Anglican bishops and human rights

Bishop John Chapman is campaigning to reduce poverty because not being poor is, apparently, a “right”.

The sad thing about this, it seems to me, is that “human rights” are a man-made construct devised to fill the vacuum left when a civilisation ceases to believe in God and his requirements for right living as laid out in the ten commandments and Gospels. We have no inherent “rights”, rather we have commandments, standards to aim for set by a holy God. To insist on our “rights” is entirely alien to a Christian view of the world. Unless you are an Anglican bishop.

From here:

An Anglican bishop, along with a coalition of leading anti-poverty and housing advocates, has urged the federal government to adopt a “rights-based” approach in its upcoming National Housing Strategy and poverty reduction strategies.

“We come together today to send a clear and consistent message to the federal government regarding the need for a rights-based approach to addressing housing, food and justice for all, particularly among the First Peoples of this great nation,” said Bishop John Chapman, who took part in a press conference on Parliament Hill October 16, the eve of the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

“This is not just the work of charity,” said Chapman. “We are discussing human dignity, the beauty and wonder of every human being, the unique gift a person brings to our civil society.”

A human rights approach is the most effective framework if Canada expects to address the socio-economic disadvantage suffered by millions who are homeless, inadequately housed and living in poverty, said Leilani Farha, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and the executive director of Canada Without Poverty, who was also present at the press conference. “It would also ensure people could exercise their rights through new accountability mechanisms for all levels of government—a feature missing from current policies on poverty and housing.”

Diocese of Ottawa parish hosts a course on Islam

Christ Church Seaway has as its motto “to know Christ and make him known”. I first heard this in a visit to St. Paul’s in Darien, Terry Fulham’s church; that was their mission statement.

Christ Church Seaway has decided to make Christ known by inviting an imam to the church to talk about Islam, not something that Terry Fulham had in mind, I suspect. There is nothing at all surprising about this: for years liberals have been stealing words and phrases used by evangelicals in order to twist them into meaning something different. For another example, I’m sure you have noticed that no decision is made at an Anglican synod without the wholehearted endorsement of the “Spirit”. Another spirit, not the Holy Spirit.

From here:

It is common for churches to offer courses on Christian spirituality during the season of Lent. This year, Christ Church Seaway hosted a different kind of Lenten course. In response to local confusion about Islam and how Christians should respond to a growing Muslim presence in our region, The Rev. Patrick Stephens decided that the time was right for his community to formally begin the work of inter-religious dialogue.

A special guest speaker was present for the first session and helped the group get started on the right foot. Imam Dr. Mohamad Jebara from Ottawa’s Cordova Centre shared with the group about his own faith and was gracious in responding to questions from the floor. The course ran for a total of five sessions and was based around readings, video presentations, and group discussions.

Ottawa parish offers a Lenten course on Islam

There is an abundance of evidence that the Anglican Church of Canada has lost interest in Christianity. The replacement we’ve all become used to is a variation on cultural Marxism: we are all equal; there are no longer men and women because the sexes must also be equal – gender is fluid; the state substitutes for the traditional family; social justice replaces charity; Gaia replaces God, smudging replaces confession and Two Spirit replaces the Holy Spirit.

That isn’t enough, it seems. The Diocese of Ottawa’s Christ Church Seaway is so ashamed of its Christian heritage it is plumbing new depths of idiocy by encouraging its members to convert to Islam.

From here:

It is common for churches offer courses on Christian spirituality during the season Lent. This year, Christ Church Seaway hosted a different kind of Lenten course. In response to local confusion about Islam and how Christians should respond to a growing Muslim presence in our region, The Rev. Patrick Stephens decided that the time was right for his community to formally begin the work of inter- religious dialogue. A special guest speaker was present for the first session and helped the group get started on the right foot. Imam Dr. Mohamad Jebara from Ottawa’s Cordova Centre shared with the group about his own faith and was gracious in responding to questions from the floor. The course ran for a total of five sessions and was based around readings, video presentations, and group discussions.

