The March 17th meeting of Diocesan Council was held at the St. John’s Anglican Church hall in Oromocto. Bishop David’s homily was inspired by St. Patrick Day.
“My mind is taken by Celtic Christianity and how the Irish saved civilization, according to Thomas Cahill,” he said. "Because the Irish were so far away from the destruction of the Huns and others, a lot of the Greek texts were successfully protected by the Celtic monks, he said.
“There are certain things about Celtic Christianity that would do us good to remember,” said David. “My episcopal ring reflects Celtic Christianity with its emphasis on the Trinity. Often we become so Christ-centered, God and the Holy Spirit get left behind. Celtic Christianity reminds us of the Trinity.”
In addition, the Celtic Christians found their mission statement in Genesis 12: ‘Go to a land I will show you.’ They got in a boat and sailed, and when they hit on something, they got out,” he said. “This was the land God was showing them.” The bishop equated this practice with our own diocesan mission — not know necessarily knowing where we’re going, but seeking in mission anyway.
Another interesting Celtic Christian practice was that their building was an economic hub in the community. “There was a multitude of talents within and it was a place from which you went out,” said David. “It was a holistic approach to faith. The community of faith was responsible to the geographic place in which it sat.”
Finally, the bishop noted the reverence the Celtic Christians had for creation. “We need to think about that — this idea that God is in the created order and behind the created order and part of our journey.”
He ended with the notion that it’s easy to romanticize the Celts, but there are core facets in their tradition that are vital to our faith.
Two motions involved the Rev. Bob LeBlanc. Both were passed. Last fall Rod Black was chosen the clergy representative on Diocesan Council, but with his collation as archdeacon, that left the clergy rep position open. Therefore, Bob was approved as the new clergy rep for the Archdeaconry of Woodstock.
As well, the Nominating Committee put forth Bob LeBlanc’s name for the position of Diocesan Ecumenical Officer. Council approved the appointment.
Family Court Mediation
Bishop David received further correspondence from the attorney-general of New Brunswick regarding our concern over the lack of mediation in family court.
This second letter noted that many of the issues the diocese raised have been raised by others, and that the department is working towards improving the system.
“It’s good to know our Synod has contributed to that conversation,” said the bishop.
St. Andrews Land Sales
A motion to approve the Land Sale Agreement protocol allowing the Parish of St. Andrews to forego Finance and Property Committee approval on land sales where the price is at least 90 percent of the appraised value was passed.
This was dealt with in the January meeting, but the issue of how new an appraisal must be was added. Diocesan Council chose three years at that time, only to find later that four years is the accepted protocol of the Finance Committee. Council approved the four-year appraisal shelf life at the March meeting.
The Ven. Cathy Laskey noted the need for police criminal record checks and Safe Church training to be completed by the end of April.
There is training scheduled for April 7 in Bathurst, and another one in Moncton in May. As well, Safe Church officer Ben Bourque has put training on video so that parishes don’t have to wait for a session.
To fill a Safe Church mediator vacancy, the Nominating Committee identified the Rev. David Alston. Diocesan Council approved his appointment.
Shawn Branch, parish development officer, led a session on faith formation, putting members into groups to discuss what sign should be hung outside our churches.
“We live in a messed up world — violence, prejudice, racism, poverty, greed, pride, envy lust, gluttony,” he said. “If you watch the news for even 10 minutes, they’ll hit on many of these.”
But there is good news, he said.
“Jesus has invited messed up people — you and me — to partner with him in the redemption of the world.”
The church is to be a foretaste of things to come —living together in harmony in God’s kingdom, he said.
“For the church to be a credible sign, a foretaste and an instrument, it needs to be a community rich with the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
“When you meet, is this what you display?” he asked.
After the various groups reported back, Shawn ended with this: The task is to foster a community that is radically different, so people can say ‘there’s something different about you.’
Diocesan PWRDF representative Anne Walling gave an update on the organization, defining it as the Canadian Anglican agency for development, relief, refugees and justice, integral to the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Primate’s World Relief Development Fund is celebrating its 60th anniversary next year and is gearing up now for celebrations.
Anne spoke of a recent trip by Deborah Kantor of the Parish of Cambridge & Waterborough to Malawi through Canadian Food Grains Bank, which partners with PWRDF.
Anne also highlighted the contributions of this diocese over the years. Since 2008, we have donated $1.17 million dollars to PWRDF.
“You really are the most generous people,” said Anne.
She told the group that in this past season, more than 8,400 items had been purchased from the World of Gifts Guide that normally comes out at Christmas, including 2,640 goats.
