Masthead

Volume 2004-3

issue date 2004 07 21

INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2004 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



== Contents ==

[2004-3-1]
A WELCOME FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES
General Synod 2004 postpones discussion of "local option" to 2007, but affirms the sanctity and integrity of same-sex partnerships, by Chris Ambidge

[2004-3-2]
TEXT OF MOTION A-134
as passed by General Synod 2004

[2004-3-3]
INTEGRITY'S VIEW OF THE ACTIONS OF GENERAL SYNOD 2004

[2004-3-4]
CHANGING ATTITUDES, CHANGING PRACTICES
Developments in Canadian public opinion, and marriages in Yukon

[2004-3-5]
A NEW PRIMATE
Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Montreal is elected primate

[2004-3-6]
WAVING THE [RAINBOW] FLAG
Integrity's witness at General Synod 2004

[2004-3-7]
+BRANDON BEGS TO DIFFER
Bishop Jim Njegovan responds to nine dissenting bishops

[2004-3-8]
NEW EMAIL AND WEBSITE ADDRESSES

[2004-3-9]
DID WE NEED SANCTITY?
A personal reflection on General Synod 2004, by Steve Schuh

[2004-3-10]
FAITH MEETS FRUSTRATION
Notes on General Synod 2004 - Ottawa Sunday 13 June 2004, by Ron Chaplin

[2004-3-11]
I FIND SPIRITUAL SUCCOUR IN AN EMPTY CHURCH
a reflection by Sherry Coman

[2004-3-12]
PROUD ANGLICANS IN THE TORONTO PRIDE PARADE
by The Lovely Roxanne, Duchess of Maitland

[2004-3-13]
A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, A WITNESS OF HOPE
Remembering Ted Scott , by Chris Ambidge

Table of Contents

[2004-3-1]

A WELCOME FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES

General Synod postpones discussion of 'local option' on blessing until 2007,
but affirms the sanctity and integrity of same-sex partnerships

by Chris Ambidge

GS2004The place of lesbians and gays in the Anglican Church of Canada has been on the agenda of every General Synod since 1992. This year it was front-and-centre.

Several events brought the issue into focus, most of all the decision of New Westminster to bless same-sex unions. The House of Bishops asked for it to be put on the agenda of General Synod, and after much deliberation over the past year, a five-part motion appeared.

The synod agenda allotted six hours for discussion of motion A134. In the event, it took seven and a half.

The first two-hour block, on Saturday, began with a presentation from Canon Gregory Cameron, from the Anglican Communion office in England. He acknowledged how participants in the discussion have multiple loyalties: to lesbians and gays that they know, to their dioceses, to the national and international churches, and to their own interpretations. Balancing these sometimes conflicting loyalties is, he acknowledged, difficult. He repeated the acting Primate's comments of the day before, that General Synod is the body with the authority to make decisions on such matters for the Anglican Church of Canada. He spoke extensively of the possible repercussions for the Communion should more conservative national churches take exception to any decisions reached in St Catharines.

Synod members then spent time in randomly-assigned table groups, focusing particularly on clauses 1 and 2 [see below [2004-3-2] for the text of the motion]. Dr. Walter Deller summarized the notes from the table groups at the beginning of the next block of time given to the discussion, which was on the Tuesday.

It was clear that two particular points were troubling synod members: a) clause 2, explicitly leaving the decision on blessing up to individual dioceses, and b) the question of whether these proposed blessings had doctrinal implications (that is, changed part of the teaching of the church - if so, then the decision rests with General Synod, rather than with diocesan synods). Synod voted to move into committee-of-the-whole rather than continue table discussions. This meant that members addressed their concerns to the whole synod instead of their table group (and the larger audience meant conversely that fewer people got air time). Several speakers from various communities and cultures asked for more time for study, saying that they were not ready to decide.

It became apparent from the Tuesday debate that while clauses 1, 3, 4 and 5 were very likely to meet with Synod's approval, clause 2 was troubling.

