Friday, 19 December 2014

IASCUFO gives advice to Canadians on marriage policy change

The Anglican Journal reports that an Anglican Communion body urges church not to change marriage policy.

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) has urged the Anglican Church of Canada not to amend its marriage canon (church law) to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, saying such a move would “cause great distress for the Communion as a whole, and for its ecumenical relationships.”

The IASCUFO’s statement came in response to a request from the Canadian church’s Commission on the Marriage Canon for an opinion about proposed changes to Canon 21 that would allow for same-sex marriages. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, decided IASCUFO would be the “most appropriate” body within the Communion to deal with such a question.

The Anglican Church of Canada has the prerogative “to address issues appropriate to its context,” the IASCUFO said, but it noted the ramifications of “a change of this magnitude” for the Communion and its ecumenical partners. In a letter addressed to Canon Robert Falby, chair of the marriage canon commission, IASCUFO members said they were unanimous “in urging you not to move beyond your present policy of ‘local option,’ ” which allows dioceses to choose whether or not they will offer same-sex blessings. They noted that the absence of a General Synod decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or same-sex marriages “has given space for the rebuilding of fragile relationships across the Communion.”

If the 2016 General Synod decides to approve a motion to change the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada will become the first province in the Anglican Communion to allow same-sex marriage. The Episcopal Church, which in 2012 authorized “for trial use” a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships, has no provision for same-sex marriage…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 11:20pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

"Advice" indeed. Sounds more like an offer we can't refuse, from the fairly newly minted International Standing Commission. I see they referred favorably to the Anglican Covenant. Anyone interested in the state of the question in the Canadian Church can find it via the link below. At the bottom of the page in the link is the text of the actual motion passed by General Synod together with the terms of reference of The Commission doing the work. The divide on the issue is along the usual lines. The Canadian House of Bishops appears very anxious over the issue. The HoB has several conservative members, some among the most conservative still in The Communion, including a couple of bishops with GAFCON connections.


http://www.anglican.ca/about/ccc/cogs/cmc/submissions/

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 12:54am GMT

"The IASCUFO’s statement came in response to a request from the Canadian church’s Commission on the Marriage Canon for an opinion"

Well then. "Thank you for your opinion; it is so noted" (I would advise the AngChCanada to reply). "Nevertheless, we have decided to follow Christ's Good News, instead. Ergo---obviously---Marriage Equality."

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 1:22am GMT

"The Episcopal Church, which in 2012 authorized “for trial use” a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships, has no provision for same-sex marriage…"

This is not accurate. Resolution A049 from our 2012 General Convention had a clause allowing bishops "generous pastoral oversight." This was widely accepted at the time as being a provision for same sex marriage. Indeed, that clause has widely been used by bishops in many of the "blue states" to authorize marriage for same sex couples. We are already marrying people, folks. My partner and I are getting married in our Episcopal parish in January.

The rite is called The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant. It is a beautiful liturgy, and importantly, straight couples are being encouraged also to use it. It is devoid of some medievalisms that remain in the Book of Common Prayer. It includes the Eucharist, it really is sacramental.

I don't know who IASCUFO is, perhaps they've given up on TEC. After all, we have very strong formation from Martin Luther King who said that it was immoral to continue to ask people to suffer the burden of injustice for the comfort of others.

At the 2015 General Convention, they will likely change the canons at the national level. They will change the bits about marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman. Even if that gets delayed (unlikely, I think), marriage is happening in many dioceses.

Thanks Be to God! Our wedding is in January!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 1:27am GMT

So no discussion as to whether this us the right thing to do, just an appeal, yet again, not to upset the homophobes.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 8:40am GMT

It seems to me that the distress of those unable to marry the person they love should override the distress felt by those who fear that someone, somewhere, might be being made happy in a way they disapprove of.

Posted by: Jo on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 9:53am GMT

Congrats, Cynthia. I'm 100% in favour of this (though, in my way, supportive of those for whom it is a bridge too far).

Posted by: John on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 11:03am GMT

TEC has no same-sex marriage rite. GC 2012 did not approve such a move. Seeing it did not have the votes to approve a Trial rite, the HOB invented a 'provisional rite' concept and left discretion to individual Bishops.

But all that will likely change at GC 2015.

The matter in ACoC is by no means so clear, for a range of reasons. Some 'progressive' Bishops accept same-sex blessings but not marriage. Indigenous Bishops are a sizeable number and they are conservative on this issue.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 1:26pm GMT

As I've observed before, if people adopted the ethic that underlies this thinking, they would never do anything to which anyone else took offense. Mary obviously should have refused God's offer to scandalize the neighborhood and the world through his Incarnate Son. Then we wouldn't need to be having this conversation.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 1:54pm GMT

Cynthia, ref your comment (about the new Canadian Liturgy) " The rite is called The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant. It is a beautiful liturgy, and importantly, straight couples are being encouraged also to use it. It is devoid of some medievalisms that remain in the Book of Common Prayer. It includes the Eucharist, it really is sacramental."

