General Synod is the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, made up of episcopal, clerical and lay delegates from our 30 dioceses, meeting every three years. We gather June 3-11 in Halifax, Nova Scotia to debate motions and discuss matters before our church.
I had just gotten myself organized. Last night Marc and I had a very productive purging session, sorting out goods for our multi-family yard sale and throwing out five garbage bags of stuff that has moved with each of us over the years. Last night and today I updated my various to do lists, my electronic calendar and was feeling quite productive and organized.
Then, the phone rang. Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. After regaling the woman on the other end with my progress in organization, she said, “Well, I am calling to put a wrench in your plans.”
In short, I have been called to take my place as an alternate delegate to General Synod 2010 – Feeling the Winds of God–Charting a New Course June 3-11. Yeah, that is next week, 8 more sleeps to be exact.
At first, while overwhelmed from a dramatic day before the phone call, I was quite excited. A lot of friends are coming from across the country and it will be wonderful to show them around my town. It is an opportunity to see my national church at work, to hear from Anglican leaders from around the world, participate in some important discussions for the future of our church. Yes, it means 8 less days (plus prep time) to prepare for my departure, but it will take years for me to be elected to such a position again. I frantically called the hospital and nursing home, fellow clergy to take care of pastoral emergencies, downloaded the 800+ pages of material and registered online TODAY because the online registration is coming down tomorrow.
I even cut out of wings night at Piper’s early so I could get started.
Walking the dog before I got started was the first chance I had had all day to breathe. I started to reflect on this new place I have in the councils of my church, no longer an observer, but an active participant.
That’s when I realized it. I am angry.
Just a bit. Not enraged. I am not going to storm out. I am angry because as I consider the circular, I realize how reluctant we are to be blown by the gale of the Holy Spirit. If I may pick up on our sailing metaphor (as too many of us are in our blogs and comments on the national website), I don’t feel like we are charting a new course. I feel like we are arguing about where to place our anchor in a sea of uncertainty. In more practical terms, every time I am told we will “discuss” sexuality…again…I hear “our previous discussions have not borne fruit, that we have not been praying properly or using the right language, and that once we get that sorted out and we find the right process, then the Holy Spirit will blow a gentle breeze and there will be peace.”
That is not the Holy Spirit I encounter in the Pentecost. In fact, I see our church moving and shifting all the time. I see Canadian Anglicans moving ever closer to graciousness, to affection, while others outside of us want to impose restrictive legislation to keep us in dock or else threaten to cut us loose.
As an observer, I have been free to roll my eyes and throw up my hands in loud frustration at the ineffectiveness of General Synod. I can criticize Church House in Toronto from the far distance of Nova Scotia, these Upper Canadians (mostly retired) who seem to have all the time in the world to just travel around to sit and talk. But now, I am a part of it.
I am not proud of these judgements. I write them here because those three fingers are now pointing at me to take responsibility for the course of our ship for the next three years.
As a rector, I understand, on a micro scale, how difficult it is to manage so many different views. For the past year or so, I have been following the General Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Bruce Reyes-Chow, on Twitter. I am grateful for his honesty, because I have gained a new respect for our national bodies, and how hard those within the system work and pray to participate in the Kingdom of God. They take responsibility for difficult choices. They relinquish their right to roll their eyes and dismiss the body as dead weight.
I have been called by my church to enter into further discernment at a new level. I am being called to open my mind and heart once again to grapple with difficult issues. To open my mind and heart means to accept that my mind may change, that I may be the one blown away by the Holy Spirit.
Now that that is off my chest, to page one of the Convening Circular…