On Wednesday evening came the two hours set aside for actual parliamentary debate of motion A134. Rather unexpectedly, at no point in the deliberations was a call made for a vote by orders, which counts the votes of laity and clergy separately. That is a common request on contentious issues, and this was certainly contentious, but the laity and clergy were polled as one each time.

When A134 was brought to the floor, the movers recommended severing clause 2, and considering the motion in two parts. So clauses 1, 3, 4 and 5 were considered first, and passed fairly quickly, with minor changes. Most significant was an amendment proposed by bishop Don Phillips of Rupert's Land, which mandated that the discussions envisioned by clause 3 include gay and lesbian voices. Another amendment to include "healed homosexuals" was defeated, with bishop Ann Tottenham saying she could support that proposal only if the voices of those who had married heterosexually but who later realised themselves to be lesbian or gay were also heard.

Synod then moved to clause 2. The movers recommended two things -- that a decision on this clause be deferred to the 2007 session of General Synod; and that in the meantime, the question of "is this a doctrinal issue" be referred to the Primate's Theological Commission (with a commission report to be forwarded to individual dioceses by 2006, for consideration before the General Synod meets again). A significant number of speakers wanted to defer, not decide now, because they felt they were not ready, or because they had concern for the wider Anglican Communion implications.

Others were concerned about the message deferral would have for lesbians and gays. Archbishop Terry Finlay of Toronto, in his final synod speech before retiring, urged against deferral, saying "my heart and passion wants a decision now about blessing same sex unions. To put off for three years is to dissipate energy, and leaving priests and laity in the wilderness of hypocrisy and lying. We've studied it for a long time in Toronto, and we've been threatened by walk outs. Lets decide now for sake of gay and lesbian Anglicans in Canada, who want their love recognised in Canada."

In the event, synod amended clause 2 to call for study by the Primate's Theological Commission and by diocesan synods, and deferred consideration until the 2007 session of General Synod.

After putting off making a decision on blessing same sex unions, Synod then was then presented with an additional clause, moved by Canon Garth Bulmer of St John's church Ottawa. Clause 6 affirmed the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships -- it made no comment on how those relationships came to be, or if they had been blessed. But it takes the next step: in 1995 synod affirmed lesbians and gays in the life of the church - as individuals. The Bulmer amendment went further, affirming lesbian and gay people as couples, in their relationships. Speakers in the debate in favour of clause 6 felt it was important for Synod to at least say this to gay and lesbian Anglicans, since clause 2 had been postponed. A motion to defer consideration of this clause to 2007 was roundly defeated.

By this point, debate was already half an hour overtime, it was late, and people were getting tired. The debate was adjourned to Thursday morning. Just after the decision to adjourn was made, Sr Constance Joanna, superior of SSJD and a Synod member from Toronto, spoke. She had noticed that synod had as yet not heard from any of the youth members: with the parliamentary dance of amendments and vote-calling, even though they had several times been in the line-ups for the microphones, none had spoken. She asked, and synod agreed, to hear from youth members first in the morning.

On Thursday morning, the young members spoke for 40 minutes. Most, though not all, were in favour of clause 6. A number of them were disappointed in yesterday's deferral, calling it procrastination, and wondering how lesbigays would hear the message of the church putting them off (again). The word "sanctity" had been causing some consternation, as some felt it to be a loaded word with technical meaning, even though Canon Bulmer said he intended it in a pastoral, rather than theological, sense. An amendment to change the controversial phrasing to "affirm and love those in relationships" was debated and defeated, and finally clause 6 was passed in its original wording. The final approval was apparent and substantial enough that votes did not need to be counted. Synod had spent a long time dealing with motion A134, and took a few moments in silence afterwards.


