Dear People of the Diocese of Kootenay;
As you know, the 64th session of the Synod of the Diocese of Kootenay is called to meet May 13 through 16, 2021, with opening worship Thursday evening, May 13, Ascension Day, with the business of Synod on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday May 16, 2021. All the business proceedings of this Synod will be held on the Zoom electronic platform.
The theme of this Synod is from Isaiah 43: 18,19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing”.
Synod will be held in the Season of Easter, when we celebrate the unfolding effects of the Resurrection. Death could not contain Jesus, and this new life ripples out to all disciples, even into our century. Our God calls from an alternative future; we are not doomed or stuck to live only into what seems possible from the evidence of the current situation around us.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of God’s newness to the people of Israel in a time of hopelessness, when they had been in Exile in Babylon for two generations, forced political exile, under the control of a dominant power. The familiar psalm from this time is Psalm 137: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” They had, like us in the pandemic, discovered ways to worship God in an alien setting, but still longed for home, their land, and their Temple. But, again like us in the pandemic, they were discovering that it was not about returning to the past, going back to what they had known. Isaiah came with a message of hope from God, that God was doing a new thing, inviting them to open up to seeing it. This hopeful trusting discernment in God’s Newness will be our theme for Synod. How do we awaken and encourage in each other this expansion of vision across our Diocese?
Each congregation and region in the Diocese is facing challenges of how to be the people of God now, perhaps with a diminishing or aging population, or our societies distrust of institutional church, or the model and infrastructure of a parish building no longer working effectively for our mission, or the challenge of figuring out how to be in mission out in the world, serving the marginalized, in a changed time. What is your challenge?
This past year each parish, and the clergy and other parish leaders together, have discussed what we are learning about being God’s Church from living through the pandemic. Synod will be a time to gather and learn from each other, to listen to the newness God is up to, to lay some groundwork for experimenting with new models of ministry in our context. For example, we will consider having Synod more frequently than every three years, now that electronics and the internet make that economically possible; we need to be more nimble in our ability to make decisions in order to respond to God’s mission in a rapidly changing situation.
Isaiah expanded people’s vision of what God was doing, pushed their horizons wider. It is my experience in the Church that one of the ways we expand our vision, and therefore our hope in God, is by having a connection beyond our own parish. It is the gift of the Anglican church that we are part of a Diocese, a national Church and a world-wide Anglican Communion. We are not alone! A Synod gathering reminds of this.
You will see in this issue of the Highway ways to participate in prayer during the Synod. I commend to you the opportunity on the Friday of Synod for a creative exercise prepared by the Diocesan Spiritual Development Committee.
I invite you to join me in praying for the Diocese as we prepare for Synod.
Yours in Christ,
WORSHIP! You are all invited to the Opening Worship of Synod, on Ascension Day, the evening of Thursday May 13. It will be livestreamed from the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Kelowna, available on Youtube. This means that for the first time in the history of the Diocese it will be possible for everyone in the Diocese of Kootenay to worship together at Synod – in our “electronic gathering” way of worshipping. If you do not have access to a computer, ( or youtube available on smart T.V.), I would encourage you to see if a family member or someone in your bubble can share with you so you can join us for this Opening Worship. The Theme of the Ascension will add depth to our Synod Theme of God doing a new thing. Jesus’ Ascension to God opened the possibility of the Holy Spirit being present everywhere, not just in one physical place where he was on Earth, our electronic worship allows a wider experience of gathering. Not as intimate as in person worship (which we are all missing), not as joyful as singing together, but nonetheless experiencing that we are connected across the mountain ranges, lakes and diversity of Kootenay Diocese. Please join us!