Letters to the editor, May 2019

Published May 23, 2019

Letters are subject to editing.

In response to “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops,” April 2019, p. 1

I am appalled and heartbroken at the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury to not invite spouses of our same-sex bishops to attend Lambeth.

If Lambeth foots the bill for such a venture, this is a blatant sign of bigotry and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; certainly not at all the message of the gospel or remotely Christ-like in approach. If Lambeth does not foot the bill, they tread on even shakier ground in their promotion of discrimination. Any religious leader like this Archbishop of Canterbury who demonstrates such concepts is guilty of these horrible sins and certainly should not and cannot have the right to call themselves a pastoral or spiritual leader of the church—any church.

It is sickening that church-like words—such as “church’s positions,” “awareness of causing pain,” “invite you to join me in praying,” and “blessing to His precious Anglican Communion”—is just hogwash rhetoric. Is the church in the business of knowingly causing pain and proceeding anyway? Are we content to allow our larger and sometimes local leadership to hide behind the curtain of church language and theological trappings, which then make their bigotry and discrimination okay? To the Archbishop of Canterbury: this is a disgusting decision, and it truly shows what kind of “leader” you actually are. It is gross, archaic and truly uncalled for. You should be held to accountability for not only breaking the equality of all persons expressed in the scripture, but also to a higher standard of moral lawfulness.

The Rev. Dwayne W. Bos
Oromocto, N.B.

The front-page article of the April Anglican Journal about same-sex spouses not being invited to the bishops’ conference at Lambeth next year is very disturbing. It is a blatant act of discrimination by the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Discrimination in any form is an act of hatred and, in essence, a hate crime.

It is unacceptable that this discrimination is against bishops elected by Anglicans in their own dioceses.

Canadians would be outraged by this treatment. For an international church to practice discrimination is immoral and completely opposite to the teachings of our Lord.

Is it time that Canadian Anglicans take a stand against discrimination by breaking away from the international Anglican Church and establishing a separate Anglican Church of Canada?

Darrell Butler
Fredericton, N.B.

Re: the front-page article in Anglican Journal, “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops”—at first I was appalled that same-sex spouses would still be an issue, but then I was deeply sad that it apparently was still an issue in my church.

As I thought about it further, it occurred to me how very rude it was to exclude two partners. Simple good manners should dictate that if all partners were not welcome, then no partners should be invited to attend. To exclude them and to advertise the fact that they are being excluded was unbelievable.

I am in my mid-eighties, having received my first Anglican teachings from two female missionaries driving a Sunday School caravan. My mother had arranged for them to visit our farm in the Slocan Valley, B.C. This is the first time I have been so deeply ashamed of my church’s actions.

Doris Coates
Perth, Ont.

There was a lot of ink used in the April issue around the fact that same-sex spouses would not be invited to Lambeth.

While I personally disagree with the decision, the decision was made in accordance with the church’s position on marriage, and rightfully so.

The ink could have been saved, or used for discussion of other issues, if no spouses had been invited. It would have been a non-issue at this time—and perhaps soon, the Anglican Communion will deal with the issue of same-sex marriage head on, rather than dithering.

Don Dewar
Dauphin, Man.

When I picked up my mail from the post office last week, I discovered—to my surprise—that someone has given me a subscription to the Anglican Journal. The front-page story immediately caught my eye: “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops.” Not an auspicious introduction to the publication.

As I recall, Jesus Christ said that there are two great commandments, which can be summarized as “Love God” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Then he added, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The “law” to which Jesus was referring is contained in the Torah, the Talmud, and other Jewish sacred texts. What he was saying is that the two great commandments epitomize all these laws. Would it be a step too far to assume that what he meant is that all laws pertaining to religious practice fall under the umbrella of the two great commandments? If so, one could include Resolution L10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Many Christians apply the paradigm “What would Jesus do?” in choosing courses of action. So what would Jesus do about the 2020 conference invitations? My money is on him inviting and welcoming all bishops and their partners to the conference, just as he invites and welcomes everyone to his feast.