+ + + +

General Synod has spoken: acknowledging the divisions within the church, setting a roadmap for ongoing consideration and decision-making, and affirming same-sex couples in their relationships. It didn't take long for reactions to be heard.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, a statement from Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies, deploring clause 6, had been issued. As synod closed deliberations on Thursday evening, nine bishops (from Caledonia, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Arctic, Algoma and Eastern NF) got up to read a statement also deploring the passing of clause 6, calling it an error, and pre-emptive of the deliberations to come between now and 2007. They invoked Lambeth and world-wide opinion and even Article XXI (which asserts that Councils of the Church have in the past made errors). They alleged that the views of First Nations had been ignored. And they urged Anglicans who agreed with their views to participate fully in the upcoming synodical discussions.

The next morning, there was reaction to the statement by the nine bishops on the floor of synod. [bishop Jim Njegovan of Brandon's remarks are in article 2004-3-7] At the other end of the scale, some lesbigay media were decrying the deferral, along the lines of "justice deferred is justice denied", while others were celebrating the affirmations of clause 6.

Others were frustrated by the deferral, seeing it as avoidance and refusal to grasp the nettle. They agreed with a youth member from western Canada who said in the debate that by deferring clause 2 to 2007, "synod is procrastinating. I was taught that procrastination is a lot like masturbation: it feels good at the time, but in the end, you're only screwing yourself".

For Integrity, the results of Synod are a mixed bag: we would have preferred that clause 2, confirming the prerogative of individual diocesan synods to decide on whether or not to proceed with same-sex blessings, was passed. Clause 6, on the other hand, takes the second step and affirms homosexual Anglicans in our relationships, and not just as individuals. That is good news.

Canon Eric Beresford, Ethics consultant at the national church office (and on whose desk the gay/lesbian question lands) has reflected on the deliberations of synod. He points out that interpretation of the acts of a synod is a difficult matter. "As with the work of any legislative body, it requires careful attention not only to the wording of motions passed, but also to the record of the debate. This is particularly true in debates on highly contentious matters that give rise to multiple resolutions whose relationship to each other is often quite complex.

"The decision to defer clause 2 clearly signalled the Synod's willingness to respect the need for time to hear from voices both within the Anglican Church of Canada and beyond in the wider communion. There are questions that need to be addressed and carefully answered, and the synod committed itself to the time and work that this will involve. At the same time the synod expressed a clear concern that it needed to speak of some of the substantive issues not addressed in the remaining parts of A134 as originally presented. There was also a widely expressed concern that there still needed to be some message of affirmation to gay and lesbian members of the church who would be deeply disappointed by this deferral. Clause 6 addressed this concern.

"An attempt to amend the extra paragraph to affirm gay and lesbian persons was heavily defeated. The synod wished to speak not only about gay and lesbian persons but also about their relationships. On the floor of synod several speakers made it clear that they did not wish to understand the word 'sanctity' in a technical theological sense, rather they wished to affirm that those in committed same sex relationships experience their relationships as places of nourishment, support, and growth. Further, they wished to affirm that we in Canada have experienced the presence of same sex-couples in our church communities as an enrichment to the life of those communities. The choice of the word 'sanctity' clearly did not please everyone. Although the motion passed with a substantial majority many who expressed themselves sympathetic to the intention of the clause were unable to vote for it because it might be taken to imply more than the synod could really say at this point. In light of this and of the debate it seems clear that this resolve does not commit the General Synod of the Anglican Church to offering officially sanctioned liturgical celebrations of same sex unions in the future. It does signal that, for many Canadian Anglicans, any suggestion that such relationships should simply be dismissed as sinful will not be compelling."

The dust has not settled after the St Catharines, but the position of the Anglican Church of Canada has shifted. General Synod, the highest decision-making body for the church, has affirmed same-sex couples. It has set an agenda for dialogue and discussion between now and the next session, which will be in Winnipeg in 2007. Integrity will be busy over the next three years.

Table of Contents

[2004-3-2]

TEXT OF MOTION A134

Here is the text of Motion A-134 as it passed General Synod. The clause numbering is as used during the synod discussions. Because clause 2 here was deferred to 2007, the subsequent sections will be renumbered in the official record of synod motions. Text in italics reflects amendments made during the debate.

