Canadian District finds God speaking in newness, faithfulness and oneness
Alberta, Canada has a long and storied Moravian tradition. But it was a focus on the future that drove the 2012 Canadian District Synod, held in Calgary, Alberta May 4 through 6.
Meeting at Good Shepherd Moravian Church, nearly 80 delegates helped shape the next four years—and beyond—for the Canadian District. The District includes eight congregations and a new church plant in the Calgary and Edmonton areas of Alberta.
Canadian District congregations sent between five and seven lay delegates and their pastors to the District Synod. In addition, to encourage participation from District youth, each congregation was invited to send two youth delegates.
The Canadian District theme was based on Isaiah 43:19: "God Speaks In Newness, Faithfulness, Oneness." To make it even more appropriate, they added, "God speaks and we respond in newness, faithfulness, oneness."
Focus on ministry
Through two-and-a-half days of committee work and legislation, delegates presented both legislation and recommendations for moving the work of the church forward. Delegates collaborated in teams called "Ministry Focus Groups," each charged with an area of interest to the District at large: leadership, mission, programs, Van-Es Camp & Conference Center, youth and finance.
The Leadership Ministry Focus Group discussed issues and ideas relating to both clergy and lay leadership within congregations and the community. Their legislation called for identifying and encouraging leadership training opportunities for clergy and lay leaders, implementing creative outreach to build relationships, and sharing of lessons learned with "The Connection," a new church plant and community outreach effort of Good News Moravian Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
The Mission Ministry Focus Group identified ways to enhance the District's work with both local and international missions. Their legislation set new standards for Canadian funding of the Board of World Mission, affirmed the work of the Canadian Moravian Mission Society and developed and presented recommendations to "equip, enable and empower people in the Canadian District to act on their passion for missions."
A major result of the work of the Ministry Focus Group on Van-Es was the Synod's approval of a concept for construction of a new lodge facility at Camp Van-Es in Sherwood Park, Alberta, along with authorization of a $700,000 capital campaign to fund it. The Van-Es group also offered recommendations for the District and Van-Es Board to follow and implement to help sustain and improve the camping ministry in Canada.
The Youth Ministry Focus Group proposed the establishment of a Regional Youth Council to discuss and develop programs and themes for camp and district youth events, to appoint an advisor to the Council and encourage a Board of Elders of the Canadian District (BECD) member to serve as youth liaison.
Based on legislation brought by the Mission Ministry Focus Group on Program, the BECD was also directed to establish a new District Program Task Force. This new Task Force, with representation from each Canadian congregation, will develop and implement programs that promote communication, relationships and impact the wider community.
And through the work of the Finance Mission Ministry Focus Group, the BECD was directed to consider establishment of a Canadian District Financial Task Force with at least one member from each congregation to investigate new approaches for the Common Ministry Funding. Legislation to consider standard accounting practices/programs to be followed by all congregations and the adoption of the 2013 Canadian District budget were also brought by the Finance group.
As with the other Northern Province district Synods, the Canadian delegates also participated in two group discussions in preparation for the 2014 Northern Province Synod. The first gave delegates the opportunity to continue the holy conversations with the Human Sexuality Task Force that have been occurring throughout the Province during the past year.
Delegates also received an update from the Northern Province Restructuring Task Force in a presentation led by Task Force Chair Alice Sears. They then had an opportunity to provide feedback on various aspects of the effort.
The 2012 Canadian District Synod marked the end of the Rev. Steve Gohdes' eight-year role as Board of Elders of the Canadian District (BECD) president. Steve honored outgoing BECD members Kerry Bloomer, Ryerson Christie and Pat Wollf, thanking them for their work in guiding the District during the previous four years.
Bryan Peacock, a lay member from Rio Terrace Moravian Church in Edmonton, was elected as the new BECD president. Unlike other districts in the Northern Province, the BECD president can be either clergy or a lay member of the church. Additional new members were also elected to the BECD (see Synod elects Board of Elders for Canadian District
Synod delegates also elected members of the various boards and commissions of the Canadian District, including the representative to the Moravian Board of World Mission and Camp Van-Es board.
Worship and fellowship
In addition to the work of Synod, delegates participated in worship and fellowship each day. Services led by the Revs. Rick and Wendy Beck, Josh Viste, Judy Ganz, Carol Vogler and Eileen Edwards brought additional meaning and spirituality to the weekend. Services blended both contemporary and traditional music. Members of Good Shepherd joined Synod delegates for an inspiring communion service on Sunday.
The Synod made full use of Good Shepherd's facilities, with plenary sessions and group worship conducted in the church's sanctuary, meals prepared and served in their Fellowship Hall and meetings held in their classrooms and conference rooms. The sanctuary also served as a concert hall for a spirited performance by Marty Antonini and Paradise Road.
As with other Synods in the Northern Province this year, Provincial Chancellor Rick Santee served as chairman of the Canadian District Synod. Graham Kerslake of Radium, B.C. served as vice chair, while the Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler served as chaplain. Lynne Hennig and Ann Tyrell of Calgary led the Synod planning committee.
In a rousingly light-hearted ceremony, the Synod's Canadian hosts indoctrinated three visitors as honorary Calgarians. Synod Parlimentarian Bob Hawkesworth, a former Calgary city alderman and member of the Alberta legislature, presented Rick Santee, Chris Giesler and Betsy Miller, Northern Province PEC president with traditional white cowboy hats, a symbol of Calgary.
To the future
The Canadian District Synod helped lay the groundwork for the continuing mission and ministry of the congregations in Alberta. Their efforts will guide the District until the next Synod in 2016.
Having heard "God speak in newness, faithfulness and oneness," delegates left Good Shepherd Church that Sunday morning with renewed hope and energy for their work and a spirit of faith and love in Christ.