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Breck England: Finding the “third alternative”

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

The co-author of Stephen Covey’s new book, “The 3rd Alternative,” says leaders who are able to cultivate a mindset that can entertain wildly divergent ideas not only encounter less conflict but also come up with more inspired answers.

Updated: Stephen R. Covey died on July 16, 2012.


When people with opposing opinions collide, one side typically wins out, while the other leaves frustrated and angry.

But there’s a way to resolve differences that results in less conflict and leaves both parties enthusiastic about the outcome, said Breck England, co-author of Stephen Covey’s new book, “The 3rd Alternative.” (link is external)

The Third Alternative

In the book, the authors encourage individuals in leadership positions to listen to both sides of a problem and look for answers that transcend polarizing positions.

“It’s a question of mindset,” said England, who holds a doctoral degree in English and works as a consultant for the FranklinCovey Co., focused on Covey’s principle-centered theories of organization and leadership.

“If you approach a problem with the point of view that ‘I’m interested in an exciting third alternative; I don’t care where it comes from,’ then the burden comes off of you. It’s so liberating for a leader to be able to say, ‘I don’t have to be the source of this,’” he said.

Covey, a worldwide expert in business and personal time management, teaches at Brigham Young University but is best known for his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” along with other books about organizational leadership.

England spoke to Faith & Leadership about the latest book and the steps to finding better solutions to organizational dilemmas. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: Could you describe the concept behind “The 3rd Alternative”?  

In just about any field of human endeavor, you’ll have two conventional alternatives — left versus right, management versus labor. The idea behind “The 3rd Alternative” is to arrive at a position that is better — that is higher — than either of those two conventional alternatives.

Dr. Covey was taken with this idea years ago when he studied some of the literature on leadership and learned that many of the great leaders get beyond the conventional two sides of a story to a third side, which is new, innovative and better than anyone thought of before.

So the idea behind the book was that many of our conflicts, and also dilemmas that we face in life, are often the products of poor thinking. A better way to think is to look for a third alternative.

Q: How is it different from compromise?  

It’s the opposite of compromise. In a compromise, everyone loses something. When you get into a compromise situation, people tend to go away generally unsatisfied. They didn’t get what they wanted. They had to cede ground to the other party.

The idea behind “The 3rd Alternative” is actually the opposite of that. It’s that no one gives anything up, because we arrive at something that everybody agrees is a win for everyone. It’s something better than any of us thought of before. It’s something that delights everyone.

Q: How does this book build on Stephen Covey’s classic book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?  

The “7 Habits” book is based on the idea that if you start by realizing that you are responsible for your own choices, you begin to rise in maturity through a series of seven habits. The final and culminating of what he calls “interpersonal” habits is Habit 6, which is “Synergize.”

Synergy, he believes, is the highest human activity. In any interactive situation, it’s possible to arrive at a synergistic solution that is better than anyone has thought of before. So he would say that the “7 Habits” book leads up to this book.

Q: Could you talk about the mindsets that make it difficult to find that third alternative?  

I can take a concrete example and walk you through it. Malaria is endemic in equatorial Africa. For years there has been a knock-down, drag-out argument between the left and the right about what to do about it.

Years ago, there was a solution in the form of DDT, which was very effective at wiping out the mosquito that causes malaria, but it was very damaging to wildlife. So for many years the use of DDT was banned, because it was damaging to wildlife. But then malaria came roaring back, of course.

So the right wing would like to see DDT brought back, for a number of reasons. They feel that the threat is overblown. And the left wing comes back and says, “This is far more damaging than you think it is.”

There’s this tremendous tug of war between them.

Our contention is that they’re both equally caught in conventional thinking and they’re unable to get past it.

While the left and the right wings are fighting over DDT, along comes Nathan Myhrvold and his fabulous Intellectual Ventures company in Seattle. And they come up with a thousand “third alternatives” for curing malaria.

Some of them are really off-the-wall, like a machine that will shoot down mosquitoes.

With less than $200 worth of equipment — a little blue laser, the kind that they use in the grocery store checkout, a computer and a radar system — they put this system in place in the perimeter fence around a village and program the computer so that it can distinguish the female Anopheles mosquito.

As the female mosquito enters the perimeter, a laser beam shoots it down. And the laser that shoots the little mosquito out of the sky will not hurt any other form of life.

Q: Is it the emotional investment that makes these disputes difficult to resolve?  

Yes, there’s a deep emotional investment in one’s own side and one’s own position and one’s own philosophy.

Why do people find it so difficult to get past these conventional ways of thinking? We believe the reason is because they emotionally identify with their positions to the point where they can’t get beyond them.

Q: So what are the personal skills and habits that people can learn in order to practice this kind of thinking?  

What you need to do is recognize that there is an abundance of solutions.

In logic, there’s never only one alternative to anything. There may be infinite alternatives.

For example, the struggle over energy philosophies in this country is a deeply political, and therefore deeply psychological and emotional, conflict. The fact is, the universe is absolutely roaring with energy. There is no energy shortage. There is simply a shortage of solutions.

In India there are millions of houses without electricity. The leftist politicians want a national electricity grid paid for by the government. And there are private interests who say a national electricity grid should be privately owned. The result is you get a 40-year battle between these two sides and no solution.

