Grace—and sneakers—abounding: General Synod begins

A couple of memories after wandering around the opening afternoon of the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2019 General Synod in Vancouver yesterday:

  • The procession at the opening Eucharist included the archbishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Canada—and for the first time in history one of them was a woman. (There would have been two women if one wasn’t in the hospital.)
  • Chatting with Bishop David Lehmann of the Diocese of Caledonia in northern British Columbia. His diocese covers an area the size of Zimbabwe. Total population of that region? About 90,000 people.
  • Talking with one of the EfM representatives (their table is next to ours) and hearing a powerful testimony from him about how his faith has been deepened and his engagement with the church transformed as a result of his decision to take the EfM program. It’s led him to be a mentor to others and to keep studying through summer courses at the Vancouver School of Theology. Truly, theological education changes the church!
  • Seeing graduates of Montreal Dio as youth delegates, delegates, bishops, candidates for primate, candidates for other significant offices, and in many other key roles.

This is my first General Synod but I’ve been to General Convention in the American church before. Even before Synod actually begins, you can see some differences:

  • General Synod is much more informal. There are far fewer clergy dressed to the nines. More than a few sneakers have been spotted. Not a bad idea.
  • General Synod is much smaller. It makes sense. There are fewer representatives per diocese and fewer dioceses. In fact, compared to the hordes at a General Convention, this feels almost manageable.
  • Everyone eats together. Really. Rather than having to go off and find whatever inedible convention centre food you can, here the meals are served to the delegates. Kind of like Jesus did.
  • The American church in recent years has developed an active “House of Twitter.” Facebook seems to be Canada’s preferred medium. The #gs2019 hashtag on Twitter right is divided between posts about synod and posts about Godsmack’s summer tour.

And all this before the business of Synod actually begins tomorrow. There are no legislative committees here and all the orders meet as a single legislative body. The agenda for this synod is significant but on opening day the mood felt slightly more relaxed than it may feel later on.

Are you in Vancouver? Stop by our booth (#23b) and say hello. I’d love to meet you and hear about your ministry in the church.

The Rev. Dr. Jesse Zink is principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College.

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