How will General Synod deal with sexuality issues?

Published June 1, 2006

Mississauga, Ont.
With a procedural nightmare looming a year from now when General Synod gathers to decide on the blessing of same-sex unions, the church’s faith, worship and ministry committee has asked Council of General Synod (CoGS) for help in anticipating possible scenarios that could emerge and mapping out ways to navigate through them. (It is CoGS’ responsibility to frame the motions that will be considered by General Synod, the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, which meets next June 19 to 25 in Winnipeg.)General Synod chancellor (legal advisor) Ronald Stevenson underscored the difficulty by saying that even diocesan chancellors across Canada have differing opinions on how best to proceed with the matter. In 2004 the triennial convention voted to defer decision on a motion to “affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions.” But issues other than the deferred motion on same-sex unions have complicated or “added a new dimension” to the debate on the issue, said Mr. Stevenson. Among them are the St Michael Report issued by the Primate’s Theological Com-mission, the legality of same-sex marriage in Canada, the Windsor Report and the effect that decisions will have on the Canadian church’s relationship with the Anglican Communion. The St. Michael Report, released last spring by the Primate’s Theological Commission, concluded that the blessings of same-sex unions is “a matter of doctrine,” thereby giving General Synod, not diocesan synods and bishops, the final authority to decide whether they should be allowed in parishes. Earlier, Mr. Stevenson said it would be up to General Synod to determine whether it will accept the findings as authoritative. The Windsor Report, which sought ways of repairing damaged relationships within the global Anglican Communion over homosexuality, urged a moratorium on the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex blessings. Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster stressed the importance of having “clarity on the scenarios.” He asked whether the deferred motion could still be “lifted” if General Synod accepts the commission’s findings, to which Mr. Stevenson replied, “it won’t need to be lifted; it’s unfinished business; the agenda committee will have to see where it fits.” The faith, worship and ministry committee presented CoGS with at least six possible scenarios that could emerge from General Synod 2007. One potential resolution could be that General Synod would be asked to accept the conclusion of the St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is “a matter of doctrine” but not “core doctrine, in the sense of being creedal doctrine.” General Synod could also be asked to vote on the deferred resolution.Questions could emerge about the marriage canon, noted the committee in its report. “In light of the change in the definition of marriage in Canadian law, the question before us is whether the marriage canon of the Anglican Church of Canada needs to be changed to become inclusive of same-sex marriage.” Another possibility mentioned by the committee was the development of a rite for blessing of same-sex relationship and/or same-sex marriage and rite for same-sex marriage if either deferred motion passes or marriage canon is changed.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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