Then what happened was that a little company owned by a man named Harish Hande slips in between the two and says, “We don’t need a national electricity grid.” So he’s producing kits that will enable these homes to be electrified by solar power for less than $200, and millions of homes in India are rapidly being electrified by these little kits. Soon the argument over whether there should be a national electricity grid becomes irrelevant.

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen saw all these television sets running off of solar energy kits and said, “People don’t want a national electricity grid. What they want is a TV they can watch.” The national electricity grid is just one way to get there.

A second key to this kind of thinking is to have enough personal confidence to go up to people you disagree with and say — and in sincerity — “You disagree with me; I need to listen to you,” instead of saying, “You disagree with me; I need not to listen to you.”

If you really do sit and listen to the other side with the intent to understand them and understand their point of view and see if there’s anything of value there, that immediately diffuses the conflict.

A third thing you can do is say, “Would you be willing to look for an alternative that neither one of us has thought of before?”

Generally, they will say they are willing to do that. And as you push towards a better alternative and keep that goal in mind, you soon find yourselves transcending your positions. There’s no guarantee that you’ll arrive at it, but when you do, you’ll know you’ve got it. Everybody gets excited. They say things like, “I never thought of that before,” or, “Why didn’t we think of that before?” They recognize it when they get there.

Q: How can institutional leaders cultivate those skills and habits in their organizations?  

My research and experience have shown me that to a very great extent, an institution is the reflection of the leader. Whether you’re the university president or the CEO, the leader sets the tone for the entire institution.

The key is to begin to model third-alternative thinking. Have third-alternative sessions if you’re facing a dilemma: “Do I need to raise money or not?” or, “Should we take money from this source or not?”

Whatever dilemma you’re facing, you start holding sessions where the goal is not to fight or argue points but to generate third alternatives. You can always argue later if you want.

A good place to start is by saying — just say, “You differ from me; I need to listen to you.” And then just do it, without debating the point with them. The idea is to truly understand their position rather than to debate it.

Q: You wouldn’t allow people to start arguing over those points — just present them to the group?  

Yes. The idea behind letting people vent is that it gets it off their chest, and it kind of empties their conflict bank. It empties out their psychologically pent-up, repressed feelings. And then they’re often ready to sit back and think with you.

Here’s another story: One little pizza store in a chain was producing so much more revenue than the others that the company was interested in how the manager was doing it.

The only thing he does differently is bring together his crew once a week and hold what he calls a huddle. He lets them come up with the ideas, and it’s amazing how creative these teenagers can be.

They’ve come up with some outstanding ideas, like load a pickup truck with hot pizzas and drive them to the football game and sell them out of the truck.

They come up with these unconventional ways of selling. As a result, this man has a huge revenue stream compared to his competing stores, because he values the ideas of his people.

Think about that mindset in relation to running a huge organization like a university. You can see how energizing it could be if a university president were to get his vice presidents or his reports together and say to them, “What can we do this week we’ve never done before?”

Q: How do you apply this in situations where maybe there isn’t conflict, but you just think it’s a good way of thinking?  

It applies to any dilemma that you face. So the idea is, if I’m a leader, I really value diverse points of view.

We all have slices of truth, I like to say. So it’s valuable to get as many slices of truth out on the table as you can, and take that terrible burden off the leader of trying to be the fount of all wisdom.

The idea behind “The 3rd Alternative” is the principle of synergy — that you and I together can come up with things that one of us alone could never do. And those things will be far more fruitful than just the two of us together. One plus one equals three, or 10, or 1,000, instead of just two.

Q: You use words such as “excitement,” “promise” and “delight” to describe this concept — not your typical business leadership language. What’s the significance of this?  

Human beings are delighted by the exciting, new idea. It’s just part of our makeup. I think it’s the highest human endeavor, to discover new truths, to discover new ideas, to arrive at new realizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. (I grew up with “Star Trek,” OK?)

I believe that’s rooted in us. And it’s our highest delight in life to discover something new that really works well and works better than we ever thought anything could work. Of course, we live in a world where we’re saturated with that.

The highest form of human work is coming up with the exciting new alternative that nobody thought of before.

We wrote the book because we were fascinated with all of the evidence of human ingenuity that can come once we get past our conventional, two-sided ways of thinking. The “me-against-you” thinking is the enemy of the future.

It’s a very hard thing to do, to get past your traditional mindsets.


Alban at Duke Divinity School, Alban Weekly, June 27, 2016

Faith-based groups at UN Aids conference

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

The Revd Jackson Milton Cele, regional chair of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, joins other demonstrators marching through the streets of Durban, South Africa, on 18 July demanding better funding for HIV and Aids treatment around the world.
Photo Credit: Paul Jeffrey / WCC

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The United Nations’ 21st International Aids Conference got underway yesterday (Monday) as some 18,000 delegates from 183 countries gathered in Durban, South Africa. Before it began, faith-based groups from around the world held a pre-conference meeting to discuss their approach.

UNAids say that the conference “is set to emphasise the need to build partnerships, promote community mobilization to hold leaders accountable and ensure that HIV is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“In addition, the conference will, as always, provide a showcase for experts to present new research findings, scientific developments and best practices in programme implementation.”

