GS2019: Friday Primer

July 12, 2019

 

Some thoughts for those following General Synod 2019 from afar . . .

 

It is morning here in Vancouver.  Today at General Synod 2019 is the day that everyone has been anticipating.  Here’s a look at what’s coming up to day: https://gs2019.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/Orders-of-the-Day-Friday-July-12.pdf

 

This morning we will look at a resolution https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a050/  which is intended to further the self-determination and the self-governance of our Indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada.  For me one of the great joys of General Synod is the opportunity to spend time getting to know Indigenous people from across the country, and I wish them well on their continuing journey of spiritual renewal and self-determination.

 

This afternoon and evening we will have three votes (at least!) related to the proposal to change the marriage canon to explicitly provide for same sex marriage.  You will recall that the resolution to change the marriage canon passed first reading at General Synod 2016 but that it must also be approved today at this General Synod (“second reading”) in order for the canon (church rule) to be changed.  You might also recall that the voting threshold to approve a canon change is high:  2/3 majority in each of the three orders of bishop, clergy and laity.

 

The first substantial vote related to same sex marriage will be to endorse the affirmations found in A Word to the Church https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a101/ and https://gs2019.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/A-Word-to-the-Church-Considering-the-proposed-amendment-of-Marriage-Canon-XXI.pdf

 

My expectation is that this resolution and these affirmations will be approved, perhaps by near consensus (watch for that).  This is important because approval of this vote would affirm the actions of Bishops and Dioceses who have proceeded (such as the Diocese of Ottawa) or will proceed with same sex marriage in their diocese.  Effectively this would affirm that there is now a local option by diocese to proceed with same sex marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada (regardless of what happens with the vote on the marriage canon which will follow).

 

The next substantial vote related to same sex marriage will be to amend the resolution to change the marriage canon https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a053/.  This would

  1. recognize that indigenous communities will make their own decisions and discern their own way forward with respect to same sex marriage.

  2. recognize that faithful members of the Anglican Church of Canada have different understandings and teachings about the nature of marriage.

 

These are good things. I am supportive of both these amendments in the context of the proposed change to the marriage canon to explicitly permit same sex marriage and I expect these amendments will pass.

 

Which will bring us to the final vote on the change to the marriage canon.  https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a052/

My expectation is that a strong majority, 65%+ will vote in favour of the change to the marriage canon to explicitly permit same sex marriage.  However I do not know if the vote will achieve the necessary supermajority of 2/3 approval in each of the orders of bishop, clergy and laity required in order to change a canon.  I hope that it does, because this would be a bold and strong statement of inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in our church.  But whether it passes or not, we will be in a situation of “Local-Option” in which Bishops and Dioceses will decide whether to proceed with Same Sex Marriage in their Diocese, as Ottawa did in 2016.

 

If the change to the marriage canon passes, many of us, myself included, will celebrate.  If it does not, then watch carefully for statements from Bishops on a diocese by diocese basis as dioceses move forward with Same Sex Marriage one after another.  One way or another, I am confident that same sex marriage will move forward in our church.

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