On February 25 -26 the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador met for the 32nd Session of Synod, Part A. This gathering was like no other for many reasons, but one in particular—we meet entirely online through Zoom.
While the style of the gathering was different all the traditional elements remained, including:
- An Opening Eucharist
- The Bishop’s Charge
- Devotions led by Archdeaconries
- Financial Reports
- Elections for Provincial Synod and General Synod delegates
- Exploring our current and future ministry as a Diocese
Bishop Samuel Rose set the theme of our Synod with a heart-felt, realistic, and hopeful Charge to the Diocese. He reminded us of the work set out at Synod 2018 through the Report of the Commission on Parish Renewal and Viability, which is entitled Surviving or Thriving: The Future of the Church in the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. The work of Surviving or Thriving had just begun in earnest when a global pandemic hit our shores.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the diocese to go into survival mode, and finances that had been earmarked for the work of the Commission had to be redirected to support parishes. While we are still making our way through these pandemic days, we have learned that the Church has been forever changed.
Synod Part A received a report called A Way Forward to complement the 2018 Surviving or Thriving. This report provides data and financial trends in:
- Parish Revenue Declining
- Rising Deficits
- Assessment Arrears
- Principles and Process for Parish Sustainability and Reorganization
In the A Way Forward presentation, we heard:
“Restructuring and finding new models of ministry is not just because of the pandemic, we have known for some time that demographic change, lower numbers attending worship, and declining financial resources have been part of our story for quite some time. What the pandemic is teaching us is, we can no longer rely on the things we used to do to just get through. We have been and will continue to be changed by this global pandemic.”
In the midst of our reality as a Diocese, Bishop Rose reminded us that in times of uncertainty and change the one thing that is certain and never changing is our Saviour Jesus Christ—and thus “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.”