Fred Hiltz wonders what St. Paul would make of the Anglican Church of Canada

Wondering what St. Paul would think of a church considering marrying people of the same sex is akin to pondering whether Karl Marx would approve of Walmart. Any Christian whose thought processes are still anchored in the reality our familiar old four-dimensional space-time continuum knows the answer. It is the one thing Paul and Marx would have in common: the strength of their respective loathing for same-sex activity and Walmart.

Yet, here we have Fred Hiltz seriously – at least, I assume this article is not an elaborate exercise in exploring the outer limits of poor taste in Anglican jokes, it’s sometimes difficult to tell – asking exactly that:

Hiltz made the comment in an address that began and ended by wondering what St. Paul might think of the church, what advice he might give it and how he might pray for it.

On the church’s deliberation over changing its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage, for example, Paul might remind it of his counsel to the Ephesians to be “humble and gentle and patient with one another, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3),” he said.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Hiltz said it was partly the idea of the importance of good leadership in the church at this point in its history that had prompted him to imagine what the apostle might think if he were to look at it “with a penetrating eye.”

[…..]

Hiltz concluded his address by speculating that St. Paul might pray for the Canadian church as he prayed for the Ephesians, “that we understand the incredible greatness of God’s power—that we might have power to comprehend how wide, and how long, and how high and how deep is God’s love for us in Christ; that we be filled with that knowledge and in and through it live our lives and do the work to which God calls us.”

Diocese of Calgary votes to bless same-sex couples

It wasn’t that long ago that the Diocese of Niagara was spluttering unconvincingly about how their intention to bless same-sex couples had nothing whatsoever to do with marrying same-sex couples. Now they are doing just that.

It goes to show that there really is a wedge with a thin end and the Diocese of Calgary has just reached it.

From the Anglican Communion Alliance:

Synod has passed the following Motion in the Diocese of Calgary: “This synod requests the Bishop to grant permission to any Clergy who may wish to bless the unions of faithful, committed, Christian same sex couples. In requesting such permission clergy and lay people of the Diocese of Calgary shall be entrusted to follow their consciences.” With regard to what he might be willing to give permission for, in a pastoral letter earlier this week, Abp. Greg Kerr-Wilson said it is possible that “some intercessory prayers” could possibly be devised “for use in the context of a Eucharistic celebration.”

Justin Welby’s sense of humour

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted recently to approve same-sex marriages. At the last Primates’ meeting, TEC, which also marries same-sex couples, had to suffer the consequences of their action, including not participating in formal Anglican Communion meetings or voting on decisions related to policy or teaching. Neither of these were enforced and TEC representatives continued to vote and gabble incontinently to their hearts’ content.

Now the same consequences may be imposed on the Scottish Episcopal Church. Its leaders must be shedding many tears at the prospect of being similarly afflicted. Tears of laughter.

From here:

The Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to face ‘consequences’ from fellow Anglicans for its decision to allow gay marriage.

Senior figures from around the worldwide Anglican Communion, including from the largely conservative global south, will meet in Canterbury next week and are expected to impose restrictions on the SEC after the vote permitting same-sex weddings last June.

At the last meeting of global Anglican primates in January 2016 The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the US was handed the same ‘consequences’ after they permitted same-sex couples to marry.

Church figures at the time stressed they did not amount to sanctions or a punishment but meant representatives from TEC could not represent the 80-million strong Anglican Communion on formal bodies or vote on decisions related to policy or teaching.

Fred Hiltz aims for “good disagreement” on same-sex marriage

Does anyone remember Rowan Williams’ attempt to solve the same-sex marriage mess in the Anglican Communion using The Covenant? It was still alive and kicking – well, twitching at least – as little as five years ago, yet now it’s deader than the dandruff falling from Rowan’s eyebrows.

Justin Welby ignored The Covenant and, instead, imposed “consequences” on provinces that defied the ban on same-sex marriages. No one, least of all Welby, took them seriously.

Having now jettisoned both The Covenant and Consequences, Welby has settled on the idea of “good disagreement”, an ecclesiastical version of the cold war with ersatz pieties injected into it for appearances’ sake.

