Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Canadian Anglicans learn more about Cuban cousins

Posted on: July 27th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio says the relationship between church and state in communist Cuba has come a long way. Photo: André Forget


What is it like being an Anglican in the context of a Latin American communist state—one that was, until 1992, officially atheist?

At a July 11 lunch and learn, members and guests at the Anglican Church of Canada’s 41st General Synod in Richmond Hill, Ont., were given an opportunity to learn more about one of the church’s most unique international relationships: its partnership with the Episcopal Church of Cuba.

Speaking through an interpreter, Canon Stuart Pike, of the diocese of Niagara, Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio—head of the roughly 6,000-strong Cuban church—explained that the relationship has come a long way since the revolution.

While the early years of communist rule saw a crackdown on churches and a number of restrictions place on the rights of Christians (at times, they were even denied access to education), the government has come to see the church as being, in some respects, a useful partner.

“[The government] is understanding now that the churches are actually giving value to their societies,” she said. “So they might not understand the faith aspect, but they do understand that there is value in it.”

However, the legacy of secularism has left the church with a difficult task: many Cubans know next to nothing about Christianity.

“[Cubans] have been educated in secularism very, very strongly,” Delgado said. “One of the biggest challenges of the church is to confront the indifference that the people have regarding faith.”

Evangelizing the youth is much easier than trying to reach those who were raised in the heyday of Cuban secularism, she said.

“There is a generation between the ages of 30 and 50 that has never had any kind of an experience, or any kind of a dynamic with faith at all—it is unknown,” she said. “And so, for this reason, it is the younger generations that are more able to understand and learn about the faith.”

The lunch and learn was also an opportunity for Canadian Anglicans to get to know Delgado herself a little better.

Born in Bolivia, Delgado moved to Cuba in 1981 to study at the Anglican seminary, which was just beginning to open itself up to women’s ordination. Despite the fact that the Cuban government’s attitudes toward religion were still quite rigid at that time, Delgado explained that she was drawn to Cuba’s progressive education and health-care policies.

“Cuba was still a place where there had been some changes that were helping the people,” she said, noting that many other Latin American countries at the time were suffering under brutal military dictatorships.

“In Cuba, on Monday morning, every kid gets in their uniform and goes to school, and no one is left outside because of not enough money—whereas in the rest of Latin America, it is not like that,” she added. “Neglected, abandoned kids are all over the place.”

Delgado’s presence at synod is part of an ongoing relationship that has existed between the Anglican church in Canada and Cuba since the revolution severed direct ties between the Episcopal Church of Cuba and its U.S.-based parent, The Episcopal Church (TEC).

The Cuban church, originally a missionary diocese of TEC, has been governed since 1967 by a Metropolitan Council, which includes representatives from the Canadian church, TEC and the Anglican Church of the West Indies.

 

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

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Anglican Journal News, July 27, 2016

Putting theology into practice

Posted on: July 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Theologians Donal Dorr, Nicola Slee and Fainche Ryan were speakers at this year’s BIAPT conference.
Photo Credit: BIAPT

[ACNS, by Jayson Rhodes] Practitioners, teachers and researchers in practical theology converged on the Irish town of Limerick last week for the annual British and Irish Association of Practical Theology Conference.

The conference brought about 120 practical theologians together to examine how they can work and research out of their faith in contexts that range from parish ministry to chaplaincy and academia.

The chair of BIAPT, Dr Clare Watkins said that the work of the conference focused on integrating theology and practice and this year linked it as a form of spiritual practice.

This year’s conference had the theme of Wrestling with Angels? – Practical Theology as Spiritual Practice. Dr Watkins said that it has been some years since the conference was held in Ireland and it reflected the ecumenical nature of the association that is largely Protestant. Along with theologians from Britain and Ireland there were also delegates from Canada and New Zealand.

At the conference Sandro Dallas was awarded the annual MA dissertation prize for his work that explored whether the Gregorian Notion of Consideration as a framework for theological reflection could aid reflective practice in pastoral care.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Thursday 21 July 2016

Motion to delete prayer for Jews fails at General Synod

Posted on: July 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

“Why are we praying for the conversion of the Jews specifically?” asks Archdeacon Alan Perry, former member of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue of Montreal. Photo: Art Babych


A prayer for the conversion of the Jews may remain in the Book of Common Prayer until at least 2022, after a motion to delete it failed at General Synod, the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body,  last week.The resolution, moved by General Synod Chancellor David Jones Tuesday, July 12, called for Prayer Number Four, in the book’s “Prayers and Thanksgivings upon Several Occasions” section, “to be deleted from use and omitted from further printings.”