The exclusion of bishops’ same-sex partners from the 2020 Lambeth Conference on the basis of Resolution L10 is a transgression against the second great commandment, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Since Jesus uttered it, it takes precedence over any human-made law relating to religious practice, of which Resolution L10 is one.

Jesus, divine and human, knows better than anyone that bodies are ultimately irrelevant. It is bodies that are gendered, and they are evanescent, existing in time. Souls are not gendered; they are immortal, existing in the moment in which all time is subsumed. That is the form in which we are the image and likeness of God: sparks mirroring the infinite “Love that fires the sun and the other stars.” When only bodies love, we call that lust. In a committed relationship such as that of the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool and her partner, it is souls that love, love past the yearnings of the body, and past the perishing of the body.

Jesus enjoined us to love everyone, even our enemies. Surely, then, erring on the side of love can never be an error.

Olga Domján
Elora, Ontario

I read with sadness the article regarding same-sex spouses of bishops not receiving invitations to attend the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

I would urge all Canadian bishops to not take their spouses to the conference in solidarity with their brother and sister bishops.

At a time when we are consciously trying to include more people in the Anglican Communion, it is unbelievable that two individuals are being excluded. The bishops and their spouses are examples of couples who are devoted to each other.

I suspect there may be other bishops in the Communion who have been married more than once, lived common-law for a period of time or committed adultery; all of which are contrary to the Bible’s teachings.

Without these individuals being included, how can we learn and come to understand and accept the LGBTQ2 community?

Penny Finneron
Toronto, Ont.

I’m sure the college of bishops of the diocese of Toronto are delighted to see the story on the front page of the Easter edition of the Anglican Journal. I think few people within and outside of the Anglican Church of Canada are unaware of the issue or of the sensitivity surrounding the matter. I suspect it was not, at least I hope it was not, your intention for Bishop [Kevin] Robertson to become the “poster boy” for the issue.

Yes, there are inconsistencies in the canons and acceptable practices with our Church, and they certainly need to be addressed. I’m not convinced the front page is where that discussion should have its genesis.

Neither do I think it is good journalism to be always, apparently, looking for the sensational story. Michael Thompson’s reflection would have been a better choice for the front page and that which is there, important though it might be, could just as well have gone on an inside page.

Independent journalism may be important, but when a paper carries the name of the Anglican Church, some sense of sensitivity to the readership and community of faith would be more acceptable. Frankly, having “the article-story” on the front page does not encourage me to be any more supportive of the issue. I do not like sensational journalism at the best of times and certainly not in what is, I think, said to be a Christian newspaper.

The Rev. Ray Fletcher
Telkwa, B.C.

A parishioner writes: It is clear that the hymn “All Are Welcome” will not be sung at the Lambeth Conference.

A relative of mine is in a same-gender marriage. I can only imagine how angry she would be, were she excluded from an event that her spouse was attending. This couple did not choose to be gay. Neither did Bishop [Kevin] Robertson.

Is this a loving, Christian response? It is little wonder that attendance at Anglican churches in Canada is in decline.

Also, we all know clergy who, for a variety of reasons, regret the failure of a first marriage and are now enjoying happy second marriages. How are they to feel when Anglicans cling to the 1998 definition of marriage as “the lifelong union of a man and a woman?”

This is 2019. In my humble opinion, we Anglicans should act accordingly.

Linda Gilpin
Toronto, Ont.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no mention in the Bible for or against same-sex-marriage. However, there are biblical passages on the practice of homosexuality, and of course we must submit to scripture.

Leviticus 18:22 states: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 20:13 uses similar language. Romans 1:26-27a states: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.” And 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 asks: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders will inherit the kingdom of God.”

After all of that, verse 11 is a great verse: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

So now what do we do? Well, read Galatians 6 starting at verse 1: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

We as fellow Christ-followers need to walk with each other and include everyone in our daily lives. Theirs and our burdens should not be dark secrets that are hidden away. We should help each other; that’s what Christ-followers do.

Kor Kits
High River, Alta.