Fred Hiltz has jumped on the good disagreement bandwagon and is applying it to the Anglican Church of Canada. Sorry, he is embracing it.

The question is, if same-sex marriage were to remain forbidden in the ACoC, would anyone be proposing good disagreement as the solution for calming bruised liberals? Of course not: the battle would continue and all we would hear about would be prophetic voices, inclusion, justice and equality, laced with frequent references to a rubber stamping holy spirit.   Good disagreement is just another smoke screen designed to cloud the judgement of conservatives in order to keep them in the fold, so as to continue to collect their offerings.

From here:

My own read is that many in our church are coming to accept and declare that we will never agree on this matter. There will always be those who favour same-sex marriage and those who oppose it, each from the ground of their own wrestling with the Scriptures and the long-held teaching of
the church on the nature of marriage. The challenge is, how do we live with such deep-seated differences of conviction?

At the heart of this challenge are two things—the acknowledging of our fears and the embracing of good disagreement.

Of the fear, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addressed his own church at a General Synod in 2014, saying, “There is great fear among some, here and round the world, that that will lead to the betrayal of our traditions, to the denial of the authority of Scripture, to apostasy, not to use too strong a word. And there is also a great fear that our decisions will lead us to the rejection of LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] people, to irrelevance in a changing society, to behaviour that may seem akin to racism. Both those fears are alive and well in this room today.”

Of the nature of good disagreement, 
the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, David Ison, wrote in 2015: “There is no expectation of achieving any consensus—in either direction—in the foreseeable future. But there is a task to be done of encouraging those within the church who are at odds on this issue to express their concerns in a safe environment, listen carefully to those with whom they disagree profoundly, find something of Christ in each other and consider together what the practical consequence of disagreement might be. From New Testament times the church of Christ has had to face disagreement. Fashioning our life as a church includes finding ways to ‘disagree Christianly’.”

I believe that in our church there is both a commitment and a capacity to do just that—to disagree in a manner that does not demean one another, but honours our calling in Christ. In good disagreement, no one is made to feel their position is of no value. No one feels belittled, walked over or pushed out. In good disagreement, there is, in truth, a continuing place for everyone in our church.

Church of England wants to ban conversion therapy

If a person with unwanted same-sex attraction approaches a Church of England vicar for help, he will be wasting his time because the CofE has made the definitive pronouncement – and it doesn’t make many these days – that once a person experiences same-sex attraction, he is not allowed to be rid of it.

As usual, the Church is behind the times which it is so desperate to be a part of: gender is now fluid. I can be a man, a woman, attracted to either, neither or both at will, therapy be damned. Get with it Justin Welby.

Ironically, in the same synod, a motion was passed by an overwhelming majority to affirm transgender people. People who have changed, among other things, the object of their sexual desire.

It all goes to show that a church obsessed with keeping up with the prevailing culture is, instead, going to make itself look tawdry and silly. Profoundly silly.

From here:

The Church of England has called on the government to ban conversion therapy and has condemned the practice, which aims to change sexual orientation, as unethical and potentially harmful.

At the end of an emotional debate in which two members of the C of E synod described their experiences as spiritual abuse, the church’s governing body overwhelmingly backed a motion saying the practice had “no place in the modern world”.

Conversion therapy is usually described as an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Some churches in the C of E and other denominations have encouraged LGBT members to take part in prayer sessions and other activities to rid them of their “sin”.

Church of England delaying same-sex marriage; leaders accused of waffling

The Church of England has delayed making any formal pronouncement about whether the Bible has been wrong all along about homosexuality until 2020 at the earliest. This is to allow for some more profound thought on the subject apparently, leading some to accuse CofE leaders of waffling.

What the accusers are finally starting to catch on to is that, in Western Anglicanism, profound thought and waffling are one and the same.

From here:

Synod members say creating new working groups fails to address issue as leaders accused of ‘waffle’.

Church of England bishops have been accused of kicking the issue of same-sex equality into the long grass by offloading the topic to a series of working groups that will not report until 2020 at the earliest.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York, the two most senior figures in the church, have established two main groups and four subgroups to advise on pastoral issues and produce a new teaching document on human sexuality.

