A revised copy of a "Message to the Church" (which the bishops had worked on and discussed while in camera) was distributed to the members for discussion. The document was a statement from the House of Bishops to the Church in response to the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster's decision to bless the union of same sex couples.
That the House of Bishops approve its "Message to the Church" for distribution. CARRIED #HB-02-10-08
(Vote: 28 in support, 9 opposed, and 1 abstention.)
Archbishop Peers commended the bishops for the quality of their discussion. He said that as the President of the House of Bishops, he would support what it had decided.
Bishops Anderson, Atagotaaluk, Burton and Ferris asked that their motions about the blessing same sex unions be withdrawn. (The two motions had been distributed to the members of the House when it was not in session, and had not been put on the floor formally.)
Archbishop Morgan reminded the bishops of the need to move in camera in order to decide whether or not to release any of the information discussed while they were in camera.
A Message to the Church
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Mississauga on October 28, 2002, issues the following statement in response to the decision of the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster to bless same-sex unions.
We are called to be one in the Body of Christ (John 17:21). We know that on the issue of same-sex unions differing convictions are deeply held in the House of Bishops, throughout our church and beyond. The decision of New Westminster has caused pain for some and joy in others. Over the past four years this Diocese undertook an extensive process of study that has led them to their decision. We recognize that members of the diocese on every side of the issue have suffered pain.
Eight parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster have requested alternative Episcopal oversight for themselves. Before the fracture widens we urge all involved to engage in a process of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) on the basis of the general principles passed by the Diocesan Synod in June 2002. Although the precise terms of the conversation will be established within the Diocese we propose that the following elements should be part of it.
1. The conversation should be enabled by a mutually agreed to facilitator.
2. The process should provide `safety' for all participants by setting at least these standards:
a. Being respectful of each other's faith journey.
b. Listening respectfully.
c. Asking `inviting' questions.
d. Attempting to understand from the view points of others.
We request that those outside the diocese respect the integrity of this process and allow it to proceed without intervention.
In recent years some dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have made individual decisions to recognize or forbid, and in this one instance, to bless same-sex unions. We have spent much of our time at these meetings discussing our response to these situations. We are unable to speak with a unanimous voice on this issue of national concern especially with regard to the subject of homosexuality in the light of scripture. We are referring the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions to our national governing body, the General Synod (2004) for discussion and if possible, resolution.
We agree that we will not make individual decisions in any additional dioceses during the interim. Until the time of resolution all bishops are asked to uphold the 1997 Guidelines of the House of Bishops on Human Sexuality.
We call the church to prayer in this difficult and demanding time in our life in Christ.
Canadian Anglican bishops have voted to strike a task force to study what the church should do to provide spiritual care for members who dissent from church policies.
The bishops spent a good part of their four-day meeting discussing the situation in the diocese of New Westminster which has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions. A group of Anglicans in the diocese have declared that they cannot accept this and have asked another bishop to assume "Episcopal oversight" of their parishes.
Despite a prohibition by New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham, Terry Buckle, Bishop of the Yukon, has offered the dissenting parishes this oversight. As a result, Archbishop David Crawley, Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon, has begun disciplinary proceedings against Bishop Buckle.
Following is the text of two motions adopted by the House of Bishops meeting in Mississauga, Ont., last week.
"That in response to the 'Statement by the Primates of the Anglican Communion' (October 16, 2003) the Primate be asked to establish a task force of the House of Bishops to draw up terms and conditions for 'adequate provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities' in the Anglican Church of Canada, to consult through the Primate 'with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates', and to report to the April 2004 meeting of the House of Bishops."
That this House, to enable the work of the Task Force on Episcopal Oversight for Dissenting Minorities,
1. Request that the Bishop of Yukon refrain from exercising Episcopal ministry in the Diocese of New Westminster;
2. Request that the Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon stay proceedings against the Bishop of Yukon;
3. Request that the Bishop of New Westminster seek a stay of proceedings against the priests of his diocese against whom such proceedings have been initiated;
4. That a mediator be appointed by the Task Force to negotiate an interim role for the person exercising Episcopal oversight mutually acceptable to the diocesan Bishop and the dissenting parishes.
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Canadian Anglican bishops meeting this week in Saskatoon, Sask., have unanimously declared the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on unity in the Anglican Communion to be an important document worthy of study by the whole church.
Without dissent, the bishops approved a motion that calls on Canadian Anglicans to respond to the report in time for a meeting of the Primates of the Communion that will be held in Belfast next February .
The bishops also voted unanimously to ask the Canadian Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, to write a pastoral letter to the Canadian Church asking Anglicans to consider the report and send their responses to him.
The Lambeth Commission was created by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams more than a year ago to consider how the world-wide Anglican Communion can preserve its unity in the face of controversies around issues such as the ordination of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions in a Canadian diocese.