I am a long-time receiver of this paper and was stunned by the story of gay spouses of bishops not allowed to accompany the bishops to Lambeth.

It struck me that we are being taught to reach out to others and welcome them to our church. This is the most disgraceful order I have ever seen. No wonder our churches are quickly losing members. I can’t understand why gays are not involved in church with marriage and full communion. The world has changed in the past few centuries, and it is more than time for the Anglican Church to change, also.

Come in the 21st century.

My days are probably numbered in this church, which I have belonged to for 75 years. Come into the real world.

Nancy Knorr
Saint John, N.B.

I’ve moments ago read the first page: “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops.”

I’m stunned. I guess I belong to a different Anglican faith, one where everyone’s accepted regardless of their gender and no one is ever turned away. I’m shocked by this article, and I hope others who read this feel the same as I do.

I cannot believe that a man in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s position turns his back on gay people in this day and age. He should be a leader in support, tolerance, acceptance, inclusion; how sad I am.

This article is disgusting and offensive, and the Archbishop should be ashamed of himself. I’ll say no more.

Peggy Rainbow
Delta, B.C.

I read with some interest “Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops.” Besides just seeming rude and unchristian, it is unjust. A few more respectful alternatives could have been considered:

  • Spouses are not invited at all. Why are spouses officially invited, anyway? This is a conference of the bishops, not their spouses.
  • Bishops could be permitted to invite one other person of their choice. A spouse does not enter into it at all.
  • All spouses are invited. Gives those opposed to same-sex marriage the chance to interact with real same-sex spouses. It might make their decision more compassionate and informed.

Ed McDonough
Toronto, Ont.

There is something illogical about Archbishop Welby’s decision not to invite the spouses of bishops Mary Glasspool and Kevin Robertson (and potentially the spouse of the bishop-elect of Maine) to Lambeth 2020. Equally illogical is the Communion secretary-general’s statement that it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited. By definition both parties to a marriage are spouses. Bishops who are same-sex spouses are being invited, but their spouses are not.

Ronald C. Stevenson
Fredericton, N.B.

As the daughter of a minister, I recognize how important a committed partner is to a priest or a bishop. The job is a difficult one, and the spiritual and emotional support of a dedicated spouse enhances the effectiveness of a priest or bishop. With that in mind, I am troubled that the Anglican Communion is not inviting spouses of bishops to the Lambeth Conference. Surely, the support of a spouse should be encouraged, not deprecated. The church pays lip service to inclusiveness and compassion, but decisions such as this one counter those ideals.

Dorothy Watts
Vancouver, B.C.

From the very beginning of the Christian church, the body of Christ has never been whole. Because of culture and times, over 50% of the body was/is not able to function in the way to which God called her followers.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and many parts of the body of the Anglican Church continue to perpetuate this brokenness.

Many parts of the one body have never experienced equity or equality. Rather, they have experienced the ongoing death of their potential, their opportunity, initiative, ideas and creativity—their calling, their dreams, their fulfillment, their spirituality, culture and languages.

Man-(male)made canons defined, controlled and manipulated the Christian church from its inception.

The control of women, LGBTQ folks and all persons who did/do not fit the model, were/are manipulated by those with the power and authority to withhold whatever they deemed not of scripture (as they interpreted it). Access to the same God to which all were invited by Christ to share, was/is denied.

God waits in hope for us to eliminate this discrimination if we wish to truly profess the love of Christ in practice and not words alone.

Tannis Webster
Winnipeg, Man.

God’s gifts already given

Thank you to the Anglican Church for including Lutheran churches on the mailing list. Though a retired Lutheran pastor, I still read the Journal with interest. The December issue prompted a response to “A taste of the future” (Dec. 2018, p.5) and “Churches should stop doing marriages” (Dec. 2018, p.5), which I see as tied together. Both Eucharist and marriage are God’s gifts already given, and the church’s sole responsibility is to celebrate what God has already done, both in a relationship and also on the cross. And yet, the celebrations both lead us into the future as well—support for the future of a life together as a couple (of whatever God-given sexual persuasion), and life together with God’s presence in bread and wine as we struggle to live our Christian calling each day ahead of us.

