Sunday, 18 November 2007

Niagara votes on SSBs

The Diocese of Niagara has joined the growing ranks of Canadian dioceses that have voted in favour of same-sex blessings.

The Anglican Journal has the full story in Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples; bishop assents.

The southern Ontario diocese of Niagara, meeting at its annual synod, on Nov. 17 voted to allow civilly-married gay couples, “where at least one party is baptized,” to receive a church blessing.

Bishop Ralph Spence, who had refused to implement a similar vote three years ago, this time gave his assent, making Niagara the third diocese since the June General Synod convention to accept same-sex blessings.

Of the 294 clergy and lay delegates, 239 voted yes, 53 said no and two abstained. In 2003, out of 319 delegates, 213 voted yes and 106 said no.

“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 ramifications,” said Bishop Spence, who also said he has been in consultation in the past week with Lambeth Palace (residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), the Canadian primate (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) and his successor, Bishop Michael Bird, who takes office on March 1. Bishop Spence declined to say whom he had spoken with at Lambeth Palace.

The dioceses of Ottawa and Montreal recently passed similar motions and their bishops have said they will consult widely before deciding whether to implement the decisions. (The Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster has offered blessings since 2002.) Civil marriage has been legal for homosexual couples since 2003…

The bishops issued this pastoral letter following the synod.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 8:30am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Canada
Comments

Slow progress - very slow but here is progress.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 5:04pm GMT

Love them and may God bless them.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 6:04pm GMT

Yes, pluralist.

Their moto must be Festina lente !

Why are these largely heterosexual anglican bodies SO very earnest ?

We're all getting with love and life. Queers have always found ways to celebrate our love and lives, and to support each other.

We aren't desparate for something offered so grudgingly, so slowly and hedged about with so many caveats. ... That's all.

Posted by: L Roberts on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 6:57pm GMT

Bravo! Although I serve in the Diocese of Los Angeles, I was raised in the Diocese of Niagara, a good and beautiful place. So, I am delighted that the good and faithful people and clergy of Niagara have voted by an overwhelming margin to call for SSB's and an appropriate rite. Canada has had legal marriage for same sex couples since 2003, for God's sake. How long should these faithful couples, and those to come , be expected to wait for the hand of Christ's Church in blessing? It is a sad comentary on the Church when the state has to take the moral leadership that the Church might offer. Will we all wait "until the last dog dies", as we say in the west? Shall Canadian Anglicans wait until the Southern Cone agrees? Uganda? Nigeria?

Perhaps we can all wait until the Church slips noisily into oblivion, as it has already done in much of Europe, and for some of the same reasons. The European Churches have become mostly rites of passage Churches, and concert and tourist venues. They managed this over the last few hundred years by deriding reason and science, by failing to be an effective presence among the poor and working class, and by confusing "not changing anything" with the Gospel of the One who came from and sought out the poor, who called for radical personal change in the direction of forgiveness and love, and who saved most of his criticism for those who practiced religious purity and separation, and who barred the way of others to God. Quite an accomplishment, really. The Church managed to turn the Gospel on its head, offering people a Jesus who is little different from those who most opposed him during his life on the planet.

One could argue that some of the parishes in the Diocese of Niagara are just limping along, right now. Some, in my experience, are recovering from the death of social Christianity, which, because of strong British family ties, has lingered a little longer in Canada. That doesn't mean that the only way to grow their churches is to become something that the overwhelming number of Anglicans in Niagara are not.

The parish I serve in California was fast beoming a burial society when the rector and I arrived five years ago. Since then, membership has tripled, the age range is much younger, and giving is way up. How so? We were inspired to offer a rich blend of ancient and contemporay liturgy that was strong on participation. I was inspired by the emergent church movement and the practicing congregations movement to work with our congregation to renew our church. We committed ourselves to hands-on face-to-face support for the poor. We are just beginning. Creative, energetic renewal that transforms parishes is possible and becoming more common among us.

In the meantime, we must deal with the sadness and destruction caused by this deliberate schism on the part of a faction among conservatives in the Church. The religious right in the US has hardened into a dogmatic group that will brook no compromise and who escalate disagreements into issues of ultimate concern. They will take about 5 to 10% of TEC. We will handle this in TEC, whatever the religious right, and the AC do. But I pray for the good an faithful people, especially in my home Church and home Diocese of Niagara , who are about to get a taste of the bitterness yet to come. May God bless the faithful people,clergy and bishops of the Diocese of Niagara. And may God have mercy on us all!

Posted by: revkarenm on Sunday, 18 November 2007 at 8:58pm GMT

Hardly a surprise, given that the same motion passed by nearly as large a margin at the last synod three years ago.

I note with curiosity that the coadjutor, +Michael Bird, is (so far at least) the only bishop out of my graduating class.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 19 November 2007 at 4:03am GMT

We love Canada - what a great country!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 20 November 2007 at 1:25pm GMT

"We love Canada - what a great country!"

Absolutely!

Many of us also love the word of God
Ps 19

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 3:00pm GMT

Oddly enough, NP, most of us in Canada who support the motions passed in Ottawa, Montreal and Niagara also love the word of God -- but we're also inclined to take seriously the fact that the One we're supposed to love is the Word of God, not just a pile of paper with printing on it.

Posted by: John Holding on Thursday, 22 November 2007 at 4:00am GMT
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