Diocese of Calgary urged to begin same-sex blessings

Numerous dioceses, Toronto and Niagara for example, are already marrying same-sex couples. The diocese of Calgary hasn’t even started to bless same-sex couples, let alone marry them.

Calgary, to its shame, has fallen well behind other more progressive dioceses in their march along the highway to extinction. To correct this deficit, a collection of individuals with the catchy title of “Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity” is urging the diocese to join in the march of the ecclesiastical lemmings post-haste.

From here:

Elizabeth McLennan, spokesperson for Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity, spokesperson for Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity

An informal group in the diocese of Calgary is calling on the bishop to make a decision on whether to allow same-sex blessings in the diocese.

Moving Forward-Embracing Diversity, a lay group formed last January to push for same-sex blessings in the diocese, released a statement last week calling on Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson, bishop of Calgary and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land, to announce his response to a motion  passed at the diocesan synod October 14 requesting him to allow clergy to bless the unions of same-sex couples. At the time, Kerr-Wilson said he expected to announce his decision by mid-November. But no decision has yet been announced.

“Votes that pass in synod are expected to be acted upon and implemented,” Elizabeth McLennan, spokesperson for the group and mover of the motion, told the Anglican Journal Friday, December 8. “I think the diocese has really clearly shown the archbishop the direction it wants to take, and honestly, now it’s totally up to Greg to decide whether or not he’s going to listen to his synod.”

Same-sex blessings are more for the benefit of gay Anglican clergy than laity

The Diocese of Montreal authorised a liturgy for same sex blessings in 2010 and, since then, a grand-total of zero people have taken advantage of it. However, since 2010, the Diocese has ordained two male clergy “married” to other men. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that the Anglican Church of Canada has torn the Communion apart not, as it would like us to believe, for the benefit of the all the gay couples battering at church doors desperate to have Anglican approval for their domestic arrangements but for a few self-serving gay clergy.

From here:

Locally, a focus of the debate was resolutions adopted by the diocesan synod in 2007 and 2008 urging him [Bishop Barry Clarke] to approve a liturgy, not for same-sex weddings, but to bless marriages already solemnized in a civil ceremony. He did so in 2010. There has been no public indication that anyone in the diocese has made use of this arrangement since then.

However, the bishop has ordained several partners in same-sex marriages, including the Rev. Donald Boisvert, now the incoming principal of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, as deacons and priests and welcomed some from other dioceses, including Dean Paul Kennington of Christ Church Cathedral. Opponents of same-sex marriage protested against these actions.

Parishioner wants handshaking abolished at the passing of the peace

But, as an Anglican bishop noted:

Bishop Geoff Peddle of the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador said the practice has been discussed many times before in his church.

“We have dealt with it over and over again,” he said. “During SARS, the H1N1, we stopped all physical contact and refrained from drinking from the cup,” he said.

In contrast, the Anglican Church of Canada is quite content to encourage men to have anal sex with one another by blessing the activity; that, after all, is so much more hygienic than shaking hands.

A flood of same-sex couples inundates St. John’s Shaughnessy

St. John’s Shaughnessy, having ejected over 800 people from its former congregation, is finally seeing the fruit of its labours: one same-sex couple. It only took three years.

From here:

When I visited St. John’s, Shaughnessy for the first time I was immediately taken by how committed the congregation was to welcoming new worshippers and how committed everyone was to the mission of the church. Everyone shook my hand and asked me to come back. I eventually came back more often and now have chosen to become a parishioner at St John’s.

Eventually Douglas and I requested to have our marriage blessed at St. John’s, Shaughnessy. The Parish Council granted this permission and every parishioner that spoke to me about our Blessing Ceremony was encouraging, supportive and joyful for our happiness. As much as my rebirth as a Christian began before I attended St. John’s, this experience has given me deep conviction to the church and specifically to the ministry of St. John’s, Shaughnessy.

At our reception, after the Blessing Ceremony, a friend summed up my feeling more than I could say. He said that in our lifetime, as same-sex partners, we could never have imagined that we could ever legally marry. “And to have a Blessing Ceremony in a church is almost un-believable and to have this occur in a church that was so welcoming is just beyond my wildest dreams.” I felt like he had read my heart.

I am so grateful to everyone at St John’s for making me feel so welcome and allowing me to fully participate in Christian life without reservation because it allows me to feel God’s love and to love all of you.

Anglican bishops meet in England

The Anglican Church of Canada participated in “gatherings [to] facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation.” What more could each side possibly need to know about each other’s “context”? The African approach is to interpret their “context” in the light of Biblical principles, Western Anglicans do the reverse.

Read it all here:

The fifth meeting of the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue takes place in Coventry, England from May 22 to 25, 2014. The Consultation brings together Anglican bishops from Africa and North America in hopes of building common understanding and respect.

Beginning in 2010, a rotating group of approximately two-dozen bishops from Canada, the United States, and a number of African countries, have met annually at locales around the world. Their gatherings facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation. Their time together in Coventry focuses specifically on “Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.”

This intentional dialogue was developed in response to theological controversies that strained relationships across the Anglican Communion in the early 2000s. These included issues relating to human sexuality and the blessing of same-sex marriages. In the face of pain and division arising from these controversies, Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Diocese of Toronto and the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, now Africa Relations Coordinator, spearheaded this important dialogue.

