Speaker after speaker expressed profound regret that the Cariboo synod had failed to vote on a motion considering blessing the union of same-sex couples.
Resolutions on that issue had come to two previous two synods (held every two years), with the last being tabled until this year. That resolution was withdrawn by its mover, Rev. Mark Lemon. Another was substituted, calling on churches in the diocese to continue to offer full participation to all seekers and to work and pray with gays and lesbians to discern their pastoral and sacramental needs.
The rationale was that the diocese had been so consumed with residential schools litigation in the past two years, that it had not had the time or energy to deal with same-sex blessings. There was also a suggestion that it might be a hollow gesture for a diocese going out of existence to vote on such a controversial motion.
But the withdrawal of the motion upset many delegates, some of whom seemed committed to the idea of blessing gay unions.
Archdeacon Peter Zimmer said: “I suggest if we haven’t dealt with it after four years of discussion, we have to be honest and say we don’t have the will to deal with it. It is not a matter of time and energy, it is the will. Canonically, I am not allowed to bless same-sex unions nor is any other cleric in this diocese or in this church. I honour and obey canonical law. I have been approached by individuals who have asked for same-sex blessings ?(Being unable to do so has) hurt me; in some cases it’s hurt individuals with whom I’ve spoken.”
Another priest spoke of having overstepped the guidelines. He said he didn’t need a resolution to tell him how to respond to the needs of his parishioners, adding that he would continue to respond to those needs, regardless of any vote.
Rev. Will Hubbard of Lytton said it seemed odd that priests bless crosses, cups, rocks, wood and homes but continue to struggle with the idea of “responding to the needs of individuals who are full of light and breath and goodness and love.”
Dean Nick Parker of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops said that sometimes the “legal parameters don’t necessarily jibe with the realities of being human, alive. Sometimes the canons have to play catch-up. It doesn’t mean we disrespect them.”
Several speakers spoke emotionally of loved ones who have lived in long-term relationships with same-sex partners.
In the end, delegates voted overwhelmingly for an amended resolution that not only called on church communities to help discern the pastoral and sacramental needs of gays and lesbians but also “to respond to those needs appropriately.”
At least one priest said he felt that resolution gave the green light to clergy to proceed as they saw fit.