"The April 8-19  meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Lusaka, Zambia, was marked by a sense of unity and common purpose, according to Canadian delegates Bishop Jane Alexander and Suzanne Lawson". "There had been some uncertainty leading up to the meeting about whether or not disciplinary measures would be imposed on The Episcopal Church (TEC) following a call from the Primates' Meeting in January 2016 for TEC to face 'consequences' for its decision to perform same-sex marriages. But the ACC declined to impose any sanctions. Nor, according to Alexander and Lawson, was there much discussion of Canada's upcoming vote on same-sex marriage -- which, both admitted -- came as a surprise. 'Nobody asked me [about it]', said Lawson. 'I was all ready to engage, [but] no -- I think people were just delighting in the relationships that were being built'". "The meeting saw the election of Alexander to the ACC's standing committee, which means she will be involved in the council's work for the next three to four years until its meeting in 2019".
The decision to exclude the Anglican Church of Canada from two Anglican Consultative committees on which it does not sit is regrettable in principle but will have no practical effect, says Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Canadian church.
"We do regret the decision, although we note it was adopted by an extremely narrow margin," Archbishop Hutchison said. "Had out members and our American colleagues been allowed their vote, it would have failed. We regret that the Anglican Consultative Council made such a decision in a forum in which we are not being allowed to participate an in which we have no voice. There is, after all, a pretty fundamental democratic principle that says that when decisions are made that affect you, you are allowed to speak to them".
Archbishop Hutchison added: "Our hope is that the discussions and debates of the past few days will provide impetus for the discussion about homosexuality and the role of gays and lesbians in the church to begin in those parts of the Anglican Communion where they have not yet begun."
The Consultative Council approved a motion affirming a request made by the Primates of the Anglican Communion last February  that the Canadian and U.S. churches "voluntarily withdraw" their members from the meeting now underway.
The affirming motion stipulated, however, that the Primates' request that the Canadian and U.S. churches withdraw from the ACC should be interpreted as including participation on the standing committee, which meets between triennial sessions of the full council, and inter-Anglican finance and administration committee.
Neither Canada nor the United States have members on those two committees and since their members at this meeting are not participants, they are not eligible for election.
Earlier in the meeting, in response to another request made by the Primates, representatives of the Canadian church made a presentation explaining where it is on the controversial issue of blessing same-sex unions. The U.S. church made a similar presentation explaining how it came to consecrate an openly gay man as bishop.
Archbishop Hutchison, who is scheduled to return to Canada today, said he would be making a full report to the Canadian Church in a statement that will be issued early next week.
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"On Jan. 3 , British Columbia Bishop James Cowan announced he has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions in response to a request made by diocesan synod in March 2010". "Blessings will be subject to guidelines -- among these, that they will be granted only in parishes 'where a majority decision of Vestry requests such a status from the bishop'. The parish must also make its request to the bishop in writing, and such a request must be renewed each time a new incumbent is appointed and takes office. In his guidelines, Cowan emphasized that a blessing should not be construed as a solemnization of matrimony in the church. 'The Anglican Church of Canada does not recognize as marriage civil contracts between persons of the same gender', he wrote. Only incumbents of parishes where permission for blessings is granted will be permitted to bless. Cowan has authorized the blessing rite of the diocese of New Westminster for use in his diocese. No member of the diocese, lay or ordained, shall be required to act against their conscience on the matter of same-sex blessings".
"Same-sex couples in the diocese of Quebec will soon be able to receive a blessing of their civil union. Quebec's diocesan synod, which met Nov. 2 to 4 , passed a motion supporting Bishop Dennis Drainville's wish to permit the blessing of same-gender unions. The motion also requests the creation of a working group to advise the bishop on how a 'pastoral response' can be implemented for those seeking to have their union blessed". [Text of entire article.]
"Two more dioceses within the Anglican Church of Canada -- Edmonton and Rupert's Land -- have now exercised their right to 'local option' and will offer blessings of civil marriage to same-gender couples. At its 2010 meeting, General Synod recognized that the local option has been exercised without the approval of the national church. Parishes in both Rupert's Land and Edmonton will need to pass a formal resolution expressing their desire to have such blessings before they can be offered. And in both dioceses, clergy must ask for the bishop's permission to offer the blessing. Approximately one-third of the Anglican Church of Canada's 30 dioceses now have moved forward with same-sex blessings, an issue that has deeply divided Anglicans in Canada and worldwide". [Text of entire article.]
That this General Synod affirms the attached statement of its discussions on human sexuality and requests the General Secretary to forward it to the Diocesan Bishops with the request that it will be distributed within each diocese.
CARRIED Act 70
The text of the statement follows:
SEXUALITY DISCERNMENT STATEMENT, GENERAL SYNOD 2010
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Halifax, Nova Scotia in June of 2010. Together we entered into intentional conversations in order to hear where our Church is at this time in its life in relation to the matter of blessing of same gender unions. Our conversations were marked by grace, honesty and generosity of spirit towards one another. There was robust participation in the conversations. In dialogue we shared our passion for the mission of God in the world and our thoughts, feelings and convictions. We were attentive to each others’ perspectives, experiences and stories and we shared a commitment to continued theological reflection and scriptural study as a foundation to our ongoing dialogue and discernment.
We engaged these conversations within the particularity of our Canadian context – a country that is diverse and many cultured. Canadians have been learning how to dialogue across their diversities over the course of our national life. We do so with deeply held commitments to transparency and openness, an approach that is not without risk and that we affirm as a great gift. Often, in processes of discernment, the task is to see our way through a paradox.
Our conversations affirmed the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in our churches, aboriginal voices in our midst, and the wide range of perspectives on the issue of same gender blessings across all dioceses. Our dialogue has been a positive and helpful step in our discernment. At this time, however, we are not prepared to make a legislative decision. Above, in and through all of this, and despite all our differences we are passionately committed to walking together, protecting our common life.
We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts. We accept the continuing commitment to develop generous pastoral responses. We recognize that these different approaches raise difficulties and challenges. When one acts there are implications for all. There can be no imposition of a decision or action, but rather we are challenged to live together sharing in the mission of Christ entrusted to us, accepting that different local contexts call at times for different local discernment, decision and action.
We are in a time of ongoing discernment which requires mutual accountability through continuing dialogue, diocese to diocese and across the wider church. It also requires continued theological and scriptural study and dialogue on the wide range of matters relating to human sexuality.
For many members of General Synod there is deep sadness that, at this time, there is no common mind. We acknowledge the pain that our diversity in this matter causes. We are deeply aware of the cost to people whose lives are implicated in the consequences of an ongoing discernment process. This is not just an =issue‘ but is about people‘s daily lives and deeply held faith commitments. For some, even this statement represents a risk. For some the statement does not go nearly far enough.
In the transparency and openness we have experienced with one another, we have risked vulnerability but it is in such places that we grow closer in the body of Christ and behold each other as gift. Abiding with each other, and with God we are sustained through struggle, patient listening, and speaking from the mind and heart together. We have experienced these conversations as a gift for us here at Synod and hope that they will be a further gift to the Anglican Church of Canada and to the wider Church.
"Canadian Anglican bishops have responded to General Synod's provisional vote on same-sex marriage in starkly different ways: a number have called for prayers, some announced they will now allow religious weddings for same-sex couples and others have expressed anxiety about unity in the church". "The impact of the vote was undeniable. Some bishops and members of their dioceses were noticeably absent at the meeting's closing worship July 12 , including those who had walked out after it was announced that the same-sex marriage motion had passed".