That mirrors our experience back in the UK. A number of our straight friends expressed jealousy of our ability to have a church liturgy which reflected a partnership of equals, rather than the marriage liturgy they were forced to have, with all of its historic baggage.

I think the concept of covenant is key to finding a way forward in this debate.

Best wishes for January.

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 2:06pm GMT

"they will likely change the canons at the national level".

The BCP is a constitutional document. Two GCs are required for changing it.

The language 'trial rite' was adopted for the 70s run-up to the 1979 BCP, during which time dioceses were to make available green book, zebra book, etc. (If you were a 1928 PB parish, you left in disagreement, negotiated a settlement, etc). That is, 'trial rite' was not a sub-section of an operative BCP like a 'marriage rite' though one can well imagine people will forget all that and use the language of 'trial rite' to fir this particular context.

Even so, no constitutionally approved, church-wide rite can exist without two readings.

Now I do not for a moment think that any of that will hinder the advocacy model of Cynthia and others. As she points out, once you let individuals do whatever is right in their own eyes, well that is what happens. This is the USA! Besides all that, public press coverage never gets funny distinctions like 'marriage' and 'same sex blessings' anyway.

Yet what this particular IASCUFO exchange reveals is that they do get and make such distinctions. I am not nearly so sure ACoC will track alongside the state-by-state advocacy model of TEC.


Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 2:22pm GMT

The membership of IASCUFO is provided at the end of their December 2014 communiqué, found here.


http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2014/12/10/inter-anglican-standing-commission-on-unity-faith-and-order-2/

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 2:33pm GMT

Cynthia,

Every Blessing on your forthcoming marriage.
Thank you for telling us what really happening in your beloved church.
If only other provinces in the Anglican Communion, especially those of the United Kingdom would follow your province in living out the gospel.
Jo your comment is true, and it is about time the ABC took notice.

Every Blessing this Christmastide to every one.

Fr John and Robert

Posted by: Fr John E. Harris-White on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 4:01pm GMT

Congratulations and blessings to you and your fiancee, Cynthia

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 5:07pm GMT

Cynthia,
I'm so happy for your and your future wife! We converted our civil partnership to marriage last week and that was a deeply moving moment. I wish we had been able to do that in church. I hope you will have the most wonderful day. For us, I hope we will one day be able to renew our vows in church.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 8:35pm GMT

Although the full revision of the BCP requires two sessions of General Convention, authorizations for the "trial use" of suggested changes either of the whole book _or a section of it_ (such as the marriage rite) only requires one session of GC. Here is the relevant portion of the text of the Constitution, Article X: The General Convention may

"Authorize for trial use throughout this Church, as an alternative at any time or times to the established Book of Common Prayer or to any section or Office thereof, a proposed revision of the whole Book or of any portion thereof, duly undertaken by the General Convention."

I am not saying this will happen at the next Convention; but it could. Also possible is the authorization of a liturgy subject to the approval of the local diocesan. That is sometimes informally called "trial use" but the Constitutional phrase has a different meaning and does not require the permission of the local ordinary.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 9:12pm GMT

@ Cynthia, Congrats!

Re "I don't know who IASCUFO is, perhaps they've given up on TEC." I had forgotten all about this group's set up until the statement nabout the Canadian situation was released yesterday. There is an Episcopal priest listed as one of the members of the group. (and a member from the C of E).

One of the corespondents at Episcopal Café indicated that the Episcopal Church rep does not necessarily represent the majority opinion of The episcopal Church, which prompted me to wonder who makes the appointments and to what extent, if any, are appointees representative of the national church from which they come? If anyone can flesh out the role of IASCUFO that would be helpful. I'm wondering if this is a purely Communion Office show?

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 9:20pm GMT

Haller is exactly right. A 'Trial Rite' (for a sub section of the BCP; a novelty) is effectively a first reading en route to a constitutional change, viz, a BCP rite for use throughout the church. Doubtless there will be some disagreement over whether a Trial Rite is accessible over an individual Bishop's wishes in the next season post GC 2015. That will be another step into grey area-arama. The ACoC will of course chart its own path.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 10:17pm GMT

Thank you all for the best wishes upon our marriage! One awesome element about all the marriages going on in the 32 or so states that recently got legal equal marriage, is that it shows progress in human rights and human inclusion. Given the explosion of racism revealed by Ferguson and the lack of indictments of officers who abused their power, it is good to celebrate progress where it exists. So we will have a very big party!!!! But we will remember that the work of liberation and bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth is ongoing.

For those who are confused about how this is coming about in TEC, the resolution (A049) that approved the liturgy for same sex marriage included a clause for "generous pastoral oversight." That clause was created and is now used so that bishops could respond to legal marriage with church marriage. Google it and you'll see the thoughts of the bishops of New York, New Jersey, and others.