In the final session of the faith-based pre-conference, the participants re-committed themselves to ending HIV and Aids, and to keeping up the pressure in the face of “Aids fatigue.”

“We have the science to end HIV in five years, but we don’t have the funding,” the UNAids’s senior advisor for faith-based organizations (FBOs), Sally Smith, told the meeting. “We need FBOs and their willingness to go the extra mile. You are called to finish the task that you started.”

Smith encouraged FBOs to re-evaluate their targets and adapt to the changing face of HIV around the world. “You need to look at what you are doing. The epidemic has shifted. Have you? We need new targets — doubling the numbers on treatment; accelerating the reach of testing and ending new infections in children.”

A joint session of interfaith and Catholic pre-conferences heard the stark message that children with HIV were being failed – “targets for childcare have been missed, medication is not suitable and we still need earlier infant diagnosis with half of infants infected dying within 24 months,” the World Council of Churches said.

The deputy executive director of UNAids, Dr Luiz Loures, explained that all the UN’s targets on HIV and Aids were aimed at 2020; but had been brought forward two years for children. “Children cannot wait,” he said. “HIV is coming back and it’s more selective. It increasingly follows areas of conflict, with rape used as a weapon of war.”

Faith-based organizations tested more than four million children last year – an achievement that was praised by Dr Deborah Birx, the US government’s Aids Ambassador. “When much is done, even more is expected,” she said. “We are now at a different place and the risks are more complex.

“Girls are at risk because one-third to one-half are not in school in many countries and their first sex is forced or coerced. We need to work within communities of faith to teach that children should be able to grow up without being raped.”

  • Additional reporting by the World Council of Churches. Click here to see their extensive coverage of faith-based issues and activities at Aids 2016.


Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the Anglican Communion News Service on Tuesday 19 July 2016

National Indigenous bishop’s votes at GS 2016 not recorded due to error

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


By Anglican Journal staff

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, during an Indigenous Eucharist at General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych

None of the electronic votes cast by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald were recorded at the recently concluded General Synod, July 7-12, because he was “erroneously listed” as “non-voting,” Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, confirmed today. The error, which the Anglican Journal and another publication brought to Thompson’s attention on Friday, July 15, came on the heels of a vote miscount July 12, which dramatically reversed General Synod’s vote on same-sex marriage.

In a statement, Thompson said that in the process of reviewing the list, it was determined that “in addition to myself and the chancellor,” MacDonald was wrongly listed as non-voting in the spreadsheet provided to Data-on-the-Spot, the electronic voting services provider hired to manage the voting by clickers.

“I have spoken with and apologized personally to Bishop MacDonald, and he has been gracious and understanding,” said Thompson. “We are all deeply grateful to Bishop Mark, and to all those with whom he works, for the emerging clarity in the Indigenous Ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Thompson also acknowledged that “the integrity of voting at General Synod has come perilously close to breaking. I am grateful to all who have helped us understand where and how that integrity was put at risk.” Thompson said the information will help his office “both correct mistakes and, for future General Synods, learn how errors can be avoided.”

When contacted by the Journal Thursday, July 14, to find out if he was aware that his name was not on the list of voters at all, MacDonald, who was travelling, said in an email: “My vote was not recorded. I was apparently not on the list.” Asked if this was a mistake and if he had further comment, he said, “Yes. I voted on all items and apparently was not recorded.”

More than 200 members of General Synod 2016 had voted on a number of other motions, including one related to greater self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans in the church. MacDonald had also moved two resolutions related to responsible investing, including the creation of a task force for social and ecological investment.

Thompson said that if MacDonald’s vote were to have been registered and counted, it would not have changed the outcome of the motion to change the marriage canon to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages.

“It would have increased the number of opposed in the order of bishops from 12 to 13 total (one-third of bishops present and voting). The number of bishops in favour would still have met the legislative threshold of two-thirds,” he said. Twenty-six, or 68.4%, of bishops voted in favour of the resolution.

Thompson said during the synod, MacDonald had approached the head table following the release of the voting information for the motion to revise the marriage canon. “At this time, he informed the primate that he had voted ‘no.’ ”

Thompson said he is seeking the advice of General Synod Chancellor David Jones and “will present a full report of all voting issues and recommendations of any possible mitigation, to the Council of General Synod at its first meeting in the fall.”


Anglican Journal News, July 18, 2016

Seven bishops ‘publicly dissent’ from same-sex marriage vote

Posted on: July 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


Some members of General Synod, including the bishops of the diocese of the Arctic Darren McCartney (middle) and David Parsons (right),  walk out of the plenary hall after it was declared that the same-sex marriage motion had passed first reading. Photo: Art Babych

General Synod “erred grievously” in its approval, earlier this week, of a resolution allowing same-sex marriages, a group of seven bishops say.

In  a statement  released Friday, July 15, the bishops said they “publicly dissent” from the decision, which, they add, “imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world.”

The statement, a copy of which was sent to the Anglican Journal, also called on the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “to seek ways to guarantee our place within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion.”

Hiltz was not available for comment when contacted by the Journal.

