Anglican council crafts motion on same-sex blessings issue

The Anglican Church of Canada’s chief governing body will be asked to affirm that the blessing of same-sex unions is within the authority of a diocesan synod and that any Canadian Anglican diocese, if the bishop agrees, has the authority to perform such blessings.

At a meeting March 4-7 [2004], the Council of General Synod (CoGS) approved the wording of two motions that will be placed before the General Synod when it meets at the end of May [2004].  General Synod, made up of delegates from each of the church’s 30 dioceses, is the church’s main legislative and governing body.  It meets every three years.

The blessing of same-sex unions has been a matter of controversy in the Canadian church since 2002, when the bishop of the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster agreed, after being asked three times by his diocesan synod, to authorize such blessings.  The New Westminster decision has had repercussions throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is badly divided on the issue.

The motion approved by CoGS at its spring meeting also invited General Synod to state that despite different deeply held convictions on the issue, Anglicans commit themselves “to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us”.

The task before CoGS at its spring meeting was not to decide the issue, but simply to agree to the wording of motions to be sent to General Synod.

Despite the controversy over the issue, CoGS had no difficulty agreeing that General Synod should be asked to make a ruling at its 2004 meeting, rather than delay until 2007.

The full text of the motion follows:

  1. Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod place the following motions before General Synod:

1)  Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

Be it resolved that this General Synod:

1)  Affirm that even in the face of deeply held convictions about whether the blessing of committed same-sex unions is contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Anglican Church of Canada, we recognize that through our baptism we are members one of another in Christ Jesus, and we commit ourselves to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us.

2)  Affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions;

3)  Affirm the crucial value of continued respectful dialogue and study  of biblical, theological, liturgical, pastoral and social aspects of humans sexuality; and call upon all bishops, clergy and lay leaders to be instrumental in seeing that dialogue and study continue;

4)  Affirm the principle of respect for the way in which the dialogue and study may be taking place, or might take place, in indigenous and various other communities within our church in a manner consistent with their cultures and traditions; and

5)  Affirm that the Anglican Church is a church for all the baptized and is committed to taking such actions as are necessary to maintain and serve our fellowship and unity in Christ, including provision of adequate episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all, regardless of the perspective from which they view the blessing of committed same sex relationships.

2)  Resources regarding Same Sex Unions

Be it resolved that this General Synod requests the Faith Worship and Ministry Committee in the next triennium to assist the church in implementing the resolution on same sex unions and to prepare resources for the church to use in addressing issues relating human sexuality, including the blessing of same-sex unions and the changing definition of marriage in society.

  1. Be it resolved that the Council of General Synod affirm in principle the process for presentation of the resolutions to General Synod outlined in 006-27-04-03 and invite the General Secretary and the Prolocutor to work with Faith Worship and Ministry in preparing General Synod to address these resolutions.

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For more information, please contact:  Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306; 416-540-3653 (Cell); [email protected]  OR

Eric Beresford, Ethics Consultant, Faith, Worship and Ministry, 416-924-9199 ext. 209; [email protected]


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