The Parable of the Green Samaritan

St. Cuthbert’s in the Diocese of Toronto prides itself on its “environmental awareness”: it observes earth hour by igniting toluene polluting candles and, apparently, conducts eco-funerals; I’m not sure what they are but perhaps the bodies are cremated by candle heat.

In this spirit of Gaia awareness, St. Cuthbert’s has reinterpreted the parable of the good Samaritan. The answer to the question posed to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” has been expanded to include trees. For my part, that seems like an excellent idea: trees are so much easier to like than people – they don’t argue, fight, complain, or flatulate.

From here:

“For a long time, we’ve really struggled with (the question) what does that mean to love your neighbour? Now we are entering into this idea that neighbour should include endangered species,” LaFleur said.

To end the day, the massive white oak tree outside of the church was officially recognized as an Ontario Heritage Tree. Forests Ontario has been recognizing trees that have unique features, historical relevance, or artistic significance since 2009. For Canada’s 150th anniversary, Forests Ontario will be recognizing 150 notable trees.

Women’s March Anglicans

For those who just can’t get enough of Anglican clergy mixed up in politics condemning Franklin Graham for being too mixed up in politics, here is another choice selection of assorted reverends demonstrating in support of the Women’s March on Washington – you remember, the one where the alleged singer, Madonna, lovingly intoned that she “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House”

From here:


The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan of St. George on Yonge, Toronto, the Rev. Joanne Davies, chaplain at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Rev. Dawn Leger, pastor of First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toronto, were among tens of thousands who attended the Toronto Women’s March on Jan. 21 at Queen’s Park. The three-hour demonstration for justice, equity and social change was one of hundreds held worldwide in support of the Women’s March on Washington following the American Presidential inauguration.

Politics and the Bishop

Bishop Kevin Robertson, in this case, the newly minted Bishop in the Diocese of Toronto who happens to be a practising homosexual.

Here, he uses Lent to lecture us about the evil of walls:

Lent is an invitation to tear down walls

It is vital that this work of tearing down walls continues. Over the past few months, the world has witnessed an increase of suspicion and mistrust of “the other.” The proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico threatens the further separation of two peoples that, though divided by citizenship, are united in so many other ways. In a speech in Berlin 30 years ago, American President Ronald Reagan famously challenged his Russian counterpart, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” But now, a new president is threatening to erect new walls with the aim of keeping people apart. The recent executive order to restrict entry into the U.S for people of seven Muslim-majority countries is another kind of wall. It paints entire nations and peoples with a single brush, and heightens a sense of xenophobia around the world. Even here in our own country, we were shocked and saddened by the murder of six Muslim men at a Quebec City mosque in late January. Again, a reminder of the wall s that divide us.

None of this is surprising, of course. It is worth pointing out that the Mexico wall is designed to keep illegal immigrants out of the US while the Berlin Wall was used to imprison East Berliners in their communist paradise by their own government; that doesn’t matter much to Robertson. Robertson’s article is quite clearly one that aligns with a liberal-left view of immigration and national sovereignty; it has nothing to do with the Gospel and is likely to alienate people whose politics don’t match Roberson’s.

Now, had Robertson been in favour of the US-Mexico wall, he probably wouldn’t have got his new job in the first place, but if by some miracle he had, I’m sure there would be howls of righteous indignation from our clerical elite denouncing his opinions and demanding that he be prevented from speaking from any pulpit in Canada. Just as they have done for Franklin Graham.

Here is the bishop smiling happily within the walls of one of his churches:

Rainbow fish vandalised on Port Perry church sign

The Church of The Ascension in Port Perry likes to think of itself as a church that welcomes same-sex couples and to advertise that fact – so rare today in the Anglican Church of Canada, after all – it placed a couple of rainbow fish on its sign.

Someone is systematically removing the fish. The rector sees this as a sign of intolerance towards same-sex couples, although it could just as easily be a sign of intolerance towards a church that encourages acts of which the Bible is intolerant. A newspaper article bills it as a “hate crime”. However satisfying these pilchard pilferers find their protest, it is almost certainly giving the Church of the Ascension more free advertising than it deserves and it could result in prosecution under Canada’s Section 319 “hate crime” law. If the vandals are so frustrated they feel they simply must destroy something, they should join an anti-Trump women’s march in their area and smash some windows; there they will be immune from prosecution.

