Delegates line up at microphones June 23 to debate resolutions dealing with the blessing of same-sex unions.
In its first full day of debate on issues concerning same-sex blessings, the General Synod on June 23 rejected calls that the issue be decided by a greater margin than usual.
Synod members are being asked to decide whether the Anglican Church of Canada will permit blessing services for gay couples and whether that is consistent with church doctrine.
The plenary hall, a chandelier-lit hotel ballroom where delegates are sitting at tables by diocese, was crammed with about 50 more spectators than usual, a bank of broadcast cameras against one wall and a table full of journalists.
The procedural issues took up nearly the entire evening session. Debate and voting on the actual motions were deferred until later in the convention, which ends on June 25.
In the one- hour, 45-minute period, which occasionally got testy, the governing convention successively rejected motions that would have required a two-thirds majority in two successive synods or a 60 per cent majority for approval. It let stand synod’s normal rule that a resolution may be approved by a simple majority of more than 50 per cent. It also defeated motions for a secret ballot and to refer the issues again to a theological commission. Tired after a tense day, delegates also declined to extend the session past 9 p.m.
Those who supported larger majority votes said the issue needed to be decided with clarity and represented a change in the church’s canons, or laws. “It ought to be decided at that higher standard. The wellbeing of our church is gravely threatened,” said Archdeacon Vicars Hodge of the diocese of Fredericton.
“This is an issue that may rend us asunder. We need to give this full weight,” said Sheila Vanderputten of Calgary.
Those opposed felt it was unfair. “It’s changing the rules. Whether we vote by 50 plus one, 60 or 67 per cent, there will be people who are not happy,” said Rev. Richard Leggett of New Westminster.
“The world is looking for leadership from us. We don’t need this amendment to make it more difficult,” said Archdeacon Lynne Corfield of Niagara.
The debate began earlier in the day with a two and a-half hour discussion session in which delegates explored all facets of Canadian Anglicans’ view on homosexuality.
“I have to come to accept that some people are ordered toward the same gender. The church needs to adjust its views. It has excluded them for too long,” said Dorothy Davies-Flindall of the diocese of Ontario.
“We do have same-sex marriage today (in civil society), but we need more time to talk,” said Shara Golden of Fredericton.
Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa of Toronto said that being homosexual in his native country of Uganda “is a matter of life and death” and the Canadian church can “offer a gleam of hope.”
“Homosexual behavior is not in line with Scripture of my prayer book. We can call it sin. My desire is for people to be whole and come back into line with God’s will,” said Bishop Larry Robertson of the Arctic.