The statement was signed by Bishop Stephen Andrews, of the diocese of Algoma; Bishop David Parsons, of the diocese of the Arctic, and Suffragan Bishop Darren McCartney, also of the diocese of the Arctic; Bishop Fraser Lawton, of the diocese of Athabasca; Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia; Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan; and Bishop Larry Robertson, of the diocese of Yukon.

Twenty-six bishops, or 68.4%, voted in favour of the motion to change the church’s marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriages, and 12 voted against.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Lawton said the bishops were concerned that “there may be a relearning of how we relate to one another, and that some things that were always givens may not be so now.”

Asked to specify what he meant by this, Lawton replied, “I don’t think at this point we can say much more than that. I think there will be a time of thinking deeply what the relationships are between perhaps Anglicans within Canada—bishops, dioceses, individuals—and it’s an unknown at this point what that will look like.”

In their statement, the bishops reaffirm their commitment to the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as to the Church Catholic and the Anglican Communion. They also reaffirm their commitment to “the scriptural, traditional and catholic definition of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman as set out in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services.”

The bishops declare that they “absolutely condemn homophobic prejudice and violence wherever it occurs, offer pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation, and reject criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”

The statement begins with a declaration that “the entire process, beginning with the hasty vote in 2013 and concluding with the vote and miscount this week, has been flawed and inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved.”

The bishops also say that the declared intentions on the part of some bishops to immediately proceed with same-sex marriages, before the required second vote on the resolution in 2019, is “contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.”

“That raises the question…why did we bother voting at all, if the decision was already made?” said Lawton. “There are a whole pile of pieces that cause some concern. We truly hope there’s a way to address some of these as we look forward to 2019.”

In passing the resolution, the dissenting bishops said, General Synod “has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God’s Word written,” in addition to endangering its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In the aftermath of General Synod’s vote, Lawton said, “It’s clear there are some very different understandings around doctrine, around Scripture, around what it means to consult, around what it means to be a catholic church, what it means to engage with the process, what is the place of apostolic tradition…It puts on the table in quite a visible way that what we have always understood those relationships to be might now in fact be changing, and we don’t know what that looks like. And that’s true within Canada, but it also has that same impact on other members of the Communion, [and] with other members of the whole church.”

The bishops say they do not believe the resolution in its current form provides enough protection for “the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations.”

In particular, Lawton said, the bishops are concerned about congregations and clergy who don’t agree with the decision, but may find themselves in dioceses that strongly support it.

“Do they have a place? What will be there for them?” Lawton asked.

Lawton said that they are asking the primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury for “concrete and real ways” that a good relationship could be forged between Anglicans who felt “marginalized and sidelined” and the rest of the church.

“Is there a sense that those who disagreed with the decision that was made are even welcome in the church anymore?” he asked. “It’s one thing to make some statements, but the question is the action. So it’s often been said, ‘We want everyone at the table,’ but for some time the responding question is ‘Why?’

“If there’s not going to be a true engagement and a true welcome, then it makes it pointless to pretend to participate in process.”

Lawton also said, the entire House of Bishops noted in February that the legislative approach—a vote on an actual change to the marriage canon—by its nature “set us up essentially for an antagonistic environment.”

Many people opposed to changing the canon, he said, felt sidelined by the lead-up to the vote. And the vote itself left questions unanswered for many people, he said.

“I don’t think it went well, and I think it reflects badly on us,” Lawton said. “There are just a whole pile of things that, in retrospect, don’t make a whole lot of sense, and sadly, it leaves us in the place where I think a lot of people left thinking, ‘What the heck happened?’ ”



About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

Primate says he can’t stop bishops from allowing same-sex marriages

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Archbishop Fred Hiltz delivers the sermon at the closing worship of General Synod 2016, July 12. Photo: Art Babych

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, says he understands why some bishops have chosen to go ahead with the solemnization of same-sex marriages, even though the marriage canon (church law) cannot be officially changed until it is voted on again at General Synod 2019.He also stressed that he has no jurisdiction over diocesan bishops to stop them from doing what they want on the issue.

“As primate, I have no authority to say to a bishop, ‘You can’t do that and you must not do that,’ ” he said.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal July 14, Hiltz said that due to the pastoral contexts in which these bishops find themselves, they are “under huge pressure from their parishes and their clergy to proceed” with same-sex marriage.

“There is a part of me, I think, that would say, given their pastoral context, I understand where they are coming from,” he said. “I can see the pressure they feel.”

Following General Synod’s July 11 vote on the marriage canon, which narrowly defeated the first reading of a motion to allow same-sex marriage, several diocesan bishops, including Bishop David Chapman of the diocese of Ottawa and Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara, announced they would allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

When a recount the following day, July 12, showed that the motion had indeed passed its first reading, and would therefore go on to a second reading at General Synod in 2019, where it would be voted on again, these bishops stood by their earlier statements to move ahead with same-sex marriages in their dioceses.

They faced immediate backlash from more conservative bishops, seven of whom have issued a joint statement saying they “publicly dissent” from the outcome of the same-sex marriage vote and that going ahead with same-sex marriage now is “contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.”

In an interview with the Journal on Tuesday, Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia, said that having bishops go ahead with same-sex marriage would cause a “period of chaos” for the Canadian church.

Hiltz, however, said he is confident that there are other bishops who will be committed to making sure the church understands that the question isn’t settled until it has been voted on again in 2019.

