BC SYNOD REPORT: More blessings?

Published March 10, 2010

The diocese of British Columbia may be the next in Canada to ask its bishop to allow the blessing of married gay or lesbian couples.A motion asking that priests be allowed to conduct blessings of gay of lesbian couples has been submitted to the biennial synod meeting Mar. 6-7 by the parish of St. John the Divine, Victoria.The synod, primarily concerned with a restructuring of the diocese, failed to finish its business but will resume at the call of the Bishop James Cowan later this spring when the motion regarding same sex blessings may come to the floor.Bishop Cowan will make the final decision as to whether same sex blessings should take place in parishes of the diocese, which covers Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. At General Synod 2007, the bishop voted against extension of the blessing.Late last year Bishop Cowan announced that he had lifted his episcopal guideline that prohibited employment of gay or lesbian clergy partnered with a person of the same sex. He said he changed the guideline after discussions with other bishops at the Lambeth Conference and in the Canadian House of Bishops. He revealed that he appointed a priest who was lesbian, whom he did not name.At synod, the bishop said that the priest he appointed had resigned for family and other reasons. However the episcopal guideline – that gay or lesbian priests in partnered relationships may now be appointed – remains in effect, the bishop told synod.A recent survey of the diocese’s then 56 parishes found that 32 parishioners wished to go ahead with such a blessing of same sex couples, and 15 parishes felt so strongly. Another 13 parishes had members split on the issue, and in four parishes, most members were opposed. The other parishes did not respond to the study, which was carried out by churches in the Selkirk (downtown Victoria) region.Strong opposition to the blessing has been weakened by the departure of approximately 200 Anglicans who formerly worshipped in four of the diocese’s parishes and have joined the Anglican Network in Canada over the past two years.However, Bishop Cowan reminded the synod that there are still Anglicans faithful to the diocese who remain opposed. “It is not an easy matter among us,” he said.–Neale Adams is the former editor of Topic, the newspaper for the diocese of New Westminster.


  • Neale Adams

    Neale Adams is a freelance writer in Vancouver. He was former editor of Topic, the newspaper of the diocese of New Westminster.

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