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The Anglican Church of Canada and homosexuality

General Synod, 2007: Motions & an election

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2006-MAR: Preparations for synod in 2007-JUN:

By a nearly unanimous vote, church leaders voted in March to introduce a resolution at the denomination's June synod in Winnipeg. It states that there are no core Anglican doctrines that prevent the blessing of loving, committed same-sex relationships. To be accepted, the resolution would have to be approved by 60% of the laity and clergy present at the synod. Leaders also decided to put forward a resolution that had been tabled at the previous synod in 2004: it would allow individual dioceses to decide whether or not to bless same-sex unions. However, it would not allow dioceses to actually marry same-sex couples in loving, committed relationships.

Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, said: "It's not going to be an easy time at general synod."

Chris Ambidge, a spokesperson for Anglican gay rights group Integrity Canada, said: "The church needs to come to some sort of decision." 1

Many of the synod delegates are expected to feel torn between a desire to promote equality and inclusiveness within the denomination, and a desire to avoid conflict with the larger Anglican communion -- a conflict between justice and unity.

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2007-JUN-19: The triennial General Synod begins:

The denomination's 38th General Synod was held in the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg, MB. The Synod is the Anglican Church of Canada's chief governing body. More than 400 people, including delegates, partners and staff will attend. The delegates are bishops, clergy and lay persons elected locally in each of the church's 30 dioceses. 2

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the current Primate, is the chairperson of the synod. He is retiring on JUN-22. By tradition, the bishops will nominate candidates to replace the current Primate, but do not participate in the actual election.

Key resolutions appear to be:

bulletA185: "Voting Requirement for Resolutions A186 and A187:"

"Be it resolved: That resolutions A186 and A187 be deemed to have been carried only if they receive the affirmative votes of sixty percent of the members of each Order present and voting, and if a vote by dioceses is requested, only if they receive the affirmative votes of sixty percent of the dioceses whose votes are counted. 3
 

bulletA186: "Blessing of Same Sex Unions - Core Doctrine of ACC:"

"Be it resolved: That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is consistent with the core doctrine of The Anglican Church of Canada." 4

Even if this resolution and A1888 and B001 were passed, the Anglican Church of Canada would still treat its loving, committed same-sex couples as second-class members. The resolutions would impact only the blessings of same-sex unions; they would not permit same-sex couples to be married in Anglican churches.

bulletA188: "Blessing of Same Sex Unions:"

"That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions." 5

bulletA189: "Revision of Canon 21 on Marriage:"

"Be it resolved: That this General Synod request the Council of General Synod to consider a revision of Canon 21 (On Marriage) including theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons and to report back to General Synod 2010." 6
 

bulletB001: "Blessing couples in covenanted same-sex unions:"

"Be it resolved: Notwithstanding any decisions taken by this its 2007 Synod, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada affirms that the present practice of the Synod and Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster in authorizing the blessings of covenanted same-sex unions in eight (8) Parishes of that Diocese shall continue in the Diocese of New Westminster pending further resolution by General Synod."

The authors of the resolution noted:

"The provision of this rite has enabled gay and lesbian people to feel safe, respected, and included in the full life of the church and that the sudden withdrawal of this rite would seriously undermine the progress that has been made."

"In view of the deliberative process leading to a rite of blessing couples in covenanted same-sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster, and the potentially damaging effects if this rite is abruptly withdrawn, and given affirmation ¶12 of the St. Michael Report that 'history … demonstrates that clarity emerges when thought and action occur simultaneously,' the Diocese of New Westminster needs to provide ongoing pastoral care and continuity for its people and parishes within its existing practice." 7

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2007-JUN-21: First skirmish on same-sex issues:

The Anglican Journal Daily reported:

"The first skirmish on same-sex issues took place on June 21 as General Synod defeated an amendment that would have called on dioceses to comply with a moratorium on blessing ceremonies for gay couples.

The vote came on an amendment to a motion to accept the church’s response to the Windsor Report, an international document exploring how the worldwide Anglican Communion can live with disagreements.

Those speaking against the amendment said it would pre-empt the discussion scheduled for later in Synod on whether dioceses should be allowed to offer the blessing ceremonies. Supporters said it would strengthen the church’s response.

Synod then voted to accept the report of the Windsor Report Response Group, which collected opinions from nearly 200 Anglicans from across the country. 8

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2007-JUN-22: The Right Reverend Frederick James Hiltz selected as primate elect:

Archbishop Hutchison has served as the Church's 12th Primate since 2004. He announced his retirement to take effect during the General Synod. This triggered the election of a new Primate.

The bishops nominated four fellow bishops to be the 13th primate:

bulletThe Right Reverend George L.R. Bruce
bulletThe Right Reverend Frederick James Hiltz
bulletThe Right Reverend Dr. Bruce H.W. Howe
bulletThe Right Reverend Victoria Matthews

Voting patterns showed a serious split in the church between those who gave priority to church unity and those who emphasized the importance of inclusiveness and equal justice for all church members, including homosexuals and same-sex couples. The clergy favored a conservative candidate Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Edmonton. The laity favored a liberal, Fred Hiltz, the Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Hiltz was elected as the Primate elect on the final ballot. He will be officially installed in office during the evening of JUN-25. 9,10

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Activities at the 2007 General Synod continue in a second 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. Stuart Laidlaw, "Anglicans facing schism: Bishops in U.S. reject demands to end their support for gay marriages, clergy," Toronto Star, 2007-MAR-22, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  2. "Anglicans prepare to gather in Winnipeg for crucial General Synod," Anglican Church of Canada, 2007-JUN-14, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  3. Resolution A185, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  4. Resolution A186, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  5. Resolution A187, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  6. Resolution A189, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  7. Resolution B001, at: http://www.anglican.ca/
  8. "Windsor amendment defeated," Anglican Journal Daily, Issue 3, 2007-JUN-22, at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/
  9. Stuart Laidlaw, "Torn Anglicans vote 5 times to pick leader," The Toronto Star, 2007-JUN-23, Page A19.
  10. "The Primatial election," General Synod 2007, Anglican Church of Canada, at: http://www.anglican.ca/

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Copyright © 2006 & 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2007-JUN-23
Latest update: 2007-JUN-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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