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.