From here:

In two separate incidents, new signage at the Church of the Ascension (Anglican Church of Canada) has been vandalized. We are concerned the vandalism is an act motivated by intolerance towards the LGBTQ community.

Each side of the church sign features a decal of the rainbow fish symbol. This symbol is intended to show that the Church of the Ascension welcomes all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Two weeks ago someone damaged one of the decals. It was hoped this was simply a random act of vandalism. However, on Saturday, January 14th, one decal was completely removed and left on the ground and the other decal was damaged. It was clearly an intentional act of vandalism.

Over the last five years the parish has striven to be a place that is open and inviting to everyone. The Ascension community has made a public statement that it welcomes everyone who has ever felt excluded by the Church or their community because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental challenges, financial resources or family status. The rainbow fish is an important symbol of who we are as a Christian community and a reminder that emphasizes God’s grace and reconciliation with all people.

The parish considers that these acts of vandalism, while minor in terms of dollar value, are a significant demonstration of intolerance and hatred.

Objections to consecration of Toronto’s gay bishop

Yesterday, Kevin Robertson, who is married to another man, was consecrated as bishop in Toronto’s St. Paul’s, Bloor Street, one of the largest Anglican Church of Canada parishes in Canada; it also happens to be an evangelical parish.

A number of clergy objected to the consecration:

Standing on the chancel steps, Archbishop Johnson then read from a prepared statement. “As we gather in this sacred act to worship God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to confer Holy Orders, and to share in the holy meal, I want to acknowledge that I have received a formal letter of objection to these consecrations from some clergy and lay people of the diocese,” he said. “It contains arguments against the canonical and ecclesial validity of these consecrations. I have read and considered their arguments. I am grateful that they have chosen to make their objections known to me in this way with great dignity. I thank them that many of them have made the difficult decision to be here today – despite their serious reservations – because of the love and desire they bear for the unity and faithful witness of the Church to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While it is our intention to proceed today, I also want all of you and the whole diocese to know that I am engaged in a serious and mutually committed consultation with those objecting, to find effective ways that our ministries might flourish together in the highest degree of communion possible.

“There are those present who come with joy, hope and celebration of this moment and those who are anxious, dismayed and hurting,” he continued.

Johnson went on to say:

“Today was a wonderful, Spirit-filled day,” said Archbishop Johnson in an interview. “There were people here from all parts of the diocese. It was wonderful that people from a whole lot of different traditions and theological positions were able to come and be here, even if for some of them it was a struggle. I really appreciate the fact that we’re continuing to work together to build up the body of Christ.

Of course, if the objectors are correct, it could not have been “a wonderful, Spirit-filled day” at all – it would have been a disaster for the Diocese of Toronto. Johnson and the objectors are at polar opposite, irreconcilable positions on the legitimacy of Robertson’s consecration. Yet they all seem to be pretending to be merrily getting along together. Just another example of how Post-Truth – the OED’s word of the year – has infiltrated the church, I suppose.

Homosexual bishop to be consecrated in Toronto evangelical church

Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson, an active homosexual, was one of three clergy elected to the position of bishop in the Diocese of Toronto in September. The diocesan paper notes:

The bishops-elect will officially begin their duties on Jan. 1, 2017. They will be consecrated on Jan. 7 at St. Paul, Bloor Street.

St. Paul’s, Bloor Street is one of the largest Anglican Church of Canada parishes in Canada and it is evangelical. If any conservatives remaining in the ACoC think they can quietly continue without the church’s gay agenda being thrust in their faces, think again. St. Paul’s has to host the consecration of a bishop whose domestic arrangements are flagrantly contrary to the convictions of the congregation.

Clergy protest election of homosexual bishop in Toronto

A number of clergy have written to Justin Welby and the Ontario College of Bishops to protest the election of Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson to the position of suffragan bishop. Robertson is married to a man and sees his election as another step towards, in his words, “the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of our church”.

