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Events from 1995 to 1999

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See also coverage of the developments in the New Westminster diocese.

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1995: General Synod:

No progress was made on changing two main policies under contention:

bullet The ordination of candidates for the ministry who are in same-sex committed relationships, and
bullet 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:
bullet "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)
bullet 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 Report);
bullet 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 Report
bullet to encourage parishes and dioceses to develop plans of action to further the dialogue as described in the 'Recommendations of the Task Force Report'
bullet 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)
bullet AGREED to request that the Primate continue to encourage dialogue on "homosexuality and homosexual relationships" throughout the church. (A127)
bullet 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 1991). (A128A)"

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1998-JUL-19 to AUG-9: Lambeth Conference:

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 Conference

bullet (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;
bullet (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 Christ;
bullet (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;
bullet (e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions; 3

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  1. Marilyn B. Alexander, James Preston, "We Were Baptized Too: Claiming God's Grace for Lesbians and Gays", Westminster John Knox Press, (1996) ISBN 0664256287
  2. "Article:," The Anglican Communion on New Westminster, at:
  3. "Resolution I.10: Human Sexuality," at:

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Copyright 1999 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-OCT-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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