Be it resolved that this General Synod:

  1. Affirm that, even in the face of deeply held convictions about whether the blessing of committed same sex unions is contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Anglican Church of Canada, we recognise that through our baptism we are members one of another in Christ Jesus, and we commit ourselves to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us;


  2. [(not passed in 2004, but deferred to 2007) Affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorise the blessing of committed same sex unions; ]


  3. Affirm the crucial value of continued respectful dialogue and study of biblical, theological, liturgical, pastoral, scientific, psychological and social aspects of human sexuality; and call upon all bishops, clergy and lay leaders to be instrumental in seeing that dialogue and study continue intentionally involving gay and lesbian persons;


  4. Affirm the principle of respect for the way in which the dialogue and study may be taking place, or might take place, in indigenous and various other communities within our church in a manner consistent with their cultures and traditions; and


  5. Affirm that the Anglican Church is a church for all the baptised and is committed to taking such actions as are necessary to maintain and serve our fellowship and unity in Christ, and request the house of Bishops to continue its work on the provision of adequate Episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all, regardless of the perspective from which they view the blessing of committed same sex relationships.


  6. Affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.


Table of Contents

[2004-3-3]

INTEGRITY'S VIEW
Did you hear someone say "exasperated"?

3 June 2004

Integrity is pleased that much of motion A134 was passed. It acknowledges our division, speaks of our diversity across cultures, and calls for adequate episcopal oversight for all Canadian Anglicans. These are good things. We were particularly glad to see Bp Phillips' amendment to specifically include gays and lesbians in the discussions ahead.

On the other hand, we're disappointed that the referral to dioceses ("local option") was deferred to 2007. In its initial form it would have enabled dioceses to authorise same-sex blessings, but not force individual dioceses to move in any particular direction. By postponing decision on local option, General Synod has failed to respond to an increasingly urgent pastoral need in our community, and hinders any evangelistic work or witness among lesbian and gay people.

We are saddened that General Synod still seems unwilling to respect those whose well-reasoned and biblically informed consciences would permit blessing of same-sex unions. There has been no recognition of local differences and varying pastoral needs.

Integrity rejoices that Synod affirmed the relationships of gay and lesbian Anglicans. This brings our brothers and sisters into the family of the people of God in the fullness of their life-long partnerships. We welcome this significant new statement of the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Church, and of welcome to those outside. This will undoubtedly bolster our evangelism efforts within the lesbian and gay community.

We have to ask what three more years will add to the decades of work that the church has already been engaged in. There have been calls for study and listening since the 1980s. This horse has been led to water again and again and again, and now is complaining that it is thirsty. We do however welcome the opportunity to continue the dialogue with our brothers and sisters who have not yet understood our faith experience and desire to be included fully within our faith community.

Table of Contents

[2004-3-4]

Changing attitudes, changing practices

An Environics poll conducted last month - during the federal election campaign - shows support for same-sex marriage in Canada is up by 9% over the last nine months. Opposition has dropped by about the same proportion. Support now stands at 57%.

Polling Data

Q: Do you support or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to get married?
Support      Jun 04 57%      Sept 03 48%
Oppose       Jun 04 38%      Sept 03 47%

Source: Environics Research Group / Methodology: Telephone interviews to 1,500 adult Canadians, conducted from Jun. 16 to Jun. 21, 2004. Margin of error is 2.5 per cent.


+ + + +


In July, Yukon became the fourth jurisdiction in Canada to allow same-sex marriages. Two men were denied a marriage licence in Whitehorse, and took the territorial government to court. The Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory agreed with courts in Ontario, BC, and Quebec, that denying marriage to same-sex couples is a violation of their Charter rights, and ordered the Yukon government to issue marriage licences to any two people.

Table of Contents

[2004-3-5]

NEW PRIMATE

Archbishop Hutchison, photo by Lynn Ross of The Anglican JournalAfter a primacy of nearly 18 years, Archbishop Michael Peers retired in February 2004. One of the major tasks for General Synod was to elect his successor, and they set to this task on the Monday after Pentecost -- an auspicious time to listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

After four ballots, the Most Rev Andrew Hutchison, archbishop of Montreal, was elected.