The protest is a valiant if futile effort to stem the tide of the inevitable. The protesters in the letters below have been saying much the same thing for at least 10 years, probably longer. At each stage, from same-sex blessings to homosexual clergy to homosexual activity not being contrary to the church’s core doctrine – what’s left of it – to, finally, same-sex marriage and homosexual bishops, the protests were as heartfelt as they were impotent. The steady drip, drip of liberal heresy has been accumulating volume and momentum for decades; there will be no stopping it.

The small satisfaction one might take from all this is that the most severe judgement God visits on his people is to remove the restraints that contain the evil in our midst and let us have what we think we want. The Anglican Church of Canada is getting what it wants and therein lies its doom.

I think the signatories below should have extracted themselves from the ACoC years ago. It still isn’t too late – but it may be soon.

From VOL:

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

Lambeth Palace, London

SE1 7JU

Your Grace,

On September 17, 2016, the Diocese of Toronto voted on a slate of episcopal candidates that included a candidate in an active same-sex relationship.

We write to protest the election itself and to dissent publicly from the diocesan and provincial concurrence with its results.

We hold that the election is out of order insofar as its slate included a candidate whose lifestyle is contrary to the teaching of the historic and universal church on chastity and marriage, and contrary to the present doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada. According to the Constitution and Canons governing episcopal elections this candidate is, therefore, not duly qualified for the office of bishop and the election as a whole was irregular.

We protested in writing to the Nominations Committee, Chancellor and Archbishop of Toronto before the electoral Synod. We protested publicly on the floor of Synod before the election began. We protested again after the Synod, asking the House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario to withhold concurrence (letter attached). In every case the explanation offered was inadequate and the protest was dismissed.

We note that the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, which understands Christian marriage to be between one man and one woman, still stands. We wish to uphold it in our lives, in our teaching and in our churches. These developments create an unconscionable situation for many of the clergy and people.

Therefore we register our dissent and ask for your intervention. We ask for your prayers and the prayers of the wider Communion as we seek to move forward faithfully.

Yours, in Christ,

The Rev. Canon Dr. Murray Henderson

The Rev. Canon Dr. Dean Mercer

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Sider-Hamilton

*****

September 22, 2016

To the College of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario

We write in protest against the electoral Synod held this past Saturday, September 17, in the Diocese of Toronto. We charge that the three episcopal elections were out of order and we request the Ontario College of Bishops to withhold their concurrence of all three elections.

We do so for two reasons.

First, a candidate in an active same-sex relationship contradicts, by word and example, the doctrine and discipline of the Church.

According to the constitution and canons governing nominations, this candidate was not “duly qualified” to stand for the office of bishop and ought not to have been approved by the Nominations Committee. The slate put forward by the Nominations Committee was therefore out of order.

A protest was made on the floor of Synod against the Nominations Committee’s approval of a slate of candidates that included a candidate whose lifestyle is contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada. We made a similar protest in writing on July 6, and again on September 8 and September 14, to the Nominations Committee, the Chancellor and the Archbishop.

The reasons eventually offered by the Archbishop in explanation of the slate thus constituted are tendentious and contested. We note further that this explanation came a full two months after our initial letter and just days before the electoral synod.

The Archbishop’s explanation was threefold. The Anglican Church of Canada had recognized the “sanctity and integrity” of same-sex relations at General Synod, 2004. No mention was made that this motion was passed by a show of hands, and was explicitly declared to be non-doctrinal and pastoral the day after a decision on the blessing of same-sex unions had been deferred for another three years.

Secondly, the Archbishop stated that in his judgement and the judgement of the Chancellor of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Marriage Canon was underdetermined and therefore did not rule out same sex marriage. We replied that it was an astonishing claim that there is no settled definition of marriage in the church and further astonishing that this tendentious and undemonstrated claim should serve as the basis for proceeding without any chance for a critical response.

Thirdly, the Archbishop pointed to the first-reading approval of a change to the doctrine of marriage at General Synod. We noted that this had no bearing on the vetting of a candidate in June. Further, until the second reading the existing Canon stands.

The explanation offered–belatedly–for the Nominations Committee’s approval of a slate of candidates including a candidate in a same sex relationship is in every point unconvincing.

Secondly, in addition to the reasons for which we object to the action, in fairness to the Synod of the Diocese of Toronto the exceptional circumstances of the candidate ought to have been publicly noted. There is no way to measure the degree to which voting was skewed across the three elections by his presence or the degree to which delegates were aware of the significance of their voting. In fairness, the explanation we received in the last few days before the election ought to have been made public well before the election was called and open to review and response.