Because the resolution dealt with worship, it would have needed to be approved by two General Synods in a row, and by a two-thirds majority in all three houses. While passing by more than 70% among the clergy and laity, the resolution garnered the support of 65.63% of the bishops—just under the 66.67% it would have needed.

Because of technical problems, two votes were held on the resolution. Soon after the first vote—in which the resolution was similarly approved by the laity and clergy, but not the bishops—a number of members complained that their voting clickers did not seem to be working. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and chair of General Synod, then said he realized he had not asked everyone if they had seen the green light on their clickers before declaring the voting finished—his customary practice. He ordered the second vote.

In the second vote, 21 out of 32 voting bishops produced the percentage of 65.63.

However, because the vote on the resolution, like that on the marriage canon, was so close and had encountered a technical problem, some questions about its status may remain.

It was established Monday, July 18, that none of the electronic votes cast by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald at General Synod were counted because he was “erroneously listed” as a “non-voting” member.

Had he voted in support of the resolution, it would have garnered 22 out of 33 votes, or precisely the two-thirds majority needed.

MacDonald could not be reached to comment Thursday, July 20, on how he would have voted on the resolution.

Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan, says the proposed deletion of the prayer should not have been presented as a “housekeeping” issue.  Photo: Art Babych


In a statement on the technical problem involving MacDonald’s votes, released July 18, Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of General Synod, said he would “seek the advice of the Chancellor of General Synod, and present a full report of all voting issues and recommendations of any possible mitigation, to the Council of General Synod at its first meeting this fall.”

Asked if MacDonald’s lack of a vote on the Prayer Book resolution might be among these issues, Thompson replied in an email, “I am not prepared to speculate now as to what will be pertinent to share with the Council in November.”

The resolution was introduced as a follow-up to the de-authorizing of another Book of Common Prayer collect in 1992. In that year, General Synod gave the needed second reading to a resolution to delete the third Good Friday collect, which asks God to “have mercy upon the Jews, thine ancient people.” But Prayer Number Four was not similarly de-authorized,

Jones said, “and so this is in a certain sense a housekeeping motion to complete that deletion.”

The motion met with some debate, with Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan, voicing opposition. The context of Prayer Number Four is different from that of the Good Friday collect, he said; praying for the conversion of the Jews during Good Friday in particular, he said, “colours things greatly.”

This, he told the Anglican Journal, is because of the “whole bunch of historical problems and issues in the history of the church and its treatment and scapegoating of the Jews” associated with Good Friday.

The content of the two prayers is also different, Hawkins said.

The prayer removed in 1992 asked God to take from the Jews “all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word.” Prayer Number Four, on the other hand, while asking God to open the hearts of the Jews, refers to them as God’s “ancient people,” and also requests that God “take away all pride and prejudice in us,” for example.

Moreover, Hawkins said, Prayer Number Four is optional, whereas the Good Friday collect was mandatory.

“I think it’s fair to say that there are many people who would not use this collect,” he told General Synod. “But there are also many who might use it, and for whom the theology of that collect is something that they’re comfortable with, and to remove it might seem to say to them that there’s no place for that kind of point of view.”

His main objection to the resolution, Hawkins said in an interview, was that a change to the Book of Common Prayer was presented as a housekeeping issue.

“The motion didn’t come from [the] Faith, Worship and Ministry [department of the office of General Synod]; it didn’t come out of a particular study; there wasn’t an adequate rationale for it,” he said. “I’m certainly prepared to consider the removal of it, but I think to find it buried in the housekeeping motions is something I wouldn’t like to see happen again.”

However, Archdeacon Alan Perry, of the diocese of Edmonton, and a former member of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue of Montreal, told General Synod he strongly supported the motion.

“Why are we praying for the conversion of the Jews specifically?” he asked. “That’s an extraordinarily difficult thing for our Jewish brothers and sisters to hear, or to see in our prayer book. And so it seems to me that it is entirely compatible with the trajectory of our Jewish-Christian dialogue, and with our developing good relations with our Jewish brothers and sisters, to remove this prayer.”

Speaking very briefly in support of the motion, Dean Iain Luke, of the diocese of Athabasca, repeated part of the prayer, which had just been publicly recited.

“As we just heard, ‘Take away all pride and prejudice in us that may hinder their understanding of the Gospel,’ ” he said. “Perhaps by bringing this resolution today, we’re finding that prayer being answered.”

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Perry said he was disappointed with the result of the vote.

“I thought it would be fairly obvious to people that this was a prayer so similar to one that we’ve already determined is inappropriate for public worship that I thought it would have been fairly straightforward,” he said.

Asked whether the Jewish community had expressed concern about the prayer, Perry said it had not, to his knowledge.

