Margaret Willoughby (right), prays during the broadcast of Essentials’ video conference entitled For Such a Time as This.
Conservative Canadian Anglicans opposed to liberal views on homosexuality attracted a nationwide audience on Saturday, Feb. 28 for a four-hour video conference entitled For Such a Time as This.
Hosted by Bishop Tony Burton of the diocese of Saskatchewan and television personality Lorna Dueck, the conference was broadcast from the studios of a religious cable channel in Burlington, Ont., about 50 km west of Toronto. The video conference was beamed nationwide by satellite to 22 churches and other locations and was also available in private homes on satellite channels.
The event, said Bishop Burton in his opening remarks, was intended to “prayerfully consider the future of our church” and was not intended “to promote the establishment of another church or a structure within our church.”
It was produced by Essentials, a coalition of conservative Anglican groups, at an approximate cost of $70,000, said producer Doug McKenzie. Traditionalists, who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality as sinful, have voiced concern for years about more liberal church attitudes toward gays. The concern became more vocal since the diocese of New Westminster in 2002 voted to permit the blessing of gay relationships and since the Episcopal Church in the United States last August confirmed the election of an openly-gay bishop.
The conference also featured Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, who is leading a dissident coalition of churches in the U.S. opposed to the election of Bishop Gene Robinson, a gay man who is in a committed relationship. Also appearing were Rev. David Short, a leader within the Anglican Communion in New Westminster, a group of parishes opposed to gay blessings. “The New Testament warns us that there are limits to our communion,” he said, addressing the question of whether this issue will split the Anglican church.
Also appearing were Rev. C. Dawn McDonald and Michel Schnob of Montreal, who said they were formerly homosexuals.
A member of the studio audience, Margaret Willoughby, of St. George’s church in Lowville, Ont., said she found the conference interesting. “I appreciate the Anglican church and it is helpful to know it is intellectually sound to believe in the accuracy of the Scriptures. I hope the Anglican church carries on,” she said in an interview.
Bishop Burton said one of the purposes of the conference was to “ignite a holy hope” that the Anglican church would “return to the authority of Scripture.” He also said that “part of what we are doing today is we are forming a network” of traditionalist Anglicans. The conference broadcast a telephone number for supporters to call and register their names and/or donate to Essentials.
Looking ahead to General Synod 2004, Bishop Burton said that if the triennial governing convention approves the blessing of same-sex relationships, the network will form a way that “Anglicans across the nation can demarcate themselves publicly and say ‘(General Synod) may agree with that but we do not.'”
Mr. Short said such an action would “affect all of us across the country … the same as the blessing of any other sin like idolatry.”