Some people are more hierarchical and would prefer to see the movement come simultaneously from the nation church. But as you can see, legal marriage is coming state by state in the US. So it seems quite unjust to relegate LGBTQ Episcopalians to 2nd class status in states that have legal marriage simply to satisfy some people's sense of bureaucratic tidiness.

While I am Anglo-Catholic, I just can't believe that God will withhold Grace until TEC changes a couple of words in our canons. God is God. The Spirit blows, and she blows for justice, inclusion, and most of all, LOVE!

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 10:35pm GMT

Cynthia pointed out one mistake in the article, but there is a second mistake, and a very big one.

"If the 2016 General Synod decides to approve a motion to change the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada will become the first province in the Anglican Communion to allow same-sex marriage."

Not so, because, just as in TEC, an amendment to a canon dealing with doctrine, worship or discipline requires the affirmative vote of two sessions of General Synod, with a referral to diocesan and provincial synods in between. Thus the earliest the ACofC could allow same-sex marriages is 2019.

(the amendment does not have to pass with exactly the same wording on second reading; it can be amended based on feedback from the diocesan and provincial synods, something that did happen the last time the marriage canon was amended in 2004, when some dioceses requested that marriage tribunals be retained as a local option rather than eliminated altogether)

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 1:53am GMT

@ cseitz, "The matter in ACoC is by no means so clear, for a range of reasons. Some 'progressive' Bishops accept same-sex blessings but not marriage. Indigenous Bishops are a sizeable number and they are conservative on this issue." Good observation.

The Communion is trying to find its way in a post-colonial situation. It is interesting to look down the lists of Communion bishops in the successive Lambeth conferences over the past century. With each successive Lambeth the number of expatriate western bishops in Africa and Asia has declined in favor of indigenous bishops. This positive development has consequences. There is a recognition that imposing western values in other jurisdictions is a throw back to colonialism.The cultural issues around gender, sexuality, and authority vary greatly across the Communion. Western churches are playing catch up with the outcomes of the sexual revolution.

The Canadian Church is something of a microcosm for The Communion. There is a strong push in urbanized areas for full GLBTQ inclusion. However, Canadian Anglican aboriginal groups have a different set of voices on this issue. The Canadian church is still working out its repair of relationships with aboriginal peoples after its long history of complicity with racism, including especially, its involvement in residential schools. The dynamics, in terms of justice, are not one dimensional.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 3:31am GMT

{{{Cynthia & Beloved Fiancee'}}}

Cynthia, just want to say that MOST of your comments move me. The above "...most of all, LOVE!" just makes my Grinch-heart explode "3 sizes" today. <3

Mazel Tov, also, to Erica and ***married spouse***. :-D

To cseitz, w your "once you let individuals do whatever is right in their own eyes, well that is what happens", I just want to preach the words of Our Lord---

'We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance ... But wisdom is proved right by her deeds." (Matt 11: 17,19)

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 4:08am GMT

How silly -- 'and we played a dirge and you did not mourn.' I see you left that bit out.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 4:10pm GMT

Regardless of what it is called, the lovely liturgy in TEC is being used for actual marriages between same sex couples in states where marriage is legal (and the bishop approves). For those of us who married civilly before the church caught up, that marriage can be blessed.

And the sun still rises each day in the east, and all is well.

In our diocese, the bishop draws no distinction between same- and opposite-sex couples, requiring the same preparation and qualifications from each for marriage.

He also notes,
" while the overwhelming majority of the people of our diocese now affirm same-sex marriage, there remain those who thoughtfully disagree with this change. We all must honor their disagreement. Rest assured no clergy person will ever be compelled to perform any marriage that the cleric feels is not appropriate, for any reason."


Posted by: IT on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 7:49pm GMT

"Rest assured no clergy person will ever be compelled to perform any marriage that the cleric feels is not appropriate, for any reason."

But this isn't the way this will play out.

If individual Bishops are constrained by a BCP rite (or a Trial rite; grey area post GC 2015), couples will press for whatever GC has given license to. It will then become a class action matter. Clergy who do not believe they can bless same-sex marriage will be isolated and will in time be out. No aspirant for orders will be moved forward without compliance with the new teaching and practice.

I think most people in TEC see this coming and are happy about the development. It will be a justice issue.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 8:53pm GMT

"In our diocese, the bishop draws no distinction between same- and opposite-sex couples, requiring the same preparation and qualifications from each for marriage."

But the point is that this is not anything like uniform practice anywhere else. 'Liberal' Bishops in ACoC do not believe in same-sex marriage. Equally, Church of England. And as we see, IASCUFO as well.

This was my original point.


Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 21 December 2014 at 9:46pm GMT

Cynthia wonders who are IASCUFO.

This committee succeeded the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and with its Faith and Order brief proposed a new check to potential unwelcome developments within a Communion governed by the principles of The Covenant.
With the Covenant in limbo one had begun to wonder if this group would resurface.
There were quite a few who were deeply concerned at its creation, bearing in mind how powerful a tool its chief architect, Paul Avis, had made the same committee within the CofE.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 12:12am GMT

"But the point is that this is not anything like uniform practice anywhere else."