He did acknowledge, however, that tensions between those seeking to go ahead and those unhappy with the proposed change to the marriage canon will be a topic of serious conversation at the House of Bishops meeting in September.

“We will need to find a way to have that conversation in as respectful a way as we can. It in itself will be extremely divisive in the House of Bishops,” he said.

Aside from noting that a block of time will be set aside for a General Synod debrief, however, he wasn’t able to provide much information about how that conversation will be structured.

Although some have been critical of the church for expending so much energy on the question of marriage, given that church marriages are in general decline in Canada, Hiltz said that giving LGBTQ couples access to church weddings is about equality.

“The issue, from my point of view, is no longer acceptance; it is no longer inclusion—I would hope that our church has got past that,” he said. “The issue now is marriage and the longing for gays and lesbians in monogamous, lifelong relationships of faithful, covenant love. They want equality.”

The synod was also marked with a high level of frustration over the strictures of the parliamentary procedure, and in particular the way in which it leads to divisive and polarizing approaches to complex issues.

“I was hearing really clearly from members…can we find other ways of making substantive decisions that don’t, as some would say, leave people…pitted against one another?” he said.

Following the July 11 debate and vote on the marriage canon, synod members were asked on the morning of July 12 to reflect in writing on how they think the church might better approach questions of structure and governance.

Hiltz said these comments would be compiled into a digest for study by the House of Bishops and Council of General Synod (CoGS), and that he hopes this would open up possibilities for a less adversarial way of decision-making.

“I think there is an openness [to change], and I think, in fact, I would go so far as saying that it cracked open, in this synod—it cracked open and people talked about it,” he said, adding that this might be an area where the Anglican church can learn much from its Indigenous members.

“Certainly one of the things I’ve said is that from Indigenous people we’ve learned that the circle-type conversations…work,” he said. “What can we continue to learn out of that, in terms of having an experience of synod even in the midst of a conversation that is very difficult, of people not…feeling pitted against one another?”

While the decision to move toward allowing same-sex marriage in the Canadian church will doubtless have repercussions across the 77-million-strong global Anglican Communion, Hiltz said he has yet to receive a response from either the Anglican Communion Office or Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He noted that the Church of England has only just wrapped up a meeting of its own General Synod.

He said he would send Welby a letter explaining what happened at synod and including the resolution on the marriage canon that passed its first reading.

“That is in keeping with the openness and transparency for which our church is known—and this office is known—in the Communion,” he added.

As the church recovers from a General Synod marked by pain, division and confusion around the vote to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages, Hiltz says Candian Anglicans must focus on “restoring relationships.”

Hiltz said that the way events unfolded has caused everyone to come away feeling some measure of hurt.

“I don’t think you could say of this synod that anybody won the day,” he said. “Everybody, in a sense, felt everybody else’s pain, no matter what side of the issue you are on or how you hoped the vote would go.”


About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

In wake of same-sex marriage vote, some bishops fret for unity of church

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Empty tables and chairs as some General Synod members choose not to participate at the closing worship of General Synod following the provisional approval of the same-sex marriage motion. Photo: Art Babych

Canadian Anglican bishops have begun to respond to General Synod’s provisional vote on same-sex marriage in starkly different ways: a number have called for prayers, some announced they will now allow religious weddings for same-sex couples and others have expressed anxiety about unity in the church.

On July 12, General Synod reversed its original decision rejecting the motion to change the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage after the discovery of a miscounted vote in the Order of Clergy.

Bishop Melissa Skelton, of the diocese of New Westminster, said she was “relieved” by the vote, which she said gay and lesbian people would see as an affirmative step. However, she added in an interview, “In my province, and among my friends in the House of Bishops, I’m very concerned for those who feel that they’re not ready for that. How do we continue to make room for their point of view in a sensitive and caring way?”

The impact of the vote was undeniable. Some bishops and members of their dioceses were noticeably absent at the meeting’s closing worship July 12, including those who had walked out after it was announced that the same-sex marriage motion had passed.

In an interview, Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia, took issue with bishops who announced they would go ahead with same-sex marriages shortly after it was announced July 11 that the vote had been narrowly defeated and then again, when the outcome was reversed.

“It further exacerbates the contempt for our synodical process. I think we’re in for a period of chaos,” he said in an interview. “I think this process has been immensely destructive of the unity of our church.”

On the evening of Monday, July 11, after the resolution appeared to have been voted down, at least two dioceses—Niagara and Ottawa released statements that they intended to proceed with same-sex marriages anyway. The diocese of Toronto announced that it would consider taking this step.

In a statement dated July 11 but released the morning of July 12, before the results of Monday’s vote were overturned, the diocese of Huron also said  it intended to authorize same-sex marriage liturgies “once guidelines are in place.”

Most of these dioceses cited General Synod chancellor, Canon (lay) David Jones, who announced in synod Monday, July 11, that the marriage canon in its present form “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” A diocesan bishop is also allowed to authorize liturgies “to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by the General Synod,” said diocese of Huron bishops Bob Bennett and Linda Nicholls.

After Tuesday’s dramatic reversal, the bishops of Ottawa,  Niagara  and Huron announced their earlier decisions to allow same-sex marriages would stand unchanged; their dioceses would not wait for the resolution’s required second reading in 2019.