Archbishop Hutchison celebrated the Eucharist for Integrity/Montreal when that chapter was active. He is quoted as being in favour of the blessing of same-sex unions. As the leader of Anglicans in the predominantly francophone Montreal area, he is more aware than many of the difficulties facing those in minority positions.

Integrity welcomes someone with so much experience in the Anglican Church of Canada and commit ourselves to work together with him. He is indeed the primate of all Canadian Anglicans

Table of Contents

[2004-3-6]

WAVING THE [RAINBOW] FLAG
Integrity's witness at General Synod 2004


Click for more photos from GS2004

Integrity set up shop in the display hall at General Synod the day before the first sessions. We had a good corner position, and all sorts of people came by to visit over the week of synod. It looked (as always) faaabulously colourful, with rainbow banners and stoles everywhere. We didn't realise that the folding table leg wasn't properly in place at first. That left the display vulnerable, and it was accidentally demolished by a certain member from Niagara, who shall remain nameless. However, no damage was done and much laughter ensued as we re-assembled it, properly this time.

A new feature this time was a slide show, with photos of Integrity people and events from across the country showing on a laptop screen - many more than we could have fitted onto the display otherwise. All sorts of people came by to visit, chat, sign the guest book, pick up literature, and grab some of our treats. We're not above bribing people to visit, and stocks of Smarties (rainbow candy!), fruits-and-nuts and gummi bears had to be regularly replenished.

We also (again) handed out rainbow-ribbon stickers, which were worn by our supporters. There was some controversy about them, and where they could go - other groups had been pushing the envelope rather a lot, and the ruling came that for security reasons, the ribbons weren't to go on the nametag. We moved our own, of course, but rainbows continued to be seen somewhere about the person of those who supported full inclusion for LGBT people.

Pretty pictures and nifty candy are supportive to the ministry of Integrity at synod, though. The real reason we're there is to meet people, and members from across the country were working there, joining in the councils of the church. Paul and Dr Don from Vancouver, Bob from Winnipeg, Patti from Sudbury, Chris, Penelope, Anna, Don, John, B and Lillian from Toronto joined our Niagara hosts, Ann and Daniel.

This year, some Integrity people were actual members of Synod. Ron Chaplin of Ottawa, Peter Tovell of Calgary, and Steve Schuh of Vancouver, all of whom staffed the Integrity display at Waterloo in 2001 were on the floor of the plenary hall as part of their diocesan delegations.

Canada has an awful lot of geography, and so it's only at times like General Synod that Integrity people can all get together. People from Prince George and Montreal expanded our multi-city spread. We gathered around the eucharistic table twice, and met to talk about Integrity's work across the country in our different chapters. It's invigorating to hear about work being done in distant parts of the vineyard.

Be sure and check out the photos of Integrity at GS2004!


Table of Contents

[2004-3-7]

+BRANDON BEGS TO DIFFER

GS2004As Synod closed deliberations on Thursday evening, nine bishops (from Caledonia, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Arctic, Algoma and Eastern Newfoundand) got up to read a statement deploring the passing of clause 6, calling it an error.

On Friday, the Rt Rev Jim Njegovan, Bishop of Brandon, as a point of personal privilege, made the following statement in response to theirs.

The statement of some of my brothers in the order of bishops, read to us last night, causes me some real grief. I love and value each of them as fellow bishops of the church, but I have heard what they have said, but I cannot agree with them.

I do believe that it is still an option, when we listen to people, that we do not have to agree. I'm amazed at how a simple phrase expressing welcome can be used to suit one's own ends, and give an implied meaning.

Could any one of the bishops show me a passage in the Holy Scriptures where committed, loving same-sex relationships are condemned? I cannot think of one, although I can think of a number of examples of committed same-sex relationships, such as that of Jonathan and David, whose love surpassed that of women; of Paul and Timothy; and even of Jesus and Lazarus, and Jesus and the Beloved Disciple -- although none of their relationships imply any physical, sexual relationships, other than perhaps kissing, and laying one's head on a breast.