“I suspect not very many of them knew it was there,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t think many Anglicans knew it was there.”

Perry said he was disappointed the motion failed, and said he hoped it would be re-introduced at the next General Synod in 2019.

The prayer, found on page 41 of the 1962 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, reads:

 

4. For the Conversion of the Jews.

O God, who didst choose Israel to be thine inheritance: Look, we beseech thee, upon thine ancient people; open their hearts that they may see and confess the Lord Jesus to be thy Son and their true Messiah, and, believing, they may have life through his Name. Take away all pride and prejudice in us that may hinder their understanding of the Gospel, and hasten the time when all Israel shall be saved; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, July 21, 2016

‘We need your knowledge’ on Indigenous advocacy: Brazilian primate

Posted on: July 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Indigenous farmers in Brazil are being killed for opposing projects that threaten their lands, says Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva. Photo: Art Babych


Advocating for the rights of Indigenous people is one area where the Anglican Church of Canada might have much to offer its Brazilian cousin, the primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil said Monday, July 11.“Brothers and sisters, what is happening right now in Brazil is a serious genocide against Indigenous people,” Archbishop Francisco de Assis da Silva told a small roomful of people at a “lunch and learn” event at General Synod, held July 7-12 in Richmond Hill, Ont. In one year recently, he said, more than 138 Indigenous people in Brazil were assassinated as part of a struggle over land with large-scale farming companies. [The Catholic Indigenist Missionary Council documented these alleged killings in a report.]

“It is one field [where] I hope the Brazilian and Canadian church can stay more connected, because you…have had a long battle to build all this you are doing now, and we are starting. We need your knowledge and your experience, because…advocacy we are ready to do, but we need to have more instruments to make the Indigenous communities be represented, and their voice be heard, in Brazilian society.”

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, travelled to Brazil last November to meet with Assis and others from the Brazilian church. In an interview with the Anglican Journal soon after his return, Hiltz said the Brazilians had been very interested in learning about Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the 94 Calls to Action that issued from it and the Anglican Church of Canada’s response to those calls.

Indigenous rights, Assis told General Synod in a presentation later that day, is just one area of concern for the Brazilian church—a church, he said, that has an especially high interest in social justice. The church stresses inclusivity in many areas, including gender politics, he said; it has, for example, been ordaining women priests for 31 years. Assis said he also hoped it would soon have a female bishop.

“We are a small church. But as a small church, we make many, many noise,” said a smiling Assis, whose presentation included more than one apology for his occasionally imperfect English.

A central concern of the Brazilian church right now, he said, is the state of the country’s democracy amid an ongoing process to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

“Brazil is living critical times in terms of its political institutions,” he said. “Democracy and rights are under serious threat.”

Many of his country’s troubles, he said, stem from its colonization process—a process that resulted in a mentality sometimes termed “casa grande e senzala”—a big house for the wealthy, slave dwellings for everyone else.

For most of the time since the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president in 2003, Assis said, considerable progress has been made in his country in human rights and in improving living conditions of the poor and other marginalized groups, women and children.

“It’s evident to the whole world that Brazil became a place where government was committed to transformation,” during this time, he said.

Then, last October, Roussef was re-elected, but by a very slim margin, and her government was left without a majority in the congress. Since then, conservatives have been trying to reverse some of these changes and attempting what Assis referred to as a kind of “coup d’état” in attempting to impeach Roussef in the absence of evidence of any crime on her part.

Assis said he worries about the civil chaos that might result if the impeachment process—expected to conclude next month—succeeds.

“Depending on the result, honestly I don’t know what will help in our society,” he said.

The Brazilian and Canadian churches have developed a close relationship over the years. There are now companion relationships between the diocese of Huron and Amazonia and the diocese of Ontario and Southwestern Brazil; the national churches are also working toward a formal partnership.

After Assis’s presentation to General Synod, Hiltz said that, while many churches in predominantly Roman Catholic Brazil are known for their devotion to St. Mary, “there are some others that are devoted not only to Mary, but to singing her song and making her song the very essence of their witness in the society in which they live, and that’s very true of the [Anglican] church in Brazil.

“We look forward to continuing conversations…as we forge again a province-to-province relationship,” he added.

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, July 21, 2016

Faith-based groups at UN Aids conference

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Revd Jackson Milton Cele, regional chair of the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, joins other demonstrators marching through the streets of Durban, South Africa, on 18 July demanding better funding for HIV and Aids treatment around the world.
Photo Credit: Paul Jeffrey / WCC

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The United Nations’ 21st International Aids Conference got underway yesterday (Monday) as some 18,000 delegates from 183 countries gathered in Durban, South Africa. Before it began, faith-based groups from around the world held a pre-conference meeting to discuss their approach.

