Category : Canadian General Synod 2007

A Diocese of New Westminster Editorial: Preparing for change in 2008

Then it’s no secret that some Anglicans within four parishes who continue to protest the actions of the 2002 Diocesan Synod, but have stayed within the diocese, may leave the Anglican Church of Canada. We hope not. We don’t think it’s necessary. Both we and they would be impoverished by a departure. But again, change seems likely.

Churches seldom find change easy. But it seems that change they must to remain vital and alive in this world. The hard part is determining what things should be changed-and what must remain the changeless core of our faith. May God help us as we continue to try to discern the one from the other.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Debate over same-sex marriages simmers for Canadian Anglicans

Davies-Flindall has not always felt strongly in favour of same-sex blessings. She started “with the question” and soon associated advocating for this issue with her humanitarian work through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

“I hear stories of people who feel deeply about a church they think of as their own, but don’t feel accepted in it,” she said. “People said ‘I love this

church but I can’t stay.’ It made me understand that I need to look more seriously at the argument.”

The issue is around same-sex blessings rather than same-sex marriage because when it first arose, the latter was not legal in Canada, Oulton said. Same-sex blessings involves the church blessing a civil union that was legalized elsewhere. The issue has affected many Protestant denominations, he said.

Oulton will not say if he is for or against same-sex blessings, only that the church should proceed “very carefully.” Any movement needs broader consensus, he said.

“The push is very divisive at this stage of the game,” he said. “My feeling is that we need to continue to have the conversation. It’s trying to sort out the mind and will of God, which is complicated at the best of times.”

He also felt that people were frustrated with the votes at General Synod.

“I don’t think we did what we were asked to do at all,” he said. “People were very frustrated. I really believe it’s critically important we encourage diverse people with diverse viewpoints to stay at the table.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Eric Beresford–Anglicans: a church in confusion

Sadly, we are now faced with a much less clear situation. Events are now likely to unfold in a way that is piecemeal in a context that is very uncertain. All this means that it is going to be harder, not easier, to maintain peace and unity within the church.

The synod has left us in a confusing and parlous state. On the one hand, it has been unwilling to affirm the right of dioceses to make pastoral provision for the blessing of same-sex unions where they might need or wish to do so. Although, technically, this does not take away the right of a diocese to proceed on the grounds that the defeat of a motion is not the affirmation of its contrary ”” it seems unlikely that many dioceses will not proceed as dioceses.

On the other hand, the synod has also ruled that the blessing of same-sex unions in not contrary to “core doctrine.” Further, in its response to the St. Michael report, it has affirmed the conclusions of that report, which stated that blessings were not core doctrine but rather had the status of “adiaphora,” meaning a matter that is not essential to salvation, or not essential to our identity as Anglican.

If this is true, it becomes unclear what could be the basis of a decision to discipline any priest who in blessing a same-sex union acts on the basis of a matter indifferent even if he or she does so, on a matter of significant controversy, and without the authorization of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop Tony Burton writes Saskatchewan clergy

Bishop Tony Burton of the Diocese of Saskatchewan in Canada has written his clergy following Canada’s General Synod. Here’s a key section:

We talked a lot at the General Synod about the implications of baptism, that Christ has grafted us into a whole new set of complicated relationships in his body to which we needed to respond. Nobody was in doubt that the body is fevered and disoriented at the moment. Our place in the Anglican Communion was never very far from our minds.

From one perspective this was a General Synod at which nothing happened””at least nothing of obvious consequence, blazing illumination or historic moment. The Synod tidied and tweaked and consolidated earlier initiatives, rekindled some old missionary loves, and decided, somewhat grudgingly, to give its troubled marriage to the Anglican Communion another chance. A few trial balloons were floated and referred away to committees. We elected an honorable man as Primate in a vote for continuity. We welcomed a new National Indigenous Bishop as a harbinger of good things to come but he had already been with us for a while and was already a much-loved member of the family. We had lunch with our Lutheran relatives. No nettles were grasped, no Rubicons were crossed, no sacred cows were slain, no blood was left on the floor, nobody stormed out.

