‘Think tank’ ends its 10-year run

By on February 1, 2006

Fidelity, a 10-year-old Canadian Anglican group that supported a theological and doctrinal approach to same-sex issues, has voted to disband. Rev. Dean Mercer, rector at St. Paul (L’Amoreaux) in the diocese of Toronto and former president of Fidelity, said he polled members of the executive committee by phone after a scheduled meeting on Oct. 29 attracted no attendees. The motion to disband had been raised and tabled at the group’s previous annual general meeting. In a Sept. 29 letter to the membership, which numbered about 200, Mr. Mercer wrote: “Circumstances have changed. Many of the concerns that Fidelity sought to address 10 years ago now have new and vital organizations to address them such as the Anglican Communion Institute. Furthermore, many of the specific concerns of Fidelity are now being taken up at the highest levels of the church.” In an interview, Mr. Mercer cited the Windsor Report, written by an international Anglican committee and released early in 2005, and the St. Michael Report, produced in Canada by the Primate’s Theological Commission. The Windsor Report considered ways Anglican churches can stay together in light of stresses over homosexuality and the St. Michael Report said that blessing same-sex unions is a “creedal” issue since it reflects upon the doctrine of marriage, but should not be church-dividing. Mr. Mercer’s letter also noted that the executive officers had all asked to be relieved of their responsibilities. “The group had been at it 10 years. We wanted a break and we didn’t see another group stepping up to take its place,” he said. In the early days, “we thought we could take up the intellectual challenge to the church’s doctrine (on marriage). We did not see ourselves as a lobby or as a grassroots group. We saw ourselves as a think tank,” he noted. Proponents of same-sex blessings have called for a “local option” that would let dioceses and churches individually decide whether to be more inclusive of gay couples. In the Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster, eight parishes have received permission to offer blessings. Supporters have also said that same-sex blessings are not core doctrine, but a pastoral matter that addresses human needs. From the beginning, the Fidelity group pressed the church to discuss the issue in a doctrinal way. “We kept saying that calling it a ‘local option,’ and a ‘pastoral matter’ is not a fair representation,” said Mr. Mercer. Former Fidelity members may now direct efforts in support of the Anglican Communion Institute, he said. That organization, according to its Web site, co-ordinates papers, books and conferences that offer “significant reflection on core matters of the doctrine and discipline of the church for its clergy and lay members.”

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  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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