Ingham to delay same-sex blessings

Published December 1, 2002

Mississauga, Ont.

Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster says that he will delay same-sex blessings in his diocese ?as a gesture of goodwill? toward eight dissident parishes until a process of mediation has begun.

In an interview at the Council of General Synod in November, Bishop Ingham said he had met with Revs. David Short of St. John?s Shaughnessy, Vancouver, and Trevor Walters of St. Matthew. Abbottsford, B.C.

?To take the pressure off I said it would be best if we set the rite aside for now,? Bishop Ingham said.

Previously, at an October meeting of the house of bishops, Bishop Ingham had said he planned to proceed with same-sex blessings. New Westminster?s synod voted in June to proceed with same-sex blessings where they were requested and where clergy were comfortable performing them.

Gay Anglicans in Vancouver reacted with dismay. ?One couple hoped to use the rite to celebrate their 20th anniversary this fall,? said Steve Schuh, a leader of Integrity, a support group for gay Anglicans.

?We have to trust Bishop Michael that he has reason to be hopeful, but I?ve seen no evidence that the dissidents are sincere about reconciliation,? Mr. Schuh said.

Bishop Ingham declined to say precisely how long he would hold off. ?We will see how it goes,? he said.

The eight parishes continue to withhold their diocesan contributions ?since we need some sort of resolution before we re-enter (the diocese) completely,? said Mr. Short.

However, Mr. Short also said he feels the delay is ?good news.?

The diocese is holding a special synod on Jan. 18 to deal with the financial situation created by the boycott, Bishop Ingham said.

The diocesan treasurer has said the boycott is costing the diocese 18 per cent of its revenue of $1.5 million annually. New Westminster?s contribution to General Synod has been about $656,000 in past years, but is expected to drop.


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