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The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality

2007-NOV: Niagara diocese approved same-sex blessing

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The topic is a continuation from a prior essay

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2007-NOV-17: Niagara diocese approves blessing of same-sex couples:

Three years previously, on 2004-NOV-18, the priests and laity in the synod voted to allow same-sex blessings. The vote was more than 2 to 1 in favor (213 votes to 106). The motion would have given priests: "permission to exercise their discretion in blessing the relationship of gay or lesbian couples who have been married civilly" after their congregations applied for permission from the bishop. Bishop Ralph Spence later vetoed that motion. 2

The issue was revisited by the diocese of Niagara in their 2007-NOV meeting at the convention centre in Hamilton, ON. This time, the vote was over 4 to 1 in favor (239 in favor, 53 opposed; two abstained). Bishop Spence consulted with Lambeth Palace (the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), the Canadian primate (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) and his successor, Bishop Michael Bird, who takes office on 2008-MAR-01. Bishop Spence gave his assent to the resolution.

A blessing would only be done if:

bulletThe couple is married;

bulletAt least one of the couple has been baptized; and

bulletOnly if the priest agrees.

Bishop Spence said:

"The question has been asked, 'Where do we go from here?' Much consultation will take place When and how this will be implemented will be dealt with in the days that lie ahead. We are aware of the votes ramifications.

During an interview, he said:

"I am very proud that Niagara is taking a leadership role in asking the Canadian church to move forward on this issue, mindful that we are doing it in a respectful way."

Niagara has thus followed a decision by the diocese of New Westminster (in Vancouver BC), in blessing same sex couples. As of 2007-NOV. the resolutions passed by dioceses in Ottawa and Montreal are in limbo, pending a decision by their bishops to either accept or veto them.

Reactions were varied from members of the Niagara Synod. As in other times and places, those in support of the resolution stressed the general biblical principles of love and justice; those opposed stressed the literal interpretation of six clobber passages in the Bible that have been traditionally interpreted as condemning same-gender sexual behavior.

bulletKarin Davidson-Taylor said: "All are welcome at the table of the Lord."

bulletCanon Charles Masters said: " Our diocese has taken a momentous step away from the (worldwide) Anglican Communion and the request of the primates (national archbishops). I grieve this as a member of this diocese and someone who is standing with other biblically-faithful members of the diocese."


Anne Cornish said: "We are talking about the people who sit beside us on Sunday morning. Dont force me to go back our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and say, No, not this time'."


Larry Dunlop said: "Jesus blessed sinners; he never blessed the sin."


Rev. Tim Morgan said: "Lets look beyond what happens in the bedroom. Its about love."


Rick Minion said: "Christ called us to go into the world, but not become part of the world the blessing of same-sex unions is not of God." 3

The Anglican Network in Canada, a conservative issued a statement saying it was "hurt and distressed" by Niagaras move. Mr. Masters, spokesperson for the Network said the decision shows the need for the network's "Building on the Solid Rock" conference scheduled for Nov. 22-23. Their web site states that it is a "pivotal conference", and "a historical national meeting." will provide "a substantive option for biblically-faithful Canadian Anglicans." Marilyn Jacobson, the Network's communications spokesperson issued a news release on NOV-17 stating, in part:

"The Anglican Network in Canada stands with the millions of Anglicans in Canada and throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion who are hurt and distressed by the decision of the Niagara Synod and Bishop to proceed at a time of the bishops choosing with the blessing of [existing] same-sex marriages. The Ottawa and Montreal Synods approved similar motions in October but their bishops have withheld consent to proceed."

" 'We are grieved that the synod and bishops of Niagara have chosen to walk away from centuries of Christian teaching and defy the consensus within the Anglican Communion,' says the Right Reverend Donald Harvey, Moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada. 'There is clearly a growing momentum within the Anglican Church of Canada to ignore biblical teaching, disregard the views of the global Church, and even ignore the principles upon which the Canadian Church was founded. These actions have 'torn the fabric' of the Communion at its deepest level just as the Primates warned in October 2003'."

"By proceeding with these decisions to bless civilly married same-sex couples, the Diocese of Niagara is separating itself from the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide and deepening the divide within the Anglican Church of Canada and the global Communion. ..." 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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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. Marites Sison, "Ottawa synod followed process, says primate," Anglican Journal, 2007-OCT-18, at:
  2. "Niagara synod backs blessing of gay unions" Associated Press, 2004-NOV-18, at:
  3. Harvey Shepherd, "Montreal diocese becomes second to urge same-sex blessings," Anglican Journal, 2007-OCT-20, at:
  4. Marilyn Jacobson, "Diocese of Niagara 'walks apart' from Anglican Communion," Anglican Network in Canada, 2007-NOV-17, at:

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Home>Conflict>Homosexuality>Faith groups>Denominations>Anglican Church of Canada>here

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Copyright 2007 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2007-OCT
Latest update: 2012-OCT-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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