The Council of General Synod (CoGS) averted division in the house when movers of a resolution endorsing the Lambeth Commission’s call for a moratorium on public rites of blessing of same-sex unions opted to withdraw it after much opposition.
Archbishops John Clarke, of Athabasca, and Caleb Lawrence, of Moosonee, suggested the withdrawal of the motion after several council members questioned why it seemed to single out recommendations from the commission’s Windsor Report regarding the diocese of New Westminster.
The Windsor Report “is a broad document that’s subtle in many of the things it says,” said Canon Robert Falby of Toronto. “It’s inappropriate for this council to pick out a part of that report and emphasize that.” He questioned why the motion did not similarly endorse a recommendation made by the report that primates desist from offering alternative episcopal oversight to parishes outside their jurisdiction.
Archbishop Lawrence said, “My concern is that if it goes ahead we will be a divided house.”
Peter Irish, a lay member from the diocese of Fredericton, said he was “not quite ready to put a stamp on anything” in the Windsor Report. “We need to discuss this.”
Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster gave an emotional plea, saying, “We’re not just talking about the report and its recommendations, we’re talking about people whom the church has failed.” He then read aloud a letter from a gay Anglican who said that as he was approaching the end of his life he felt alone and afraid because his church had turned its back on him.
The mover, Rev. James Robinson of the diocese of Calgary, withdrew the motion, “in the spirit of family” as did Ronald Stevenson, chancellor or legal counsel of General Synod, who had seconded the resolution. But Mr. Stevenson said the resolution “was not directed at one diocese” but was merely a recommendation for CoGS to say something about the Windsor Report.
Earlier during its three-day meeting here, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the only Canadian member of the Lambeth Commission, briefed CoGS members on the report.
The Windsor Report “is not a unanimous document,” said Ms. Barnett-Cowan, director of General Synod’s faith, worship, and ministry department. “The recommendations were unanimous, but frankly, we were working so close to deadline that we did not have time to digest everything in it and sign off on each word.”
CoGS members, meanwhile, gave the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, several pointers on what issues to raise during the primates’ meeting next month. Bishop Ingham said there was a need to correct an error in the Windsor Report, which stated that his diocese failed to consult with anyone before approving same-sex blessings. Other members suggested the need to clarify “our reality, our context, and our structures in the Anglican Church of Canada” as compared with other provinces of the communion.
In his second Web cast message, videotaped in November, and in a Nov. 30 pastoral letter Archbishop Hutchison asked Canadian Anglicans to send their responses to the Windsor Report to [email protected]. The video Web casts are archived at www.anglican.ca.
The primate said the responses will become part of the message he takes to Northern Ireland, when all the primates of the Anglican Communion meet there next month and again to the Anglican Consultative Council that will meet in Nottingham, England, in June 2005.