Bishops attempt to think about something other than same-sex marriage

Having driven thousands of people out of the pews through its obsession with same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church of Canada has decided to concentrate on “evangelism and discipleship and mission” instead.

This, of course, is unfamiliar territory for the ACoC. Nevertheless, I have every confidence that – just as it did during the decade of evangelism – the ACoC will spend the next 10 years or so trying to decipher what those terms really mean, having conversations about them and, after establishing a commission to study the numerous theological interpretations that can be ascribed to them, acknowledge that, as theological abstractions, they do actually exist.

From here:

After three years spent in intense debate over a resolution to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, the House of Bishops intends to shift its focus to “evangelism and discipleship and mission” in the next triennium, says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, following the house’s September 22-27 meeting in Winnipeg.

“In the last number of years…the vast majority of our time in meetings was consumed by conversations about same-sex marriage,” said Hiltz in an interview. “And the bishops are saying, ‘We’ve just got to have a more balanced agenda.’ ”

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson, of the diocese of Montreal, agreed, saying in an interview that the same-sex marriage debate has taken up “way too much airtime” in recent years. She said she hopes the house can “get on with the mission of the church” by making it “more vital and adept” at creating disciples.

If the same-sex marriage vote had gone the other way at general synod, I very much doubt that the bishops would be so willing to adopt a “more balanced agenda”.  As it is, liberals have their way and same-sex marriages are proceeding without having to wait for the 2019 vote to finalise the issue. In Ecclesiastical Newspeak, this is called an “interim pastoral provision”, permitting bishops to ignore pettifogging details like synods, votes, canons, the Bible, God and Jesus.

Hiltz said no attempt was made to place a moratorium on same-sex marriages until after the second vote in 2019. What he heard from some bishops who announced their intention to allow same-sex marriages in their dioceses was that such marriages could happen, but as an “interim pastoral provision” that would require “the bishop’s knowledge and permission.” The bishop would also have to authorize a rite to be used to solemnize the union since the current liturgies, in the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services, cannot be used until the marriage canon is formally amended.

When asked how this arrangement was received by the house, Hiltz said, “I didn’t see any major reaction. No blow-up, no pushback.” He said that the bishops understood this as a pastoral provision.

To qualify my second paragraph above a little: one bishop, at least – Montreal’s Mary Irwin-Gibson – does have a clear idea of what “discipleship” really means – hard to believe, I know. “Discipleship” is marrying more same-sex couples:

“I’m interested in marriage as a Christian avenue of discipleship”

The scandal of Sooty’s girlfriend

My apologies to readers whose childhood was deprived by an absence of Sooty and have no idea what I am talking about, but I thought this was a good illustration of the fact that there really is a slippery slope. Today Sooty would be gay, have a boyfriend and there would be no scandal. Or he would be a transgender bear.

From the BBC:

The idea to introduce a female puppet to Sooty’s children’s TV show in the 1960s was so controversial that the BBC director general had to intervene, a new documentary has revealed.

The suggestion by Sooty creator Harry Corbett caused a furore in the press, which claimed it would “introduce sex into a children’s programme”.

Gay space, the final frontier

Apparently, there is a need “for the gay community to have a safe space in every corner of the universe.” To that end, a gay pride flag has been launched 31km. above the surface of the earth where the rising sun shone through it, illuminating the rainbow.


If that doesn’t bring a lump to the throat of every ACoC bishop, nothing will.

From the BBC:

Gay pride flag launched into space ‘to spread peace’

Planting Peace, a US-based non-profit group that seeks to “spread peace in a hurting world”, launched the flag near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 17 August.

The balloon captured video with a GoPro camera as it floated 21.1 miles (34.1km) above earth for three hours.

Organisers said they wanted to declare space gay friendly, “in a peaceful, beautiful way”.

Rethinking Christianity in the context of postmodern Pacific coastal culture

I have no idea what that means but the clergy of St. Bridget’s in the Diocese of New Westminster must because they are doing it.

The church claims to be “an emerging, LGBTQ-affirming Christian community rooted in the Anglican tradition”. I don’t really know what that means either, but perhaps the “resident community developer” – although I don’t know what that means – can help. Here he is at the Vancouver Pride Parade sporting a placard designed to entice alcoholics off the wagon:


No, that didn’t help.

Had I seen all this before becoming a Christian it might have put me off forever. God, in his mercy, spared me all this emerging, postmodern Pacific coastal culture, alphabet-sexuality affirming hideousness until I’d built up an immunity.