I think the real point is that TEC has deeper formation on theological issues surrounding justice. Slavery, Civil Rights, Martin Luther King, women's equality, and LGBTQ inclusion all had opponents whose opposition was based in "tradition." Not to mention shameful episodes of antisemitism, burning witches and whatnot. On top of that, it seems that US scholars at top US universities have taken the lead in studies about culture, history, and language that deeply inform us of a very Radical Jesus.

In the face of all of the evils supported by the church, combined with new understandings, there isn't any reason to continue to harm God's LGBTQ children with exclusion and injustice.

I get that the Anglican church in the rest of the world hasn't caught up, though the secular West seems to be with the justice program. Nonetheless, the idea that TEC should be unjust to me and my LGBT brothers and sisters because others haven't worked it out yet is insane.

Odd that Canada's indigenous people would be "conservative" on LGBTQ issues while the Native Americans in the US call us the "two spirit" people and hold us in high regard. What would account for that? Or is it even true?

While I don't ascribe much to "American exceptionalism," this case is like the moon landing - we got there first, and it is "a giant leap for humankind" (that is, by the way, what Neil Armstrong actually said, momentary interference meant that it was heard as "mankind").

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 1:11am GMT

This CBC TV interview ought to be mandatory viewing at the next IASCUFO meeting. Hopefully it's accessible from your viewing area. Its about twelve minutes in length. T.I.F.F. film premier, 'Stories of Our Lives" Being Gay in Kenya.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/The%20National/About%20the%20Show/Wendy%20Mesley/ID/2508752523/

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 1:21am GMT

"Clergy who do not believe they can bless same-sex marriage will be isolated and will in time be out. No aspirant for orders will be moved forward without compliance with the new teaching and practice."

I think this will not play out very quickly. It will work itself out more at the parish level, where liberal parishes certainly will not call a "non marrying" priest, but conservative parishes will.

However, a recent study released by TEC shows that parishes that are growing are, in order of rate of growth: very liberal, liberal, and moderately liberal parishes. Conservative parishes are shrinking.

So there will be fewer and fewer jobs for conservative priests in TEC. It isn't because of orders from headquarters, it has to do with the grassroots realities.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 1:24am GMT

It might be of interest to read the wide ranging brief given to this body way back when.
Interestingly the ACO is operating on the understanding that the Covenant is very much present and effective within those churches who have adopted it, albeit they are few and their accesion often came with a variety of caveats.
For them this is a process only temporarily abated .......

IASCUFO 2009.01.05

Mandate of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order

The Standing Commission shall have responsibility:
• to promote the deepening of Communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and between those Churches and the other Churches and traditions of the Christian oikumene
• to advise the Provinces and the Instruments of Communion on all questions of ecumenical engagement, proposals for national, regional or international ecumenical agreement or schemes of co-operation and unity, as well as on questions touching Anglican Faith and Order
• to review developments in the areas of faith, order or unity in the Anglican Communion and among ecumenical partners, and to give advice to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of Communion upon them, with the intention to promote common understanding, consistency, and convergence both in Anglican Communion affairs, and in ecumenical engagement
• to assist any Province with the assessment of new proposals in the areas of Unity, Faith and Order as requested.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 10:00am GMT

@ Cythia (1:11 am)


Re First Nations in Canada, this article from Canada's Anglican Journal may be of some help in answering your question. It's a generalization that this issue is perceived very differently by Anglican First Nations, and that at least some of their bishops are conservative on the issue.

The current National First Nations Bishop in Canada, Mark MacDonald, is a former bishop of TEC, but I have no idea what his views are on this.

Interested in your comment. I don't know enough about the Native Americans in TEC to comment. I'd certainly be interested in hearing more.

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/cogs-hears-concerns-about-commission

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 1:23pm GMT

"However, a recent study released by TEC shows that parishes that are growing are, in order of rate of growth: very liberal, liberal, and moderately liberal parishes. Conservative parishes are shrinking."

How very odd. Average TEC parish size: 67. Average age: mid-fifties. 40% of TEC dioceses with lower than 3000 ASA. All NE Provinces in sharp decline. Conservative dioceses (SC, Dallas, TN, CFL) doing well.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 2:03pm GMT

"Odd that Canada's indigenous people would be "conservative" on LGBTQ issues while the Native Americans in the US call us the "two spirit" people and hold us in high regard. What would account for that? Or is it even true?"

I'm not sure it's fair to say that "Canada's indigenous people" are conservative about it. Within First Nations at large there is certainly a variety of views, and as you note the Two Spirit community has been increasingly visible. (There was an excellent feature piece on their plight as a double-minority in one of the Vancouver papers recently).