Over all, approximately thirty people participated. For many course participants, this experience was the first meaningful encounter with the Muslim religion. As the course came to an end, there was much interest from the group to reach out to a nearby mosque to explore opportunities for further learning and relationship building. Later this spring, the group hopes to visit and tour a mosque, and possibly reciprocate by offering similar hospitality at the church.

Bishop John Chapman to proceed with same-sex marriages

There are now three bishops who have declared that they will proceed with same-sex marriages in spite of the synod vote that failed to approve the marriage canon change: Michael Bird Diocese of Niagara, Colin Johnson Diocese of Toronto and John Chapman Diocese of Ottawa.

I am sure you will not fail to notice the similarity in the wording of the various bishops’ statements, a similarity that speaks of collusion before the synod was even in session.

Chapman’s statement is here (my emphasis):

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

General Synod is nearing its conclusion. As soon as I am able, I look forward to sharing with you some of the wonderful ministries in which the baptized across our great land continue to engage.

You will be pleased to know that our delegates represented the interests of our diocese ably and well. On behalf of our diocese, may I thank The Venerable David Selzer, The Rev. Beth Bretzlaff, Kim Chadsey, The Rev. Mark Whittall, The Rev. Monique Stone, John McBride, Audrey Lawrence, Jordan Sandrock and Ron Chaplin.

While there is much I would like to tell you now, I think it is safe to say that many of you have followed with interest the conversations, debate and vote concerning the proposed change to the Marriage Canon to allow same sex couples to be married in the church. What follows outlines my pastoral response to this long-standing struggle among the people of God and to the result of today’s vote on the resolution.

First, it is important to be aware of the various comments and decisions that have been made concerning the “place” of LGBTQ individuals within the body of our Anglican family these past number of years. These include:

General Synod 2004 received and passed a resolution stating that we, Affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same sex relationships.

General Synod 2010 allowed with a consensus decision, that each diocese within our Anglican Church of Canada may choose to bless same sex unions.

The Council of General Synod 2016, our “Synod” between General Synods, said to the Church in March 2016 regarding the proposed change to our Marriage Canon that:
We recommend the greatest pastoral response possible, allowing same-sex couples to be fully included in the life of our church with full and equal access to its liturgies and pastoral offices.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz said in his challenging and wise sermon at the opening Eucharist of General Synod:
This [General Synod] is the body that through its history has also wrestled with numerous issues within the Church and in the world at large over which we have often found ourselves in deep disagreement. Many of the issues have centered around inclusion—the place of women in the councils of the Church, the place of women as priests and bishops, the place of young people and their voice and vote, the place of children at the Eucharistic table, the place of those married and divorced and wanting to marry again, the place of religious communities whose life transcends diocesan boundaries, the place of Indigenous Peoples from status as observers, to guests, to partners, to members in Synod, and the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning people within the Church and their equality of access to all the ministrations of the Church including the solemnizing of their marriages.

The Parliament of Canada, in 2005 introduced Bill C-38 The Civil Marriage Act, providing for the marriage of same sex couple. This was passed by the House of Commons in June of 2005, and in July of 2005 passed the Senate of Canada, received Royal Assent and affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. While these institutions are not ecclesial in nature, they are of course entrusted with the well-being, safety and inclusion of all Canadians, all the people of God.  As people of God, we know that God calls our civic representatives to the work that they do on behalf of us all.

It is time my friends. It is past time.

When the vote was announced I was extremely disappointed. However it is also true that a very significant majority (70%) of General Synod delegates have voted in favour of authorizing same sex marriages. This is good news.  Unfortunately, a change to Marriage Canon XXI will not happen at this time. While a strong majority voted in favour in each of the orders of Bishops, Clergy and Laity, the two-thirds threshold required in the Order of Clergy for changing a Canon fell short by one vote.

It is now up to and within the authority of a diocesan bishop to respond in a manner that they deem appropriate.

