INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2002 Integrity/Toronto.
The hard-copy version of this newsletter carries the ISSN 0843-574X
Integrity/Toronto Box 873 Stn F Toronto ON Canada M4Y 2N9
FIT TO BE TIED?
Church and state discuss same-sex unions
Bishop Caleb Lawrence of Moosonee
analysis by Michael Valpy of the Globe and Mail
WALKING THE WALK
Pride Day Toronto 2002, by BK Hipsher
BY THEIR FRUITS, YOU SHALL KNOW THEM
Signs in the Ottawa Pride Parade, by Chris Ambidge
OTTAWA SYNOD 2002
by Ron Chaplin
UNITY IN THE MIDST OF DIVERSITY
Sermon preached at the Integrity/Fidelity Eucharist by Paul Feheley on 16 September 2002
A MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS
ON SAME-SEX BLESSING AND THE DIOCESE OF NEW WESTMINSTER
Please click on the small photos in this edition to view larger versions.
We are testing out the inclusion of photos in the online version of Integrator. It is not possible to include them in the printed version because of production costs but that is not a factor here. Chris Ambidge, editor of Integrator would appreciate your comments on our use of photos.
These are interesting times for lesbigay Anglicans and our friends. Since the last issue of Integrator:
The ACC meeting saw retiring Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey express his reservations about the actions of New Westminster, and of the pro-gay bishop of Pennsylvania. Bishop Ingham (one of the Council members in Hong Kong) took leave to disagree with Carey, saying that Carey's comments would further aggravate the disunity of Anglicans; and that the actions of New Westminster were carefully considered, fully cognisant of the feelings of Anglicans at home and away.
In late October, the House of Bishops issued a message to the church [see article 2002-5-9, below]. The bishops acknowledged that they cannot speak with one voice at this time on whether to proceed to same-sex blessings or not. They expressed concern for the divisions within the diocese of New Westminster, and called for reconciliation between the eight dissident parishes and the rest of the diocese.
The bishops did come to two other agreements: that the questions will be referred to General Synod 2004, and that no other dioceses will make decisions in the interim.
Bishop Ingham pointed out that there are couples waiting for blessing in Vancouver, and that three parishes have asked to use a rite of blessing. "We are proceeding", he said.
"I have grown old in this house [of bishops] during discussion of this issue"
[If the blessing of gay unions] "is not of God, it will not stand. And if this is of God, this house of bishops will not be able to prevent it."
Bishop of Moosonee
by Michael Valpy, religion editor of the Toronto Globe and Mail
Setting down his mitre in retirement at the end of October, George Carey, 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, bequeathed to his successor, Rowan Williams, a homosexual mess in the Anglican Church. The mess is largely of Dr Carey's own making -- a rancorous division he might have contained if he'd followed the lead of Canada's bishops, but instead has exacerbated.
Michael Valpy's analysis of the Anglican Church, particularly in Canada, over questions around homosexuals in the church, was published in the Toronto Globe and Mail on 6 November 2002, page A17. The Globe and Mail granted permission for Integrator to reproduce Mr Valpy's analysis in the paper edition only. We do not have rights to reproduce the rest of the article in the online edition, and so only the first paragraph appears here. Mr Valpy's analysis, we believe, is spot-on. If you would like to read it, please send us an email, and we'll send you a paper copy via Canada Post.
By BK Hipsher
I simply did not know where the intense yearning came from inside me to actually get out there and participate in the Pride Parade this year. I have known about Pride Parades for all the years there have been Pride Parades... but it never crossed my mind to actually participate. I had seen parade on tape or on television... usually the semi-naked, buff young men or the drag queens in rainbow boas.
But this year was different. The opportunity was suddenly there, staring me in the face. All my high flying words about how many people in the GLBT community hunger and thirst after God came down on me like a hammer. I decided to walk.
Then the prodding started about the sign. "Make the sign" the voice in my head said. "Go on! MAKE the sign!" Finally, late on Saturday afternoon I went to Staples to buy the poster board and markers. I knew what the sign was supposed to say. I had a good idea of how it was to look. So I bought the art supplies and went off to a party for a few hours hoping that just buying the stuff would suffice for actually making it and carrying it in the parade.
At 10:00pm on Saturday night I started measuring and marking, drawing and colouring, until the thing from my mind emerged and was standing beside the door ready for the drive to Toronto the next morning. I still felt a little stupid although it really was a good-looking sign. "God is Love" on one side and "Nothing can separate us from the love of God" on the other. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Tomorrow I would "come out" as a Christian to thousands and thousands of queers. Would they jeer? Would they throw things and laugh? Would they call out tasteless yet understandable retorts to my bold assertion that God loves ALL of us?