The bishops report this time together as one of powerful transformation and reconciliation. Kawuki Mukasa says that many at the table have grown tired of the tone of past discourse and that there is sincere interest in carving a new, respectful way forward. “There’s growing appetite for conciliatory voices in the Anglican Communion,” he says. There is also deepening appreciation that all who form this unique group carry out their lives and ministries as faithfully as they can in their contexts.

Church of England House of Bishops makes a statement on human sexuality

From here:

The House also discussed the next steps in the process for conversations around Human Sexuality. In its discussion the House noted that the process of shared conversations needed to demonstrate primarily how the Church of England could model living together with issues of tension, where members took opposing views whilst remaining committed to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ – members of one church in both unity and diversity. The House agreed to a proposed process and timescale for the conversations with regional discussions taking place over the next two years. The House also authorised its Standing Committee to sign off the final arrangements and materials.

Canadian Anglicans should have a feeling of déjà vu reading this; the mindless repeating of empty clichés while “living together with issues of tension” doesn’t work. Conversations about same-sex blessings will lead to many dioceses performing them as a generous pastoral response. Then, after the initial strenuous assertions that this is all about blessings and not marriage have been largely forgotten, further conversations will begin about altering the marriage canon to include same-sex couples.

The liberal juggernaut is in motion and conversations are not going to stop it.

Anglican Church in New Zealand starts down the road to authorising same-sex blessings

The Anglican Church in New Zealand is proposing to develop liturgies for the blessing of same sex couples. The familiar caveat that priests who disagree will not be compelled to perform such blessings is present, although I wonder if the church will defend them if they are sued over the issue.

The Synod document is entitled “A Way Forward”, a strange epithet considering this has cause strife, division and disintegration everywhere it has been tried before, a fairly sure indicator that it is A Way Backward.

The document employs the usual condescending tone to those who think “the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary to scripture”. Apparently, they “will continue to have integrity within the Church”, as if theirs was the view that needed such reassurance or as if Scripture and 2000 years of Church teaching were not perfectly clear on the issue.

The mincingly patronising synod statement can be found here:

1. This General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui resolves  to appoint a working group to bring and recommend to the 62nd General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui:

(a)  A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary  to scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law, will not be required to perform any liturgy for the blessing of same-gender relationships, will continue to have integrity within the Church, and will remain compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction;

(b)  A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is consonant with scripture, doctrine, tikanga and civil law may perform a yet to be developed  liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships  in a manner which maintains their integrity within the Church, is compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction, and can remain in communion under scripture, doctrine and law; including

(i)  A proposal for a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships;

(ii)  A process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships may be adopted;

Bishop Melissa Skelton is fully supportive of same-sex blessings

Rev. Melissa Skelton is being installed as Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster today, replacing Michael Ingham.

For those who may be nursing a hope that the diocese’s policy on blessing same-sex unions might change, this interview should disabuse you (my emphasis):

Q. Since Bishop Ingham was a controversial figure in the 70-million member global Anglican communion, how will you handle his legacy?

A. I intend to listen and learn a lot about what this experience has been like for the diocese — the positive parts of this and the more difficult parts. I’m trying to come to this with a real beginner’s mind, not making assumptions about people’s experience. By the way, I’m fully supportive of offering blessings of covenantal relationships between same-sex couples in the Anglican Church.

What Skelton has already learned from her predecessor is that she can glibly ignore the wishes of the majority in the Anglican Communion and be complacently secure in the conviction that she will not be censured by the Anglican Church of Canada, its Primate, Canterbury or the Archbishop of Canterbury. What God thinks about it, as revealed in the book Skelton claims to follow, might be an entirely different matter; but who cares about him when Fred Hiltz is on your side.

The Diocese of BC conducts its first same-sex blessing

Bishop James Cowan performed the first same-sex blessing in the Diocese of BC on June 1. As the article below notes, everyone processed into the church immediately following the civil wedding: the distinction between marrying and blessing that dioceses who perform same-sex blessings were so keen to make has, for all practical purposes, already vanished.

I notice that “Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still” has made a comeback –”a step in drawing wider a circle of welcoming inclusiveness which needs to be drawn wider still.” Or to put it another way: you can’t hide; no matter how fast you run, we are coming for you and, when we find you, you will be included.

SS-blessingIt was a wonderful, exciting, joyous and emotional service which took place in the Church of St. John the Divine, Victoria, on Saturday June 1.

To the magnificent sounds of Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Marche Triomphale from St. John’s Casavant organ, the large community of parishioners, family and friends processed into the church immediately following the civil wedding of Paul Gillan and Michael King in the church garden.

In a grace-filled landmark service of praise and thanksgiving, Bishop James Cowan conducted the first Blessing of a Same Sex Union to occur in the Diocese of British Columbia.

In his brief homily, the bishop noted the significance of this event in the Anglican church. Referring to the words “Draw the circle wide, Draw it wider still.” from the just-sung hymn “Draw the Circle Wide” (CP 418), Bishop James acknowledged that this service marked but a step in drawing wider a circle of welcoming inclusiveness which needs to be drawn wider still. He paid tribute to the long struggle for equality advanced at many Synods over the years by the parishioners of St. John’s and other churches in the diocese. In this service which included choral Eucharist, Bishop James spoke of God’s covenant with us.

As we gathered together to witness and bless the public commitment of Paul and Michael to each other, the bishop reminded us that all our covenants with family and friends are signs of God’s faithfulness and love, living expressions of God’s promises to us and sources of hope to others.

With joy in our hearts, we celebrated the covenant between Paul and Michael, praying that the life they share will reflect the love of God for the whole world. We also pray that this is just a beginning.