“We simply don’t know,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the church’s national leader, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison.
Even the head of a group that opposes same-sex blessings is taking nothing for granted, despite a May bishops’ statement that essentially rejected same-sex blessings.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, national director of Anglican Essentials. “The Anglican Church of Canada is at a crossroads.”
Delegates will be voting on a motion that would leave it to each diocese to decide whether priests will bless same-sex couples. Of Canada’s 30 dioceses, only the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster allows the practice.
“Both sides have their teeth into the bone and they’re not prepared to give it up,” said Chris Ambidge, president of Integrity Canada, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian Anglicans.
“As a gay man, I want a place in my own church and I don’t want to be downgraded to second- or third-class Christianity.”
Even if the motion passes, Ambidge pointed out that individual priests couldn’t be forced to comply.
“Every clergyman, in the Anglican Church anyway, always has the option of saying ‘no.’ If you really, really don’t like remarrying divorced people, and for that you can make a strong argument out of scripture, then Rev. Joe Blogs can say ‘no,’ ” Ambidge said.
“If this were to pass, it would never be the case of people being forced to marry people if they felt this were the wrong thing.”