The commission under the chairmanship of Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh, submitted its report last month. The commission conducted an exhaustive study of Anglican unity and the stresses it faces and made several recommendations including issuing a call for "expressions of regret" on the part of some bishops and churches whose actions have distressed others in the communion. Bishops who have intervened in the affairs of dioceses other than their own are also asked to express regret and refrain from such interventions in the future.
The report also includes a model "covenant" to more closely bind provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Anglican Primates from around the world are to bring their churches' responses to the Belfast meeting, and the Canadian Church has set up a process to gather those responses.
On another matter, the bishops also approved a document entitled "Shared Episcopal Oversight" which provides a model through which parishes and congregations that dissent from a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions made by their dioceses can be placed, temporarily, under the care of a bishop from outside the diocese.
The model described in "Shared Episcopal Oversight" also provides for a process of reconciliation where agreement between certain parishes or congregations and the diocese's bishop cannot be reached. In both cases, the diocesan bishop is involved in the process.
The document says that "shared Episcopal ministry" is based on a spirit of reconciliation, cooperation and good will.
The meeting of Anglican bishops is held twice a year and brings together bishops from each of the Canadian Anglican church's 30 dioceses from across the country.
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Halifax, Nova Scotia - Officials of the Department of Public Welfare have expressed thanks to the Anglican Church of Canada for its cooperation in a recent campaign to increase adoptions throughout the province.
There were 46 inquiries from married couples to the provincial coordinator for adoption services following the month-long campaign, according to a statement received by the church's social service department.
It is the first example of co-operation between the Anglican Church and provincial authorities in the adoption field. Church organized officials say they hope such a campaign might also be organized in other provinces.
Anglican clergy were asked by Rt. Rev. W.W. Davis, Bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia, to preach on adoption, or conduct a discussion in their churches and to circulate an adoption brochure produced by several denominations.
At present, 21 of the couples that made inquiries have completed or are in the process of completing their adoption.
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 , 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 . 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:
A. 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.
B. 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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Eric Beresford, Ethics Consultant, Faith, Worship and Ministry, 416-924-9199 ext. 209; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Anglican Church of Canada has deferred a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions for another three years to allow a review by the Primate's Theological Commission.
General Synod, the church's highest governing body, voted Wednesday evening to ask the commission to determine whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine and to report to the Council of General Synod by its spring 2006 meeting. It also called on the council to distribute its report to each province, diocese and the House of Bishops for consideration.
The matter would then return to the next meeting of the General Synod in 2007.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on the blessing of same-sex unions is also expected to issue its report later this year.
At the start of Wednesday's evening's session, General Synod's more than 300 delegates faced a five-part resolution dealing with the blessings. In moving the resolution, Rev. Alan Perry of the Diocese of Montreal, said the Council of General Synod had worked on it for many hours. The subject had also been "discussed and debated in every corner of the country and every corner of the world".
Four of the parts dealing with dialogue and the study of human sexuality were quickly approved. It was part two, affirming the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions that was most controversial. Synod members voted to deal with this separately and eventually agreed to send it to the Theological Commission.
Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said the motion provides an opportunity for the questions to be determined and allows further discussion in dioceses "with the hope that it will be decided".
Archdeacon Pat Johnston of the Diocese of the Ottawa asked: "What are we afraid of at this time and how long will we have to wait ?"
In a debate that remained civil and respectful, some delegates wanted a "decision now" while others, especially native members, wanted more time for study.
There were still 16 people at the microphones waiting to speak when the vote was called. The motion to send the issue to the Theological Commission passed with 142 clergy and lay votes for and 118 against; 22 bishops voted for an 12 against.
Debate on another motion by the Rev. Canon Garth Bulmer of the Diocese of Ottawa who wanted the addition of "Affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships" to the resolution was adjourned until today to allow more time for discussion.
Canon Bulmer, whose congregation includes a number of gays and lesbians, said he did not wish to return to his parish without "something for them"
The motion approved Wednesday affirmed:
- That despite deeply-held convictions on both sides of the same-sex blessings issue, "we commit ourselves to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us";
- The value of continued dialogue;
- The principle of respect for the way in which dialogue takes place in "indigenous and various other communities within our church";
- The principle that the Anglican Church includes all baptized people and the importance of maintaining fellowship and unity "including provision of adequate episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all".
The Anglican General Synod is the church's highest governing and legislative body. It is made up of lay people, deacons, priests and bishops elected from each of the church's 30 dioceses, and meets every three years. It has been meeting in the Southern Ontario city since May 28.
The synod will end tomorrow with the installation of a new Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Montreal.
