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Religious Tolerance logo


Anglican Church of Canada (ACC)

The ACC takes a baby step
towards approval of
same-sex marriages (SSM)

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2019-JUL-12: The Anglican Church of Canada is profoundly divided over Same-sex marriage:

At the ACC's 2016 General Synod meeting delates had voted to pass a motion that would make same-sex marriages routinely available in Anglican churches across Canada. That was not a simple matter to attain, because two-thirds majorities from three groups within the Church had to approve the measure, each wth a two-thirds majority: the laity, clergy, and bishops.

However, voting had to be held on two Synods before the measure would be passed.

The 2019 Synod was held in Vancouver, British Columbia on Canada's West coast. The Laity voted 80.9% in favor; the clergy voted 73.2% but the bishops voted 62.2%. 1 The bishops did not meet the required two-thirds majority!

Following the results of the vote, one of the delegates screamed. One left in tears. Several delegates formally asked if the matter could be revisited.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz terminated the meeting at that point. He said:

"Our children are crying. And many of you are crying, for a variety of reasons. So I think it’s time to adjourn. It’s time to leave this hall in silence. It’s time for you to go and do what you need to do -- to cry, or to gather with delegates from your own diocese, to gather with friends, to gather in circles of prayer, just to try and be attentive to one another."

Meghan Kilty, the ACC's church communication director, said:

"There’s a lot of grief right now among the delegates."

Between the 2016 and 2019 Synods, some individual ACC churches have performed same-sex marriages. There are even clergy in the denomination that are married to same-sex partners. But for at least six more years, the denomination will officially retain marriage inequality in place for same-sex couples.

In spite of the failure of the measure, a significant step towards marriage equality was attained in the 2019 General Synod: A document titled "A Word to the Church" was adopted by the Synod. It allows individual dioceses to perform same-sex marriages if they wish. Rt. Rev. John Chapman, Bishop of Ottawa, Ontario said that approval of the document was:

"... no small achievement."

The General Synod closed on JUL-16.

Bishop Linda Nicholls has headed the Anglican Diocese of Huron, and was just elected the Primate of the ACC -- its highest position. The diocese extends from Windsor to Manitoulin Island in Ontario. She announced that individual churches in the diocese will be allowed to request permission to perform same sex marriages. She said:

"I felt this was a direction that the church could go. I'm fully aware that there are those who don't agree [with same sex marriage], but I felt there was a need for a pastoral option for our LGBTQ parishioners.

I must say that the agonizing pain of the decision at the general synod and the response I received from many in the Diocese of Huron led me to feel that this was an appropriate time. Secondly, I did not want this issue to be the only issue on the plate as the Diocese of Huron elects its next bishop." 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Megan Briggs, "Anglican Church of Canada’s Approval of Same Sex Marriage Fails," Christian News Now, 2019-JUL-15, at:
  2. Rebecca Zandbergen & Kate Dubinski, "Southwestern Ontario Anglican diocese to allow same-sex marriages: Bishop," CBC News, 2019-JUL-19, at:

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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2019-
Latest update: 2019-
Author: B.A. Robinson
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