First Nations *Anglicans* on the other hand, especially those in the north (the majority) have a legacy of evangelism by conservative evangelical groups like the Church Missionary Society. That influence is still visible, and the Diocese of the Arctic (the most expansive, geographically, in the Communion IIRC) has especially explicit and draconian policies on gay people in leadership.

I am not as familiar with Native American Episcopalians in the United States, but I would not necessarily assume that this is a border difference (after all, the border is relevant primarily to settlers). On the other hand, it's possible that native congregations in the Episcopal Church in the US don't share that conservative organizational history.

I am not surprised that +Mark has been quiet about The Issue. He certainly has never struck me as unsympathetic, but just as certainly he is not a campaigner. As NIB he has a role on behalf of all indigenous Anglican communities in Canada, who have a strong emphasis on grassroots governance, so a pontifical pronouncement would be out of place. To be sure, he is a son of the biretta belt and of Wycliffe College. According to Louie Crew Clay's meticulous data, he abstained from the vote to add same-gender blessings to the Book of Occasional Services, but voted yes to "recognizing and affirming fidelity in relationships" outside marriage and consented to the election of VGR. With respect to the latter, he was one of the few to do so and also support Bishop Ackerman's resolution "endorsing certain historic Anglican doctrines and policies".

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 3:29pm GMT

Can we have these constant arguments about TEC taken elsewhere, please?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 3:56pm GMT

Further to Cynthia --

First Nations in Canada cannot be spoken of as a single entity, and I'm surprised that you speak of First Nations in the US as if they have a common and universal approach on anything.

My understanding of the "two-spirited" thing is that it is primarily Navaho in origin, not anything like a universal concept or belief.

Certainly in Canada, when you look at the Inuit -- who are vastly different from other First Nations -- their Christianity comes almost entirely from late 19th century evangelical and RC sources. Whatever the pre-Christian beliefs many have been, they seem to have been nearly obliterated.

And as for the rest -- my only gay native friend certainly got no comfort or support from his Cree family when he came out, though his mother eventually accommodated herself to his partner. There's certainly no evidence of cultural acceptance of gays in any of the major other groups in Canada.

Posted by: John Holding on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 5:13pm GMT

Re, more on Canada's First Nations Groups and the same -sex marriage discussion. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about First Nations' areas here ( The First Nations where I live are R.C.), but just by co-incidence I have just had opportunity to chat with someone here who has long standing and in depth connection.

The word is that there is some diversity of opinion on this issue across First Nations groups in Canada, but there are certainly some groups for whom same sex marriage is both theologically and culturally not on. There would be a similar perspective on divorce as well. There are Canadian Bishops who are First Nations, but some of the dioceses that are predominantly First Nations have non-aboriginal diocesan bishops who are very conservative.

There is a second issue that goes to governance and decision making. Aboriginal groups, like ACiP, are currently expressing concern about what they see as historically a very top down non-aboriginal model of decision making in the Canadian Church. Concern has also been expressed that the Theological Commission on the Marriage Canon has no aboriginal members. The issue is of concern because of the church's history with aboriginal peoples who are a significant constituency in our church. Hence my earlier comment that the Church is something of a microcosm of the Communion.

There are a couple of folks who post here from time to time who are more conversant with this issue, and may be able to shed more light on the issues involved.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 5:41pm GMT

Cynthia,

I short answer to your question, the First Nations are generally conservative on this point, because of the colonial legacy. A remark by Archdeacon Larry Beardy during the sexuality debates at General Synod in 2004 has stuck with me: "The white man told us homosexuality was wrong, now the white man tells us it is ok. Who are we supposed to believe?" (not his exact words, but my recollection)

Another factor is an evangelical heritage in much of the North, CMS and Church Army. The present Bishop and Suffragan of the Arctic are a former Church Army evangelist from Newfoundland and an Irish evangelical.

A third factor is the residential schools legacy, which included a lot of sexual abuse. This unfortunately creates linkages in the minds of many to pedophilia.

But it's also important to note that this is not a monolithic viewpoint. Also at GS2004, one of the co-chairs of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples sported an Integrity "Equal Rites" sticker on his name badge.

What is needed are conversations in First Nations communities, culturally rooted and without outside interference. While Mark MacDonald has been trying to make that happen, unfortunately many on the conservative side are still all too willing to be colonial masters.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 6:11pm GMT

Speak to Cynthia. As you properly note, this thread was supposed to be about IASCUFO and Canada. But for her, TEC exceptionalism is the only thing of note.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 6:31pm GMT

I believe you are correct in your appraisal (5.41pm). Bishop MacDonald is a good friend and his family worships at the parish where I work in Toronto.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 6:36pm GMT

Sorry to counter your doom and gloom, cseitz, but the data show a certain robustness amongst TEC's liberal parishes, even posting growth in a time of decline for all denominations (and denomination wide).

