Four months after the diocese of New Westminster voted to permit a formal blessing ceremony for homosexual couples, Ottawa is the second Canadian Anglican diocese to consider the idea, but decided it needs more discussion and study.
Delegates at Ottawa?s annual synod, Oct. 18-19, considered a motion to ask their bishop to authorize clergy in parishes that wish to to bless same-sex.
They also considered a competing proposal to adopt the existing positions of the Canadian house of bishops and of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, both of which have opposed blessing homosexual relationships.
Synod voted to refer both motions to the diocesan executive committee and directed the committee to form a task force that will consider the implications of any decision concerning the blessing of same-sex unions.
?It?s the first time this has come before this synod. I think this was a very generous conversation. People were really saying we need to discuss this and take more time,? said diocesan bishop Peter Coffin at a news conference following a 45-minute debate on the motion.
When asked if he would have approved the same-sex motion if it had passed, he replied, ?No. That would be simplistic and premature. I?m hearing that people want more discussion. I want to help the conversation along. I want to listen more intently.?
Several of 16 speakers during the debate expressed a need for more information and discussion. ?We need a time and process for talking with each other. Let?s not try to come to a snap decision,? said Rev. Richard Pitcher.
?We should be talking to gays and lesbians,? said delegate Antonia Larsen.
Another delegate, Archdeacon Tim Parent, urged ?that the discussion be based on the right kinds of theological grounds.?
Delegate Susan Becker-Davidson said, ?I still have many questions? and said she wanted to pose them ?in an easier forum than this synod.?
After the votes to refer, Canon Garth Bulmer, who introduced the motion, said he regretted that ?we couldn?t say something clearer,? but that he was pleased that discussion will begin.
Speakers expressed a wide variety of opinion about homosexuality and the place of homosexuals within the church.