Decision urged on same-sex blessings in diocese of Calgary

Elizabeth McLennan, spokesperson for Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity and mover of the motion requesting the diocesan bishop to allow clergy to bless same-sex unions. Photo: Contributed
Published December 13, 2017

An informal group in the diocese of Calgary is calling on the bishop to make a decision on whether to allow same-sex blessings in the diocese.

Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity, a lay group formed last January to push for same-sex blessings in the diocese, released a statement last week calling on Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson, bishop of Calgary and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land, to announce his response to a motion  passed at the diocesan synod October 14 requesting him to allow clergy to bless the unions of same-sex couples. At the time, Kerr-Wilson said he expected to announce his decision by mid-November. But no decision has yet been announced.

“Votes that pass in synod are expected to be acted upon and implemented,” Elizabeth McLennan, spokesperson for the group and mover of the motion, told the Anglican Journal Friday, December 8. “I think the diocese has really clearly shown the archbishop the direction it wants to take, and honestly, now it’s totally up to Greg to decide whether or not he’s going to listen to his synod.”

McLennan said she had met with Kerr-Wilson Thursday, December 7 for about an hour to discuss the issue. The discussion, she said, was very respectful while frank and open, but the archbishop would not give her a timeline for announcing his decision. He vaguely suggested, she said, that a decision might be possible sometime in January.

Contacted by email, Kerr-Wilson confirmed Tuesday, December 12 that he was now hoping to announce a decision in early January.

The October motion, which passed with 57.4% of votes, asked the bishop “to grant permission to any clergy who wish to bless the unions of faithful, committed, Christian same sex couples.” The motion also asked “that clergy and lay people of the Diocese of Calgary shall be entrusted to follow their consciences.”

The blessing of a same-sex couple involves a different rite from a church marriage. Since 2002, more than one-third of the Anglican Church of Canada’s 30 dioceses have proceeded with same-sex blessings.

A motion to amend the Anglican Church of Canada’s marriage canon to allow same-sex marriages passed its required first reading at General Synod in 2016, and would need to be ratified at General Synod’s next meeting in 2019 to become church law.

McLennan said she refers to Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity as a movement rather than a group because it does not require members to sign up, and no membership list is kept. There is, however, a leadership team, she said, and the group also has a Facebook page. As of Wednesday, December 13, the Facebook group had 80 members.


  • Tali Folkins

    Tali Folkins joined the Anglican Journal in 2015 as staff writer, and has served as editor since October 2021. He has worked as a staff reporter for Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His freelance writing credits include work for newspapers and magazines including The Globe and Mail and the former United Church Observer (now Broadview). He has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College and a master’s degree in Classics from Dalhousie University.

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