UNAids say that the conference “is set to emphasise the need to build partnerships, promote community mobilization to hold leaders accountable and ensure that HIV is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“In addition, the conference will, as always, provide a showcase for experts to present new research findings, scientific developments and best practices in programme implementation.”

In the final session of the faith-based pre-conference, the participants re-committed themselves to ending HIV and Aids, and to keeping up the pressure in the face of “Aids fatigue.”

“We have the science to end HIV in five years, but we don’t have the funding,” the UNAids’s senior advisor for faith-based organizations (FBOs), Sally Smith, told the meeting. “We need FBOs and their willingness to go the extra mile. You are called to finish the task that you started.”

Smith encouraged FBOs to re-evaluate their targets and adapt to the changing face of HIV around the world. “You need to look at what you are doing. The epidemic has shifted. Have you? We need new targets — doubling the numbers on treatment; accelerating the reach of testing and ending new infections in children.”

A joint session of interfaith and Catholic pre-conferences heard the stark message that children with HIV were being failed – “targets for childcare have been missed, medication is not suitable and we still need earlier infant diagnosis with half of infants infected dying within 24 months,” the World Council of Churches said.

The deputy executive director of UNAids, Dr Luiz Loures, explained that all the UN’s targets on HIV and Aids were aimed at 2020; but had been brought forward two years for children. “Children cannot wait,” he said. “HIV is coming back and it’s more selective. It increasingly follows areas of conflict, with rape used as a weapon of war.”

Faith-based organizations tested more than four million children last year – an achievement that was praised by Dr Deborah Birx, the US government’s Aids Ambassador. “When much is done, even more is expected,” she said. “We are now at a different place and the risks are more complex.

“Girls are at risk because one-third to one-half are not in school in many countries and their first sex is forced or coerced. We need to work within communities of faith to teach that children should be able to grow up without being raped.”

  • Additional reporting by the World Council of Churches. Click here to see their extensive coverage of faith-based issues and activities at Aids 2016.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the Anglican Communion News Service on Tuesday 19 July 2016

National Indigenous bishop’s votes at GS 2016 not recorded due to error

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Anglican Journal staff


National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald, during an Indigenous Eucharist at General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych


None of the electronic votes cast by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald were recorded at the recently concluded General Synod, July 7-12, because he was “erroneously listed” as “non-voting,” Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, confirmed today. The error, which the Anglican Journal and another publication brought to Thompson’s attention on Friday, July 15, came on the heels of a vote miscount July 12, which dramatically reversed General Synod’s vote on same-sex marriage.

In a statement, Thompson said that in the process of reviewing the list, it was determined that “in addition to myself and the chancellor,” MacDonald was wrongly listed as non-voting in the spreadsheet provided to Data-on-the-Spot, the electronic voting services provider hired to manage the voting by clickers.

“I have spoken with and apologized personally to Bishop MacDonald, and he has been gracious and understanding,” said Thompson. “We are all deeply grateful to Bishop Mark, and to all those with whom he works, for the emerging clarity in the Indigenous Ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Thompson also acknowledged that “the integrity of voting at General Synod has come perilously close to breaking. I am grateful to all who have helped us understand where and how that integrity was put at risk.” Thompson said the information will help his office “both correct mistakes and, for future General Synods, learn how errors can be avoided.”

When contacted by the Journal Thursday, July 14, to find out if he was aware that his name was not on the list of voters at all, MacDonald, who was travelling, said in an email: “My vote was not recorded. I was apparently not on the list.” Asked if this was a mistake and if he had further comment, he said, “Yes. I voted on all items and apparently was not recorded.”

More than 200 members of General Synod 2016 had voted on a number of other motions, including one related to greater self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans in the church. MacDonald had also moved two resolutions related to responsible investing, including the creation of a task force for social and ecological investment.

Thompson said that if MacDonald’s vote were to have been registered and counted, it would not have changed the outcome of the motion to change the marriage canon to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages.

“It would have increased the number of opposed in the order of bishops from 12 to 13 total (one-third of bishops present and voting). The number of bishops in favour would still have met the legislative threshold of two-thirds,” he said. Twenty-six, or 68.4%, of bishops voted in favour of the resolution.

Thompson said during the synod, MacDonald had approached the head table following the release of the voting information for the motion to revise the marriage canon. “At this time, he informed the primate that he had voted ‘no.’ ”

Thompson said he is seeking the advice of General Synod Chancellor David Jones and “will present a full report of all voting issues and recommendations of any possible mitigation, to the Council of General Synod at its first meeting in the fall.”