“Notwithstanding the reversal of the resolution’s outcome, I am committed to my promise to our diocese and local LGBTQ2 community to continue to walk along the path of full inclusion and to immediately proceed with equal marriage,” said Niagara Bishop Michael Bird.

“Now we proceed, comfortable in knowing that the national church is behind us as we continue to deliberate these next three years anticipating the second and final vote in 2019,” said Ottawa Bishop John Chapman.

Archbishop of Toronto Colin Johnson likewise announced  “We can now begin to discuss how this will be implemented in the diocese of Toronto in a similar way to what I spoke about in my earlier statement.”

However, some bishops said they would need to consult with members of their dioceses before taking any action.

Bishop Michael Oulton, of the diocese of Ontario, said in a statement that he would consult with diocesan leaders and also hold a “diocesan day” for Anglicans in the diocese to “share their hopes and suggestions on how we move forward as a diocese in response to the changes.”

Bishop Ron Cutler, of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said in a pastoral statement that he was “not willing to give a similar permission” as the bishops planning to immediately allow same-sex marriages. He, too, however, announced plans to consult with diocesan leaders, and added that the matter would need to be discussed at the diocese’s synod, the next meeting of which is slated for May 2017.

Bishop Jane Alexander, of the diocese of Edmonton, said she was “in favour of being able to offer all of the sacraments of the church to all God’s children,” but asked the Anglicans of her diocese to be “patient with me as I work out our next steps in the Diocese of Edmonton.”

Bishops—both for and against same-sex marriage—also urged their faithful to pray for the church.

“May God send his healing Spirit upon all who are hurting, or confused and give us all the peace of Christ,” said Alexander in a message posted on her diocese’s Facebook page.

Alexander suggested the emotional roller-coaster ride of General Synod 2016 might actually bear a valuable lesson for the church.

“On Monday the church tipped in one direction; there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up,” she wrote. “On Tuesday the church tipped in the opposite direction and there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up.

“I think that it is more than probable that God is telling us that we need one another and for a while we have all got to stand in the place of the one that we might consider to be the ‘other.’ ”

Diocese of Athabasca BishopFraser Lawton, in a pastoral statement to his diocese released Tuesday, said “what is clear is that the church has great need to better live out Christian community and to welcome and care for those who are hurting and feel rejected and unloved.” Lawton called for prayers “for the church, for discernment and wisdom for the diocese, and for God’s grace.”

Lawton, like other bishops, also decried the very process by which the church had chosen to deal with the issue, saying it created unnecessary pain and division.

“For many of us, the process leading up to the synod and the way the decision unfolded was difficult and very troubling,” he said. “The experience of discussing, debating and voting on the resolution was a difficult experience for all involved. Many were deeply hurt when it seemed to have been defeated. Others were deeply injured and grieved when it was overturned the next day…Sadly, many relationships, including between dioceses and various church bodies, have been seriously damaged.”

Chapman, who voted in favour of the motion, also shared his dislike for the process.

“I wish that the matter was presented to synod as a pastoral matter from the very beginning and not as a canonical issue,” said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.

Skelton said the bishops had spent a considerable amount of time talking amongst themselves about the idea that a “legislative” approach—an actual vote on the canon—might not be the best way of dealing with same-sex marriage. However, she said, there may not be a real alternative to voting on such matters, painful and divisive though it is.

“I myself don’t know what to do when we have an important issue that needs to be voted on,” she said. “It’s imperfect…I wish we didn’t live in a world where decisions cut both ways, but I frankly don’t know of any other way at this time.”

Twenty-six bishops, or 68.4%, voted in favour of the motion and 12 voted against, a fact that surprised many. In February, the House of Bishops had issued a statement saying the motion was “not likely” to pass with the required two-thirds majority in the Order of Bishops.

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

“Forbearing one another in love”

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

“Forbearing one another in love”

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In light of decisions made at General Synod 2016 concerning the solemnizing of same-sex marriage, I pray our Church can and will take to heart Paul’s plea with the Christians living in Ephesus, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Going into General Synod, the delegates knew there would be pastoral implications whether the Resolution to amend the Marriage Canon passed or not.  In order to pass it would, according to the Declaration of Principles (General Synod Handbook), require a two-thirds majority in each of the three orders voting: bishops, clergy, and laity.

On Monday, July 11 the result of the vote was that in the orders of bishops and laity there was the required two-thirds majority but not in the order of clergy.  The vote was very close.  The pastoral implication was that LGBTQ2S persons and those who have accompanied them were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

Because the vote was so very close, on Tuesday morning there was a request that the record of this vote be made public and Synod concurred.  Analysis of the actual vote revealed that one clergy member’s vote was not properly recorded.  The Chancellor then advised the Synod that according to the numbers we in fact did have a two-thirds majority vote in the order of clergy, and I announced the resolution had therefore passed in all three orders.  The pastoral implication was that a number of members of Synod were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

We have been deeply divided over the solemnizing of same-sex marriage for a very long time.  That has not changed.  In the midst of this division, I need to take to heart Paul’s counsel and I encourage our whole Church to do the same.  “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” writes St. Paul.  He reminds us of our fellowship in Christ Jesus, through our baptism, and in the eucharist.  He reminds us that we are “the Body of Christ, members one of another”, and that we in fact need each other, and need to find ways to make room for one another.

