I greet you and acknowledge that as we gather we do so on the unceded traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt peoples. On these territories of the Lekwungen-speaking people I raise my hands to all you with the greeting Huy tseep q’u!
I honour those Chiefs and Elders who are present with us and recognize those who are residential school survivors and their families.
I recognize and honour especially the Chiefs who are with us or will be joining us this weekend, Bobby Joseph, Michael Recalma, Harvey Underwood.
I greet you in the name of our master Jesus Christ through whom God has brought reconciliation into the world. We have been reconciled to God through him and he has given us this ministry of reconciliation. God makes an appeal through us as we are ambassadors of Christ. With this central to all we do and say, we meet to do the business of this diocese. This is the Gospel, and we will put this Gospel at the centre of our gathering and conversations over these next days. We will also take this Gospel back to our local congregations and, through our leadership, place the Gospel back at the centre of our communities, living in all things as disciples of Jesus.
Welcome to the 98th synod of this diocese. You are no longer delegates. You are now members of the 98th Synod of the Diocese of British Columbia. I ask that you bring to this synod an open heart and that we speak, listen and live well together seeking the mind of Christ. We gather here as the body of Christ. Please remember that we do not applaud speakers at the microphones. However, you may honour those who are making presentations at the conclusion of their presentation. I remind you that when synod makes a decision we as ambassadors of those decisions taking them back into our parishes even if we voted against a motion. Decisions of synod are the decision of all, the decision of the church. May God bless us as we gather with good hearts open to the guiding of the Spirit. As we move into this synod please do this with a sense of humour and faith in Jesus and draw upon the power of God’s Spirit
I give thanks for the synod office staff who have made my life as Bishop a positive and enjoyable experience. We have an amazing team of paid and volunteer staff working for us in the synod office—Gail (Gauthier) finance, Zena (McCreary) insurance, Judith (Coleman) front line ministry, Terry (Mikkonen) payroll, Peter (Daniel) asset management, Brendon (Neilson) vision animator, Jacquie (Nevins), archives, Dyan (Davidson) canon pastor, Ruth (Dantzer) UVic chaplain, Susan (Down), Diocesan Post editor, Rebecca (Siebert), refugee sponsorship program coordinator, Catherine (Pate) communications, Marcia (McMenamie) safe church coordinator, and Imelda (Secker) executive assistant to the bishop without whom I would be lost. I invite you to join me in an expression of that appreciation.
The role of synod office staff continues to be one where we assist, support, and enable the parishes of the diocese to fulfill their ministry and mission at a local level.
Terry Jones has served us very well as the editor of the Diocesan Post. I would like synod to honour her work and leadership amongst us. She has kept up the high standard of the Post as part of our vision of effective communication.
I honour our chancellor for her leadership within our diocese for the last 31 plus years. Her wisdom has guided and shaped us as a diocese. Her progressive ideas and outlook on the world and faith has been very much a part of who we have become as a diocese. Connie’s open heart and faith has enabled her to look at our canons and regulations as a living document meant to bring renewal and life to us.
Bob Gill agreed to serve as vice chancellor and I am very pleased he has now accepted my appointment as chancellor of the diocese. Bob has brought to the diocese and to diocesan council an enthusiasm for the church and we have all benefited from his leadership in bible study. Nathan Lampard serves the diocese faithfully and on your behalf I thank him for his leadership and ministry. Nathan continues in the role of registrar with enthusiasm and energy. Following Synod, we will search for someone to fill the role of vice chancellor. I give thanks for the support and leadership of the archdeacons, and the dean. I value greatly their counsel. Thank you Penelope (Kingham), Alastair (McCollum), Lon (Towstego), and Ansley (Tucker) for your continued counsel and ministry. I look forward to working in the future with archdeacons Clara (Plamondon), Lincoln (McKoen), and Dawna (Wall). My thanks to you Blair (Haggart) and Brian (Evans) for your counsel and ministry when you were archdeacons.
I thank the Regional Deans—Jim (Holland), Blair (Haggart), Craig (Hiebert), Anthony (Divinagracia), Dawna (Wall) and look forward to Sandra (Hounsell-Drover) joining this team. On behalf of you the diocese, I am very pleased to be able to say thank you to six lay members of our diocese who have served us very well and have been a witness to a clear diocesan leadership.