Richard Holm
Woodstock, Ont.

In response to “Diocesan bishops create islands of polite dissent,” March 2019, p. 5

The thoughtful letter from the Rev. Brian Pearson raises another nagging concern within the Anglican Church in Canada that is long overdue for action. Our rules, procedures and governance were designed to function well in the social environment of the day when the church was expanding over a huge and sometimes unknown territory and where communication was primitive by modern standards. The bishop was rightly a central authority for his region.

Not so today. Our problem is not new; as a church we have not kept up with the times and operate under an outdated set of canons. Currently the average Anglican is better educated, well-informed and is usually mobile, moving to several parishes over a lifetime. The “authority” of a bishop today is open to challenge, and he or she can be the cause of dissent and sometimes justified criticism. Unlike any successful organization that can change its leadership, we have no mechanism for replacing an underperforming or divisive bishop—at some cost to the church in several ways.

My hope is that as a church we can make some overdue changes in our governance to bring us into the 21st century, with some sense of urgency, before it is too late. We have too much to lose if we lack the resolve to act.

Reg Harrill
Calgary, Alta.

In response to “CoGS ponders shift to digital for newspapers, new mandate for Journal,” Jan. 2019, p. 1

I would like to express my thoughts towards your question regarding the possible change to a digital-only Journal.

I understand that digital is less expensive than a paper mailing, but there are downsides to digital publications that I believe would harm the ministerial mission of the Anglican Journal.

When it comes to digital publications, a subscriber is sent one notice by email that the publication is available for viewing/reading. The subscriber will then either go directly and view the digital publication or plan to view it at a later time. Due to most people’s busy schedules, this time never arrives, and without a reminder the available publication is forgotten until the next publication date and the cycle then continues.

In our home the life of our Anglican Journal starts when it arrives—yes, as our lives are busy like everyone else, the Journal gets a quick thumb through and then is set off to the side. Now what happens throughout the month is our Journal gets picked up, an article or two is read, then it gets set down again in a different location. This continues through the month. It has an uncanny ability to show up around our house just when something uplifting and Christian is needed. This small piece of paper is a large ministry in our house. Throughout the day I may see it just sitting on our coffee table, and it brings the thought of my faith into my mind, and it’s there to relieve the weight of the day with its wonderful articles when time allows.

This would all be lost with a digital-only Journal. Digital correspondence is great for referencing information, but when it comes to spontaneous reading during a breather, digital does not work.

Brent and Janet Schulze
Erskine, Alta.

Order of Bishops composition is arbitrary, not representative

At General Synod, dioceses are represented according to their size—at least as it pertains to the Order of Laity and the Order of Clergy. (The formula takes into account average attendance at Easter, Pentecost, the second Sunday of September and Christmas, and it allocates lay and clergy members accordingly.) But in the Order of Bishops, no such “representation by population” formula applies. Instead, each diocese decides how many bishops it has. Most dioceses in Canada have one. Some have more. The Diocese of the Arctic has elected more suffragan bishops. Yukon is about to elect a coadjutor. Some diocesan bishops have, or might be considering appointing, assistant bishops who also have a vote.

The result is that whereas representation in two of the three orders is largely based on size, representation in the third order (bishops) is arbitrary. For example, Toronto has twice the representation of Niagara in the orders of laity and clergy (eight of each in Toronto; four of each in Niagara), but has six times the representation in the Order of Bishops (one diocesan, four suffragans and one assistant bishop in Toronto; one bishop in Niagara.)

This matters. Hugely. Because matters of weight at General Synod require majorities, and sometimes super-majorities, in all three orders. The result of this, as it pertains to the marriage canon, is that representation by population as a principle is substantially distorted in the Order of Bishops.

What can be done? Well, the Constitution of General Synod could be amended. It would take two-thirds majority in each of the orders to do so. A high hurdle, to be sure. But one worth thinking about?

The Rev. Canon David Harrison
Toronto, Ont.


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