The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality
approved same-sex blessing
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
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:
||The couple is married;
||At least one of the couple has been baptized; and
||Only 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 vote’s
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.
||Karin Davidson-Taylor said: "All are welcome at the table of the Lord."
||Canon 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
Anne Cornish said: "We are talking about the people who
sit beside us on Sunday morning. Don’t 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: "Let’s look beyond what happens in
the bedroom. It’s 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 Niagara’s 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 bishop’s 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
This topic continues in the next essay
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Marites Sison, "Ottawa synod followed process, says primate," Anglican
Journal, 2007-OCT-18, at:
"Niagara synod backs blessing of gay unions" Associated Press, 2004-NOV-18,
Harvey Shepherd, "Montreal diocese becomes second to urge same-sex
blessings," Anglican Journal, 2007-OCT-20, at:
Marilyn Jacobson, "Diocese of Niagara 'walks apart' from
Anglican Communion," Anglican Network in Canada, 2007-NOV-17, at:
Copyright © 2007 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Initial posting: 2007-OCT
Latest update: 2012-OCT-17
Author: B.A. Robinson