We protest the timing of the response (a two-month delay, with the Archbishop’s final response arriving the evening before the opening of the synod). We protest the failure of the Bishops to make any public explanation available to the people of the diocese. And we repeat our objection to the slate. We hold it to be invalid and the elections to be out of order. We ask the House of Bishops of the Province of Ontario to withhold concurrence.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Murray Henderson

The Rev. Canon Dr. Dean Mercer

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Sider-Hamilton

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.”

Bishop Colin Johnson won’t wait until 2019 to begin same-sex marriages

When it appeared that the vote to change the marriage canon did not pass, various liberal bishops defiantly announced that they would perform them, nonetheless. Now it is clear the vote did pass, the canon still cannot change until 2019. Liberal bishops are restating their intention to proceed immediately, making it blindingly obvious that the vote was irrelevant. Not only that, since synod votes are irrelevant, the synod itself is irrelevant. So are the canons. Since its synods and canons are irrelevant, I suspect the whole Anglican Church of Canada is irrelevant.

Here is Johnson’s revised statement:

Last night, I issued a statement based on the understanding that General Synod had narrowly defeated – by one vote in the order of clergy – changes to the marriage canon to include same-sex marriage in Anglican churches across Canada.

Today, after an audit of the recorded vote, it was determined that, in fact, the required 2/3 majority had been met in all three orders – laity, clergy and bishops.

Today’s vote will require confirmation by General Synod in 2019, but we can now begin to discuss how this will be implemented in the Diocese of Toronto in a similar way to what I spoke about in my earlier statement.

I reiterate that even if we do not agree on today’s outcome, we continue to be united in the most central aspects of our faith – our baptism in Jesus Christ and our commitment to serve His people.  Because we are united at this level, we can continue to work through these important issues together – a challenge I embrace and look forward to.

Thank you.

The Most Rev’d Colin R. Johnson

Archbishop of Toronto

Archbishop Colin Johnson to proceed with same-sex marriage

Toronto bishop, Colin Johnson, states his intention to ignore the synod vote and go ahead with same-sex marriages.

The in-vogue euphemism is “thoughtful pastoral response” – an updated version of “generous pastoral response”.

Here is a transcript:

General Synod has voted by a majority but unfortunately an insufficient majority to change the Marriage Canon at this time.  This news will be devastating to the LGBTQ community, and to the many clergy and Anglicans who support them, including myself.

This “No” vote recognizes that, like Canadian society at large, our Church is not of the same mind on this issue.

As a Christian, a bishop and a Canadian, I believe this is the time to amend our Marriage Canon – and I have spoken about this in today’s debate.  My belief about this has evolved in recent years upon reflection on scripture, prayer and discussions with people across the diocese and the wider church.

Having witnessed discussions, debates and today’s vote, it is my conviction that a thoughtful pastoral response is now required for our LGBTQ  brothers and sisters who are members of the Diocese of Toronto.

The integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships was affirmed by our church in 2004.  I know there will be some among you who will disagree with me, but I do believe that the logical next step would be to permit same-sex marriages in the Church at the pastoral discretion of the Bishop and with the agreement of local clergy.  This is an option I will be considering in the coming weeks.

I am advised that this option would not contravene the Marriage Canon, and I am confident it would be supported by the majority – even if not all – of our bishops, clergy, laity and the wider community.

I also respect that there are other convictions.  No one will be obligated to act against their conscience.  At my consecration as Bishop, I took a solemn vow to preserve the unity of our church, and that vow is central to my vocation. We are loyal members of a national church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, and in spite of obvious and understandable frustrations and anger, I believe we can and will find a way forward together. If we do this together, it will be far better than if we do it apart.

I want to underline that even if we do not agree on today’s vote, we continue to be united in the most central aspects of our faith – our baptism in Jesus Christ and our commitment to serve His people.  Because we are united at this level, we can continue to work through these important issues together – a challenge I embrace and look forward to.

Change to the centuries-old institution of marriage has come quickly, and all of us are at different points of the journey. We will continue this crucial discussion in the coming weeks, and I will be issuing a further statement at that time.