Message to the Church from the Council of General Synod

The Council of General Synod, at the conclusion of a three-day meeting in Mississauga, Ont., approved the following message to members of the Anglican Church of Canada:

In Conversation with the Church
Greetings from the meeting of the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, held May 6-8, 2005 in Mississauga. We have worshipped, listened, discussed and made decisions on many issues in our Church today.

Since the mid 1970s our church has been engaged in a conversation through study, discussion and meeting – in the House of Bishops, General Synod, dioceses and parishes – about the place of gays and lesbians in our Church. In 1995 General Synod passed a resolution affirming the presence of gay and lesbian Christians in our Church. We have discussed Lambeth resolutions, Scripture, theology, scientific evidence, and listened to the voices of our members, including gays and lesbians. We are in the midst of the conversation. Our General Synod deferred making a decision on the blessing of adult, committed same gender unions to General Synod 2007.

Across our church there are diverse views. Given Canada’s geography, the many indigenous nations, and the multiplicity of languages, we have to work hard to engage and hear everyone in this conversation. We have not always succeeded.

We are proclaiming the gospel in a country in which seven provinces and one territory have thus far authorized civil marriages of gays and lesbians.

We spent Friday hearing responses to the Primates’ Communiqué of February 2005 and the Windsor report. We listened to many voices. We heard from our Primate, from some dioceses, from national committees (EcoJustice, Faith Worship and Ministry, and Partners in Mission), and from the House of Bishops. We also listened to our Lutheran and ECUSA partners, Essentials, Integrity, and the Primate’s Theological Commission. We heard the voice of First Nations peoples stating that they need time to hear, to reflect and to enter into the conversation as full participants.

Friday evening we received the Report of the Primate’s Theological Commission (The St. Michael Report) prepared in response to the request of General Synod 2004 to consider whether the blessing of committed adult same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine. While the Commission members held divergent theological views they concluded unanimously that the blessing of committed adult same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but not core doctrine in the sense of being credal. (This report is available on the General Synod web site.) There was a clear request that this and other documents be translated/interpreted into indigenous languages to enable First Nations Anglicans to participate more fully in the conversation.

We also heard encouraging messages about the positive welcome we have received in recent encounters with our Partners, Companion Dioceses, at the Provincial Secretaries meeting and other meetings of commissions and networks of the Anglican Communion. We value the trust exhibited in these encounters, since it has been built over many years of working according to the Ten Principles of Partnership established by the Anglican Consultative Council. These principles call for mutual responsibility and interdependence of provinces. While we value our autonomy, we recognize that we are called as Christians to hold one another accountable for our actions.

While we have made every effort to be open and transparent in our processes, we have heard clearly in the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Communiqué that we have not consulted with the majority of the Communion. We recognize that First Nations Anglicans have been excluded because of lack of resources in their languages. We do recognize the importance of broad consultation and look forward to an opportunity to share and to engage in further conversations with members of the Communion. We welcome the call in the Primates’ Communiqué for member churches of the Anglican Communion to respond to past Lambeth resolutions to engage in study about human sexuality, especially homosexuality and welcome the commitment of the Primates neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.

In response to the request in the Communiqué from the Primates’ meeting, we affirm our membership in the Anglican Consultative Council and our rightful place within the Anglican Communion. We confirm our financial commitments to the support of the Anglican Consultative Council, despite the $415,000 cut to our budget. Our duly elected members of the Anglican Consultative Council will be in Nottingham for listening, learning and conversation but will not participate in the June 2005 meeting. It is clear that there continues to be interest in the Communion in how we have reached various decisions. We welcome the invitation to present the thinking behind recent actions in Canada to the Anglican Consultative Council and we have put in place a planning process for the presentation.

Please pray for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Communion, and all involved in our ongoing conversations that as followers of Jesus we may faithfully share our understanding of his love with those we meet.

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