New Westminster bishop Michael Ingham
NEW Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham used a General Synod presentation on sexuality to apologize to gays and lesbians for “the slowness of your inclusion in the body of the church.”
The presentation on sexuality included pleas for tolerance of homosexual Christians, expressions of concern from a more traditional viewpoint and admissions of confusion over the whole issue.
Synod members who view homosexuality as contrary to biblical teaching and Anglican tradition, criticized the presentation, which did not include debate or questions, as an attempt at coercion.
Bishop Ingham told synod that his diocese is “a place to which people move,” often seeking refuge from oppression – political, economic or “religiously-based prejudice.” Some gay people “have moved from your dioceses to our diocese and they have come to us ? in search of acceptance, welcome, dignity and a safer and more productive way of life.”
He reviewed the diocesan synods’ votes favouring the blessing in church of committed same-sex relationships, adding that the diocese is not “rebelling against the word of God,” but seeking to “end religiously-based prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people based on inherited cultural assumptions, or irrational fears, or misuse of Scripture.”
Noting that the New Westminster synod passed a resolution asking him to apologize to gays, he added, “I take this request to be not simply directed towards gay and lesbian people in our diocese, but in your diocese and everywhere in the Anglican church.”
He said: “We apologize to you for your treatment, and sometimes mistreatment in the life of the church, for our slowness in recognizing you as sexual beings, created in the image of God.”
During the same presentation, Rev. Sarah Tweedale, also of New Westminster, said that her “conservative friends and colleagues are feeling marginalized, that they are losing something.” She also said sometimes “we must admit we don’t know what to do.”
Bishop Gordon Beardy, of Keewatin, added that he believed homosexuality wasn’t an issue in his diocese until a family with a lesbian daughter came to see him. He said he is trying to understand the injustice gay people are feeling and has prayed that he’ll understand how to minister to them.
Chris Ambidge, a Toronto member of Integrity, an organization of gay Anglicans, told synod: “It’s our Bible, too, it’s our baptism, too ? there is no such thing as a second-class Christian.”
After the presentation, Brett Cane, a synod member from the diocese of Montreal, said in an interview that many felt “coerced” by the presentation.
He also criticized Bishop Ingham for making his apology at General Synod. “He didn’t ask us whether we agree with it and it gives the people the impression that it was on behalf of General Synod, in the context of the national church,” Mr. Cane said.