Thursday, 9 January 2014

Canadian church considers change to marriage canon

The Anglican Journal reports: Marriage canon commission members announced:

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, today announced the appointment of the members of a commission that will carry out a broad consultation about changing the marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage.

Canon Robert Falby, chancellor of the diocese of Toronto and former prolocutor of General Synod, will chair the eight-member commission. The other members are: Dr. Patricia Bays, Dean Kevin Dixon, the Rev. Dr. Paul Friesen, Canon Paul Jennings, Dr. Stephen Martin, Bishop Linda Nicholls and Archbishop John Privett.

In July 2013, General Synod—the church’s governing body—enacted Resolution C003, which will bring a motion concerning same-sex marriage to its next meeting in 2016. The resolution asked Council of General Synod (CoGS) to prepare and present a motion to change the church’s Canon 21 on marriage “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples.” It also asked that this motion include “a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in our authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.”

The resolution also directs that there be a broad consultation about the preparation of the motion. At its fall meeting, CoGS passed a motion to establish a commission on the marriage canon to carry out the consultation. At the meeting, Hiltz said membership of the commission would reflect “a diversity of theological perspective.”

More detail on the members of the commission can be found in this file and the full text of the commission’s terms of reference is available here.

The “broad consultation” referred to is also discussed in another news report, Anglicans, Roman Catholics ‘committed to dialogue’.

The detailed wording of the original General Synod resolution came about as the result of a substantial amendment which can be seen marked in green in this report.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 1:41pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

The United Church of Canada has been destroyed by allowing the gay and lesbian GLBT weddings, many, many parishioners have left the church and dozens of United Churches have closed. Think twice before allowing the gay and lesbian weddings to take place in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Posted by: dave on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 5:07pm GMT

Yes! This is the way to do it. No special liturgies, no tortured carve-outs & exceptions. Just ***one marriage canon for all***. Maranatha!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 7:04pm GMT

@Dave: The version I heard said it all went downhill for the United Church when they let the Presbyterians in.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 8:29pm GMT

Go Canada!!! Thank you for leading the way in justice and inclusion and recognizing all as created in the image of God. Thank you for your courage to shed ancient bigotries that masquerade as religion. Thank you, thank you.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 11:22pm GMT

"The United Church of Canada has been destroyed"

Reports of its death a greatly exaggerated, at least where I live in the summer. But one way or the other, any significant change always means a momentary drop in numbers as the old guard (that guard which has never been young?) leave rather than change or learn or accept the formerly rejected. If the message is solid, the young will steadily replace them, as has happened in my Episcopal church in Seattle.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 11:30pm GMT

The United Church was originally a union of Methodists, presbyterians and Congregationalists. It is like all liberal Protestant denominations declining.

Interesting to see that a woman bishop is co-chair of the local ARCIC. Shows that Vatican threats about women bishops are (were) empty handed.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 10 January 2014 at 2:16am GMT

Randal: (most of) the Presbyterian Church in Canada was one of the four founding denominations of the United Church of Canada, along with the Methodists, Congregationalists, and "Local Union" churches (a Prairie-based coalition of Christians from all three traditions, plus a smattering of evangelical Anglicans and moderate Baptists, who could not afford to wait for a merger in their resource-strapped and over-churched communities). A minority (about one-third) continued as the Presbyterian Church in Canada and eventually won the right to use its name, but at no time was there a United Church without Presbyterians. Indeed, presbyterian polity is built into its formularies (mixed with congregational).

As for its policies on sexual orientation, one (very liberal) priest of my acquaintance points to the United Church as the example of how _not_ to go about implementing inclusion. Because of its bent toward congregational autonomy, General Council can (as a United Church classmate at seminary explained to us) afford to make high-minded pronouncements on principle, but only because congregations are then free to proceed to ignore them. For my priest friend's part, she feared that this left gay and lesbian congregants in the lurch. In a polity which rests on ministerial settlement, bold declarations that the ministry is open to people of all sexual orientations "in principle" are cold comfort to a candidate who cannot find a congregation which adheres to the denomination's notional stance.

Pace Cynthia, I am not about to start congratulating my church for "leading the way" (riding as we have done on the coattails of the United Church and even our own American cousins). But the corollary of that is that when at last the Anglican Church of Canada does take action, it will be because there really is critical mass in all three orders with the will for it.

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 10 January 2014 at 5:12am GMT

This is the way it will be in all the churches - sooner or later ...

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Friday, 10 January 2014 at 4:07pm GMT

"Pace Cynthia, I am not about to start congratulating my church for "leading the way" (riding as we have done on the coattails of the United Church and even our own American cousins)."

Thanks Geoff, but TECUSA nationally doesn't have equal access to the sacrament of marriage. Some dioceses have gone ahead in states where there is legal marriage equality. As far as I can tell, the timetable for TEC and Canada is roughly the same, Canada might be a little ahead… Close enough to refrain from declaring "firsts." It gives me the impression of a lot of Anglicans responding to the movement of the spirit, in all three orders, in both countries.

I see the problem you describe with the United Church. I note however that TEC parishes and dioceses have a fair amount of autonomy, calling our rectors and electing our bishops. Typically this has created a lot of open and affirming parishes in cities, and likely more of a mix in suburban and rural areas. Which means that a lot of people, but not all, are spiritually nourished in their comfort zone.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 10 January 2014 at 7:59pm GMT

Obviously if a Diocese or Bishop demur from heading in this direction--as +Hiltz says is possible--they will not do so on the basis of 'conscience' primarily, but on the basis of scripture and theological conclusion (faithfulness to the vows they took). Perhaps that is what +Hiltz means by use of the term. In TEC one has heard progressives speak of 'conscience' when it comes to individual priests doing this or that. It is important to note that in this case, +Hiltz refers to Bishops and Dioceses and not individuals.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 2:09pm GMT

"Thanks Geoff, but TECUSA nationally doesn't have equal access to the sacrament of marriage"

I was thinking in terms of sexuality issues as a whole, but even in terms of marriage equality specifically, "Some dioceses" is more than none! You can be sure we would not be in a place of having this commission if the American church had not acted decisively and repeatedly toward parity between heterosexual and queer members of the Church.

Posted by: Geoff on Sunday, 12 January 2014 at 2:50am GMT

OH! Canada! What a bright, encouraging throught: that the AC of C can open up the possibility of the church actually blessing a Same-Sex relationship. I'm pretty sure our Loving God is keen on monogamy of Gays as well as Straights. GO! Canada!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 13 January 2014 at 8:31am GMT
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