THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF CANADA AND HOMOSEXUALITY
Events from 1995 to 1999
1995: General Synod:
No progress was made on changing two main policies under contention:
|The ordination of candidates for the ministry who are in same-sex
committed relationships, and |
|Recognizing committed homosexual relationships with a church blessing.
The Synod's Task Force on Homosexuality and Homosexual Relationships
developed a study resource in which over 2,500 people participated. This led to
a report which was studied by the 1995 Synod, which:
|"AGREED to affirm the presence and contributions of gay men and lesbians in the
life of the church and to condemn bigotry, violence and hatred directed toward any due to
their sexual orientation. (A125) |
|AGREED to encourage parishes and dioceses to continue, deepen, extend and adapt the
learning, reflection and dialogue identified by the 'Task Force on Homosexuality and
Homosexual Relationships' (as reflected in Recommendations 1 through 4 of the Task Force
|to encourage parishes and dioceses to give particular attention to the ongoing
dialogue with respect to the issues identified in Recommendation 5 of the Task Force
|to encourage parishes and dioceses to develop plans of action to further the
dialogue as described in the 'Recommendations of the Task Force Report'
|to request the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee to make provision for
leadership to ensure that this process continues at the parish and diocesan levels and
that a report be made at the next General Synod (Recommendation 6). (A126)
|AGREED to request that the Primate continue to encourage dialogue on
"homosexuality and homosexual relationships" throughout the church. (A127)
|AGREED to request the House of Bishops to indicate whether it is currently reviewing
or intends to review its 1979 Statement and Guidelines on Human Sexuality (reaffirmed in
1996-FEB: Statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
Desmond Tutu is the Anglican Archbishop of South Africa. On the topic of
homophobia, he wrote a foreword to a book of homosexual church liturgies which was published in 1996-JAN.
1 He writes that "We reject them [homosexuals], treat them as pariahs, and
push them outside our church communities, and thereby we negate the consequences of their
baptism and ours. We make them doubt that they are the children of God, and this must be
nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for something that is becoming increasingly
clear they can do little about."
In 1996-FEB, he became the highest-ranking priest in the Anglican communion
to suggest that non-celibate homosexuals be allowed to become priests.
1996: Human rights legislation:
Since 1979, the Anglican Church has been publicly urging the Canadian Federal
Government to amend Canada's human rights laws to extend equal protection
against discrimination to gays and lesbians. This of course would not include
treatment of homosexuals within the denomination. In 1996, both the United and
Anglican Churches supported human rights legislation proposed by the Government. An
overwhelming percentage of members of parliament passed the legislation in
mid-1996 in spite of an intense campaign mounted by conservative Christian denominations.
This was a free vote in which the MPs could vote according to their conscience
rather than be restricted by party discipline.
1997: General Synod:
The Synod approved a resolution that authorizes individual dioceses to offer
health insurance benefits to domestic partners of clergy and church employees,
both heterosexual and homosexual. The Episcopal church in the US also passed a
similar resolution in 1997.
The House of Bishops voted to "update the 1979 guidelines,
while retaining their original intent." 2
Partial reinstatement of Rev. Jim Ferry (1998)
Bishop Finlay agreed to review Ferry's status on a yearly basis. In the
spring of 1998, he partially reinstated Ferry, allowing him to preach and
occasionally celebrate the Eucharist at Holy Trinity Church in Toronto. It is a
church with many gay members. Ferry's license has not been restored. He
continues to work as a freelance human rights advisor to psychiatric patients.
A total of 4 priests and deacons were inhibited at Holy Trinity: Deacons
Alison Kemper and Joyce Barnett, and Rev. Meredity Hill and Jim Ferry.
In 1995, Bishop Finlay had arranged that Integrity (a support group of gay
and lesbian Anglicans who promote equality for persons of all sexual
orientations within the church) meet with Fidelity (a group of conservative
Anglicans who wish to preserve past traditions of only allowing homosexual
priests who are celibate). They have published a statement called "Emerging Common Ground"
in which they describe their joint commitment to the church, and the beliefs
that they hold in practice.
1998-JUN: Motion to bless same-sex unions passed BC diocese:
The Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia narrowly
approved a motion to ask Bishop Michael Ingham to authorize the blessing of
same-sex unions within the diocese. The vote was 51% in favor (179 to 170).
He refused, citing the need for a greater agreement in the diocese.
1998: General Synod affirmed rejection of same-sex unions:
A general revision of the 1979 guidelines was confirmed. These include
the rejection of the blessing of same-sex unions.
1998-JUL-19 to AUG-9: Lambeth
This is a meeting of bishops from all of the national churches of the
Anglican communion, representing about 80 million Anglicans. It is held in the
UK every ten years. One of a series of resolutions on the topic of "Called to
full humanity" dealt with human sexuality. It stated, in part: "This
|(b) in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in
marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that
abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;|
|(c) recognises that there are among us persons who experience
themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members
of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the
Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and
the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the
experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they
are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons,
regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of
|(d) while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with
Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and
sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn
irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any
trivialisation and commercialisation of sex; |
|(e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions
nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions; " 3|
- Marilyn B. Alexander, James Preston, "We Were Baptized Too: Claiming God's Grace
for Lesbians and Gays", Westminster John Knox Press, (1996) ISBN
- "Article:," The Anglican Communion on New Westminster, at:
- "Resolution I.10: Human Sexuality," at:
Copyright � 1999 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2006-OCT-03
Author: B.A. Robinson