I arose on the Sunday morning feeling excited and scared. I carefully covered my masterpiece in a green garbage bag. I said it was so it would not get soiled on the drive and the subway ride into the city. It was really because I just could not bear the stares of people on the subway and on the street before I arrived at the parade location. Little did I realise that travelling with a woman priest in a collar wearing a Tilley hat with a rainbow hat band had far more "stare factor" than the sign could possibly have produced.
We arrived at the appointed place for the parade. I actually began to enjoy waving the sign around, showing it off to media people coming by. A young woman walked up to Lillian, chaplain to Integrity Toronto, and said, "What does the rainbow mean?" Without batting an eye or taking a breath Lillian replied, "The rainbow is a symbol of God's unconditional love for each one of us." The young woman looked her square in the eye and asked, "Even if a person is gay? Does God still love them?" "Oh yes," Lillian confidently declared. "God loves each of us without condition."
Then Janet, another Integrity person from a Toronto parish, came up to me and said she, too, had felt compelled to make a sign with the quote "Nothing can separate us from the love of God" but had not gotten around to making it. I began to realise that this was not MY sign, this was God's sign. This was not about what I was doing, it was about what God could and would do in me if I would just be willing. My confidence soared. I was SURE I was on a mission from God, just like the Blues Brothers.
After hours of standing and waiting we were up! The parade began to move. I could feel some kind of psychic energy very near. I did not have a clue what that energy was and then.... We turned the corner and I got a look at the number of people waiting beside the actual parade route. The parade had been delayed, but that had not deterred them. They had waited for us. And the crowds increased, 10 or more deep in most places. People hanging off roofs, out of windows. I got really scared. I wondered what had possessed me to do this! And this sign was only calling attention to me, something I would really like to avoid about now.
I was stunned by the supportive applause that erupted along the route. I was amazed by the shouts of encouragement and those who were genuinely delighted to see Proud Anglicans and Anglicans Marching with Pride. I saw some of them smile and nod. Some pointed and gave us the thumbs up. Lillian smiled and looked them square in the eye, waved and shouted "Happy Pride" for the entire route. I tried to look them in the eye but I could not keep it up. The pain I saw in some of those eyes as we passed was nearly overwhelming. The years of yearning and the spiritual abuse by churches of every stripe was desperately evident. Yet no-one jeered. No one yelled a single thing bad. Every word that landed in my ears was a shout of glee or encouragement. One woman yelled out, "I'd still be in the church if there had been priests like you." We had many clergy in collars in our ranks. One woman yelled out "Father I need help!" toward the end of the parade. One priest in our ranks yelled back "Me, too!" and the crowd gave an approving laugh.
Now, after the parade, I'm left with only the image of the crowds as we turned that corner. I wonder if it resembled the crowds Jesus saw as he rode into Jerusalem that last time. How did he FEEL as a human being when he saw that huge crowd begin to lay palms on the road for his donkey to walk on? I get chills thinking of it.
Late at night I still see the faces of the ones who just looked at us -- not with disgust or disdain -- just the awful pain I saw in their eyes. When I think of that pain it gives me strength to do anything in my power to relieve it for as many or as few I as can. I will risk it all if necessary. Because all the jobs and worries and money will end when I die. But the pain will remain. If I can do anything to ease it, that will remain as well.
I am keeping the sign. It will walk in many more parades, travel many miles, be hauled out for various occasions. It is a part of me now. A public statement of my theology... no apologies, no regrets, no explanations. Lillian used to tell me, "You know when you know that you know." Now I understand what she meant.
by Chris Ambidge
While I've never missed a Toronto Pride event since my first in 1985, I've never actually seen the parade - I'm always in it. I'm also not often at Pride events away from Trawna, so it was a particular pleasure to be in Ottawa in mid-July this year for their rainbow festivities. I was invited to preach at St John the Evangelist in Ottawa on Pride Sunday, and a couple of hours later, the parade itself went right past the church doors as it moved down Elgin Street.
John's certainly took full advantage of this opportunity to evangelise. All week
long the notice-board had advertised the Pride celebrations, and on the Sunday afternoon,
the parish set up a lemonade stand. As soon as the parade started to pass the church,
St John's people swarmed up to them with trays of cups of lemonade and sweet snacks.
As the marchers had already been on the road for three-quarters of an hour in the
sun, they got a very positive impression about those church-folk.
