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?


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.

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


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

A message to orthodox Anglicans from Bishop Charlie Masters

ANiC reaches out to orthodox Anglicans in the Anglican Church of Canada who may be less than sanguine about the ACoC’s pushing ahead with same-sex marriage.

Bishop Charlie writes orthodox Anglicans

My dear fellow orthodox Anglican friends,

I am writing to you in response to a growing number of calls and requests that have come from Anglican believers, both clergy and laity, who find themselves very distressed as they ponder the most recent developments in the Anglican Church of Canada at its General Synod last July and since.

We have actually never experienced this number of inquiries. Some have come directly to our Diocesan office but many have been made to the local ANiC clergy in their respective communities. Either way, the distress is real and the concern about what these developments may mean for orthodox Anglicans in the future seems to be growing.

Accordingly, I am writing to assure you again of our sadness at these developments and the challenge they present to ordinary Anglicans – both clergy and laity – in living out the gospel and making disciples as Anglicans.
We pray much for you and feel that perhaps we understand something of how difficult it is for you now because of what we ourselves went through just a few years ago.

Beyond praying, we are willing and eager to stand with you in any way we can.

To that end, one thing we thought might be encouraging to some would be to attend our Diocesan Synod which is happening very soon at the end of October (October 26-28), with Clergy Day October 25, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Our hope and prayer would be that the worship, teaching and fellowship with fellow Anglicans most of whom are members of ANiC would be helpful to you at this time and perhaps refreshing. Certainly it would be our joy to have fellowship with you.

I am writing therefore to invite you to consider coming to our Synod at Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. On our website you can get all the information you need concerning the dates and everything else: Although registration officially closes today, October 7, we will try very hard to get you in – but please register as soon as possible by calling Jessica at 1-866-351-2642 extension 4015 or emailing [email protected]

For any ordained Anglican (non-ANiC) clergy who may like to attend, we will waive your registration fees. Clergy would also be welcome to come to our Clergy Day on the Tuesday (October 25) and if any would like to robe and process in the Wednesday evening service they would be welcome to take part in that procession along with other clergy. (The colour will be red for that service.)

I am aware that some perhaps might prefer quietly to attend. We understand that too and will respect your desire to attend discreetly.

We would hope that all laity and clergy will attend our workshop day, all day Wednesday and then, of course, Synod on Thursday and Friday. At some point in the Synod there will be a separate special session specifically for those who are orthodox Anglicans, but not members of ANiC, and who would like information about the Anglican Church in North America and ANiC as a diocese.

We do understand that this is a very big country and Vancouver may be very far from where you live. It is also true that the time is short between now and when Synod begins. Please know that most of our Synod will be live-streamed thanks to Anglican TV. Also we anticipate there will be information meetings across the country at various times and places which we will post on our website. If you wish to stay informed and connected, please sign up for our email communication and “like” our Facebook page.

So dear friends, we pray for you especially in these days. Would you also pray for us of the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as for the ACNA as a Province?

We want to bless and encourage you and would be delighted if many of you were able to accept our invitation and join us for our Clergy Day, workshops and Synod, October 25-28, 2016.

Every Blessing!


I attended the first ANiC Synod and I remember overhearing one priest say to another, as if in a state of shock: “It’s Christian!”

Fred Hiltz responds to dissenting bishops

Once the vote to change the marriage canon to permit same-sex marriage passed at General Synod, a number of bishops released a statement expressing their disagreement with both the process and the outcome. They also reaffirmed their commitment to stick with the Anglican Church of Canada come what may, a resolve that does little to fortify any influence they may think they have.

Now Fred Hiltz has responded to the statement. He makes his support for same-sex marriage quite clear and, reading between the lines, in spite of protestations to the contrary, I can’t believe there will be much tolerance for dissent.

From here:

While he affirmed the bishops’ commitment to offer “pastoral care and loving service to all irrespective of sexual orientation,” he noted that for many LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) Anglicans, “pastoral care” would include the solemnization of their marriages—which the bishops have expressly said they will not do. “For me, my brothers, the question you ask is really a question for all members of the church. To what extent can we and will we make room for one another? To what extent will we pastorally accommodate one another?” Hiltz said in his letter.

The bishops are, rightly, worried about the conscience clause:

Hiltz also challenged their claim that the resolution, which contains a conscience clause, “does not provide adequate protection for the consciences of dioceses, clergy and congregations.” He asked the bishops to explain what such protection would look like, and how it would apply for those in their dioceses who are in favour of same-sex marriage.

One answer to Hiltz might be this: when a bishop or clergyman refusing to marry a same-sex couple is either hauled before the Human Rights Commission or is civilly sued, the ACoC must pay for his legal defence. Of course, that won’t stop liberal bishops refusing to hire orthodox clergy or making their lives so disagreeable that they quit for a saner environment – but some things are too much to hope for.