History and Role of the Primacy - from the Anglican Journal

‘A mirror for the life of our church’: The history and role of the primacy


The primatial cross is the only official symbol of the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. It was first presented to General Synod in 1937 after the submission of numerous designs. The cross is made of silver gilt and features the arms of General Synod and of the four original dioceses of the Canadian church. Photo: Saskia Rowley

The primatial cross is the only official symbol of the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. It was first presented to General Synod in 1937 after the submission of numerous designs. The cross is made of silver gilt and features the arms of General Synod and of the four original dioceses of the Canadian church. Photo: Saskia Rowley

When delegates meet in Vancouver this July for the 42nd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, they will vote for a new primate to succeed Archbishop Fred Hiltz. But what does being primate of the Anglican Church of Canada really entail?

The primacy has evolved throughout the history of the church. In 1893, the church’s first primate was a diocesan bishop chosen from among the metropolitans, whose only specific duties were to serve as president of General Synod and of the House of Bishops.

Since that time, the office of primate has steadily grown to encompass a national episcopal ministry, in which the primate serves as a figure of unity and a reflection of the diversity, challenges and ministries of the church.


National Marriage Canon XXI - Deanery Discussions


To the Clergy and Members of the Diocese of Saskatoon, 

Greetings in Christ our Lord and Saviour, in July 2019 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada will gather in Vancouver to bring to the vote, changes to the Marriage Canon XXI. Leadership of the church recognizes the divisive nature of change and thus far, we the church have been far from exemplary much less Christian to change. To ensure that all voices are heard and that we the Diocese of Saskatoon and its representatives hear you, and that we who will attend General Synod 2019 vote with the greater voice, other than our own... I ask that we gather at Regional Deanery discussions to address the changes and how we as a family in God and community, will step up and forward as a Diocese in faith. 

As a Diocese, we know that we are diverse in practice and thinking as is every community. We as a church need to recognize and respect each other in the upcoming discussions for the diversity that we are as children of God, in the Family of God, for at the end of the day we will still need to walk with each other in love, respect and faith, and believe that God is leading us to something greater than ourselves. There can be unity in diversity, there can be love and hope in a lost and broken world, and it begins with us and our faith witness, and knowledge that God Almighty has this. 

In the Deanery discussions, we will gather to hear an opening presentation from Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers and myself, then we will listen to you and your voice, respecting each other and the values that make us who we are in the family of God and a community of faith. We will set as a foundation for the discussions the following passages which will be the center of our dialogue:

1 Corinthians 12:12-20  

 John 17:11-18  


"This Holy Estate" - Commission and report


In closing, I do ask that you do your home work and read the passages of scripture, search out the reports in the Link provided and attend the meetings with an open heart, speaking and listening with respect and faith. 

In Christ’s service,


A Call for Prayer


A Call to Prayer from the Primate for General Synod 2019


Dear Friends,

The General Synod of our Church will be meeting July 10-16, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The theme is drawn from the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, “I have called you by name.”  One of the important pieces of work in this Synod will be the calling and installation of a new Primate.

In the Church’s discernment of who will be called, there are several periods for which I earnestly ask your prayers.

In the first period, bishops are nominated for this office.  This is the responsibility of the members of the National House of Bishops. I ask you to pray for those who are invited to let their names stand. Pray for those who wrestle with an invitation and for those who accept it.

In the second period, there is a balloting process which takes place at the next meeting of the House of Bishops in March. Balloting continues until a minimum of three or up to five bishops have been named. I ask you to pray for them, for their families, and for their diocesan families.

In the third period, which takes us to General Synod, there is conversation throughout the whole Church, not only about the nominees, but about the nature of primatial ministry. It is, as we all know, one of huge responsibility in:

  • leading our Church in God’s mission in these times;

  • visiting all of our dioceses and territories;

  • pastorally caring for our bishops and nurturing them for their apostolic leadership;

  • working in a particularly close relationship with the National Indigenous Bishop, with respect to the emerging of the self-determining Indigenous Church;

  • representing our Church throughout the Anglican Communion;

  • strengthening our relations with other Churches, particularly in Canada;

  • writing and speaking prophetically to the issues of our times, and

  • forging relationships with people of other faith traditions and all people of good will dedicated to the building of a truly just, healthy and peaceful world.

I ask that your conversations be grounded in prayer.

In the fourth period, the General Synod meets. The election will be held in Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, July 13th. Following a celebration of Holy Communion, the lay and clergy delegates commence the work entrusted to them. The proceedings are chaired by the Prolocutor Ms. Cynthia Haines-Turner. As the bishops do not vote, they meet apart from the session to uphold the delegates that they may know the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Once an election is declared, the bishops join the delegates in welcoming the Primate-elect.

In that short span of a couple days between the election and the installation, the new Primate will be asking for our prayers. In my own experience, it is heartening to know that one is remembered daily by name and for need of grace, strength and wisdom in the exercise of this ministry.

I pray that for our new Primate such respect, good intent and care on the part of the whole Church will be a blessing beyond measure.

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

“Almighty God, giver of all good gifts, look on your Church with grace, and guide the minds of those who shall choose a Primate for our beloved Church, that we may receive a faithful servant who will care for your people and support us in our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”