Brenda has worked very hard at creating and maintaining the women’s retreat in the diocese. I give thanks for her leadership which she witnesses with faith and humour. Brenda has worked tirelessly on our behalf to bring the women of the diocese together for fellowship, teaching, worship and fun. I am pleased to be able to appoint her the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
Michael served the diocese as registrar and through his wisdom and experience he served the diocese well. Michael has faithfully served the diocese and supported us in our life together. Michael’s wise counsel has helped shape our diocese at a variety of levels. Michael's belief in the church and its work in the world has defined him in many ways and especially as a lawyer and politician. I am pleased to be able to appoint him the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
Joe continues to implement the diocesan discernment process. His clear leadership not only in administration, but in seeing the discernment process as a spiritual exercise has helped us travel with those who are discerning a call to ordained ministry. He saw this ministry from his own experience and skill as a spiritual director and shaped the event as a journey of faith. I am pleased to be able to appoint him the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
Julie, has served the diocese in many ways through her faith and rhythm of life, and through her quiet and contemplative manner and trust in God. Recently through her work on the vision fund she has made the diocesan vision a reality in many of the parishes of our diocese. Julie brings to the life of our diocese a strong yet quiet witness of the person of Jesus Christ. I am pleased to be able to appoint her the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
When St. John's House first opened, Doreen assisted Srs. Doreen and Val until about 2011-12 when she returned to live on Salt Spring Island. Her presence at St. John's House allowed the them to focus on offering ministries of prayer and hospitality to lead retreats and give spiritual direction. She loves coming into the synod office to help with the monthly parish mailing and has been doing that for almost six years now. She also took on the intercessions which she has faithfully updated every quarter for more than five years. Doreen also looked after me when Imelda took her annual holidays. She took on these jobs on a volunteer basis. I am pleased to be able to appoint her the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
Alex has been for me both a teaching elder and a friend. Alex is originally from Kingcome and is a member of the Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nations. He has travelled with me and the diocese for a number of years. His wisdom and teaching have done much on the journey of truth and reconciliation. He has taught us many things from his own tradition, and his ability to understand and articulate between Kwakwaka’wakw traditions and teachings and the church has helped us grow. I am pleased to be able to appoint him the dignity of lay canon of the diocese.
I asked Jacquie Nevins (archives) to look into what the diocese was about 100 years ago in 1918. As you know the world was in the midst of war to end all wars. Sadly, as we know, it was not and humanity still works hard at making war. In 1918, in the midst of the war we were dealing with much the same things as we are today. In the world, disarmament, tariffs, trade wars, unemployment, food scarcity and a pandemic these were the concerns of the day. In the diocese, they were juggling with diocesan structure and formation of the laity. They were speaking about parishes living and working together. They were handling asset management and financial concerns of stewardship.
In their day they asked the question, “What contribution can the Church of Christ make?” The theme for all these charges was hope and faith; something that our forebears saw as a contribution by the church to the world.
In 1921 Bishop Charles de Veber Schofield said:
The whole Synod was characterized not only by the most perfect good feeling, but by a very fine spirit of adventure. At least that seemed to be the attitude of mind which marked the discussion of the progressive policy of the diocese.
It is my hope and prayer that we might see this same “spirit of adventure” in us that was present in our forebearers.
It was said that our 2016 synod was not a decision-making synod and we did not make a decision to move forward. For us, this synod will be a decision-making synod. Firstly though, it will be a story-telling synod. We will be telling stories of a journey that has brought us to this place. We will be telling stories of a vision implemented in the lives of our parishes. We will be telling stories of this vision affecting and shaping the parishes of our diocese into the future. We will be telling the story of how this vision will transform our future. We will decide, as Anglicans, to create a new story for ourselves on these islands and inlets.
Some have said that what we are hoping for in this synod is impossible. Some have said there is too much water under the bridge. Some have said we will not be able to turn this ship around. Others have used a variety of metaphors to describe where we find ourselves as a diocese on these islands and inlets. Over the last number of years, we have shown a fortitude and faithfulness that will prove those who doubt us wrong, not only because of who we are, but more importantly because of whose we are. Alone, we are unable to do the impossible. However, we are disciples of Jesus Christ and we have known and have experienced, in our lives, in our parishes and in this diocese, the impossible becoming possible. I have asked you to imagine that the status quo is not inevitable. We believe the scriptures to be the word of God and the tradition that we are a part of tells us this truth—that nothing is impossible with God.
Barak Obama said to the American people: "I ask you to believe not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours." Across these islands and inlets I meet with people who long for vibrant and effective communities, and who desire change and are not satisfied with the status quo. Brendon Neilson who has been working with the vision teams said recently at a diocesan council meeting that the gravity of the present model of church stops us from becoming a transformed church. We are caught in the gravity of the way we do church at this moment in history.
We are caught in the past, we grieve for a time long gone. Catherine Pate, in the video of the sacred journey called One Step, said: “While baptizing the future in the tears of the past is one way to roll the stone of oppression away.” Let us roll the stone of oppression away, and as adventurers imagine a church that will shape our future and engage us as we become Renewed People with Renewed Hearts and Spirits.
Archbishop Oscar Romero said these words:
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberationin realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.
And even as I say these words I know there is in this room a sense of apprehension and even fear. If we let fear guide our decision, tomorrow will look a lot like today. Wade Davis said these words: "Creativity is a consequence of action. Not its motivation. Do what needs to be done and then ask if it was possible."
The story we choose to live today is the story of tomorrow. In the future, when Anglicans gather on these islands and inlets and ask how we contributed to the world in which we lived, it is my hope that they will see us as story-telling and story-living people. That we took the story of Jesus Christ and lived it in our day; that we took the story of Jesus Christ and, despite our differences, together we were able to move with confidence and with God, to transform our future. Let it be said of us that we had hope and faith.
Let it be said of us that with humility and dignity formed by this faith and through this synod we adjourned the courts of despair and shone light in the dark corridors of pessimism.
Let it be said of us that we were prophets of a future not of our own.
Yours in Christ,