Canadian Anglicans to Review Episcopal Power in Governance

General Synod votes to review governance structures

BY MATT GARDNER -September 24, 20190189

General Synod delegates gather for a moment of prayer after the marriage canon vote. Photo by Milos Tosic

An amended motion for a constitutional review passed on the last day of General Synod 2019, setting the stage for a thorough examination of the body’s governance structures.

Resolution C005, as amended, directs the Council of General Synod to review the composition of membership and the rules of order and procedure of General Synod, and to bring forward any recommended changes for consideration to General Synod 2022.

The original motion, which did not include a review of the rules of order and procedure, was moved by Monique Stone and seconded by Beth Bretzlaff. Stone noted that the Anglican Church of Canada was in the midst of significant organizational change with the election of a new primate, shift to a new strategic plan and establishment of new church structures.

“Evaluation and adaptation are key traits of success for sustainable, responsible and responsive organizations that honestly and authentically examine where they are in their current context, and how they will move into the future,” Stone said.

The amendment to include rules of order and procedure was moved by David Harrison and seconded by Ian Alexander. Speaking on the proposed amendment, Harrison said that governance would be one of the main issues coming out of synod.

“I think some of us have felt that we haven’t had the kind of mechanisms that we might need, as the Order of Clergy or Order of Laity, to speak into this synod as the Order of Bishops has,” Harrison said.

Though none of the speakers directly linked Resolution C005 to the marriage canon vote, secular media drew a connection, with The Canadian Press reporting: “One of Canada’s largest Christian denominations will spend the next three years considering whether to change its governance structure amid outrage that just two bishops’ votes stood in the way of having same-sex marriage recognized by the church’s laws.”


In the wake of its recent General Synod, which scuttled a Motion to alter the Marriage Canon in favour of the Inclusion of Same-Sex Marriage – by a minority vote in the House of Bishops – this significant move to change the governance structure of the next General Synod was proposed, amended and passed by the General Synod.

One of the supporters of this movement, David Harrison (who moved an amendment to the original motion for change), had this to say: “I think some of us have felt that we haven’t had the kind of mechanisms that we might need, as the Order of Clergy or Order of Laity, to speak into this synod as the Order of Bishops has.”

The final paragraph of this communique from the Anglican Church of Canada’s website has been picked up by the Canadian Press, with the expectation that any redeuction of the power of the House of Bishops might well influence the future of discussion and action on Same-Sex Marriage at Canada’s General Synod 2022.

(One of the ouitcomes of the General Synod vote in 2019, has been a general sense of dissatisfaction with the narrow vote in the house of Bishops that scuttled the widespread expectation of an easy passage of an amendment to the Marriage Canon that would have explicitly allowed for Same-Sex Marriages to be celebrated in the Canadian Anglican Charuch. However, in issuing its ‘Note to The Church’ on this subject, the H. of B. then left it up to individual dioceses and their bishops to decide – whether or not – to Celebrate or Bless Same-Sex marriages in their own jurisdictions.)

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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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