My brother bishops have said that acceptance of such relationships precludes the discussions of parts of 1, 2, and 3 of Resolution A-134 calls us to do as a church. Again, I would disagree.

We have deferred making a decision on whether we bless same-gender unions until we meet again in 2007. I am distressed that a number of my fellow bishops have felt it important to gather as a separate caucus to address this issue, and share it with the rest of us as a courtesy.

My understanding is that there is only ONE House of Bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada. I was not invited to any separate caucus; and I can only assume, it was because they presumed to know my mind on this issue, and feel that I would have nothing to add to the discussion; a discussion that I feel rightly belongs with the whole House, and not part of it.

I am saddened by their statement, and its presumption of the error that this council of this church has made, and the implication that we have ignored the voices of Inuit and Indigenous peoples. While we have not necessarily agreed with those voices, they have been heard. I would therefore like to ask my fellow bishops to consider retracting their Statement.

Table of Contents

[2004-3-8]

NEW EMAIL AND WEBSITE ADDRESSES

Integrity Canada has a new website - check it out at:

www.integritycanada.org

In connection with this new site, Integrity Toronto has new email and website addresses:

Email: toronto@integritycanada.org
Website: www.toronto.integritycanada.org

Please update your address books and bookmarks!

Speaking of LGBT-positive websites: we recently heard of www.gaychurch.org , a web site dedicated to serving Christian GLBT community and friends of our community. Among other things on their site is a comprehensive list of gay 'welcoming' churches from around the world. That's one of the things the ProudAnglicans site ( www.geocities.com/proudanglicans ) tries to do for Anglican churches in Canada, but the gaychurch.org site is worldwide and multi-denominational in scope. Check the sites out, and if you have suggestions on other church communities that should be listed as welcoming, please send email to the authors of the sites.

Table of Contents

[2004-3-9]

DID WE NEED SANCTITY?
A personal reflection on General Synod 2004

by Steve Schuh

As one of several Integrity members in attendance at our recent General Synod, I offer the following personal story. I don't know whether it expresses feelings shared by other Integrity friends, nor am I sure how my own heart will grow over time. But it was part of my Synod experience, and I'll take the risk to share it.

My memory of GS events related to same-sex unions is already coloured by a very brief exchange I had on one of the last days of Synod. Just the evening before, the Synod had deferred a definitive decision on "local option" until 2007 (without limiting it in the meantime), and that morning we had voted to affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed same-sex relationships. I think there was a sense among many Integrity friends at the time that things had gone fairly well -- while "losing" local option for now, we had "won" an affirmation of our relationships, for the first time.

But just before entering the hall that Thursday evening I saw a woman from my conservative home parish who was visiting the Synod as a consultant to the Essentials group. We'd had some disagreements in the past, so I approached somewhat tentatively. As I greeted her she said, "You must be very happy with how things are going." I just looked at her and almost started crying.

No, come to think of it, I wasn't very happy. And didn't that framing of the events of the last few days reflect something terribly wrong with us?

I had spent a good part of Wednesday arguing with myself (and a few others) about sanctity. This specific word in the affirmation amendment we would be debating the next morning kept me awake into the night. It wasn't that I believed sanctity to be an inappropriate descriptor of same-sex relationships. Far from it! It's my experience that lesbian and gay relationships actually can be sacramental, a means of grace, a divine gift to the couple, the church, and the world. To a young evangelical fresh out of the closet it was the witness of gay couples that confirmed for me the possibility of an integrated faith and sexuality -- I really could be a whole human being, Christian AND gay!

But the inclusion of sanctity in the affirmation amendment troubled me, and I wondered whether it should be amended. "Sanctity" is a strong theological word, and several conservative delegates (friends, people I care for) said they could not vote for it in good conscience, even though they wanted to make a positive statement to gay people following the postponement of a decision on local option.