It is my intention, in consultation with and in partnership with a number of other diocesan bishops to proceed with same sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa. While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission.  

This is a pastoral decision that is necessary at this time in our history as a diocese and as a church. 

My sisters and brothers, I continue to pray for our church and for our diocese as we strive to respond faithfully to the great work that we are called to do in the name of Jesus in these changing yet exciting times.

Bishop of Quebec uses Orlando murders to justify same-sex marriage

The Bishop of Quebec, Dennis Drainville, reluctant to allow an atrocity go to waste, has issued a pastoral letter on the Orlando murders in which he makes the grotesque comparison between the injustice of murdering someone and the “injustice” of not marrying them in a church:

The atrocities perpetrated by the lone gunman in Orlando are not just a grievous act of violence against the LBGTQ community but an attack on every citizen in the world community. As such, it is imperative that we speak out directly and forcefully against this monstrous act.
The discussions that we in the Anglican Communion have had over the last 30 years regarding the ordination of Gay persons, the blessing of same gender partners and the current debate regarding the nature of marriage are in actuality our own attempt finally to bring about justice for the members of the LGBTQ community. God’s gift of human liberty cannot be made hostage to any philosophy, religion or sectarian attitudes. I call on all people who believe in peace and justice to encourage friends, family, neighbours and co-workers to take a united stand with the LGBTQ community. Let us work together to ensure Love, Hope and Faith are shared freely among all of God’s precious children.

All Saints Sandy Hill Ottawa now a mosque on Fridays

When St. Alban’s voted to join ANiC in 2008, one of the consequences, as Justin Welby might call it, was that the Diocese of Ottawa acquired the church building and the congregation had to find a new home.

To fill the empty pews and created the illusion that the diocese had a use for the building, the congregation of All Saints Sandy Hill was imported into St. Alban’s.

This, of course, had the unfortunate consequence of setting All Saints adrift as an Anglican Marie Celeste. I expect the diocese hoped no-one would notice.

Now All Saints is being rented out as “the kind of space that reflects Canada’s fabric today”. That means that on Fridays, it is a mosque.

From here:

On the December day they took possession of a 115-year-old church in Sandy Hill, Leanne Moussa and some others climbed up a spiral staircase and rang the church bells.

Those tolling bells, which at least one person mistook for a call to worship, represented both the joy they felt for saving All Saints church and their excitement about its new life as a multi-use community centre. The former Anglican church is now home to several different religious congregations, a small café, artists’ studios, event space for classes and conferences, and there are plans for future redevelopment that could add offices for NGOs and new housing units.


The deconsecrated nave will soon serve many functions — mosque on Fridays, synagogue on Saturdays and the spiritual home of two different Christian groups on Sundays. The 300-seat space can also be used for weddings, concerts, book launches and lectures, Moussa said.

Bishop John Chapman reacts to retreat from same-sex marriage

The bishop of Ottawa expressed his mortification at the decision from the recent House of Bishops’ meeting not to support same-sex marriage.

He has issued a statement in which he rather smugly congratulates himself and his diocese for being consummately inclusive while at the same time lauding same-sex couples whose “marriage is an exclusive loving commitment”. Odd, really: if unrestrained inclusion is good enough for the bishop and his diocese why isn’t it good enough for same-sex couples?

So far, two liberal bishops – Chapman and Bird – have wailed, gnashed their teeth and profusely apologised for this decision; I wonder why we haven’t heard from any conservative bishops?

From here:

My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Undoubtedly you have now heard about the House of Bishops statement, which is to be presented at the upcoming Council of General Synod (CoGS) – a body which functions as General Synod between General Synods, not unlike our Diocesan Council.