Here's the link for the study from 2008-2013: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sites/default/files/downloads/episcopal_congregations_overview_2014.pdf

"Congregations that are “very liberal” were most likely to have grown in worship attendance (34%) followed by congregations that are “moderate” (22%) or “somewhat liberal or progressive” (22%). Conservative Episcopal congregations were more likely to have experienced decline from 2008 to 2013 (57%)."

There's a ton of data that was recently released. Of course, TEC is suffering declines like all mainline Protestants, although we are doing best in that category.
<a href="http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/research-and-statistics"

I think the data show the trend in the US that in general, highly educated people and young people tend to be intolerant of intolerance. The young people WILL NOT raise their kids in a bigoted environment. Thus our gay friendly church with a history of 2 female rectors covering our last 25 years or so, is growing with families and younger people. While my marriage will have presenters who are well into their 70's.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 6:51pm GMT

Sorry Fr. Reynolds. I tried.

When 8% ('very liberal') of a small denomination is experiencing growth, that translates into not very much at all in aggregate.

The conservative Church of the Incarnation in Dallas's growth or St Martin's in Houston alone offsets it!

And as for conservative decline: of course, since ACNA is larger by a sizeable amount than the 'very liberal' block inside TEC, and they all left. And of course the Episcopal Diocese of SC alone left with 30K.

The leadership of TEC itself accepts they have a crisis!

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 22 December 2014 at 9:27pm GMT

"But for her, TEC exceptionalism is the only thing of note."

The article incorrectly said that Canada was poised to be first in same sex marriage. It isn't inappropriate to make the correction. And given that marriage equality is coming state-by-state in the US, it is a more complex situation than Canada's national governing body making the change for all of Canada.

However, TEC is quite exceptional in having taken the lead on recognizing all people as created in the Image of God. It is indeed a breakthrough for humanity, as every step towards love and liberation brings us closer to the New Jerusalem.

It is always worth driving home the point that ALL people are created in the Image of God and that fact has the most profound implications for church polity and justice issues in general.

Those who pretend to speak for God in excluding God's children have much to answer for, teen bullying, depression, and suicide, teen homelessness (outcasts from religious families) and sexual abuse suffered by these homeless teens. Jesus said that we can tell the real prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labors.

cseitz, I much prefer the fruits of inclusion and justice to those of exclusion and hate. I'm increasingly having a hard time not equating those old beliefs with that of slave holders, anti-semites, and witch burners. I think history will not be kind to the homophobic positions.

You can have your church, growing or not, whose foundation is essentially hate. I do note that my church and my diocese is quite robust.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 1:27am GMT

Returning to the original point of this article, I would point out three things:

1) The reference to the (proposed) Anglican Covenant is interesting given that, of the 12 Provinces represented by those present at the meeting, only 1 has actually adopted the Covenant. 3 have definitively rejected it, another 3 are on the fence, and the status of the Daft Covenant is unclear in the other 5. Canada has not adopted it, and thus is not subject to any of its provisions.

2) The communique refers to a "policy (sic) of local option". There is no policy. What we have, nature abhorring a policy vacuum, is a practise of individual dioceses (11 last time I checked) permitting clergy to bless persons in same-sex marriages. There is no national policy, either on blessings of civil marriages or on some putative "local option."

3) The current proposal, which is of course subject to upcoming debate, is to amend the canon to allow solemnization (not blessing) of marriage between persons of the same sex. This is very different to what is currently available in any diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada. It is not clear whether the Committee is (a) suggesting extending the blessings to solemnization on a "local option" basis, or (b) urging the Canadian Church to go no further than it has (at least until some unspecified time in the future). If (a) then they are not respecting the constitutional autonomy of the Canadian Church (see proposed Covenant, section 3.2.2)for such a development is constitutionally impossible; any change to the canon on marriage requires General Synod approval, not local diocesan approval. If (b) then it would be helpful to be more explicit that solemnization is off the table as far as the Committee is concerned. For that is the issue at hand. I make no predictions how that debate will or should be decided, but it should be on the table in 2016 and (potentially) again in 2019.

A side question is whether the Instruments of Commuinon and the various committees of the Communion are themselves subject to the proposed Anglican Covenant. Does the Rule of Law apply or not?

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 4:35am GMT

Thank you Alan for bringing the discussion back to the original topic. I would be glad if we could now keep this thread firmly on the Canadian matter, or on the role of IASCUFO.

And if you could explain to us where exactly the internal Canadian discussion on this matter has got to, that would be very helpful. I am quite unclear as to whether any specific proposal has yet emerged.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 8:46am GMT

The Anglican Journal has a new article on +Hiltz at Lambeth. I know that a statutory conscience clause was being sought, for those who hold the traditional view on marriage, in which this view was affirmed as the teaching of the church. Some 'progressive' bishops have said they could only affirm same-sex blessing but that marriage refers to a different state of affairs. So I suspect these circumstances will inform the Canadian Synod discussion. The First Nation Anglican reality is a third major factor.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 1:50pm GMT

@ Simon Sarmiento, the first two sentences of Alan Perry's summarizes the state of the question to date.