In short, it was a miracle.

It takes only one match to begin a conflagration in a dry forest. [1] Our Communion has been drying out for a long time. In Winnipeg, we were all smokers, and a few of us lit up, but we went home with the old growth intact, hoping for rain.

This was a disappointment to many people for a variety of reasons. On the left and the right, there were plenty of people who wanted to witness the final rupture, the definitive apostasy, the moment of liberation, the beginning of a new world, clean and free from that bearded old wood.

It came close. After having passed a much-amended procedural motion which ended up stating the obvious (that same-sex blessings are not in the Creeds), the bishops defeated by two votes a motion to allow local dioceses to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions. Whether one agreed with this decision or not, there is no question that it bought time for the Anglican Church of Canada to find a way to walk together with the Anglican Communion. Encouragingly, from the beginning of this debate to the end of it, there was nothing but good will shown to Anglicans with same-sex attractions. Their full membership and inclusion in the Church, which derives from baptism, was simply not at issue.

Our condition as a Church and Communion remains grave. The doctors quarrel among themselves. We agree on neither diagnosis nor cure. Can the doctrine of Christ be separated like a yolk from its egg? Perhaps on our knees, in fear and trembling, in a theological environment galaxies away from the aridities of this present generation, but surely not by a vote of hands in a political forum.

The full letter is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Two Canadian Anglican parishes offer same-sex ceremonies

The dust has barely settled and already, different interpretations of the decisions General Synod made last month about human sexuality have led one parish to publicly offer blessings to same-gender unions, and another to say that it would not deny a parishioner’s request for a same-sex marriage.

During its seven-day meeting in Winnipeg, the church’s highest governing body approved a resolution saying that same-sex blessings are “not in conflict” with the church’s core doctrine but defeated another that would have given dioceses the power to offer them in churches.

There is enough ambiguity in those decisions that it is left open to dioceses and churches to offer same-sex blessings, said Rev. Jim Ferry, who was fired for being involved in a homosexual relationship in 1991. He has since been given some duties at Holy Trinity church in downtown Toronto.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Saskatchewan: Theologian argues House of Bishops' statement contradicts doctrine of Eucharist

A kind reader e-mailed us the link to a new entry on the diocese of Saskatchewan website. It is a letter to the Canadian House of Bishops concerning its statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples in response to the Canadian General Synod’s call for further theological reflection on these matters.

Here’s how the diocese of Saskatchewan website introduces the letter:

In a letter that is likely to lead to calls for review within the House of Bishops of its April Statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples, theologian John Hodgins argues that celebrating Holy Communion for civilly married same-sex couples, while withholding a nuptial blessing, severs and undermines the unity of the Eucharist. Fr. Hodgins’ courteous letter is exceptional both for the force of its argument and its impartiality regarding the same-sex issue. His concern is with the nature of the Church.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

In time, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and over centuries, the official role of solemnization and recording of vows was assumed by the Church in many places. The Celebration of Marriage was instituted as “a public service of the Church” (BAS p. 526). For the first half of Christian history, however, many contend that the only blessing of Christian marriage and other relationships of professing Christians (holy orders, religious life, etc) was in the context of the Mass.

For good reason, only those committed to Christ in faith would celebrate their professions or states of life at the Eucharist with the clear understanding that only that which was inherently blessed by God and in conformity with sacred Scripture and tradition was to be celebrated in the Sacrament of Unity. Christ is the Sacrament of God. In the Holy Eucharist we share communion in Christ’s life and blessing. This is the single and unified source of liturgical blessing in the Christian community. No blessing may be added which is not inherently present within the dominical Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The suggestion that a further blessing may be added or withheld from those in a civil union or other relationship, apart from the blessing that is inherent in the Holy Eucharist, is to confuse the issue and to detract from Christ’s unique blessing. To presume that a bishop or priest might somehow add to the Sacrament or withhold pronouncing God’s blessing upon any person, state or relationship beyond what is celebrated in the Eucharist is to suggest a development of doctrine which is not within the jurisdiction of any single body of Christians.