“Goats have captured our imaginations,” said Anne, particularly in our diocese.
Recently the Parish of Salisbury & Havelock had a “Goat Watch” fundraiser during Advent and purchased 38 goats. Last year the Parish of Cambridge and Waterborough bought 30 goats, and this year, 35..
The Parish of Central Kings bought 10 goats and 40 chickens.
“The gifts of livestock have the power to improve the lives of families,” said Anne, adding that when the animals produce offspring, they are shared with others in the villages, spreading the blessing exponentially.
Finally, the parishes of suburban Moncton previously donated money to buy two bicycle ambulances and two solar lights and this year raised $4,000 for two wells.
Anne noted that gifts can be purchased from the Christmas World of Gifts guide all year long. To learn more about PWRDF, visit their website and see the many projects they’re working on pwrdf.org. As well, you are encouraged to find out who your parish PWRDF representative is and also watch for news of 60th-anniversary events.
Council Executive Meeting
An executive meeting of Diocesan Council was held Feb. 26 to deal with one issue. With Irene Adams retiring, it was felt the Synod Office needed another signing authority. Personnel and Safe Church Officer Ben Bourque was appointed a signing officer.
Chancellor David Bell gave an overview of his role and that of the vice-chancellor, noting changes that have taken place since the 1840s when most synod delegates were lawyers who made rules to keep clergy in line.
“Perceived liberalism was breaking out in the Church of England,” he said.
He noted the Constitutions & Canons Committee has 10 members. Because of his expertise, vice-chancellor Kelly VanBuskirk deals with any questions on employment, while the chancellor deals with other legal questions. The committee reviews the documents going in and/or out of the synod office. Much of the work deals with property questions and trusts.
David Bell introduced four motions, to be recommended to Diocesan Synod, one of which was tabled, three of which were passed.
The first was an amendment of the Synod constitution regarding term limits on the seven elected lay members on Diocesan Council. David found that with the application of term limits, it “would probably prevent some of them from continuing to serve on Council because they would fall into the category of those rendered ineligible by term limits to be elected from their parish and hence to be members of their Greater Chapter and hence to be in a position to represent the Chapter on Diocesan Council.
“This is undesirable because stability of Diocesan Council membership is important.”
The amendment was to allow the seven elected members to serve out the remained of their term on Diocesan Council even if, because of term limits, they have ceased to be a parish delegate or substitute to Diocesan Synod. The motion was passed.
The second amendment, to Canon Three, dealt with wording in the section on the election and appointment of bishops. It takes more than an election to become a bishop, yet the wording in our canon says that upon winning the election, he or she “shall be declared elected to the office of bishop.”
David’s amendment was to change the words “declared elected to the office of bishop” to “declared bishop-elect.”
A bishop-elect then must be confirmed by the Provincial House of Bishops and finally, consecrated, yet our canon makes no mention of those things. The motion was passed.
David’s third motion, an amendment to Canon Four, was tabled.
“Neither Diocesan Synod nor Diocesan Council can manage the day-to-day running of the diocese,” said David. “In effect, it is the bishop who does this. Yet that is not there [in the canon] and it seems to me it should be recognized.
“It’s not meant to change things; it’s meant to capture what’s happening. It’s important to have this down on paper.”
Council chose to table this amendment for discussion at the next meeting.
The chancellor’s fourth motion was for an amendment to Canon Six, parish governance, and dealt with wording.
“The canons have traditionally made a bright line distinction between rector and cleric,” said David. “That bright line distinction is less so now because of the new definition of incumbent. It’s fading.”
This proposed change removes a pointless distinction in the possible role of a non-incumbent chairing the annual meeting of parishioners or chairing the parish corporation. Council member Siobhan Laskey suggested a change in wording to increase clarity in the proposed amendment by replacing “annual meeting” with “annual meeting of parishioners.” The chancellor agreed with the revised wording.
Because the chancellor’s motions deal with canons, these will end up on the Diocesan Synod floor for debate in November.
Finally, the chancellor reminded members of the notice of motion to change the age ceiling for youth from 35 to 25. This too will be debated at Diocesan Synod.
Bishop David noted some highlights of the Partners For Youth Inc. annual report on Safe Harbour House. Part of the agreement made with the diocese was to provide an annual report to Diocesan Council.
A delicious soup lunch was prepared by St. John’s Anglican with a St. Patrick’s Day theme. The next meeting of Diocesan Council will be Saturday, May 26 at Camp Brookwood, which will be during Bishop David’s pilgrimage in the Archdeaconry of Woodstock.
Written with files from David Peer.