A first round of strategic planning consultation sessions with Canadian Anglicans has revealed a sense of profound change at hand in the church, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard at an online meeting Nov. 6-8.
The Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) was formed in the fall of 2019 to put together a new long-term plan for the church. Since the summer— with the assistance of Janet Marshall, director of congregational development for the diocese of Toronto—it has been holding “listening groups” to invite thought on the church’s future and strategic direction, and hear how Anglicans are coping with the unusual times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 6, Marshall and members of the working group presented some of the themes that had emerged from the first round of 11 of these listening groups.
The coronavirus pandemic, Marshall told CoGS, appears to be revealing the church’s values but also its areas of weakness, “helping us see the ways that we’re fragile in new and different ways.” One theme that had emerged, she said, is the sense of a “seismic shift” underway—a perception that the Anglican Church of Canada is “increasingly seeing the inevitability of large, transformative change, Pentecost change, on every level and in every way.”
The sense of change does not seem to equate with crisis, she added; there was an understanding that the change could be for the better.