I am going to my safe space to recuperate now.

Michael Coren’s Dark Knight of the Soul

As a result of promoting Catholicism in his books and journalism, Michael Coren became a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in 1992. In 2013 he joined the Anglican Church of Canada which, short of Molochism, is about as far as you can get from the Roman Catholic Church.

Now the Catholic Church wants its papal knighthood medal back.

From here:

Michael Coren, former Catholic apologist and journalist, has been stripped of his papal knighthood following his reception into the Anglican Church of Canada in 2013. Coren is known for his popular work of Catholic apologetics, Why Catholics Are Right, and for his schism from the Church over her doctrine on homosexuality. He is married with four children.

Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic made Mr Coren a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in October 1992, for ‘services to Catholic media’. According to an interview with the ultra-liberal Catholic journal, The Tablet, “Coren was stripped of his papal knighthood and asked to return the medal — he has so far refused.”

Indigenous Anglicans unhappy with same-sex marriage vote

The poor old Anglican Church of Canada is once again caught on the horns of a dilemma: should it upset its aboriginal members by allowing same-sex marriage or its alphabet-sex members – most of whom are its own clergy – by prohibiting them.

I have an idea: be inclusive and aggravate everyone by agreeing to marriage requests from non-clergy same-sex couples only – all three of them.

From here:

“We do not agree with the decision and believe that it puts our communities in a difficult place in regards to our relation and community with the Anglican Church of Canada,” the bishops say.

While they intend to discern their exact course of action “in the days ahead,” the bishops say, they also commit to continuing “in our conversation with the Anglican Church of Canada in regards to self-determination and mutual cooperation in our Anglican Christian ministry.”

The bishops continue, “We will proceed towards self-determination with all urgency.”

At the same time, they say they will also “seek ways to continue our conversation with the LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer] communities and individuals, affirming our earlier statements of love and welcome.”


Particularly painful, the bishops say, was the “silencing” of an elder during debate on the floor of synod. Although this was understandable given the “Western process” that was followed at synod, the bishops say, an apology to the elder is in order.


Indigenous Anglican elders, the bishops say, should have been “actively involved” with discussions to change the marriage canon. But neither discussion of the matter nor This Holy Estate—the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon—were translated into Indigenous languages, they say.

Retiring Bishop of Huron troubled by sexuality divisions

The Diocese of Huron’s Bishop Robert Bennett is unhappy that the Anglican Church of Canada is divided over marrying same-sex couples. At least, he claims to be.

It’s hard to believe he is crying anything but crocodile tears, though, since Bennett willingly contributed to the division by authorising same-sex blessings in 2013 and same-sex marriages in 2016. Does this make him a hypocrite? You decide.

From here:

bennettAmong the most troubling things he witnessed as bishop, Bennett said, was the divisiveness caused by the issue of human sexuality.

“I think it’s taken a great toll both within congregations and the House of Bishops,” he said. “That issue—and it’s still there—is always front and centre in the house, and it makes it very difficult for me, and I think everybody else, to embrace and focus on what we’re really about as church.”

Discord over human sexuality came to a head in the diocese of Huron only a matter of weeks after Bennett became diocesan bishop, when members of St. Aidan’s Church, in Windsor, voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada and join the conservative Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). Members were upset about recent moves in some dioceses to bless same-sex unions. In 2011, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the parish could not legally separate itself from the diocese.

Bennett said he had also found it difficult to see the shrinking of congregations in the diocese, attributable partly to declining populations in some areas and partly to the “vortex of change” set in motion by the secularization of culture.

United Church’s atheist minister, Gretta Vosper, faces defrocking hearing

Gretta Vosper is interesting not just because she manages to believe she can be an effective Christian church pastor while disbelieving in the founder of the Christian church but because she is blazing the trail which, I am reasonably certain, will be taken by many Anglican Church of Canada clergy eventually. We already have our very own atheist theology professor. Imagine the heady Hegelian euphoria of endless indabas between theist and atheist clergy trying to reach the nirvana of good disagreement. It’s enough to make Justin Welby swoon.

Vosper tells us:

In 2013, I embraced the term “atheist” which means, literally, no belief in a theistic, supernatural being.

Atheism does not mean merely an absence of belief in God’s existence, it means asserting truth of the statement “God does not exist”, along with all the disagreeable consequences that accompany that idea. Vosper sounds more like an agnostic than an atheist. But, these days, being an atheist is cool while agnosticism just sounds indecisive and wishy-washy. And Gretta Vosper is undoubtedly more interested in coolness than truth.