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Anglican Journal News, July 18, 2016

Seven bishops ‘publicly dissent’ from same-sex marriage vote

Posted on: July 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

Some members of General Synod, including the bishops of the diocese of the Arctic Darren McCartney (middle) and David Parsons (right),  walk out of the plenary hall after it was declared that the same-sex marriage motion had passed first reading. Photo: Art Babych


General Synod “erred grievously” in its approval, earlier this week, of a resolution allowing same-sex marriages, a group of seven bishops say.

In  a statement  released Friday, July 15, the bishops said they “publicly dissent” from the decision, which, they add, “imperils our full communion within the Anglican Church of Canada and with Anglicans throughout the world.”

The statement, a copy of which was sent to the Anglican Journal, also called on the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby “to seek ways to guarantee our place within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion.”

Hiltz was not available for comment when contacted by the Journal.

The statement was signed by Bishop Stephen Andrews, of the diocese of Algoma; Bishop David Parsons, of the diocese of the Arctic, and Suffragan Bishop Darren McCartney, also of the diocese of the Arctic; Bishop Fraser Lawton, of the diocese of Athabasca; Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia; Bishop Michael Hawkins, of the diocese of Saskatchewan; and Bishop Larry Robertson, of the diocese of Yukon.

Twenty-six bishops, or 68.4%, voted in favour of the motion to change the church’s marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriages, and 12 voted against.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Lawton said the bishops were concerned that “there may be a relearning of how we relate to one another, and that some things that were always givens may not be so now.”

Asked to specify what he meant by this, Lawton replied, “I don’t think at this point we can say much more than that. I think there will be a time of thinking deeply what the relationships are between perhaps Anglicans within Canada—bishops, dioceses, individuals—and it’s an unknown at this point what that will look like.”

In their statement, the bishops reaffirm their commitment to the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as to the Church Catholic and the Anglican Communion. They also reaffirm their commitment to “the scriptural, traditional and catholic definition of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman as set out in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services.”

The bishops declare that they “absolutely condemn homophobic prejudice and violence wherever it occurs, offer pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation, and reject criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”

The statement begins with a declaration that “the entire process, beginning with the hasty vote in 2013 and concluding with the vote and miscount this week, has been flawed and inflicted terrible hurt and damage on all involved.”

The bishops also say that the declared intentions on the part of some bishops to immediately proceed with same-sex marriages, before the required second vote on the resolution in 2019, is “contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.”

“That raises the question…why did we bother voting at all, if the decision was already made?” said Lawton. “There are a whole pile of pieces that cause some concern. We truly hope there’s a way to address some of these as we look forward to 2019.”

In passing the resolution, the dissenting bishops said, General Synod “has taken a further step in ordaining something contrary to God’s Word written,” in addition to endangering its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In the aftermath of General Synod’s vote, Lawton said, “It’s clear there are some very different understandings around doctrine, around Scripture, around what it means to consult, around what it means to be a catholic church, what it means to engage with the process, what is the place of apostolic tradition…It puts on the table in quite a visible way that what we have always understood those relationships to be might now in fact be changing, and we don’t know what that looks like. And that’s true within Canada, but it also has that same impact on other members of the Communion, [and] with other members of the whole church.”

The bishops say they do not believe the resolution in its current form provides enough protection for “the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations.”

In particular, Lawton said, the bishops are concerned about congregations and clergy who don’t agree with the decision, but may find themselves in dioceses that strongly support it.

“Do they have a place? What will be there for them?” Lawton asked.

Lawton said that they are asking the primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury for “concrete and real ways” that a good relationship could be forged between Anglicans who felt “marginalized and sidelined” and the rest of the church.

“Is there a sense that those who disagreed with the decision that was made are even welcome in the church anymore?” he asked. “It’s one thing to make some statements, but the question is the action. So it’s often been said, ‘We want everyone at the table,’ but for some time the responding question is ‘Why?’

“If there’s not going to be a true engagement and a true welcome, then it makes it pointless to pretend to participate in process.”

Lawton also said, the entire House of Bishops noted in February that the legislative approach—a vote on an actual change to the marriage canon—by its nature “set us up essentially for an antagonistic environment.”

Many people opposed to changing the canon, he said, felt sidelined by the lead-up to the vote. And the vote itself left questions unanswered for many people, he said.

“I don’t think it went well, and I think it reflects badly on us,” Lawton said. “There are just a whole pile of things that, in retrospect, don’t make a whole lot of sense, and sadly, it leaves us in the place where I think a lot of people left thinking, ‘What the heck happened?’ ”

 

 

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

Primate says he can’t stop bishops from allowing same-sex marriages

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Archbishop Fred Hiltz delivers the sermon at the closing worship of General Synod 2016, July 12. Photo: Art Babych


Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, says he understands why some bishops have chosen to go ahead with the solemnization of same-sex marriages, even though the marriage canon (church law) cannot be officially changed until it is voted on again at General Synod 2019.He also stressed that he has no jurisdiction over diocesan bishops to stop them from doing what they want on the issue.