The Primate's Theological Commission On The Marriage Commission will have to draft a motion for the next General Synod in 2016 for first reading. If the draft motion were to pass in some form after debate on the floor, then it would come back to a second General Synod three years later for final reading. The motion is below in full. The matter is still at items (a-d) as found in the motion which included petitioning IASCUFO. The motion itself is not very good. Sort of says, let's do this but let's find reasons not to do it.

General Synod 2013 — Resolution C003

That this General Synod direct the Council of General Synod to prepare and present a motion at General Synod 2016 to change Canon XXI on Marriage to allow the marriage of same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.

This motion will also include supporting documentation that:

a) demonstrates broad consultation in its preparation;

b) explains how this motion does not contravene the Solemn Declaration;

c) confirms immunity under civil law and the Human Rights Code for those bishops, dioceses and priests who refuse to participate in or authorize the marriage of same-sex couples on the basis of conscience;

d) provides a biblical and theological rationale for this change in teaching on the nature of Christian marriage.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 2:16pm GMT

Simon,

A very simple answer: the committee is charged with bringing forth a proposal to General Synod in 2016. So far, no specific proposal has emerged, and none is expected until late 2015 at the earliest.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 3:38pm GMT

Here's the current status of things:

Marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada is governed by a canon of the General Synod, Canon XXI. Only the General Synod has authority to amend this canon (obviously) and amendments require approval by a 2/3 majority in each of the three orders (bishops, clergy, laity) at two successive meetings of the General Synod, which are normally at three-year intervals. (Hence references to 2016 and 2019 in the thread). It is understood that the canon does not permit solemnization of same-sex marriages. It follows that there can be no diocesan approval for same-sex weddings.

At the diocesan level, approximately 11 (of 30) Canadian dioceses now permit blessing of same-sex civil marriages.

In 2013, a resolution was adopted requesting that a motion be brought to the 2016 meeting of General Synod to amend the canon to allow solemnization of same-sex marriages whilst protecting the conscience of those who cannot do so. The resolution was amended to include a process of consultation.

Consultation is ongoing, and the Commission appointed to do the work is supposed to report back, with the wording of the 2016 motion, in the fall of 2015.

Obviously, the issue is controversial in Canada, and I make no predictions as to what the motion will look like, or how it will be received in 2016.

See http://www.anglican.ca/about/ccc/cogs/cmc/submissions/ for submissions to the commission.

Resolution C003, which started all this, is at http://jointassembly.ca/delegates/acc/cc/resolutions/c003.html (The link from the page above is broken)

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 4:43pm GMT

"A side question is whether the Instruments of Commuinon and the various committees of the Communion are themselves subject to the proposed Anglican Covenant. Does the Rule of Law apply or not?"

That's an interesting question. The Covenant was voted down in the UK and other provinces. Why would it be in force in Canada? Did Canada vote for the Covenant?

And of all the bureaucratic talk, is anyone in Canada talking about the theological issues of inclusion vs. exclusion? Is any one talking about the impact of exclusion language on vulnerable people, such as LGBT teens?

Clearly, canons should be an expression of the moral position of the church. But I'm not hearing anything about the moral positions. This is only one article about one document. But it's an issue in progress, so it would be great to hear what kind of thinking is guiding the process.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 at 6:00pm GMT

@ Cynthia, "Did Canada vote for the Covenant?"

Nope. We are supposed to be in discernment mode until General Synod in 2016. See below archived story from Canada's Anglican Journal on-line published in July 2013 at the end of the previous GS. In my part of the country, very little "conversation" taking place.

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/anglican-covenant-decision-in-2016

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 1:37am GMT

@cseitz I presume by the "traditional view on marriage" you refer to those who hold that women pass from the ownership of their father to that of their husband upon marriage and their identity if henceforth wholly subsumed into that of their husband. Also that they must obey him in all things and should be deemed to have given permanent and irrevocable consent to sex at a time of his choosing. That's the traditional view, right? Or do you mean the traditional view where the man can have multiple wives and any number of concubines?

The church's understanding of heterosexual marriage is not the same as it was even 100 years ago. To credit a view of marriage reflecting the present situation of perhaps 20-50 years ago as being the "traditional" view is absurd.

Posted by: Jo on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 9:33am GMT

9:33am--if you read the BCP solemnization service you will see 'traditional marriage' and its warrants. It is this service which must be got rid of and another brought on to accommodate a rival understanding. Hence the discussion.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 1:29pm GMT

Regarding Jo's comment. My grandparents--both sets--got married around a hundred years ago. Their marriages were clearly 'traditional' in cseitz's sense, and they weren't creating a new tradition at that time.

Posted by: Jknightley on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 5:34pm GMT

Hasn't the BCP service already been amended to make the oath to obey optional?

