out priorities in governance that the H.o.B. announcement had raised.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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