So a few of us debated among ourselves: Was there another word -- less theologically-loaded but still communicating affirmation -- on which more of us could agree? Was there a way to phrase the statement to avoid creating winners and losers, to affirm the gifts of same-sex couples by consensus? Should we back away from a strong (if somewhat ambiguous) statement of affirmation for the sake of unity? Or was this too much to ask of people who had borne discrimination with incredible grace and patience for far too long already?

When the morning came and the vote was called on the amendment to "affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed, adult, same-sex relationships", I was standing at the microphone with a member of Essentials, the two of us poised to introduce alternative wording to sanctity. We thought this Integrity/ Essentials tag-team might signal something important, something helpful, something expressing hope for reconciliation within our troubled Church family.

But as things turned out (was it the Spirit?) we didn't have the opportunity. I returned to my seat beside my conservative friend, Sarah, having failed to amend the motion that I whole-heartedly believed and yet also feared. I wanted to hold her hand as I voted for the motion, and she voted against it.

So by Thursday evening when I was asked to think about how happy I was, I only felt like crying. There was happiness, yes, for the progress we've seen. But there was also sadness -- for those disappointed by "what may have been"; for people whose love is guided by conscience and are therefore misunderstood; for those who feel marginalised by the decisions of the Church. And so my conflicted emotion must be sympathy, because I've shared all these feelings. Were not so different at heart.


+ + + +


Steve Schuh is president of Integrity Vancouver
and was a member of General Synod 2004.


Table of Contents

[2004-3-10]

FAITH MEETS FRUSTRATION
Notes on General Synod 2004 - Ottawa Sunday 13 June 2004

by Ron Chaplin

Quite a surprise awaited me as I entered my home parish of St. John the Evangelist this morning, my first visit since returning from General Synod in St Catharines. The back four pews of the church were cordoned off with Rainbow flags; and almost all of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters were sitting there.

"Have you come to join us at the back of the bus, Ron?" they asked. And so I did. For to sit in my "regular" spot would have meant, quite literally, turning my back to them, which I had no intention of doing.

It was, for me, who had just returned from the first General Synod which I had attended as a voting member, quite the reality check. This is where the rubber hits the road, where all the words and rhetoric of our gathering in St Catharines translate into active ministry in our communities.

For this part of our community at least, this General Synod failed.

After thirty years of debate and discussion on same-sex relationships within the Anglican Church of Canada, this General Synod once again deferred making any decision, instead seeking the advice of the Primate's Theological Commission on whether same-sex blessings were, or were not, a matter of "doctrine".

This is a question which may well fascinate our chancellors and other specialists in theology and canon law; but to too many people in our pews, it smacks of a dereliction of duty, a breathtaking lack of leadership and vision.

I will not dwell here on the sometimes arcane, sometimes bewildering parliamentary procedures followed when we members of General Synod finally got to the business of debating actual motions on the question of the blessing of same-sex relationships. Suffice it to say that I and many others (from both sides of the issue) were frustrated by the decision to shelve the clause that would specifically authorize individual dioceses to engage their own process of discernment on the issue. I thought General Synod was ready for the question. Others did not; and their view prevailed.

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it matters little. The new Primate has reminded us all, in public statements from St Catharines, that the status quo ante prevails - that no action taken by this General Synod prevents individual dioceses from taking their own initiatives on this question.

In this seeming miasma of despair, however, I would like to pay tribute to a man of extraordinary vision, the rector of my own beloved parish of St. John the Evangelist, the Rev. Canon Garth Bulmer. He tabled a motion, circulated among members of General Synod at the same time as notices of motion about "severing" and "deferring" were circulated, and little reported by the news media, that "this General Synod affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships."

In a moment I can describe only as one of extraordinary grace, this motion was passed, by both the order of clergy and laity, and by the order of bishops.

The mood of the plenary was quite clear. A gesture of pastoral concern to gay and lesbian believers was needed. There was no mood to obfuscate, or water down the motion.