Posted by: Jo on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 8:06pm GMT

Re BCP marriages. The 1959 Canadian BCP dropped the previous requirement for the woman to vow to obey her man. Traditions wax and wane. Like the notion of God itself, and as Jo's post above notes, the biblical ideas about marriage changed overtime.

Patriarchy is a tradition. IASCUFO is siding with it. In the Communion as a whole, social conservatives have politcal game while GLBTQ members are in the penalty box. What is required here is a justice based reversal of roles. Its a gospel tradition that requires re-asserting.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 at 8:08pm GMT

'79 BCP has no 'obey' clause. Whew.

Merry Christmas TA.

Grace and peace--

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 25 December 2014 at 2:55am GMT

The 1928 American prayer book deleted the "obey" clause. It was last found in the 1892 American prayer book.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Thursday, 25 December 2014 at 4:35pm GMT

The words that Rev. Andrew Foreshew-Cain wrote about the Archbishop of Canterbury apply equally to IASCUFO:

'Essentially, I believe, Welby is willing to sacrifice the radical and inclusive truth of the Gospel, and even simply human justice, for the illusion of unity within the Anglican Communion. In doing so he is siding with the institutional homophobia of the Church and not acting as in any way a bridge for discussions.'

Of course IASCUFO is going the same.

IASCUFO was asked its opinion, but it has no ability or authority to impose its opinion in Canada. Both in TEC and in Canada, IASCUFO is likely to find itself quietly and deservedly ignored.

Lambeth keeps laboring at trying to prevent liberal provinces from acting on their inclusive understandings of the Gospel.

Presumably Lambeth and the Instruments are doing this in order to try to give the conservatives the impression that everything possible is being done to try to keep the Communion homophobic.

Why anyone thinks that is a laudable goal is a question that does not seem to have been asked.

The Anglican Communion is a family of independent churches. Nothing more.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 26 December 2014 at 9:56pm GMT

@ Jeremy, "Both in TEC and in Canada, IASCUFO is likely to find itself quietly and deservedly ignored."

Communion level bureaucrats remind me of those robots from the 60s sci-fi TV series, roaming around and programmed to say " warning, danger, dire consequences; warning, danger dire consequences". ( I added the dire consequences line)

However unfortunate, I'm not sure that the IASCUFO statement will be ignored in Canada. I suspect it will buttress the voices of Canadian conservatives for whom the dire consequences gloom and doom scenario plays well. Interesting that the Canadian primate, just returned from Lambeth, is quoted as saying he provided the ABC with copies of the Canadian resolution and process in the interests of transparency. I reckon if one feels the need to be transparent then the pressure is on.

Given the politcal intricacies of The Canadian church, and the workings of our House of Bishops, if the amendment actually makes it to the floor in 2016 will be an accomplishment in itself. It would not shock me if at some time on the eve of GS 2016 there will be an effort by the Canadian HoB, with the appropriate pious preamble of course, to short circuit this project.


Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 27 December 2014 at 4:42pm GMT

On balance I think Rod Gillis is correct both in his assessment of the impact of the IASCUFO response and his prediction of the likely happening in the lead up to 2016.

As a consequence of this thread I have asked to meet the Welsh representative of this group to tease out what lies behind this advice.

We have seen the separation of GAFCON and the Global South power groups but it would be interesting to know how the ACO views the future and how key controlling access to marriage is to their stategy.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 2 January 2015 at 12:49pm GMT

@ Martin Reynolds, be interesting to hear what your intelligence gathering turns up ( :

Part of my punditry is based on published info. There are about a couple hundred submissions pro and con. However,there are two submissions from conservative Canadian Bishops, both bishops are non-aboriginal but in dioceses which are significantly aboriginal.


Bishop David Parsons of The Arctic,interestingly, doesn't simply give a con argument but actually advises The Commission against doing what GS mandated it do.

http://www.anglican.ca/about/files/2014/05/9-24-2014-David-Parsons-Arctic.pdf

"As Bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada I caution this Marriage Commission to be sober and not bring any motion to the General Synod of Canada asking for a change to the present Marriage Canon."

Below is that from Bishop Michael Hawkins, bishop of Saskatchewan.

http://www.anglican.ca/about/files/2014/05/9-30-2014-Michael-Hawkins-Saskatchewan.pdf


Just for example, It is interesting to compare the submission of the Diocese of Ontario
http://www.anglican.ca/about/files/2014/05/8-1-2014-Diocese-of-Ontario.pdf

with that of The Diocese of the Arctic

http://www.anglican.ca/about/files/2014/05/9-24-2014-Diocese-of-the-Arctic.pdf

There seems to be great energy put into having the Canadian House of Bishops speak with one voice, even though, on this issue, they don't. Some of the effort in plastering over differing view points may go to history where the Bishops in voting at general synod ended up being divided, and in some cases with a small majority of votes, vetoed something that the clergy and lay orders voted in favor of. There is a lot of attention being paid to optics and episcopal politics.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 2 January 2015 at 6:02pm GMT
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