In keeping with the theme of Synod, “You are my witnesses” the question with which we must now wrestle is this, “For what kind of pastoral and prophetic witness can and will we be known?”

I pray that witness not be marred by fraction and breaking of communion with one another, but rather that “forbearing of one another in love” that “eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.  More than ever we must make efforts not to turn away from one another but rather to one another, not to ignore but to recognize one another, not to walk apart but together.  We need as a Church to work hard at maintaining our communion in Christ, for in his reconciling love is our hope and our life.

The Synod passed on first reading an amendment to the Marriage Canon to allow for same-sex marriage in our Church.  Because it is a Canon about doctrine, consideration of the matter is required in “two successive sessions of the General Synod”.  So the matter will be before the General Synod in 2019.  In the meantime, it is referred “for consideration to diocesan and provincial Synods”.

I call the Church to seize this opportunity.  I commend the General Synod’s reaffirmation by resolution of the 2004 General Synod Statement on the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships, and its call for a much wider and deeper engagement with the report, “This Holy Estate”.  I will ask the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to give immediate attention to the matter of translation, at least of the executive summary of the report and frequently asked questions.  I will ask CoGS to consider what other resources might be helpful.  I will be asking the House of Bishops at their fall meeting to consider how we encourage “further consideration” of the matter, and to show strong leadership in their dioceses in hosting events, dialogues, and studies.

In all these conversations I want to encourage much more engagement with people who identify as LGBTQ2S.  We have spent a lot of time talking about them.  I believe we need to take much more time to talk with them and to learn of their lived experience of covenanted love in relationships that are monogamous and life-long.  I know that will require of all of us a good deal of courage and grace.

Finally, I ask that without ceasing, we pray for one another, mindful always of the counsel of Paul.

“I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 1-3)

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July 14, 2016

Rois: ‘Everyone benefits’ by donating to Anglican Foundation

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

It was an act of General Synod that created the Anglican Foundation in 1957, executive director Canon Judy Rois reminds members of the 2016 meeting. Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.

Canon Judy Rois, Anglican Foundation executive director, urged General Synod July 12 to be a part of Canadian Anglican efforts “build up the church, to keep it alive, and to be a champion of enthusiastic faith in action throughout our country.”

Investment revenue in 2015 from donations received by the Foundation allowed it to disburse $850,000 to support ministry across Canada, Rois said.

“Everyone here ought to be proud of our Foundation and its generous capacity to support work in Canada,” Rois said, in a lively presentation that was punctuated by a “commercial” about the organization and its work.

The money, she said, supported a wide range of projects, including church building construction, accessibility ramps and elevators, choir schools, seniors’ residences, community gardens, the arts, homework clubs, hospice care, summer camp, Indigenous programs, outreach programs, youth leadership, interfaith dialogue, emergency relief and theological colleges.

The projects supported by the Foundation, Rois said, are an encouraging counterpoint to any less-than-inspiring news Anglicans hear about their church.

“There is so much disheartening and often discouraging news in the church these days: crumbling buildings, declining enrolment, lack of trust in leadership, volunteer burnout,” she said. “But there is another reality, and it’s this: that Anglicans across this country are engaged in some amazing ministry, innovative, creative and resourceful ideas, in our building up the church and in moving it ahead in dynamic, groundbreaking ways—and our Foundation has the capacity to support those things.”

Donations have also gone toward theological education, making it possible “to prepare leaders for the future of the church,” she added.

The Foundation, says executive director Canon Judy Rois,  is the Anglican Church of Canada’s “best-kept secret.” Photo: Art Babych

Rois reminded members that it was an act of General Synod that created the Foundation in 1957 to “financially support ministry” in the Anglican Church of Canada.

The understanding was that it would be “a two-way street,” she said. “Everybody in the family has a responsibility to put money in and everybody in the family has the opportunity to take money out.”

In addition to donations from individuals, every parish would donate $50 per year, she added.

Currently, she said, 630 of 1,650 Anglican parishes in Canada, or about 40%, donate yearly to the Foundation.

“We have a ways to go to get it up to 100%,” she said. “I invite you all to check with your church or rector, your wardens, to ensure that your parish is contributing to your Foundation, because when everyone gives, everyone benefits.”

What makes the Foundation unique is that “all the donations make an impact right here in our country,” she added. “We are responsible stewards of donation dollars, we provide tangible and measurable impact. We support innovation, inclusion of all of God’s people…And we are able to inspire and transform people’s lives.”

The Foundation still asks a minimum donation of $50 from parishes, she said.

Rois also said that the Foundation is now in the third year of its request-for-proposals program. This program sees the Foundation make five grants of $10,000 each year for projects on specific themes identified by the church. Last year, the theme was youth leadership development, she said; this year will see grants go to projects related to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 13, 2016

Canadian Anglicans sponsor 1,750 refugees since September

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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“The Anglican Church of Canada “punches above its weight” when it comes to refugee work, William Postma, recently-appointed director of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) tells General Synod. Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.
Since last September, when the world first saw the body of the little Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a shore in Turkey, Anglicans in 14 dioceses across Canada have sponsored and resettled 1,750 refugees, members of General Synod heard Tuesday, July 12.In all, $20 million was raised to support refugee resettlement and sponsorship, William Postma, recently appointed director of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) said in a presentation to synod, in its last day of meetings.