Kindness takes many forms: sometimes it's saying "you'll be welcome" (and meaning it), sometimes it's giving refreshment to the weary. And sometimes, it's standing up for your friends. St John's people did all three that week.
Right at the tag-end of the parade came something I'd not seen in a LONG time at a Toronto parade. After all sorts of happy and celebratory people came four men carrying signs, like many of the earlier marchers. These four were not having a good time, however. The faces of these members of Calvary Baptist Church were grim and closed. Their signs bore bible quotes that proclaimed that God was displeased with all of this celebration, and that the Pride participants were wicked, dreadful people who were bound for hell. I doubt if their proclamation won any souls over to Jesus.
Two people from St John's were NOT going to let this scolding announcement of "the Bad News of Jesus Christ" go unchallenged. Gillian and Shawn picked up a sign announcing "Whoever loves is born of God and knows God" and marched, with Shawn's dog, right in front of the doomsayers. They sang - "Amazing Grace", "How Great Thou Art", and "Jesus Loves Me", that I heard from my vantage point ten metres ahead in the parade.
This wasn't the first time St John's people have borne witness of God's love in the Pride parade. I understand that in a previous year, those marching to announce God's displeasure have tried to have them ejected. The policeman to whom they complained pointed out that freedom of speech only works when everyone can say as they please, and refused the demand. I felt sorry for the Calvary marchers - they seemed so sad, so intent on scolding the gays and lesbians celebrating. I don't know why they were there - if they were having an effect on the faith of those who saw them, it certainly wasn't in a positive direction.
On the other hand, I myself heard marchers and spectators comment favourably on the couple from St John's proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, calling them "the good guys". If anyone heard God's word on Elgin Street on 14 July, it was that proclamation of love, or from a cup of lemonade. Inasmuch as they did it unto a drag queen, or a PFLAG parent, or a dyke-on-a-bike, or even unto a protester, St John's parishioners did it unto Jesus.
by Ron Chaplin
For the first time, there was a debate regarding the place of gays and lesbians in Church at the annual Synod of the Diocese of Ottawa on October 18 and 19.
The question arose because of a motion proposed by the Rev. Canon Garth Bulmer, Rector of the Parish of St. John the Evangelist, that "this Synod ask the Bishop of Ottawa to authorise clergy in requesting parishes to bless same-sex unions".
The discussion came during a 40-minute plenary session scheduled on Friday afternoon, October 18. Many spoke passionately in favour of the motion which was to be put the following day. Fewer spoke in opposition. The greatest number pleaded for more time for their parishes to discuss the issue further. Dean Shane Parker, who chaired this plenary session, recognised speakers in the order they came forward to the microphones.
A vote on the motion itself, however, was never put. An opposing motion had also been put on the Synod's agenda. The Rev. George Sinclair, Rector of St. Alban's parish, had moved that Ottawa Synod endorse as its position the stands taken by the Canadian House of Bishops in 1977, and of the Lambeth Conference of 1998. A "compromise" motion was proposed by the Rev. Rae Fletcher, Rector of the Parish of St. Mary the Virgin, that Synod "instruct the Executive Committee to form a task force which will consider the implications for the life of the church of any decisions concerning the blessings of same-sex unions; the task force will report through the Executive Committee to the next regular session of Synod", that is, October 2003.
The events which took place on Saturday afternoon, October 19, caused some consternation among those unfamiliar with parliamentary procedure. Both the "pro-blessing" and "anti-blessing" motions were presented by their movers and seconders. The questions themselves were never put to Synod. Instead, in both instances, the Rev. Rae Fletcher moved that the motions be referred to the Executive Committee. Both these motions were approved, without debate. The "compromise motion" to refer the whole issue to the Executive Committee, was also approved without debate.
As frustrating as this procedure was to some, both proponents and opponents of the original motion, most delegates I spoke with felt that it best reflected the "mood" of Synod. As for myself, I took heart from the crush of delegates which came to the display table of the Diocesan Task Group on Gays and Lesbians looking for recommended resource materials to stimulate parish discussions of the issue. People on both sides, I could not help but notice, were respectful of those with whom they disagreed.
Was this a step forward? The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. We will all be reviewing the composition of the Task Force, the mandate they are given, and the process they undertake. May God guide us in these deliberations.
Later note: While the statement from the House of Bishops a couple of weeks after Ottawa synod asks that no further actions be taken, this presumably does not pre-empt discussions from continuing in Ottawa or elsewhere.
At Integrity's September Eucharist, the celebrant and preacher was the Rev Canon Paul Feheley, vice-president of Fidelity. Fidelity and Integrity members have been worshipping together once a year for six years now.