“As primate, I have no authority to say to a bishop, ‘You can’t do that and you must not do that,’ ” he said.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal July 14, Hiltz said that due to the pastoral contexts in which these bishops find themselves, they are “under huge pressure from their parishes and their clergy to proceed” with same-sex marriage.

“There is a part of me, I think, that would say, given their pastoral context, I understand where they are coming from,” he said. “I can see the pressure they feel.”

Following General Synod’s July 11 vote on the marriage canon, which narrowly defeated the first reading of a motion to allow same-sex marriage, several diocesan bishops, including Bishop David Chapman of the diocese of Ottawa and Bishop Michael Bird of the diocese of Niagara, announced they would allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

When a recount the following day, July 12, showed that the motion had indeed passed its first reading, and would therefore go on to a second reading at General Synod in 2019, where it would be voted on again, these bishops stood by their earlier statements to move ahead with same-sex marriages in their dioceses.

They faced immediate backlash from more conservative bishops, seven of whom have issued a joint statement saying they “publicly dissent” from the outcome of the same-sex marriage vote and that going ahead with same-sex marriage now is “contrary to the explicit doctrine and discipline set out in our constitution, canons and liturgies.”

In an interview with the Journal on Tuesday, Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia, said that having bishops go ahead with same-sex marriage would cause a “period of chaos” for the Canadian church.

Hiltz, however, said he is confident that there are other bishops who will be committed to making sure the church understands that the question isn’t settled until it has been voted on again in 2019.

He did acknowledge, however, that tensions between those seeking to go ahead and those unhappy with the proposed change to the marriage canon will be a topic of serious conversation at the House of Bishops meeting in September.

“We will need to find a way to have that conversation in as respectful a way as we can. It in itself will be extremely divisive in the House of Bishops,” he said.

Aside from noting that a block of time will be set aside for a General Synod debrief, however, he wasn’t able to provide much information about how that conversation will be structured.

Although some have been critical of the church for expending so much energy on the question of marriage, given that church marriages are in general decline in Canada, Hiltz said that giving LGBTQ couples access to church weddings is about equality.

“The issue, from my point of view, is no longer acceptance; it is no longer inclusion—I would hope that our church has got past that,” he said. “The issue now is marriage and the longing for gays and lesbians in monogamous, lifelong relationships of faithful, covenant love. They want equality.”

The synod was also marked with a high level of frustration over the strictures of the parliamentary procedure, and in particular the way in which it leads to divisive and polarizing approaches to complex issues.

“I was hearing really clearly from members…can we find other ways of making substantive decisions that don’t, as some would say, leave people…pitted against one another?” he said.

Following the July 11 debate and vote on the marriage canon, synod members were asked on the morning of July 12 to reflect in writing on how they think the church might better approach questions of structure and governance.

Hiltz said these comments would be compiled into a digest for study by the House of Bishops and Council of General Synod (CoGS), and that he hopes this would open up possibilities for a less adversarial way of decision-making.

“I think there is an openness [to change], and I think, in fact, I would go so far as saying that it cracked open, in this synod—it cracked open and people talked about it,” he said, adding that this might be an area where the Anglican church can learn much from its Indigenous members.

“Certainly one of the things I’ve said is that from Indigenous people we’ve learned that the circle-type conversations…work,” he said. “What can we continue to learn out of that, in terms of having an experience of synod even in the midst of a conversation that is very difficult, of people not…feeling pitted against one another?”

While the decision to move toward allowing same-sex marriage in the Canadian church will doubtless have repercussions across the 77-million-strong global Anglican Communion, Hiltz said he has yet to receive a response from either the Anglican Communion Office or Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He noted that the Church of England has only just wrapped up a meeting of its own General Synod.

He said he would send Welby a letter explaining what happened at synod and including the resolution on the marriage canon that passed its first reading.

“That is in keeping with the openness and transparency for which our church is known—and this office is known—in the Communion,” he added.

As the church recovers from a General Synod marked by pain, division and confusion around the vote to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages, Hiltz says Candian Anglicans must focus on “restoring relationships.”

Hiltz said that the way events unfolded has caused everyone to come away feeling some measure of hurt.

“I don’t think you could say of this synod that anybody won the day,” he said. “Everybody, in a sense, felt everybody else’s pain, no matter what side of the issue you are on or how you hoped the vote would go.”

 

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.

