WARNING: This blog entry might only be of interest to Anglican-ites
I had the privilege and the honour of attending the annual Diocese of Jerusalem synod as an observer. This was the first time in over a decade that it was held in Jerusalem, due to the difficulties in members from other countries being able to attend. This year was no exception - it took the Jordanian contingent a full day (beginning at the Israeli embassy of Amman at 9 AM and getting into Jerusalem after midnight) just to arrive.
Our parish group had no issues crossing the checkpoint from Ramallah and so arriving early, I went on a walk with two fellow parishioners. We ended up going to the Garden Tomb. At one point, I realized there were all these groups of tourists and then there was me with two imposing men dressed in suits...
Me and 'my bodyguards' touring the Garden Tomb
The Majma (Arabic for assembly/gathering) was a great experience. Having previously attended synods with the Diocese of Toronto, it was interesting to see how it worked in the Middle East. It began with a Holy Communion Service at the Cathedral followed by a dinner, where I got to meet and chat with some priests from other parishes in the Diocese. The following day opened with speeches including one by Bishop John Chapman from the Diocese of Ottawa. I believe they counted 64 members of the Majma and at one point, I counted 6 Canadians in the room - I think we outnumbered the Americans! They introduced everyone in the room (which would never happen at a Toronto Synod due to its large member size) and I loved how they reconvened after a break: singing a few hymns to draw the people back into the room. The very gracious Canon John Organ delivered a presentation of the Diocese's worldwide Financial Campaign to raise 50 million dollars for the Diocese of Jerusalem - if there's one thing they are not in short supply of, it's ambition!
The final day consisted of presenting various reports and electing/voting on positions, such as the Vice-President and Treasurer. So far, I have only mentioned the business matters of Majma, but what would Majma be without some fun? There was a cocktail party hosted by the Bishop and his wife at their house and people enjoyed themselves on the terrace with a drink or around the piano singing some tunes. And the Jordanian contigent had a quick, but beautiful tour that went from Jerusalem - Jaffa - Haifa - Akko before crossing back into Jordan. While I have no other Majma to which to compare this year's Majma, it was well executed, productive and I think enjoyed by all. If I might be so bold, it may even beat Toronto's Synods.