As John W.B. Hill has pointed out in his essay, A Theology of Blessing and Liturgies of Blessing, “The mere pronouncement of a blessing can be seriously misunderstood if we forget that we are a eucharistic people. Blessing is not a power we wield but a gift we celebrate.” To be theologically consistent, then, the blessing of God celebrated in the context of the Holy Eucharist is complete. No other blessing may be added or withheld.

In summary: Provision for a celebration of relationships which presumes or indicates that the Holy Eucharist is lacking in some way and so may allow for or require a further blessing by a priest or bishop is fundamentally contrary to the received teaching of the Church. Such a provision inherently undermines the doctrine of the Church with regard to Sacrament. The concept of ”˜blessing’ as set apart from or in addition to the expression of God’s love and friendship in the Holy Eucharist contradicts the nature of the Sacrament.

The notion of an additional blessing pronounced or withheld apart from the Eucharist celebrating a relationship is not in conformity with the formularies of the Church. For example, the BCP and BAS both allow for the celebration and blessing of a marriage outside of the Eucharist but the BAS rubric clearly states that “Where both bride and bridegroom are entitled to receive communion, it is desirable that the form of service in which the marriage rite is incorporated in the celebration of the eucharist be used.” (BAS p. 527). There is no provision, however, for the celebration of the Marriage Eucharist which precludes the blessing of the relationship because blessing is inherent within the Eucharist. To sever or undermine the unity of Eucharist and blessing contradicts the very nature of the Eucharist which is the fullest expression of God’s blessing.

In fact, Eucharistic celebrations of the sort proposed in the Statement would easily be misunderstood as attempting to do indirectly what has not been approved. At the same time, withholding a blessing, would indicate that such an extraordinary blessing (outside of the Eucharistic celebration) is in some way superior to, or in addition to the singular blessing of God in Christ which is celebrated most completely in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

For these reasons I respectfully request that the instructions for the celebration of the Eucharist for civil unions or other relationships in the Statement to General Synod (2007) be withdrawn.

John L. Hodgins
Chatham , Ontario

You can read the full letter here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali speaks out about Canadian Synod decision

From this morning’s perusal of Anglican Mainstream, we find this.

“Marriage is to do with the church’s relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?” Nazir Ali

At the fourth Chavasse Lecture at Wycliffe Hall on July 4, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester responded to a question about the recent motion at the Canadian General Synod.

Q. Can you comment on the motion that the Canadian General Synod has passed asserting that blessing of same-sex relationships is not a matter of core doctrine?

A. First, the Book of Genesis affirms that humanity is made in God’s image, male and female together, and is given a common mission which they fulfil in distinctive ways. As Karl Barth said, this makes marriage and the family the most visible sign of that image.

Secondly this is clarified further in the teaching of Jesus. Mark 10 1-9 (“The two will become one flesh”) is set as the gospel for the wedding service, and when I preached at wedding services in Pakistan many Muslim women used to come to enquire further about it as they had never heard about this way in which the relationship between men and women is ordered.

Thirdly, Ephesians 5.32 (“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church”) is the only place where the word ”˜sacrament’ which is the translation of the Greek word ”˜mysterion’, is used in the New Testament. It affirms that marriage is a sacrament of Christ and the church. Fundamentally this is to do with the Church’s relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Same-sex questions still vex Canadian Synod

The motion for further study and conversation was passed by clergy and laity, 129 to 99 and by the bishops, 19 to 17.

