2007-JUN-23: Saturday: The 300 kg gorilla and procedural matters:
This was the first full day of debate on the same-sex blessing issue.
Delegates were finally able to directly discuss the 300 kg gorilla at the Synod
for the first time. The plenary hall was full; about 50 more spectators were
present than normal.
A two and a-half hour discussion session began the session:
Dorothy Davies-Flindall of the diocese of Ontario said:
"I have to come to accept that some people are ordered toward the same
gender. The church needs to adjust its views. It has excluded them for too
Shara Golden of Fredericton said: "We do have same-sex
[civil] marriage today, but we need more time to talk."
Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa of Toronto said "In
my home country of Uganda, it is a matter of life and death for [gay
What we decide here will have a huge impact half a world away.
[Voting yes] would offer a gleam of hope to these people."
Bishop Larry Robertson of the Arctic said: "Homosexual
behavior is not in line with Scripture of my prayer book. We can call it
sin. My desire is for people to be whole and come back into line with Godís
Jean Hamilton of the diocese of Fredericton said:
"Same-sex attraction can be changed and reversed."
Archdeacon Dennis Drainville of the diocese of Quebec
said: "We must begin to accept a profound policy of inclusion. If we are to
speak to the world, it will be because we open the doors."
Canon Kimberley Beard of the diocese of Toronto said: "I see division and a
house divided against itself cannot stand. The Windsor Report calls for a
moratorium on blessing same-sex unions."
Ron Stevenson of the diocese of Fredericton said: "I
remember when acts of same-gender intimacy were criminal offenses punishable
by prison terms. I hope to live long enough to see the church become Godís
agent to bless same-sex couples."
Sheila Vanderputten of the diocese of Calgary said: "Holy Scripture is the
foundation of my life. I have to vote not to accept same-sex blessings in spite
of all the pain."
Archdeacon Bruce Bryant-Scott of the diocese of British Columbia said: "I
think itís time. We are not going to be any wiser for waiting."
A series of motions were rejected by the delegates during the evening
One would have required resolutions sent to it by the Council of
General Synod on same-sex blessings to be passed only if they received 60% of the vote instead of
the usual 50%.
Another would have required two-thirds majority vote at two successive
Another would have required a secret ballot.
A final motion would have avoided making a decision at this Synod by referring the same-sex blessing
issue back to the Primate's Theological Commission for still more study.
Some delegates commented on changing the voting from a
Archdeacon Vicars Hodge of the diocese of Fredericton
said: "It ought to be decided at that higher standard. The wellbeing of our
church is gravely threatened."
Sheila Vanderputten of Calgary said: "This is an issue
that may rend us asunder. We need to give this full weight."
Rev. Richard Leggett of New Westminster said: "Itís
changing the rules. Whether we vote by 50 plus one, 60 or 67 per cent, there
will be people who are not happy."
Archdeacon Lynne Corfield of Niagara said: "The world is
looking for leadership from us. We donít need this amendment to make it more
When the smoke cleared, the resolutions would be decided at this Synod by a
simple majority vote.
The Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, halted discussion on the blessing
of same-sex unions at 9 PM, even though at least sixteen
delegates still wanted to speak. The motion being discussed at the time was "that
General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict
with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada." A motion from the
floor to alter the agenda and continue debate was defeated. Discussion will
continue on JUN-24.
Resolution A186 was passed with a minor modification. It states: "That this
General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict
with the core doctrine (in the sense of being credal) of the Anglican Church of
The clergy and laity voted 152 for and 97 against. The house of bishops voted
21 for and 19 against. 3
The church door was slammed in the face of
same-sex couples when the key resolution was approved by comfortable
margins by both lay and clergy delegates but rejected by the bishops.
Clergy voted 63 to 53 in favor; lay delegates voted 78 to 59 in favor.
But the House of Bishops voted narrowly against the motion: 21 to 19.
Since motions require approval by each of the three orders, it did not
The resolution read:
"That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of
any diocesan synod,
1. with the concurrence of the diocesan bishop, and
2. in a manner which respects the conscience of the incumbent and
will of the parish,
to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions."
Loving, committed same-sex couples will continue to have their
relationship unrecognized by the Church until at least the next General
Synod in 2010. 4
An Anglican Church of Canada video "Synod on
Demand" for Sunday, 2007-JUN-24
Delegates authorize more studies:
The final action taken by delegates to the General Synod was
passed by a narrow margin. It would ask the Primate's Theological Commission
to determine "whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful,
Spirit-led development of Christian doctrine."
An amendment by Bishop James Cowan of British Columbia expanded the commission's mandate to
include "Christian sexuality through the lens of Scripture, reason and
tradition in the light of current scientific understanding." The
motion was passed by the clergy and laity 129 to 99, and by the bishops 19 to
Martin Taylor of the diocese of Montreal said: "This provides a way for this
badly-divided church to dialogue about these important matters. What I heard
yesterday (June 24) was not a 'no,' but a 'not yet, but very soon'."
George Power of British Columbia said: "This will encourage people who are
opposed and need to start a process of discussion,"
Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster said: "We donít need another study
on human sexuality. There are libraries on this topic. We need people to
read them." 5
The Synod also approved a resolution that calls on
Council of General Synod (CoGS) to consider revising the church canon law on
marriage to allow "marriage of all legally qualified persons." Since
civil marriage became available for all adult Canadian same-sex couples in
mid-2005, such a change would allow such couples to be treated as full members
of the Anglican Church of Canada and be permitted to marry in church. 5
Resolution B001 withdrawn?
There are rumors that
Resolution B001 was withdrawn on JUN-25. It would have stated that the
General Synod affirmed the present practice of blessing same-sex relationships
in some of the parishes of New Westminster diocese.
We have a policy of attempting to remain objective. These are my personal
feelings, and lack objectivity.
My belief is that this is the worst possible outcome. The Anglican Church
of Canada is paralyzed for three years until the next Synod. Its bishops are
out of touch with the wishes of its laity and priests. The Episcopal Church, USA
must now stand alone among the provinces of the Anglican Communion in its wish
The Anglican Church of Canada will be a far less welcome place for any
youth and young adults who are considering becoming members. However, many
people like myself (heterosexual, 70 years-of-age) will find the church more
Once more, homosexuals and bisexuals -- particularly those in loving
committed relationships -- have had the church door slammed in their face, as
their beloved denomination continues to consider them as second-class members,
and considers their relationships non-existent.
Still, the handwriting is on the wall. Same-sex relationships will be blessed
by the 2010 Synod; if not then, then in 2013. Allowing same-sex marriage is
inevitable, although that might not materialize until the 2020s.
But how much better it would have been if the Anglican Church had chosen to
be moral and ethical leaders rather than followers.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.