The House of Bishop’s statement recognizes the near impossibility of attaining a two-thirds majority that would support revising the marriage canon to allow for same gendered couples to be married in our churches. A two-thirds majority is canonical requirement to change or alter doctrine. The bishops felt that CoGS ought to be notified of this apparent reality rather than be caught by surprise. I agree – the more transparent we are the better it is for the communities of faith we serve. I think it would be disrespectful to keep this knowledge hidden. However, please know that the motion will be placed before General Synod. The bishop’s statement was not an attempt to thwart due process but an attempt to be forthright and honest. The motion will be placed before General Synod assembly.

You can well imagine that I was one of those present who was “mortified”. One judges the fullness of a decision, activity or sacrament in the name of Jesus by its fruit. If a same gendered marriage is rooted in self giving love; if this marriage is an exclusive loving commitment one to the other in good times and bad until death; if this marriage is joining of families together as one, and if this same gendered marriage is embraced as a sacred covenant between two individuals and God; then it is a holy marriage before God. Needless to say, this is not shared by two-thirds of the House of Bishops. Yet, my assumption is that a very significant majority of people in the Diocese of Ottawa would affirm same gendered holy marriage solemnized through the liturgies of our Church.

I want to extend my deep apology to all those who are feeling discouraged, angry, betrayed, and hurt. I especially want to apologize to the LGTBQ community. Many of us did our very best to ensure that your voice was heard, understood, respected, and honoured at the recent House meeting. We were unsuccessful, and for that I am so sorry!

The mystery of the Incarnate Christ is indeed that – a mystery. We wrestle and struggle with what it means for us to be faithful to Jesus. The Church is naturally not a tidy place. While I too am deeply unhappy with the House of Bishop’s lack of clarity on this matter, I will continue on in prayer, debate, and witness to what I believe to be an appropriate position. That is, all people regardless of gender are welcome to share in the sacrament of holy matrimony. I encourage all those who share my disappointment, as well as those who are pleased with the statement, to also continue in prayer, debate, and witness.

The Diocese of Ottawa has typically extended an inclusive hand to all people. We were among the first dioceses to openly support the right of divorced persons to remarry in the church, to welcome women to the sacred office of deacon, priest and bishop in Christ’s Church, and to extend the courtesy to all gay and lesbian peoples to have their civil marriages blessed in the church. May I suggest that we continue down this path of hospitality and inclusion and, even in the midst of our disappointment, go forward to our upcoming General Synod advocating for a revised marriage canon that would allow for same gendered marriage in our Church. This is what we do! We do not walk away discouraged and leave others behind to carry on. We witness together accepting the differences that exist between us and pray for God’s constant presence, guidance, and comfort.

Please pray for all who are affected by this statement and please pray for our upcoming General Synod and the Diocese of Ottawa.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. John H. Chapman,
9th Bishop of Ottawa

And here:

“I want to extend my deep apology to all those who are feeling discouraged, angry, betrayed, and hurt. I especially want to apologize to the LGTBQ community. Many of us did our very best to ensure that your voice was heard, understood, respected, and honoured at the recent House meeting. We were unsuccessful, and for that I am so sorry!”

-The Rt. Rev. John H. Chapman
Bishop of Ottawa

All Saints Anglican Church in Ottawa sold

From here:

The historic All Saints Anglican Church in Sandy Hill has been sold, and will gradually be developed as a mixed-use building for meetings, weddings and neighbourhood-scale businesses.

The Gothic Revival church on Laurier Avenue between Chapel Street and Blackburn Avenue was listed for sale at $1.7 million. The purchase price hasn’t been disclosed.

What makes this interesting is that, in 2011, the Diocese of Ottawa moved the congregation of All Saints into St. Alban’s, a church which had been vacated by an ANiC congregation as part of a negotiated settlement with the Diocese of Ottawa. The diocese, having ejected the ANiC  congregation, were eager to create the impression that they had a use for St. Alban’s, so they announced:

This has left All Saints without a viable congregation, so it has been sold.

The faux-new St. Alban’s congregation takes pride in not defining doctrine in a single confession, in encompassing a diversity of views  –  other than the diverse view that Christians who set a high value on a diversity of views have lost the thread – and in – Pride.