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Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

In wake of same-sex marriage vote, some bishops fret for unity of church

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


Empty tables and chairs as some General Synod members choose not to participate at the closing worship of General Synod following the provisional approval of the same-sex marriage motion. Photo: Art Babych


Canadian Anglican bishops have begun to respond 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.

On July 12, General Synod reversed its original decision rejecting the motion to change the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage after the discovery of a miscounted vote in the Order of Clergy.

Bishop Melissa Skelton, of the diocese of New Westminster, said she was “relieved” by the vote, which she said gay and lesbian people would see as an affirmative step. However, she added in an interview, “In my province, and among my friends in the House of Bishops, I’m very concerned for those who feel that they’re not ready for that. How do we continue to make room for their point of view in a sensitive and caring way?”

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.

In an interview, Bishop William Anderson, of the diocese of Caledonia, took issue with bishops who announced they would go ahead with same-sex marriages shortly after it was announced July 11 that the vote had been narrowly defeated and then again, when the outcome was reversed.

“It further exacerbates the contempt for our synodical process. I think we’re in for a period of chaos,” he said in an interview. “I think this process has been immensely destructive of the unity of our church.”

On the evening of Monday, July 11, after the resolution appeared to have been voted down, at least two dioceses—Niagara and Ottawa released statements that they intended to proceed with same-sex marriages anyway. The diocese of Toronto announced that it would consider taking this step.

In a statement dated July 11 but released the morning of July 12, before the results of Monday’s vote were overturned, the diocese of Huron also said  it intended to authorize same-sex marriage liturgies “once guidelines are in place.”

Most of these dioceses cited General Synod chancellor, Canon (lay) David Jones, who announced in synod Monday, July 11, that the marriage canon in its present form “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” A diocesan bishop is also allowed to authorize liturgies “to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by the General Synod,” said diocese of Huron bishops Bob Bennett and Linda Nicholls.

After Tuesday’s dramatic reversal, the bishops of Ottawa,  Niagara  and Huron announced their earlier decisions to allow same-sex marriages would stand unchanged; their dioceses would not wait for the resolution’s required second reading in 2019.

“Notwithstanding the reversal of the resolution’s outcome, I am committed to my promise to our diocese and local LGBTQ2 community to continue to walk along the path of full inclusion and to immediately proceed with equal marriage,” said Niagara Bishop Michael Bird.

“Now we proceed, comfortable in knowing that the national church is behind us as we continue to deliberate these next three years anticipating the second and final vote in 2019,” said Ottawa Bishop John Chapman.

Archbishop of Toronto Colin Johnson likewise announced  “We can now begin to discuss how this will be implemented in the diocese of Toronto in a similar way to what I spoke about in my earlier statement.”

However, some bishops said they would need to consult with members of their dioceses before taking any action.

Bishop Michael Oulton, of the diocese of Ontario, said in a statement that he would consult with diocesan leaders and also hold a “diocesan day” for Anglicans in the diocese to “share their hopes and suggestions on how we move forward as a diocese in response to the changes.”

Bishop Ron Cutler, of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said in a pastoral statement that he was “not willing to give a similar permission” as the bishops planning to immediately allow same-sex marriages. He, too, however, announced plans to consult with diocesan leaders, and added that the matter would need to be discussed at the diocese’s synod, the next meeting of which is slated for May 2017.

Bishop Jane Alexander, of the diocese of Edmonton, said she was “in favour of being able to offer all of the sacraments of the church to all God’s children,” but asked the Anglicans of her diocese to be “patient with me as I work out our next steps in the Diocese of Edmonton.”

Bishops—both for and against same-sex marriage—also urged their faithful to pray for the church.

“May God send his healing Spirit upon all who are hurting, or confused and give us all the peace of Christ,” said Alexander in a message posted on her diocese’s Facebook page.

Alexander suggested the emotional roller-coaster ride of General Synod 2016 might actually bear a valuable lesson for the church.

“On Monday the church tipped in one direction; there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up,” she wrote. “On Tuesday the church tipped in the opposite direction and there was pain and hurt and tears and we all needed one another to hold us up.

“I think that it is more than probable that God is telling us that we need one another and for a while we have all got to stand in the place of the one that we might consider to be the ‘other.’ ”

Diocese of Athabasca BishopFraser Lawton, in a pastoral statement to his diocese released Tuesday, said “what is clear is that the church has great need to better live out Christian community and to welcome and care for those who are hurting and feel rejected and unloved.” Lawton called for prayers “for the church, for discernment and wisdom for the diocese, and for God’s grace.”

Lawton, like other bishops, also decried the very process by which the church had chosen to deal with the issue, saying it created unnecessary pain and division.