“This provides a way for this badly-divided church to dialogue about these important matters,” said Martin Taylor of the diocese of Montreal. George Power of British Columbia said, “What I heard (on the permission issue) was not a ”˜no,’ but a ”˜not yet but very soon.’ This will encourage people who are opposed and need to start a process of discussion.”

“We are asking to develop a process to engage the church,” said Bishop Cowan, who said the conversation must include human sexuality as a whole.

Opponents said the church has already produced many studies on the topic in the last 30 years. “We don’t need another study on human sexuality. There are libraries on this topic. We need people to read them,” said Bishop Ingham, who added that the theological commission was intended to “stimulate theological thinking,” not be a “theological watchdog.”

Among other motions touching on the issue, synod also defeated calls that the issue be decided by a greater margin than usual ”“ 60 per cent or 66 per cent. The usual synod rule ”“ a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one ”“ applied, although a tie would have defeated a motion. The addition of a “conscience clause” that would have protected clergy and parishes who do not agree with same-sex blessings was also defeated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Stephen Andrews on the Canadian General Synod: Why patience is required yet again

Well this is the second time we have found ourselves in this predicament. Three years ago the General Synod said that the doctrinal status of the blessing of same-sex unions needed further discussion and then affirmed the sanctity of same-sex relationships. Now the synod avows that the blessing of same-sex unions is not a matter of creedal doctrine and yet defeats a motion authorizing it. It is no wonder so many are confused by the church’s stance; indeed, not a few are angry that we have failed to give an unequivocal yes or no to this vexing issue.

The anxiety people are now feeling in the wake of Winnipeg is part of the roller-coaster ride of being a Canadian Anglican these days. We get ramped up for the next significant ecclesiastical event, in the hopes that a General Synod or a Lambeth Conference will put us out of our misery by declaring that our differences are irreconcilable, and then we are plunged into disappointment when we discover that the church is susceptible to timidity and muddleheadedness. Why are we so inconsistent? Why do our beliefs and actions so often contradict each another?

Political pundits will have their cynical answers to these questions, but I want to try to be generous and charitable. I think that we are genuinely perplexed about these matters, and that the plea for more time to study them was in earnest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

A Roundup of Canadian General Synod Legislation

Peter, from the Age to Come blog, who provided such wonderful service live-blogging the Canadian General Synod for the Essentials blog, continues his excellent work re: the Canadian Synod.

His latest post at Age to Come is a roundup of the Canadian Synod resolutions with brief commentary. Most of the attention here and other US-based Anglican blogs was on two resolutions. So, give Peter’s roundup a quick perusal to see what else happened.

Here are two items that caught our attention:

A224
House of Bishops Statement on Pastoral Care of Same-Sex Couples

PASSED

The pertinent part of the pastoral response is as follows:

We are committed, as bishops in Canada, to develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church. We offer the following examples of possible pastoral responses:
When a civilly married gay or lesbian couple seeks our church’s reception of their civil marriage and asks their parish’s recognition, it may be possible, with their bishop’s knowledge and permission, to celebrate a Eucharist with the couple, including appropriate intercessory prayers, but not including a nuptial blessing.
When a gay or lesbian married or committed couple seeks to hold a reception or celebration in a church for their life in Christ, again intercessory prayers for their mutual fidelity, the deepening of their discipleship and for their baptismal ministry may be offered, not including the exchange of vows and/or a nuptial blessing.

My question is whether this assumes the answer to the question of ”˜a gay or lesbian married or committed couple’ in a pastoral form? I.e., if it was assumed that these relationships were contrary to Gods purposes then the pastoral response would take different form.

A190
ACC-13 Resolution 4

The intent of this motion was to deny the Primates membership in the ACC, and was passed quite easily. Again, perhaps last day fatigue setting in.

The Primates are not known for being favourable to the ACC ”˜new thing’, and as such the ACC as a whole is not favourable to the Primates. Hence, the resolution refusing to ratify their membership in the ACC (2/3 of provinces have to ratify for the change in membership to be effective).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

More Canadian Bishops Letters

Earlier today we posted Bp. Terry Buckle’s (Yukon) clergy letter in response to the Canadian General Synod. One of our commenters very helpfully let us know that Felix Hominum blog is tracking other bishops’ statements.