It’s evidence, Postma said, of how the Anglican Church of Canada “punches above its weight” when it comes to refugee work.

“This deserves more than an acknowledgment, but a celebration,” he said.

It was one of many of PWRDF’s accomplishments that had impressed him since assuming his role June 13, Postma said.

“The results of some of our programs are truly astounding,” he said. For example, in three African countries—Burundi, Mozambique and Tanzania—where they run vaccination programs, PWRDF partners have vaccinated 410,000 children under the age of five in three years, he said—an especially high number considering the programs are run in far-flung rural areas, Postma added. In Mozambique, child mortality rates during the same three years decreased from 26% to 5%.

In Canada, PWRDF raised $165,000 in donations for Fort McMurray wildfire relief, he said. The fund has also been placing more importance on support for Indigenous communities, he said—“support that’s respectful, support that’s honourable, support that’s responsive to needs on the ground.”

Among its recent projects for Canadian Indigenous people, he said, is a two-year immersion course  in the Mohawk language, in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, near Montreal.

One thing that’s surprised him since starting at PWRDF, he said, is the enormous network of volunteers it has to draw on—1,600 according to a recent count.

“I have to say, having been with a lot of other organizations, that is a really enviable number,” he said.

General Synod also heard from Zaida Bastos, director of PWRDF’s development partnership program, about its maternal, newborn and child health program. Since the year 2000, she said, there has been a decrease of more than 50% in preventable child death worldwide. However, rates of maternal and child death in sub-Saharan Africa remain very high, Bastos said.

PWRDF’s maternal, newborn and child health program operates, through local community health workers, in 524 villages in five African countries, she said. These community health workers constantly accompany pregnant and new mothers and their children, ensuring they get the medical attention they need to survive and be healthy.

In addition to its actual accomplishments, Postma said he also really liked that PWRDF’s vision is about more than just providing physical aid.

“I’m really excited that PWRDF has that bedrock commitment to rights, human rights…it’s about each and every one of us made in the image of God,” he said.


About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 13, 2016

Church to form social and ecological investment task force

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald moves the resolution creating the task force that will review the church’s investment policies, among other things.
Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.
The church will appoint a task force for social and ecological investment—including, possibly, selling its existing investments in some companies.

General Synod passed, by large majorities, two resolutions Tuesday, July 12, related to responsible investing. Resolution A171 calls on the church to form a task force “as soon as possible,” to review its investment policies; address governance practices of companies and sectors in which it invests; and develop “guidelines for constructive dialogue, and where necessary divestment, leading towards a low carbon economy.”

The resolution also mandates the task force to present an interim report to Council of General Synod (CoGS) by next May, and to report every year “on actions taken or under consideration that would make visible the Anglican Church of Canada’s commitment to environmental, social and governance principles and to propose a strategy for ongoing engagement and monitoring.”

The resolution also specifies that the task force include “the widest possible range of internal stakeholders”—not just those charged with managing the church’s investments, but also “those with interests related to sustainable environmental investing.”

The resolution, moved by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, received the approval of 91.9% of voting members of General Synod.

The other resolution, A170, calls on General Synod to sign the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing and to “make full use of” its affiliate membership of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), while encouraging dioceses to become affiliate members also.

Of General Synod’s voting members, 90.4% were in favour of this second resolution, also moved by MacDonald.

Resolution A171, which establishes the task force, attracted by far the most debate. Several members spoke in favour of the resolution for stopping short of an outright call for divestment from the fossil-fuels industry. Others applauded the resolution’s requirement that the task force include a wide range of “stakeholders.”

“We’re in very different places across the country,” said Dean Iain Luke, of the diocese of Athabasca. “We have different stakes in these issues, so it’s important that all those voices be heard.”

His diocese, Luke said, had already considered divesting. He added that its response reflected “what may not be a familiar perspective to people here.”

Jeremy Munn, a lay member from the same diocese and a resident of Fort McMurray, which is widely considered the heart of Canada’s oil patch, said he would be among those directly affected by decisions the church was likely to make on responsible investing. Engaging directly with companies, he said, is a better way of bringing about change in the industry than divesting.

“I have seen tremendous change in the industry—positive, good change,” Munn said. “It was from direct shareholder relations, it was from direct engagement. Having a voice at the table is important. Change from without is much harder than change from within.”

In some cases, action against companies deemed to be polluting ends up hurting its employees the most, Munn said.

“When you speak against these companies, that aren’t based in the communities, you’re speaking against people. The corporation isn’t there,” he added.

Danielle McKenzie, a lay member also from Athabasca, said that although she favoured a review of the church’s investments, she hoped any decisions would carefully take into account their impacts on the people who work in the fossil fuel and other industries.

“The strong statement made by divesting can be a painful one for some,” she said. “Many of us know what it is like to be hurt by decisions made by the church. Let us think twice about making statements at the national level that hurt others and do little to change an environmental impact. Our prime focus should be on the issues of clean production and consumption.”

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 12, 2016