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.
The Anglican Church's House of Bishops, meeting here since Monday, this morning asked a small committee to propose a process for the church to address issues of human sexuality, including the bishops' statements of 1978 and 1979. The committee will report back on Sunday.
The 43 bishops from across Canada spent this morning responding to a request from the church's National Executive Council, meeting in November 1990, that "the House of Bishops update its 1979 statements on human sexuality and ordination of persons of homosexual orientation."
Professor James Reed, Director of the Toronto School of Theology, began the morning with a presentation on the scriptural and doctrinal bases of the church's teaching on sexuality.
He said the question for the Christian is, "How, in light of our scriptural and theological tradition, do we make responsible sexual and moral decisions?"
Professor Reed said there are four ethical considerations which should apply in making decisions about sexual behaviour.
First, look at the motivation of the activity. Sexual acts should be motivated by love and justice.
Second, what are the objectives of the activity? Sexuality should strive to contribute to the wholeness of the persons concerned. "Will this act foster a sense of being at one with oneself and with God?"
Third, assess the inherent rightness or wrongness of the act: Sexual activity should not be debasing or cruel.
Fourth, discern the outcomes of the act: What will happen when I do this, both for myself and my community?
The bishops worked in small discussion groups focussing on their understanding of the authority and interpretation of scripture, and the strengths and weaknesses of their current statements.
The results of the small group discussions have been forwarded to the subcommittee who will bring proposals when the discussion resumes on Sunday.
For further information, contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, (416) 540-3653.
"When the preparatory volume entitled `The Family in Canada' was prepared by Dr. Frederick Elkin for the Canadian Conference on the Family in 1964, it became clear that there was a great dearth of information on many aspects of Canadian family life. Of particular concern to some of us who are interested in family life education and preparation for marriage was the great gap in scientific data about Canadian premarital sexual behaviour patterns and the relationship thereto of Church teaching and Christian education. We wanted to know whether or not sociological studies of premarital sexual patterns elsewhere were valid for the Canadian scene. We wanted to know the facts of the Canadian situation and some indication of the role of Christian education and experience in shaping that situation. In pursuing these objectives we were fortunate in obtaining the help of the Reverend W.E. Mann, M.A., Ph.D., an Anglican priest who is currently Professor and Head of Sociology Programs at Atkinson College, York University". -- Intro.
Contents: Introduction / Maurice P. Wilkinson -- Chapter I: Background: Social Sources of Sexual Change -- Chapter II: Sexual Changes and Patterns in Selected Predominantly Protestant Countries -- Chapter III: College Premarital Behaviour in the U.S.A. -- Chapter IV: High School Dating and Sexual Patterns in Ontario -- Chapter V: Central Campus: Study Design and Basic Findings -- Chapter VI: Specific Patterns of Courting and Sexual Behaviour -- Chapter VII: Role of Social Stimuli -- Chapter VIII: Attitudes, Codes and Opinions -- Chapter IX: Social Nexus to Premarital Behaviour -- Chapter X: The Urban Trend and Sexual Changes -- Conclusion / John C. Spence -- Selected Bibliography on Sexual Studies Since Kinsey.
I feel somewhat like the little boy who cried wolf.
The National Executive Council last May did discuss the report of its Committee on Human Sexuality as I explained in my previous letter to you. However, at that time the report was sent back for more revision.
Aside from some comments in the Canadian Churchman, the anticipated media coverage of which I spoke did not, therefore, materialize.
I do not believe that will be the case in November. The NEC meets from the 13th to the 15th and the report will again be on the agenda. It appears that this time action will be forthcoming and publication will follow.
The Toronto Star, reporting on the September House of Bishops meeting, has already published one story on the report, which has been getting wide circulation. It is most unusual to receive inquiries from as far away as Montreal and Windsor from journalists asking if they may attend NEC to cover the discussion of the report.
So be prepared. What we said last time stands -
* This is a study document, not a policy statement.
* It is to assist the people of the Church in their consideration of extremely important and sensitive moral and social issues.
I realize it is difficult for you to discuss with the people of your Parish a document you have not seen. At least, at this point, make clear its nature to them and assure them that it will be used responsibly and calmly to assist our Church in giving the kind of leadership we all desire in this crucial area of contemporary life.
I thank you very much in advance for any steps you can take between now and mid-November to see that whatever appears in the media is kept in perspective.
Following a forum on sexuality at the 1992 General Synod, dioceses were urged to begin discussions on sexuality and homosexuality. The Journal asked each diocese what they have done so far. Each diocese is represented here.
Also lists the members of the national church task force on homosexuality.
At head of title: Dialogue on Same Sex Unions, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.
"Prepared by the Commission on Faith and Doctrine : The Rev. Dr. Willliam Crockett, Dr. Edith Humphrey, the Rev. Canon Eric Beresford".
"This report comprises three papers written by three Canadian Anglican theologians -- the Rev. Canon Eric Beresford, the Anglican Church of Canada's consultant on ethics and interfaith [relations]: the Rev. Dr. William Crockett, a recently-retired faculty member from the Vancouver School of Theology; and Dr. Edith Humphrey, professor of scripture, Augustine College, Ottawa. The authors provide three different perspectives on questions related to the interpretation of scripture and our understanding of sexuality". -- p. 1.
"In this report, the authors address: What constitutes a faithful reading of scripture ? -- What is the purpose of human sexuality ? -- How is human sexuality related to God's plan of redemption ? -- How does sexuality itself help us to grow as Christians ?" -- front cover.