Archive for July 2011

SYNOD OFFICES I HAVE KNOWN!

There is that old addage that "when God created the world, he didn't create a committee". We all know that nothing ever gets accomplished in the life of the Church without the need to first run one's idea or plan or thought by a committee…or a whole host of committees.  If you are at all like me, waiting for a committee to come to a decision causes you to grind your teeth and lay awake at night!

That thought came to me in the past couple of weeks as we packed up mountains of dusty files in the process of moving our Synod office. Every Diocese needs to have an office from which its operations can be administered. As we combed through the mountains of  files sitting in more filing cabinets than I realized we even had in our office, I wondered what would have ever become of the Church had it not been for files and filing cabinets. I am sure the staff went home frustrated with my attempts to pitch files that I felt were of little importance. In some cases, (actually, in a whole lot of cases), we compromised and I took 4 car-loads of files to our Archivist  in Sudbury and one day the Archivest even came to us and loaded up her brand new car. By the time the moving truck pulled up to the door, even with many files removed, those that we did move to the new office filled a good third of the truck!

While I was doing my share of moving (which occasionally meant simply staying out of the way!) I also started to think of the Synod offices I have seen in my day. The first Synod office I ever saw was comprised three rooms above a store in Sault Ste. Marie's downtown. I remember one Diocese having their office in the basement of the Cathedral, beside the gymnasium. In one Diocese where I have served the Synod office was located in the back yard of the Bishop's residence in the garage, and always had the smell of gasoline mixed with the aroma of the Bishop's pipe! How good it was when the office was moved into a grand 200-year-old mansion. In another Diocese the office is located on the ground floor of a senior's apartment complex. Of course, our larger and more financially well-off Dioceses have offices in handsome complexes. How I envie the offices of the Diocese of Toronto! The first time I was invted to see the Bishop of Toronto when I was a student, I thought I was being ushed into Buckingham Palace. The best, by far (in my opinion), are the offices of the Diocese of Montreal. I would have a hard time doing any work at all if I were to sit in front of the beautiful window that overlooks Montreal's Cathedral grounds! Then, a few months ago I was ushered into Lambeth Palace to the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I had the rather silly thought  that I coud actually ride a bike through the halls of Lambeth…but the bike would likely get stuck in the plush of the carpets!!!

But, I digress…

Here in Moosonee Diocese, we have had rather more humble surroundings throughout our history.  I can imagine the Bishop's offices were very simple rooms in the early days of the Diocese with none of the modern office tools that we have today. In my own experience in this Diocese, I know that the office was once the Bishop's private study, attached to the front of Bishopstope. Bishops Renison and Robinson, the first residents of the house after it was built in 1946, held regular office hours in the large room that was attached to the house by a short hall to the kitchen and left into the Dining Room. The office had a seperate exterior entrance so that persons coming to see the Bishop did not have to disturb the rest of the house. How I remember being summoned to a meeting with the Bishop and told to come to the Bishopstope office and use the office door! In the early days of Bishopstope the Secretary-Treasurer worked with the Bishop in the one-room office and had to run an errand on those occasions when the Bishop needed to speak with a person privately. Canon Cushing was the first to hold that office, followed by Canon Harold Shail who also headed up the building of St. Chad's Church in Schumacher.

The first Synod Office was to the right of Bishopstope's main door

By the time James Watton became Bishop the decision was made to rent a small portion of St. Chad's Church hall. A room was built at the rear of the hall, beside the furnace room, with easy access to the washrooms. The Secretary-Treasurer worked in that windowless, airless room and enjoyed the assistance of a full-time Administrative Assistant. I will always remember droping in to visit Alex Cameron and Vicky McShane and later Peter Colbert in the basement office. The Bishop still used his study at Bishopstope as his main office, but dropped into the basement daily to "pick up the mail and sign the cheques".

The Second Synod Office in St. Chad's Parish Hall

When Caleb Lawrence became the Bishop, having a young family at home, he decided to move to St. Chad's as well and for a few years took over the Rector's Vestry office upstairs in the church as the Rector really only used the space at service-time. Then, with the assistance of the Anglican Foundation and the agreement of the Schumacher congregation, half of the nave of the church was transformed into the excellent offices we have enjoyed until this month. St. Chad's was transformed into a small chapel. The former office in the basement became the library and storage facility for our files.

Moving day from the third Synod Office

Now thar St. Chad's is closed and the building has been sold, we are fortunate to have been able to arrange a rental agreement with the Cathedral parish for the use of their Rectory on Hemlock Street (across the the Timmins Karate Club Gymnasium!) as our new home. We have made application to the City of Timmins for the necessary rezoning of the street to allow us to use the house as a office. Our offices are smaller, but we do have the use of extra space. The main floor accomodates the offices and the filing room and in the basement we now have a good sized meeting room for small committees. There is even a furnished bedroom for any of our clergy needing accomodation. The house has two bathrooms and there is plenty of room for storage. We are very happy. Come by and see us anytime!

The new Synod Office at 435 Hemlock Street, Timmins…Come by anytime!