Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is Governance?

I had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of representing the Diocese at the Provincial Synod. Our parish is a part of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Our diocese has an association with the neighbouring diocese in Atlantic Canada and Quebec; this is known as the Province of Canada. In the country of Canada there are four church provinces. The dioceses in Canada also form an association with one another known as General Synod. Our diocesan Synod, the Provincial Synod and the General Synod all have the ability of pass legislation which is binding on each parish or diocese that belongs to it.

This most recent Provincial Synod spent significant time considering issues of governance. Governance concerns itself with issues related to process and the purpose of an organization. Provincial Synod debated its purpose and considered if what is done by the Synod couldn’t be done better by the diocese or by the General Synod. I can be forgiven for assuming that the discussion would be boring. The discussion quickly became one about relevance. Is the Provincial Synod relevant? That’s a good question and far more engaging than a discussion about process and rules.

Is Provincial Synod relevant? Well, that’s a debate for them to figure out. The question can be easily made to fit us: is St. Paul’s Church relevant? I know that Provincial Synod is not relevant if the parishes are not relevant.

This summer a man visited our parish. I’m not going to shy away from it, but to state it plainly, he was drunk. He moved from pew to pew disrupting the worship and asking for money. One of us approached the man and the two left the Church. If that’s all you knew then you might assumed that the man was taken out into the street and told not to return. But that’s not what happened. The man was fed, given money and a place to stay for the night. (Sounds a lot like a parable Jesus taught.) And like the boy who threw the starfish back into the ocean, “made a difference to that one.” Is St. Paul’s Church relevant? We made a difference to that one.

The next day we saw that man again, cleaned up and sober.

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