Paul called us to work as hard to preserve the unity of the church as we do to put forward our views on lesbigays and the church. He also proposed a model of separate and overlapping dioceses in the church, with one set of dioceses supporting the blessing of same-sex partnerships, the other not.
This model may be considered by General Synod 2004, which has been asked by the bishops to deal with the questions arising from the New Westminster decision. I was encouraged by the model's acknowledgement that there needs to be space in the Anglican Church of Canada for people on each side of this discussion.
We're very grateful that Paul could be with Integrity again this year.
Sermon delivered at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist among members of Integrity and Fidelity at the Church of the Redeemer, 16 September 2002
By Canon Paul Feheley
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Once again I am privileged and honoured to stand before you to share in preaching the Word and in sharing the Gifts of God for the People of God.
I come before you for the sixth time, with somewhat less hair and far greyer than when we first began, and somewhat more weight, -but enough about Chris Ambidge.
In many ways this opportunity to preach is perhaps the most difficult of the six times. The passing of the Motion regarding same-sex relationships has, as you will realise, created for some a great joy and satisfaction, but at the same time produced pain, anxiety and struggle for many others in the Anglican Communion.
Some see Bishop Michael as courageous and prophetic, while others see him as a person with "an agenda of his own devising". Some look to the New Westminster Synod as leading the way. Others take comfort in Article 21 of 39 Articles of Religion that says that Synods, " .... may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining to God."
In speaking to you as a priest who upholds traditional beliefs while seeking the unity of the Church, I worry about what to me is a new phenomena - Liberal Fundamentalism. I worry that all that is achieved is a phyrric victory that will ultimately exclude from the Church those who hold dissenting views on this subject. I worry that those who hold views opposite to the majority vote in New Westminster are painted into a corner where loyalty is demanded, rather than achieved through reconciliation, love and pastoral care and what is offered is a conscience clause that is unacceptable and unworkable.
One cannot help but also worry about the Anglican Communion. The following quote is taken from an article by David W. Virtue about the Anglican Consultative Council meeting today in Hong Kong.
"In his farewell address as president of the Anglican Consultative Council, Carey stunned his hearers saying that the 'erosion of communion through the adoption of 'local options' has been going on for some thirty years but in my opinion is reaching crisis proportions today'.
"Addressing the situation in the Diocese of New Westminster where Bishop Michael Ingham is in conflict with a dozen clergy over recently passed diocesan legislation approving rites for same-sex marriage, Carey said, 'I deeply regret that Michael and his synod, and other bishops and dioceses in similar situations in North America seem to be making such decisions without regard to the rest of us and against the clear statements of Lambeth '98'.
"On the other hand, it is disappointing to note the steps that have been taken in reaction by a number of clergy, bishops and even Archbishops in our Communion, equally in disregard of carefully thought out Lambeth Conference resolutions."
Where do we go from here? Over the years I have occasionally used these sermons to place challenges before us. Tonight I call on all of us to work as hard, if not harder, to preserve the unity of this Church as we have to put forward our personal opinions and thoughts on this subject. We do so in order that what is truly important- the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be achieved.
I would like to spend the rest of the sermon time sharing with you a proposal I have written called "Unity in the Midst of Diversity."
I find myself at the crossroads of the Anglican Church of Canada. It seems like many trucks, laden with opinions, are moving towards a head-on collision. A potentially deadly crash is almost inevitable. Virtually all of us are in one truck or another - there are very few who are standing on the side of the road saying, "It really doesn't matter to me."
In each of the convoys of trucks there are deeply thinking Christian people, as well as mavericks, politicians, conceited people and those whose only concern is their feelings and their beliefs. If the crash occurs, very little will be achieved. Each convoy of trucks will claim victory, that God is on their side and offer proof of their "correctness". One wonders if enough people are looking at the ultimate consequences of what this crash will mean. No one will win, but there will be a certain loser - Jesus Christ. As we fight for our opinions, endlessly debate biblical texts and choose sides for the battle, I challenge all of us to remember that we were baptised to proclaim by word and example, the good news of God in Christ.
I, along with many others have been engaged in dialogue and prayer over the issue of same-sex relationships for almost a decade. My involvement has been primarily not to advance my own beliefs, but to strive within the conversations to hold the unity of the Church together while maintaining a diversity of opinions. The following model, while far from perfect, tries to advance this principle.
