Resolution Number: A052
Subject: Repealing Canon XIII on Deaconesses
Moved By: Chancellor Canon David P. Jones, K.C.
Seconded By: The Ven. Alan T. Perry
Be it resolved that this General Synod:

Repeal Canon XIII.

Source: Governance Working Group

Submitted By: Governance Working Group

Does this motion contain within it any financial implications? 

If yes, has the General Synod Expenditures Committee considered the implications? 

Yes     No


The office of deaconess was established in the nineteenth century as an avenue of Christian service for women. A training college, the Deaconess and Missionary Training Home was established in Toronto in 1893 under the auspices of Wycliffe College to prepare young women for service in domestic and foreign missions.  In Canada the office of deaconess was first regulated with the adoption of Canon XVII (later XXV and now XIII) in 1921. Deaconesses served under the authority of the diocesan bishop in a variety of areas of pastoral ministry including providing pastoral care to women and children, visiting the sick, instructing people in the faith and assisting in preparation for baptism and confirmation. Deaconesses were given basic first aid and nursing training.  Liturgically, the role of deaconess was expanded in the 1960s to include officiating at Morning and Evening Prayer, preaching and, in the absence of a priest or deacon, officiating at baptism, funerals and thanksgiving after childbirth.

In 1968, the Lambeth Conference recommended that “those made deaconesses by laying-on of hands with appropriate prayers be declared to be within the diaconate”.  (Resolution 32).  In 1969, the General Synod resolved that “in regard to women presently ordained as deaconesses in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Primate be asked to initiate any steps which may be necessary to ensure that those who are so ordered may belong to the diaconate”. The House of Bishops subsequently resolved “that this House considers that the action of the 1969 General Synod has established for the Anglican Church of Canada the fact that duly ordained deaconesses are to be regarded as being members of the diaconate of the Church”.

With the advent of the ordination of women as deacons, priests and bishops, as well as increasing empowerment of lay ministry, the order of deaconess as an avenue for Christian service for women has fallen into disuse. The long period of faithful service of women as deaconesses in the Anglican Church of Canada is an important chapter in our history, but in the twenty-first century, with the order of deaconess no longer necessary for women to serve in Christian ministry, the need for a Canon to regulate this office is now past.



Section 11 c) ii) of the Declaration of Principles requires the enactment or amendment of a canon (which does not deal with doctrine, worship or discipline) to be approved at one session of General Synod by a two-thirds majority of each Order voting separately. 

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Resolution download and history

Matthew 10:40-42


40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous, 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

John 15:12-17

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

John 21:15-19

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Luke 11:33-36

The Light of the Body

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel basket; rather, one puts it on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but if it is unhealthy, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. 36 But if your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”

Matthew 8:1-4

Jesus Cleanses a Man

8 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him, and there was a man with a skin disease who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be made clean!” Immediately his skin disease was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”