Reporting to the C of E’s synod, meeting in York, Justin Welby said the processes “aim to take a reasonable time for profound thought by a large number of people across a wide range of views, and during that time provide pastoral guidance”.
The intention, he added, was to “map, to set out clearly where we agree and where we disagree, to help us understand better the issues and the points of conflict”.

Marriage canon CoGS still turning

The Council of General Synod met recently to discuss, among other things, the change to the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. The Indigenous representative seems less than happy with the fact that the report “This Holy Estate” has not been translated into Indigenous languages. Moreover, some dioceses are already marrying same sex couples ahead of the 2019 vote to approve them – if they can find any willing specimens, that is.

What the Indigenous member should realise is that, since same-sex marriages are already occurring, the report is irrelevant: it is a fait accompli, no report, listening process, vote, conversation or discussion – respectful or otherwise – is going to make a blind bit of difference. Anglican conservatives have, as usual, been conned and outmaneuvered. Business as usual at CoGS.

During the discussion, one Indigenous CoGS member asked why some dioceses were already marrying same-sex couples, which her people did not understand given that the church was currently debating passing an amendment to the marriage canon to change the rules.

Diocese of B.C. to proceed with same-sex marriages

Bishop Logan McMenamie has stated that he will not wait for the next vote on the marriage canon change in 2019 but will start performing same-sex marriages immediately.

The Diocese of BC has joined the growing number of dioceses for whom synod voting signifies little more than empty gestures emanating from the meaningless gatherings of a decaying organisation.

The other dioceses that are ignoring the synod processes include: Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Huron, Rupert’s Land. There are probably others. Soon, it will quicker to list dioceses that are not performing same-sex marriages.

From here (page 2):

After receiving the thoughts of the clergy of the diocese the Bishop has decided to move forward with the marriage of same sex couples in the Diocese. He will permit this on a case by case basis after conversation with the clergy person who will officiate at the marriage. He told the members of council that principle takes precedence over process in this issue. He went on to say that unity is not agreement but rather the willingness to work together and to walk together.

Diocese of New Westminster won’t perform same-sex marriages until 2019

That means that the Diocese of Niagara has usurped New West’s position as the most liberal diocese in Canada.

From here:

First, during this three-year period we will strengthen what we offer all couples who seek marriage or the blessing of their marriage in the church. I will convene a group to create standards and develop or refine materials to assist all couples in preparing for their making monogamous, lifelong commitments of fidelity to each other.

Second, we will abide by what General Synod decided, that is, during this three-year period we will hold off on our clergy officiating at the marriage of same-sex couples, preserving this period as a time to study, reflect, discern and pray for General Synod 2019 and its decisions. I, myself, did vote for the change in the Marriage Canon and do believe that offering marriage to same-sex couples within the Church is an expression of the Gospel.  At the same time, as your bishop I feel I should respect and abide by the full resolution as passed at General Synod 2016.

Third, building on the work already done in this diocese, I will authorize new liturgies for the blessing of marriages that enhance and maximize what we as church do and keep to a minimum what marriage commissioners do. These liturgies will be available for the use of clergy and parishes who would find them helpful and for all couples who are duly qualified to enter into civil marriage.

Bogus unity is worse than honest disunity

Now that same-sex marriage is settled, the Anglican Church of Canada is concentrating on presenting a united front “as a form of witness to the world”, in contrast to this “time of political division”, a snide reference, I presume, to the US elections.

Here is a tweet showing Michael Thompson exhorting the church to indulge in a little faux-unity hypocrisy for the sake of its witness…. or should that be coffers?

unity

The only problem is, there is no unity in the ACoC: a number of bishops walked out of the last general synod after the same-sex marriage vote; later, they registered their dissent. Aboriginal Anglicans want to distance themselves from same-sex marriage. I know it falls somewhat short of rioting and property destruction but, in the Anglican world, this is disunity.

As an aside, I do hope Thompson has noticed that voting in the US elections – a slightly more ambitious exercise than the ACoC general synod – went much more smoothly than the GS2016 voting debacle run by…. you guessed it, Michael Thompson.