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After several hours of debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has approved an addition to a resolution approved Wednesday that specifically tells same-sex partners that they are welcome in the church and that their relationships are affirmed.
The amendment was introduced by the Rev. Canon Garth Bulmer of the Diocese of Ottawa and affirms "the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships".
The debate on same-sex issues resumed Thursday morning with youth delegates being given first say. Most of the 10 young people were in favour of the motion although two moved an amendment that would have removed the words "integrity and sanctity" and replaced them with "and love those who are in committed adult same-sex relationships". The motion was defeated.
The first young speaker said he was discouraged by General Synod's inability to make a decision on same-sex blessings. "We have been talking about it for three generations", he said, adding that he started out as a "conservative" and was now a "liberal".
He said he was concerned about young gays and lesbians who, because of feelings of rejection, think of suicide or cut themselves.
The word "sanctity" caused difficulty for a number of speakers. Some wondered if it was making the motion into a "doctrinal" statement.
The Rev. Dennis Drainville of the Diocese of Montreal [sic i.e. Quebec], who seconded the original motion, said the word "sanctity" was used because "God is in the midst of that relationship between two committed partners".
After Canon Bulmer's motion was approved, Archbishop David Crawley, the Acting Primate, praised the young people for their contribution. "I hope and wish and pray that you will be back in the future -- perhaps as clergy delegates", he told them. He also commended all delegates for conducting themselves in a "civil and dignified manner".
At the opening of the eight-day meeting, Archbishop Crawley pleaded with delegates to conduct the same-sex debate in a civil way. "You have done as I asked", he said Thursday. "You have conducted yourselves in a dignified and civil manner. Some times synod rises above itself and you have done that."
The approved motion now becomes part of an earlier resolution, approved Wednesday, which affirmed:
- That despite deeply held convictions on both side of the same-sex blessings issue, "we commit ourselves to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us";
- The value of continued dialogues;
- The principle of respect for the way in which dialogue takes place in "indigenous and various other communities within our church";
- The principle that the Anglican Church includes all baptized people and the importance of maintaining fellowship and unity "including provision of adequate Episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all".
General Synod is the church's highest governing and legislative body, made up of lay people, deacons, priests and bishops elected from each of the church's 30 dioceses.
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For more information, please contact: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, OR Brian Sarjeant, OR Lorie Chortyk, Media Relations, at the General Synod Media Room: 905-984-4868. Mr. Carriere's cell phone is 416-540-3653; Mr. Sarjeant's cell phone is 613-558-5023
TORONTO, June 19, 2002 -- The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Michael Peers, welcomed yesterday's open letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Rev. Dr. Trevor Walters. Dr. Walters had earlier written to Archbishop Carey asking for his direct intervention in the Diocese of New Westminster. In his letter Archbishop Carey said that, while his own position on same-sex relations is known, he is "sorry to learn that some walked out of the Synod debate" and "alarmed by the statements of those who appear to be determined to look elsewhere for episcopal oversight which Bishop Ingham has offered".
Archbishop Peers was encouraged by the letter from Archbishop Carey, saying that "while his views on same-sex relationships are well-known, what is not so often acknowledged is his deep commitment to the unity of the church". He praised the Archbishop as a model who "even in the face of strong disagreements, including his own convictions on the issue of homosexuality, has acted to uphold the church's order".
Archbishop Peers expressed reservation in response to one aspect of Archbishop Carey's letter, his proposal to refer the issue to the September  meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
"Our national meetings of the Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops will not have taken place at that time and external advice that precedes our process of consultation within the Anglican Church of Canada could be perceived as not appropriate", aid Archbishop Peers.
In a related matter, the Primate said that he has decided not to call an emergency meeting of the House of Bishops at this time, given practical and financial considerations, "but even more importantly, given the need for us to be patient and to come well prepared to the discussion of this issue at our meeting in October. Both in our own times and through the centuries, Anglicans have best discerned the will of God, the mind of Christ and the leading of the Spirit by taking time rather than by making haste".
Link: Open letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rev. Trevor Walters [see Notes]
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Contact: Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada, 416-924-9199 ext. 276
June 19, 2002
Open letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rev. Trevor Walters
Lambeth Palace, England Jun. 18, 2002
[The following is a message from George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Rev. Trevor Walters, spokesperson for the eight parishes which walked out of synod after the diocese of New Westminster voted in favour of blessing same-sex unions. It responds to a letter sent by Mr. Walters before synod to Archbishop Carey and all primates in the Anglican Communion, asking them to intervene in New Westminster and provide alternative episcopal oversight for clergy and parishes which did not support same-sex blessings.]
Thank you for your letter, sent to me ahead of the Synod meeting at the weekend. I did not judge it right that I should comment on it prior to the debate.