Here are a few of them, along with their rector, in the Ottawa Pride March:

On the occasion of a Baptism and the Re-Naming of a Transgendered Person

St. Alban’s in Ottawa used to house a congregation that, in 2008, aligned itself with ANiC. Negotiations with the Diocese of Ottawa resulted in the ejection of the resident congregation and the installation of a transplanted congregation, an oft repeated ACoC strategy to create the illusion that it needed the buildings. It’s the ACoC version of church planting: Potemkin Planting.

Since then, interesting things have been happening. For example, in September, a baptism service was accompanied by a Liturgy for the Re-Naming of a Transgendered Person.

Apparently, such renaming liturgies are not as uncommon as the naive might suspect. The House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, “a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice-oriented, queer-inclusive, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient / future church”, has one. When I read the article below I assumed that a re-baptism had taken place – something that was considered by the CofE – but, it seems the liturgy is merely a renaming.

In the interest of complete inclusion, the originator of the renaming liturgy – Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber – also offers an annual liturgical blessing for bicycles.

Even in the face of all the evidence, some clerics are still genuinely shocked that a common secular view of the church is that it spends much of its time plumbing the depths of the absurd.

From here:

On the occasion of a Baptism, and the Re-Naming of a Transgendered Person

Eliot, you too will be anointed today, just as you were anointed at your own baptism many years ago.  You continue to bear the name of Christ, the anointed one, beloved child of God.  We re-affirm that today.  That has not changed.  But some things do change.  Often our faith journeys can take twists and turns as we live and grow into the people that God created us to be.  Today you take on a new name as a testimony to the person you have become and as a testimony to the God who welcomes us as his children, loves us through all the twists and turns of our life journeys, and promises to make all things new.

The truth is, I may never be able to understand what it’s like to be a non-binary gendered trans person.  I don’t even know if I said that right.  But, at least in our better moments, by the grace of God, we are able to be generous by offering our support to a fellow traveller who bears the name of Christ on their faith journey.

Soon, we will turn to Davis and we will pledge to do all in our power to support him in his life in Christ.

Then not long after that we will turn to Eliot and pledge as follows:

“Eliot, we will walk with you.”

Diocese of Ottawa voting on whether to divest from fossil fuels

From here:

Delegates from 114 area Anglican congregations will decide this weekend whether to make a major statement on climate change by divesting their diocese of $1 million in oil and gas stocks.

“It’s become a moral and ethical issue,” said Carleton University biology professor and ecologist Lenore Fahrig, one of a small group of church members who will table four climate change-related motions at the Anglican annual diocese synod, or summit, beginning Friday.

“We know how it’s affecting nature and we know how it’s affecting people and we know how to avoid it,” she said. “It is entirely about profits, about money. What divestment does is make the statement that we have to pull out of this fossil fuel-based economy.”

Local Anglican churches have a combined stock portfolio worth $30 million administered centrally, she said.

Fahrig, a member of the St. Matthew’s Church congregation, has been speaking with Anglican groups about possible oil and gas divestment for more than a year.

“I’ve done at least 15 presentations around the diocese,” she said, “and pulled together a small team of people interested in this idea.”

The group will table four motions:

  • To divest locally in oil and gas companies.

  • To propose to the General (national) Synod meeting next summer that the entire Anglican Church of Canada divests of oil and gas stocks.

  • To launch an education program on climate change for all local churches.

  • To devise a plan to “de-carbonize” all Anglican churches.

If the motion passes, delegates will be forcibly de-carbonized.  Their cars will be impounded, they will be given bicycles to ride home and they will be searched for plastics before leaving. Technology items such as iPhones and computers will be liberated since they depend on fossil fuel for their production. Plastic lens spectacles along with all synthetic cloth garments, including cassocks, will be confiscated.

Nude delegates will be invited to cover themselves with copies of Greening Sacred Spaces: A Practical Eco-Spiritual Workshop, available for purchase in the foyer. No credit cards, please – they are plastic.