Highlights from Diocesan Council
By Gisele McKnight
The February meeting of Diocesan Council was held at St. Mary, York on Feb. 25. Bishop David Edwards began the day with his thoughts on Matthew’s story of the Transfiguration.
An important aspect of this story, said the bishop, is that Jesus told the disciples on the mountain that he would be raised from the dead.
“How many times does Jesus predict his death? Three times,” said the bishop.
He noted there is a pattern to these predictions: there is some insight; Jesus predicts his death; followed by further insight.
“This is that insight,” he said. “Jesus is being transfigured on the mountain to show that he is different, but that he fits. Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets. Consequently Jesus fits into the history of the Jews.
“The disciples are told very specifically by the voice of God — ‘this is my beloved’ — an echo of the baptism of Jesus. A similar sentence is spoken and it takes us back to Psalm 2, the coronation psalm.
“There is a sense that Jesus is going beyond the history of the Jews to a new thing,” he said.
There is a building up in Matthew’s gospel, in a series of mission-related peaks, he said.
“These ideas always lead us into mission, and the mission always has to be centred on Jesus,” said David. “It’s confirmation for those who were there, confirmation of what’s going to happen, confirmation of the declaration of Christ.
“This Transfiguration is one of the pivotal points. The turbo-charge kicks in,” he said. “Here the disciples are being pushed into warp speed, and that’s reflected in the gospel.”
Cathedral-Synod land development
Bishop David reported there will be a meeting in early March with a group from Halifax. This group will discuss public engagement in a large project, citing their own experiences with building the new downtown public library in their city.
“They will be giving us some pointers,” said David.
Late last year, the bishop proposed a land development plan for Christ Church Cathedral and nearby Anglican Church properties. This meeting is the next step in the proposal.
Letters were sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Archbishop Justin Welby by Diocesan Synod on the occasion of Synod last fall. Greetings and best wishes were received from the two leaders and read to Diocesan Council members.
Cheryl Jacobs, chair of the Spiritual Development Team, led an exercise based on the Lenten book of choice, Noticing God, by Richard Peace. Each group chose either the Transfiguration story or the story of the blind man healed with the saliva of Jesus.
They did several quiet readings of the selected passage, zeroing in on one word or phrase that made an impression on them. Each member shared what caught their attention, and ultimately, how it speaks to the mission of Diocesan Council and beyond.
Kimberly Ranson, chair of the Discipleship House project, brought a report to council, outlining how the year has gone and what future plans might include.
The committee, struck last year at this time, has taken the work and pressure off the Synod Office, dealing with the day-to-day logistical issues that arise, an important step that has worked well.
The house parents and residents do Morning Prayer together, and together they have several special events, including Bible study, Alpha, holiday dinners and a regular Sunday evening games night. There are many visitors to the house, including international students.
“Spiritual direction has grown this year,” she said. “Everyone in the house is paired with a spiritual director and they meet regularly.”
One of the main challenges is getting more churches and parishes involved in the house — as mentors, for example. “We’d love to have different congregations come in,” said Kim. “What do you have to offer this group?” Cooking, tutoring and home maintenance were all suggested.
Council voted unanimously to extend the Discipleship House project for another academic year.
Committee & team reports
Cheryl Jacobs reported on activities of the Spiritual Development Team, including the printing and distribution of 4,000 prayer bookmarks last year. This year they plan a quiet day during the bishop’s pilgrimage in June.
Cheryl noted that the team has prepared questions to go with each chapter of the book Mission Shaped Spirituality, by Susan Hope. The team will help coordinate the bishop’s pilgrimage, which runs from the end of May to the second Sunday in June.
Anne Walling gave the PWRDF report, which included information on the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Program in Mozambique.
More babies are born during the night than the day, but that presents challenges for clinics without electricity. In fact, many a midwife delivers a baby while holding a cellphone flashlight in her teeth to see what she’s doing. “We are so blessed in our land,” said Anne. “We don’t even think about such things.”
The solution to this, and other issues is the solar suitcase, a waterproof, hard-sided suitcase with four lamps, a five-year helium battery that can power cell phones, laptops and small medical devices, a Doppler for sonograms, and a solar panel to keep it going. Intensive training has been ongoing to learn how to install the solar panels and use the suitcases to help cut the risk of maternal death during childbirth, which stands at 1-in-40 in Mozambique.
Financial and Treasurer’s report
Diocesan treasurer Irene Adams reported that support for the diocesan Shared Ministry budget is at 100 per cent in the first month of 2017.
“Every parish has participated,” she said. “There seems to have been a shift and things are moving forward. It’s very positive.”
Irene discussed the Camp Medley operating budget for 2017. Council approved a $247,400 proposed budget.
Reductions in the 2017 Shared Ministry Contributions were approved for four parishes. Council approved the writing off of shortfalls, under Policy A-6: Outstanding Parish Support, for nine parishes.
“Let’s write these amounts off and move forward together and clear out past history,” said Irene. The total written off is $110,773.
Council approved the appointment of Lynda Wood, former secretary to Bishop Harold Nutter, and the Rev. Kevin McAllister, to the Human Resources Committee.
Council approved the appointment of Nancy Stephens as chair of the Missions and Outreach Team, effective immediately.
Council approved the date of Saturday, Nov. 4 for the annual Diocesan Synod, to be held at Christ Church (Parish) Church in Fredericton, where it has been held the last two Novembers. This will be a program synod.
The next meetings of Diocesan Council will be April 22, June 22 and Sept. 14.
St. Mary, York in Fredericton did a wonderful job as the host of the February council meeting, serving a delicious lunch to council members.