Within a given diocese or dioceses, we create two non-geographic dioceses. The initial difference would be that one diocese would allow the blessings of same-sex unions, the other would not. Each parish vestry would vote to determine where they would belong. These two dioceses would both be members of the Anglican Church of Canada, their Ecclesiastical Province and most importantly, be in communion with each other.
There are and should be many areas where these two new dioceses would co-operate, for example, a single financial office might handle both dioceses. Archives and other administrative work could equally be done together. Each would have their own bishop or bishops, as well as their own synods, and be free to pursue the agenda that they believe God has given them to do.
The Diocese of New Westminster, and those who are ready to bless same-sex unions face a variety of other difficult questions - for example: the ordination of practising homosexual clergy. It is possible - even probable that within the Anglican Church of Canada we could spend the next 10-15 years fighting and debating at every synod over these questions. No matter what the vote, no one would win. We need only look to our Episcopal brothers and sisters in the United States to see what these debates achieve - a split, dysfunctional and at times, unchristian church that mars the wonderful story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This model allows each side to hold onto the integrity of their position while maintaining fidelity to their understanding of biblical truth.
If we create two non-geographical dioceses that are in communion with each other, we avoid "flying bishops" from other parts of the communion, neither will we find ourselves in the secular courts fighting over who owns our buildings. The question of sexuality is settled for both dioceses, and they are free to pursue those other issues that matter deeply to them.
If we were to look at this question from a "family" point of view, we could stay married and fight. I do not believe this issue is resolvable through dialogue and compromise while staying in the same diocese. We could divorce and one or both could join separate organisations, claiming to be the authentic Anglican Church. This model says, "I'm right - you're wrong, and only I have the truth from God."
The third is to separate while realising we have joint custody over many things that we both hold dear. We can live, function, proclaim the gospel and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit within our own diocese. We can model to our country, our world and particularly the Anglican Communion a way to move forward together on this issue while not tearing apart the Church that all of us love.
Two separate dioceses, within the Anglican Church of Canada also does not preclude a future time where we may be able to join together again.
With each congregation making its own decision, it also allows a respect for individuals who may differ within their parish. If they so choose, they could move to a parish where they would find their views in a majority. This model also allows a parish who may find itself isolated by its decision to be in fellowship with other similar- thinking parishes.
There are any number of details (particularly financial) that must be worked out. These are not impossible to deal with under a circumstance where we view one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
In Galatians chapter two, we read about Paul and the early church working out their agreement that he and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles while Peter and the others would go to the circumcised. Significantly, Paul and Barnabas were given "the right hand of fellowship when the split occurred." The way this division was achieved - holding together under the unity of Jesus Christ - represents a model for us to work toward.
In short, individual parishioners and parishes determine what diocese they will belong to. Each diocese with its own synod is free to move forward under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to the other diocese are not my enemies, but my 'Beloved's beloved'. Although I disagree on certain things, I am privileged to be in communion with them.
My belief is that justice and respect are at the heart of this proposal, enabling us to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the commission that all of us through Baptism have been given.
I thank you again for the privilege of sharing this time with you. I promise that no matter where the roads will lead us you will have my love and prayers as we journey.
Bishops issue statement on blessing same-sex unions
Mississauga ON, 29 October 2002
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Mississauga on October 28, 2002, issues the following statement in response to the decision of the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster to bless same-sex unions.
We are called to be one in the Body of Christ. (John 17:21) We know that on the issue of same-sex unions differing convictions are deeply held in the House of Bishops, throughout our church and beyond. The decision of New Westminster has caused pain for some and joy in others. Over the past four years this Diocese undertook an extensive process of study that led them to their decision. We recognise that members of the diocese on every side of the issue have suffered pain.
Eight parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster have requested alternative Episcopal oversight for themselves. Before the fracture widens we urge all involved to engage in a process of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) on the basis of the general principles passed by the Diocesan Synod in June 2002. Although the precise terms of the conversation will be established within the Diocese we propose that the following elements should be part of it.
We request that those outside the diocese respect the integrity of this process and allow it to proceed without intervention.
In recent years some dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have made individual decisions to recognise or forbid, and in this one instance, to bless same-sex unions. We have spent much of our time at these meetings discussing our response to these situations. We are unable to speak with a unanimous voice on this issue of national concern especially with regard to the subject of homosexuality in the light of scripture. We are referring the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions to our national governing body, the General Synod (2004) for discussion and if possible, resolution.
We agree that we will not make individual decisions in any additional dioceses during the interim. Until the time of resolution all bishops are asked to uphold the 1997 Guidelines of the House of Bishops on Human Sexuality.
We call the church to prayer in this difficult and demanding time in our life in Christ.