As I understand it, the Synod's decision has been to introduce a liturgical form for blessing same-sex unions, for use in those parishes where this forms an important part of their ministry; and a system of extended episcopal oversight to provide for those clergy who in all conscience fundamentally reject this development in the life of the diocese.
My own position in relation to same-sex relationships is well known. I stand firmly by the resolution passed at the  Lambeth Conference. For this, I have been criticised as homophobic. I am not. But I do not accept that homosexual relations can be treated as being on a par with the man-women ideal portrayed in Holy Scripture.
It saddens me deeply that any diocese should be following a course at odds with the  Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10(e); and I fully understand the dismay this causes to those in the diocese who disapprove of this departure from the Anglican moral tradition and the views of the majority of their fellow believers throughout the Anglican Communion.
At the same time, I am sorry to learn that some walked out of the Synod debate following the result and I am alarmed by the statements of those who appear to be determined to look elsewhere for episcopal oversight in place of the extended episcopal support which Bishop Ingham has offered.
As I understand it, there is much detail still to be worked out in relation to the arrangements outlined in last weekend's resolutions. For example, the extent and limitations of the pastoral care that is being offered is far from clear; as is the timetable for certainty about what these proposals amount to, both constitutionally and liturgically.
Let us make no mistake, these are difficult and painful issues -- both for those who hold strong views on each side of the argument, and for those who remain undecided. I believe firmly that we should `speak the truth in love' to each other, on these and many other issues -- but I believe that we do so most effectively by standing our ground in continuing dialogue and ongoing fellowship with each other, not be walking away.
As you indicate in your letter, this matter has implications far beyond the boundaries of the Diocese of New Westminster. I have no doubt that the unity of the Communion is threatened by your Synod's decision. You ask me to intervene, in accordance with Resolution 3.6(b) of the Lambeth Conference 1998. Although I have my doubts as to whether that resolution is directly relevant to the problems you face, I shall seek to ensure that the matter is brought up at the forthcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting and the Primates' Standing Committee.
That the Council of General Synod endorse the resolution of the House of Bishops urging Bishop Terry Buckle to withdraw his offer of episcopal oversight for 7 parishes seeking alternative episcopal oversight in the Diocese of New Westminster.
The mover and seconder agreed to replace the word "endorse" with "concur with" and to include the full text of the House of Bishops' motion. The amended motion now reads:
That this Council of General Synod concur with the resolution of the House of Bishops urging Bishop Terry Buckle to withdraw his offer of episcopal oversight for 7 parishes seeking alternative episcopal oversight in the Diocese of New Westminster, the text of which reads:
"That this House, while appreciating his desire to be helpful, and in light of the appointment of Bishop William Hockin to a special ministry in the Diocese of New Westminster, urges Bishop Terry Buckle to withdraw his offer of Episcopal oversight for the seven parishes seeking alternative Episcopal oversight in the Diocese of New Westminster. CARRIED #32-05-03
"That in light of the Primates' Statement of October 16, 2003, we ask all parties involved in, or seeking, extra-territorial Episcopal oversight to stand down, and that legal proceedings against the bishop and clergy involved be stayed, for an initial period of three months to allow for the ministry of adequate alternative episcopal oversight to be put in place at the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates."
Archbishop Hutchison gave notice that he and Archbishop Clarke had prepared a motion, which might be helpful for the conversation. Copies of it were distributed.
Moved by: Archbishop Clarke
Seconded by: Archbishop Hutchison
"That in response to the `Statement by the Primates of the Anglican Communion' (October 16, 2003) the Primate be asked to establish a task force of the House of Bishops
- to draw up terms and conditions for `adequate provision for Episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities' in the Anglican Church of Canada,
- to consult through the Primate `with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates',
- and to report to the April 2004 meeting of the House of Bishops." (Note: see p. 24, when motion was put to a vote.)
That the motion be considered in a committee of the whole. CARRIED #HB-03-10-02
The discussion (about Bishop Burton's and Bishop Bruce's proposed motion) continued. Copies of a motion prepared by Archbishop Hutchison and Archbishop Finlay were distributed.
Moved by: Archbishop Hutchison
Seconded by: Archbishop Finlay
"That this House, to enable the work of the Task Force on Episcopal Oversight for Dissenting Minorities,
1. Request that the Bishop of Yukon refrain from exercising episcopal ministry in the Diocese of New Westminster.
2. Request that the Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon stay disciplinary proceedings against the Bishop of Yukon.
3. Request that the Bishop of New Westminster seek a stay of disciplinary proceedings against the priests of his diocese
4. Commend the disaffected parishes to the ministry of Bishop William Hockin as Episcopal Visitor."
Moved by: Archbishop Crawley
Seconded by: Bishop Lawrence
"That the House of Bishops rise from the committee of the whole." CARRIED Res. #HB-03-10-03