From here:

The sub-executive committee of the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada is asking the church’s general council to conduct a formal hearing to determine whether or not Vosper should be defrocked.

Alan Hall, executive officer of Ministry and Employment for the United Church of Canada, said, in an email, that it could be a few weeks or months before a final decision is reached.

He said that there will be no provision to appeal the decision within the church courts.

The announcement made Thursday noted that Vosper will be allowed to continue in her role as a minister, with no restrictions, at West Hill United Church until a decision has been made at the hearing.

“The way forward is costly in terms of emotional and spiritual energy. The way forward is costly in terms of time and finances for both Ms. Vosper and the church,” said an online statement issued by the committee.

“At the same time, the sub-executive moved forward believing that a clear answer was required.”

The decision comes a week after Vosper spoke to defend herself against a report made by a review committee that found her “not suitable” to continue in her role because she doesn’t believe in God.

“From the outset of this process, we have urged the Toronto Conference to recognize that their decisions would impact not just one minister, but an entire congregation, and many more members of this church,” said Vosper in an online statement issued by her lawyers Thursday. “In spite of the many letters of support and concern about this process, the sub-Executive had continued down a path that can only result in division.”

1100 other contradiction addicted individuals have signed a petition to prevent the defrocking:

A petition in support of Vosper that rejects the report’s recommendations and a hearing had over 1100 signatures on Thursday.

Diocese of Toronto elects partnered homosexual bishop

The Diocese of Toronto has elected three new suffragan bishops, one of whom is the Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson, “the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church”.

Considering the state of the Anglican Church of Canada, I suppose this was as inevitable as it is non-newsworthy; still, here is the announcement:

Bishop-elect Robertson was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. He is 45 and the incumbent of Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto. After earning his Master of Divinity from Trinity College in 1997, he was ordained deacon the same year and priest in 1998. He and his partner Mohan have two children.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” he said on the chancel steps after the elections. “I didn’t really expect to be standing here on the steps, but I’m deeply, deeply honoured. I realize this is an historic day in the life of our church. It’s no secret that I’m the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church as well, and I know that for some people that’s a real challenge and for others it’s the fulfillment of what they’ve been hoping and praying for for a very long time. The peace and unity of the church is really important to me and I will work to continue that peace and unity as a bishop.”

Bishop-elect Robertson said his election is a turning point for the church in accepting and supporting LGBTQ people. “I think General Synod (in July) was a turning point for the national church and my election today is a turning point for our diocese, and I’m honoured to be a part of that. I’m really encouraged by the developments over the past couple of months – both General Synod and today bode really well for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of our church.”

He said he will be a bishop for the whole church. “I think LGBTQ clergy and lay people might naturally gravitate towards me looking for some leadership around the issue of full inclusion, but I absolutely see myself as a bishop for the whole church, including people who have a very different view of things than I do. I’m their bishop, too.”

And now for something completely different: an atheist professor of theology

Gerald Robinson is an atheist who teaches theology at Toronto’s Trinity College. It will surprise no one to learn that he is an Anglican who attends an Anglican Church of Canada parish where, no doubt, he feels quite at home amongst like-minded clergy.

He has written a book called Theology for Atheists; we can only assume he is angling to become the next ACoC Primate.

From here:

Award-winning Toronto architect Gerald Robinson is an adjunct professor of theology, in the divinity faculty at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College.

He’s a member of the Anglican congregation that worships in Trinity College Chapel and regularly attends services in the chapel. He calls it his parish church, his “go-to” place to worship. So what is he doing socializing with atheists in Scallywags, a Toronto pub?

Robinson is also an atheist who describes himself as an Anglican/Atheist/Christian—a description that must raise many eyebrows. Some will dismiss it as contradictory, incomprehensible.

Robinson says Jesus never claimed to be God, that nowhere in the gospels does he make that claim. Free Jesus from the doctrinal cluttering, and he is still the “greatest teacher the world has ever known,” whose message of peace, love and tolerance is sorely  needed by a troubled world.


In his 168-page book, Robinson addresses such subjects as heavenly warfare, faith or reason, and miracles. He raises such questions as: Can atheists have a theology? Do atheists have souls? Can an atheist be a Christian if he or she denies the divinity of Jesus?

He answers with an emphatic “yes.”

To his credit, he has one thing right:

As an Anglican, he suggests that the Anglican/Episcopal Church makes the lowest demands for conformity of belief and could lead the way.

The way where, one wonders?