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March 6, 2010

Synod Primatial Address

The First Sitting of the 93rd Synod of the Diocese of British Columbia began at 8:00 p.m. Friday March 4 with delegates wedged into the Christ Church Cathedral school gym, at long narrow tables.

The first half hour of this opening session of Synod was taken up with the usual necessary procedural matters of any Synod. This was followed by an address to the Synod from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Primate began his address by asking "What holds us together as Anglicans?" He then listed the usual marks of unity that are commonly cited as maintaining unity within the Anglican Communion - our common faith and tradition, the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates' Meetings, the Anglican Consultative Counsel. He suggested that beyond these we are also united in the Eucharist, in our use of the Worldwide Cycle of Prayer and in our Companion Diocese Program.

Then the Primate went on to suggest that our Communion is also held together by the "Marks of Mission" in service of the Gospel. He suggested five "Marks of Mission" which call us:

1. to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom in the ministry of word and sacrament. This is the first "Mark of Mission." "We have a rich tradition as Anglicans and we are learning to put as much emphasis on sending as on gathering." The Primate urged us to "Think of the potential at the end of every Eucharist if we could see ourselves as food, drink, hope, light for all the world."

2. to teach and baptize new believers. "Baptism is at the heart of our life. It is a major public celebration. Across this church I see a significant shift towards being a ministering community gathered around Christ."

3. to respond to human need by loving service and to seek to transform unjust structures of society. The Primate suggested, "It is time for Anglicans to lead the way. We need a secretariat for government relations."

4. to work for reconciliation and peace.

5. to safeguard creation. "Climate change is a spiritual issue."

"These 'Marks of Mission' are a gift inspired by the Beatitudes, reflecting everything God is calling us to be. We are at a moment when the Lord of the Church is gathering us, calling us to sit down to listen, and to rise up and go in ministry."

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