Statement by Bishop Michael Ingham following the vote on motion 7

The Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster has now made a clear decision about the pastoral care of Anglicans in this part of Canada.

We have voted not to compel but to permit: to permit those parishes that wish to celebrate permanent, intimate, loving relationships between persons of the same sex to do so in recognition of the God-given goodness of their sacred mutual commitments; and to permit those parishes who stand in continuity with the historic practice of the church, and with biblical truth as they sincerely believe it, to do so without compulsion, with full protection of conscience, and with the pastoral support of episcopal ministry.

We take these steps today in full awareness that others in the Anglican Communion may not understand our actions. We hope all will realize that Canadian Anglicans live in a country where homosexual activity was decriminalized thirty years ago; where human rights legislation offers legal protection to gay and lesbian people against all forms of discrimination; and where churches across this great country freely and openly welcome men and women of every language, race and nation, colour, marital status and sexual orientation. We are an inclusive church in a plural, peaceful and tolerant society.

We are not compromising the Christian faith nor relativising its moral teaching. We are extending to gay and lesbian Christians the same freedom that is enjoyed by others to commit their lives to Jesus Christ together, and the same obligation to grow in the costly demands of love. We are calling them to fidelity, permanence and stability in relationships. We are offering them the support of the Christian community as they grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ through the struggles and challenges of mutual commitment.

No one is being excluded from our fellowship today. We have not taken sides with one group in our church against another. We have chosen to live together in mutual respect. We acknowledge and repent of the pain we have caused in the course of this long process. We are deeply aware that there is much more work to do to build up mutual understanding and reconciliation. In this we ask for the support of the wider church, not condemnation, and patience from those who live in very different social contexts from our own.

We have voted for unity in the midst of diversity. We have decided to embrace faithful Christian believers of differing conscience within the one Body of Christ. We are not taking sides with some members of our church over against others, but inviting both to work together to support the mission of the church throughout the world without the scandal of division.

We do these things in the belief that they are the call of the Spirit to the church everywhere. To the Spirit of God and to the church we pledge our continued loyalty and affection.

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