Thinking Anglicans

Canadian General Synod fails to pass revised marriage canon

Updated Monday morning

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is meeting in Vancouver.

The synod affirmed this statement, originally published in March: A Word to the Church: Considering the proposed amendment of Marriage Canon XXI. This contains at chronology of the preceding steps in this proposal. (h/t Tim Chesterton)

The Anglican Journal reported: Marriage canon amendment fails to pass at General Synod.

The 42nd General Synod voted against Resolution A052-R2, which would have amended the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage, after the resolution failed to pass by a two-thirds majority in all three orders. While two-thirds of the Order of Laity (80.9%) and Order of Clergy (73.2%) voted in favour, less than the required two-thirds (62.2%) voted in favour of the resolution in the Order of Bishops

.The final results of the vote, which took place on the evening of July 12 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, were as follows: The Order of Laity saw 89 members (80.9%) vote Yes and 21 members (19.1%) vote No, with one abstention. The Order of Clergy had 60 members (73.2%) voting Yes, 22 members (26.8%) voting No, and two abstentions. In the Order of Bishops, 23 members (62.2%) voted Yes and 14 members (37.8%) voted No, with two abstentions…

Subsequently, a number of Canadian bishops published messages in response, as reported in an email:

  • Archbishop Skelton Diocese of New Westminster Click here 
  • Bishop Peddle Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador Click here 
  • Bishop John Chapman Diocese of Ottawa Click here 
  • Bishop Geoffrey Woodcroft Diocese of Rupert’s Land Click here 
  • Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto Bishop Andrew Asbil on his Facebook page. Click here 
  • Bishop’s Call for Prayer Diocese of British Columbia Click here 
  • Bishop Jane Alexander Diocese of Edmonton Click here
  • Bishop Bell Diocese of Niagara Click here 

Madia reports:

Vancouver Sun Anglican Church rejects same-sex marriage in Vancouver vote

CBC Anglican Church rejects same-sex marriage approvals in vote

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George StaelensGeoffrey McL.Tim ChestertonCynthia KatsarelisRichard Grand Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Minority view being imposed top-down on clear majority conscience and faith.

Very disappointing.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Agreed that it is disappointing—but same-sex marriages will continue in the Anglican Church of Canada, in the dioceses that permit them.

MJ Chapman
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MJ Chapman

Jeremy: Geography triumphs over theology?

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

What Simon has omitted from the post is that Synod, by a similar 80% margin, also adopted the statement “A Word to the Church” which affirms the theological arguments both for and against, that the canon as written does not explicitly preclude equal marriage, and that “missional context would necessarily inform pastoral practice”.
https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a101/ This validates actions taken by individual dioceses since 2016, and will allow dioceses (and perhaps individual parishes) to continue to move forward. Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has a special session of diocesan synod scheduled for late September on the question.

MJ Chapman
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MJ Chapman

Jim: I am aware of that but it creates a unfair situation for those who want a same-sex marriage in one of the many Dioceses that want no part of it. And it makes those who oppose same sex marriage think there is some back door deal going on to get around the legitimate rejection of the same sex marriage canon. Sure is a strange way to run a church. I wish the new Primate well in handling this mess. It’s an issue that won’t go away for at least another 3 years.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Good point; but had the motion been successful it would have amended the Marriage Canon to allow same sex marriage only where authorized by the diocesan bishop. So, at a practical level amending or not amending arrives at the same practical outcome, i.e. same sex marriages in dioceses or not depending on what the bishop allows. The bishops who are allowing same sex marriages (based on the Chancellor’s ruling in 2016 that the current marriage canon does not actually prohibit same sex marriages) are doing so after consulting with and supported by their diocesan synod. Strange or not, it is… Read more »

Geoffrey McL.
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Geoffrey McL.

It doesn’t “create” that situation: queer couples in those dioceses (and I wouldn’t say there are “many”) with non-supportive bishops would have gotten the short end of the stick if the canonical amendment had passed as well, since it would have required the diocesan to opt-in before their marriages could be solemnized.

Bruce Bryant-Scott
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Bruce Bryant-Scott

For what it’s worth, the vote is not reflective of where the majority of the Canadian church is. Those who voted in favour of the amendment represent something like 80% of the Anglican Church of Canada. The remaining 20% – mostly dioceses with low populations and smaller cities – have a disproportionate representation in the General Synod, in the same way that the more rural states in the US are disproportionately represented in the Senate. This is not in itself a bad thing, but it does mean that a two-thirds majority in three houses of the General Synod at two… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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Some other very important things have happened at our General Synod too. (1) The establishment of a self-determining indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada. (2) The election of a new primate, Bishop Linda Nicholls – the first time our church will be led by a female primate (who I believe will currently be the only female primate in the Anglican Communion). (3) The affirmation by the Synod of the document ‘A Word to the Church’ (https://www.anglican.ca/news/a-word-to-the-church-considering-the-proposed-amendment-of-marriage-canon-xxi/30023889/) which gives tacit recognition to the fact that a number of dioceses have chosen to move independently on same-sex marriages or same-sex… Read more »