Here’s the link: http://joewalker.blogs.com/felixhominum/2007/06/victoria-matthe.html

Bishop letters are posted for:
+ Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Edmonton
+Colin Johnson, Bishop of Toronto,
+Derek Hoskin, Bishop of Calgary,

Great work Joe. Thank you.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Archbishop Terry Buckle’s letter to Yukon clergy

Scott at Magic Statistics blog has the full text of Abp. Terry Buckle’s post-General Synod letter to Yukon clergy. Here’s an excerpt:

There were resolutions dealing with the blessing of same sex unions. These resolutions brought about much debate from General Synod Delegates. A resolution was passed that stated:

“That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine, in the sense of being creedal, of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

However a resolution failed to be passed which stated:

“That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions.”

Another resolution coming out of this discussion was passed in relation to the Marriage Canon of our church. This resolution as passed states:

“That this General Synod request the Council of General Synod to consider a revision of Canon 21 (On Marriage) including theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons and to report back to General Synod 2010.”

The passing of these resolutions has now affirmed that the blessing of committed same sex unions is doctrine but not in conflict with the core or creedal doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada. This means that the blessing of committed same sex unions is considered doctrine of importance but not of the greater importance of creedal (core) doctrine: (Like the Divinity of Christ for example)

The above mentioned resolution that failed to pass has prohibited dioceses from proceeding at this time with the blessing of same sex unions.

The passing of the resolution on the revision of Canon 21 on Marriage has requested the Council of General Synod to consider a revision of the Marriage Canon and to provide a theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons. The Council of General Synod is to report back to General Synod 2010.

The resulting consequence of the voting results of these resolutions leaves many with a sense of confusion and uncertainty as we seek to keep together and work together as a church over the next three years until General Synod 2010. Our church is hurting, it feels torn, people are weary of the matter and in the days ahead we will see how the rest of the Anglican Communion reacts to these resolutions of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Read the full letter at Magic Statistics

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

One Reaction to the Anglican Church of Canada Decision from Halifax

From the Halifax Daily News:

A Halifax reverend is disappointed the Anglican church continues to shy away from blessing same-sex unions.

Rev. Malachy Egan of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Spryfield said the Anglican church is a den of hypocrisy. “The Anglican church, in my opinion,” he said, “is very much a gay church.”

Last weekend, bishops, clergy and laity of the Anglican Church of Canada gathered in Winnipeg for a General Synod, part of which included a vote on the blessing of same-sex unions within the church.

The allowance of such blessings was lost by two votes, a decision that will not be revisited for another three years.

Rread it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishops discuss fallout from same-sex vote at General Synod

They also reviewed their statement from their most recent meeting, last April, which said that the bishops “hope” that the sacraments of baptism, communion and confirmation would not be denied due to sexual orientation. Several bishops said they received criticism over the use of the word “hope” and the word should be stronger. However, they decided not to begin editing their statement and agreed each bishop could issue statements to their clergy that more strongly-worded. Some bishops have already done so.

The statement also urged bishops “to develop the most generous pastoral response possible (to same-sex couples) within the current teaching of the church” then cited such examples as celebrating a eucharist with a civilly-married gay couple; they may not perform a nuptial blessing.

“I have no problem with a ”˜generous pastoral response’ but I don’t and cannot accept homosexual behavior,” said suffragan bishop Larry Robertson of the Arctic. “What got missed is people who are same-sex attracted but choose not to pursue it. They feel totally left out and misunderstood,” said Archbishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon.

However, Bishop Burton said that “part of what bishops do” is “respond pastorally to different situations.”

Read it all/.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

An Anglican Essentials Wrap up of the Canadian General Synod

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007