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The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and homosexuality

2009: Preparations for the 2010 General Synod

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Earlier activities after the 2007 General Synod were described in a prior essay

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2009-MAY: Council responds to a request from General Synod 2007:

The synod asked the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to discuss both the blessing of same-sex unions, and the marriage of same-sex couples. They were to asked to prepare their recommendations for submission to the General Synod in mid-2010. 1

The CoGS met in Mississauga, ON for three days during early 2009-MAY. The Council focused on three new documents:

  • The Galilee Report 2 was prepared by the Primate's Theological Commission after consulting with dioceses and parishes on:

    • Whether blessing of same-sex unions is a "faithful, Spirit-led development in Christian doctrine," and

    • "Scripture’s witness to the integrity of every human person and the question of the sanctity of human relationships." It is not clear to us exactly what this means.

The chairperson of the Commission, Bishop Linda Nicholls, reported that the group was unable to obtain a consensus on the first question. She said that its members mirrored the rest of the Church. They held "... a diversity of positions on the questions we are facing." However, they were able to reach a consensus on the second point and summarized their conclusions in a one page report.

The Commission posted their report on the Church's website and encouraged individuals and groups to respond by 2009-DEC-01. The latter were incorporated into the CoGS' final report to the 2010 General Synod.

  • Rev. Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, coordinator for dialogue, reported on activity of the faith, worship and ministry committee, to "engage the church in conversation on the broad issue of human sexuality in all of its complexity, using the lenses of scripture, reason, tradition and science." There were two outreaches:

    • Within Canada, local focus groups determined the kinds of problems that the church membership wanted to discuss.

    • An international dialogue was conducted between those Canadian dioceses that have moved towards blessing same-sex unions, and some dioceses in Africa that strongly oppose such blessings. According to Rev. Kawuki-Mukasa, those involved hope that this exchange would help to counteract the "demonization of the other" that tends to happen on matters of human sexuality.

  • The Rothesay Report was prepared by the faith, worship, and ministry committee. They were asked to assemble "a theological rationale to allow for the marriage of all legally qualified persons." The latter phrase was clarified to refer to same-sex couples. Chairperson for the committee, Janet Marshall, noted that the committee has a:

    "... long history of being dedicated to, and invested in, preparing materials on behalf of General Synod to resource the church’s controversial discussions and discernments regarding issues of marriage and sexuality."

    However, some members found it difficult to prepare a rationale for something that they profoundly disagreed with. Some found it difficult to create a rationale for only one side of the argument.

The CoGS issued a written statement titled: "A Word to the Church on Questions of Human Sexuality from the Council of General Synod Meeting, May 2009." 3

It included:

  • ”... a consensus statement that this is not the time to ask General Synod to amend the marriage canon."

  • A recommendation of the Galilee Report to the Church for study. However, they concluded that more work is required to differentiate:

    • Between a blessing and a nuptial blessing.

    • Among marriage, the blessing of a civil marriage, and the blessing of a union.

  • A request for more information on the: "theological significance of blessing the civil marriage of a same-sex couple."

  • A request for an expansion to the Rothesay Report to "include a broader spectrum of theological thought on the question of the marriage of same-sex couples."

Concerning the 2010 General Synod, the CoGS made two decisions:

  • "The Council directs the General Synod Planning Committee to build a listening process into the agenda for General Synod 2010 regarding sexuality, which would include, among other things:
    • the presentation of all the work done in response to the General Synod 2007 resolutions on sexuality, and
    • provision so that dioceses would have an opportunity to share their experience of addressing questions of sexuality in their mission context."

  • "The Council proposes to develop a resolution to go to General Synod that would:
    • affirm the House of Bishops 2007 Guidelines on Pastoral Generosity (as a pastoral response within the context of local mission)
      http://news.anglican.ca/news/stories/1727
    • ask for continued study, discussion and discernment within the church of what God is saying to us about publicly authorized rites for the blessing of unions, the blessing of civil marriages, and marriage in the church, of same-sex couples."

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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. Leigh Anne Williams, "CoGS won’t ask for change to marriage canon in 2010," Anglican Journal, 2009-JUN-01, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  2. "The Galilee Report," Primate’s Theological Commission, Anglican Church of Canada, 2009-JUN-18, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  3. "A Word to the Church on Questions of Human Sexuality from the Council of General Synod May 2009," The Anglican Church of Canada, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  4. Neale Adams, "OPINION: General Synod 2010 has been successful for most, but great challenges remain," Anglican Journal, 2010-JUN-10, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/

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Copyright 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2010-OCT-19
Latest update: 2010-OCT-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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