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

However one interprets the House of Bishops’ actions, it is clear that they have failed the rest of the Church. A serious problem is that there is no rule about how many bishops a diocese can have and they are all members of the House of Bishops regardless of the size of the Diocese, The extremely “anti” Bishop of the Arctic added three new bishops in his diocese, where there had always been one in the past year. The numbers in the House of Bishops were skewed and the two-thirds was not reached. Some call this unfair or gerrymandering. But… Read more »

Greg
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Greg

Although it may have stopped another exodus of people out of the declining Anglican Church of Canada into the growing Anglican Church in North America.

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

Small comfort and a truly unhelpful comment. Words like “declining” and “exodus” are not really neutral, are they? Not to mention that it doesn’t answer my point that the House of Bishops has serious problems. The point that about 80% of General Synod voted in favour seems to have eluded you. If people “stay” in our “declining” church because of the votes of three or four bishops, despite the overwhelming support for Equal Marriage, they seem to have missed the point. I would rather be “declining” and loving to God’s gay children, that “growing” because I have rejected them. This… Read more »

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

Just a bit more. It seems more than strange that anyone would say “I’ll stay with the Church as long it continues to be officially homophobic, but I will leave for another homophobic church if that changes.” For decades we have heard: if you ordain women; if you don’t use the Prayer Book, if you move the altar, if you support Civil Rights, the Palestinians, the Refugees, if you accept LGBT people, etc…, we will leave. There is a lot of bias when conservatives say that “liberal” churches decline for those reasons. All churches are in some kind of decline,… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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I was a minister in the Diocese of the Arctic for seven years, and to be fair I have to say that never in my experience in that diocese (I went there in 1984 and have been in touch ever since) has it only had one bishop. Geographically it’s the largest diocese in the Anglican Communion (look it up in your atlas; it covers the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Arctic Quebec), most travel is by air and enormously expensive. Some years ago the diocese asked permission from the Province of Rupert’s Land to establish local suffragans: clergy who would continue… Read more »

Cynthia Katsarelis
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Thank you, Tim, for that perspective. England is roughly the size of Alabama, and all but 3 Canadian provinces are WAY larger than England. I’ve known of Episcopal and Catholic bishops in Alaska to fly themselves in planes, “Bush Pilot” is one of the favorable skills for the position!

Tim Chesterton
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Thanks Cynthia. As a member of the Diocese of Colorado, you’d have some experience with wide open spaces!

Jayne Ozanne
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Jayne Ozanne

So the headlines should read “Anglican Bishops out of step with their laity and clergy”….now where have I read that before??!

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

You have gotten this. It is a crisis of leadership. Trust has been badly eroded. 80% of clergy and laity and 62% of bishops in a gerrymandered House speaks volumes.

Jill Armstead
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Jill Armstead

God?

Tim Chesterton
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Actually Jayne I think that the bishops of the Diocese of the Arctic are very much in step with their clergy and laity. I suspect that also applies to the Bishop of Saskatchewan and the Bishop of Athabasca. The point, as has been made above, is that these dioceses, though enormous geographically, are very sparsely populated. That difference in population is reflected in their representation in the Houses of Clergy and Laity, but not in the house of Bishops.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The failure of the General Synod to amend the Marriage Canon is a disappointment; but then Good Friday was a day of disappointment as well. I have been disappointed by the institution many times in the past and expect to be disappointed again in the future. A small group of conservative bishops must have their own disappointments as well given that 81 % of laity and 73 % of clergy reject their conservative suppositions and voted to allow same sex marriage. The outpouring of support for GLBTQ2 people in the wake of this vote has been incredibly encouraging.Same sex marriages… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“What is most encouraging is that clergy and laity, and the majority of bishops favour same sex marriage undeterred by threats about being marginalized from The Anglcian Communion for doing so.” Well, this shouldn’t really be that surprising. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And he did not create any LGBTQ2+ exception to his commandment. In comparison to the commandment of Jesus, the Anglican Communion is utterly insignificant. Sorry, Archbishop Justin, but that’s the way more and more members of Anglican provinces view the situation. If you make people choose between Jesus and the Anglican Communion, then… Read more »

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

The public fallout of this is a serious issue. The national networks have run headlines about “Rejection.” The reaction has been devastating. A loss of trust and credibility will result and disaffection by gay people and many others. An earlier poster opined that the conservatives might stay, which is nothing to celebrate, given the possible departure of so many others who were in favour. The general disappointment and hurt will resound for years. General Synod and the regard for the House of Bishops will never be the same.

George Staelens
Guest

Do we know who were the bishops who oppose same-gender weddings, and their respective dioceses?