“For many of us, the process leading up to the synod and the way the decision unfolded was difficult and very troubling,” he said. “The experience of discussing, debating and voting on the resolution was a difficult experience for all involved. Many were deeply hurt when it seemed to have been defeated. Others were deeply injured and grieved when it was overturned the next day…Sadly, many relationships, including between dioceses and various church bodies, have been seriously damaged.”

Chapman, who voted in favour of the motion, also shared his dislike for the process.

“I wish that the matter was presented to synod as a pastoral matter from the very beginning and not as a canonical issue,” said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.

Skelton said the bishops had spent a considerable amount of time talking amongst themselves about the idea that a “legislative” approach—an actual vote on the canon—might not be the best way of dealing with same-sex marriage. However, she said, there may not be a real alternative to voting on such matters, painful and divisive though it is.

“I myself don’t know what to do when we have an important issue that needs to be voted on,” she said. “It’s imperfect…I wish we didn’t live in a world where decisions cut both ways, but I frankly don’t know of any other way at this time.”

Twenty-six bishops, or 68.4%, voted in favour of the motion and 12 voted against, a fact that surprised many. In February, the House of Bishops had issued a statement saying the motion was “not likely” to pass with the required two-thirds majority in the Order of Bishops.

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, July 15, 2016

“Forbearing one another in love”

Posted on: July 15th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews
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“Forbearing one another in love”

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In light of decisions made at General Synod 2016 concerning the solemnizing of same-sex marriage, I pray our Church can and will take to heart Paul’s plea with the Christians living in Ephesus, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Going into General Synod, the delegates knew there would be pastoral implications whether the Resolution to amend the Marriage Canon passed or not.  In order to pass it would, according to the Declaration of Principles (General Synod Handbook), require a two-thirds majority in each of the three orders voting: bishops, clergy, and laity.

On Monday, July 11 the result of the vote was that in the orders of bishops and laity there was the required two-thirds majority but not in the order of clergy.  The vote was very close.  The pastoral implication was that LGBTQ2S persons and those who have accompanied them were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

Because the vote was so very close, on Tuesday morning there was a request that the record of this vote be made public and Synod concurred.  Analysis of the actual vote revealed that one clergy member’s vote was not properly recorded.  The Chancellor then advised the Synod that according to the numbers we in fact did have a two-thirds majority vote in the order of clergy, and I announced the resolution had therefore passed in all three orders.  The pastoral implication was that a number of members of Synod were disappointed and saddened.  Many wept.  The Synod sat in silence.

We have been deeply divided over the solemnizing of same-sex marriage for a very long time.  That has not changed.  In the midst of this division, I need to take to heart Paul’s counsel and I encourage our whole Church to do the same.  “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” writes St. Paul.  He reminds us of our fellowship in Christ Jesus, through our baptism, and in the eucharist.  He reminds us that we are “the Body of Christ, members one of another”, and that we in fact need each other, and need to find ways to make room for one another.

In keeping with the theme of Synod, “You are my witnesses” the question with which we must now wrestle is this, “For what kind of pastoral and prophetic witness can and will we be known?”

I pray that witness not be marred by fraction and breaking of communion with one another, but rather that “forbearing of one another in love” that “eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.  More than ever we must make efforts not to turn away from one another but rather to one another, not to ignore but to recognize one another, not to walk apart but together.  We need as a Church to work hard at maintaining our communion in Christ, for in his reconciling love is our hope and our life.

The Synod passed on first reading an amendment to the Marriage Canon to allow for same-sex marriage in our Church.  Because it is a Canon about doctrine, consideration of the matter is required in “two successive sessions of the General Synod”.  So the matter will be before the General Synod in 2019.  In the meantime, it is referred “for consideration to diocesan and provincial Synods”.

I call the Church to seize this opportunity.  I commend the General Synod’s reaffirmation by resolution of the 2004 General Synod Statement on the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships, and its call for a much wider and deeper engagement with the report, “This Holy Estate”.  I will ask the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to give immediate attention to the matter of translation, at least of the executive summary of the report and frequently asked questions.  I will ask CoGS to consider what other resources might be helpful.  I will be asking the House of Bishops at their fall meeting to consider how we encourage “further consideration” of the matter, and to show strong leadership in their dioceses in hosting events, dialogues, and studies.

In all these conversations I want to encourage much more engagement with people who identify as LGBTQ2S.  We have spent a lot of time talking about them.  I believe we need to take much more time to talk with them and to learn of their lived experience of covenanted love in relationships that are monogamous and life-long.  I know that will require of all of us a good deal of courage and grace.

Finally, I ask that without ceasing, we pray for one another, mindful always of the counsel of Paul.

“I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 1-3)

Signature - Fred

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July 14, 2016