And the ground shifted. For the very first time in its history, an official body of the Anglican Church of Canada dealt with the substantive issue. While previous synods, and previous statements of the House of Bishops had affirmed gays and lesbians as individuals, this is the first time that our relationships have been affirmed in such a manner.

There are three points about this motion that I wish to make perfectly clear. First of all, this was not done "through the back door". Notice of motion was given; this was not an amendment first moved from the floor of plenary. Secondly, the Acting Primate adjourned the Wednesday evening session after debate on this amendment had begun. Everyone had the chance to consider the question overnight, and to discuss it among colleagues. Finally, when asked to explain the intent of the motion on Thursday morning, Garth Bulmer did not mince his words. He invoked the word "blessed". No one can credibly argue that General Synod had been deceived, in any way, nor taken by surprise.

I also know that Garth Bulmer was quite prepared to withdraw his motion had he thought it the better course of action. He did not. And he was proven correct in his judgement. As to where the Spirit leads us, I can only express wonder, and give thanks.

This is because the experience of participating as a voting member of General Synod, elected by my diocese, has been truly memorable. It was an opportunity to be "the Church" in a manner I have never before experienced.

I have long been convinced, and contrary to many, that it is impossible to be "Christian" without being of the Church. None of us can be certain we know the truth, or that we know God's will for the community. It is only by sharing our experience, of that intersection between our faith and our personal experience of life, in all its glory and squalor, that we are "the Church". Ours is an incarnational approach to the truth, where the divine walked among us, offering both redemption, and suffering all the injustices of this earthly existence. It is in this that I place my faith and my trust.

And what sharing I experienced in St Catharines! Stephen Lewis inspired us to compassion and action by his seering account of the devastation being brought upon Africa by HIV/AIDS. I was buoyed by the reaction to my own testimony about living for 19 years as an HIV-positive man, and my own indictments of what I referred to as "the policy of exclusion" and the "policy of silencing" which I had too often experienced from society and the church, and which continue to frustrate the struggle against AIDS both here in Canada and abroad.

I remember the grace-filled observations of Bishop Duleep Chickera of Sri Lanka, who reminded us that not all Anglican provinces of the Global South are opposed to the recognition of same-sex relationships; and who stressed Canada's international reputation as a society which embraces diversity and which demonstrates how to maintain civilized discourse on divisive issues.

My most memorable moments were not, however, during formal procedures in plenary, but in hallways and home groups and other informal exchanges with clergy and laity from coast to coast to coast. Many aboriginals engaged me in conversation, impressing me with their firm, calm and unprepossessing manner. A prominent evangelical, firmly opposed to same-sex blessings, nevertheless engaged me often in conversation, asking probing questions, seeking to understand more fully my experience as a believer.

I will remember particularly a senior cleric who, in private conversation, related a story about his years in seminary. One of his instructors had noted that there were, essentially, two kinds of ministry. One was the "shepherd", the pastor who gathers and guards his flock against outside dangers. The other was the "fisher", who pushes the boat out into potentially stormy seas and casts his nets, uncertain of what, if anything, will be harvested. He wondered if he was not now being called to move from the former to the latter style of ministry.

It is a question we need all ask ourselves. Christ commands us, as the Church, to be both shepherds and fishers.

The final grace-note of the week was a deeply humbling experience. Following the ceremonial pomp and splendour of the investiture of the new Primate at Christ's Church Cathedral, the entire assembly processed the few short blocks through downtown Hamilton to the reception hall. As we processed, to the skirl of pipes and drums, the shopkeepers and customers of the predominantly Portuguese neighbourhood came out to watch. I wondered what they thought of us.

We are but one piece in the mosaic of this very diverse country. May we be true to our calling, speak our truth, and seek harmony and reconciliation among all God's children.


+ + + +


Ron Chaplin was a lay member of General Synod from the Diocese of Ottawa,
where he worships at the parish of St. John the Evangelist.
He is an active volunteer in the local HIV/AIDS community,
and has served for the last four years as the Chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Council on AIDS.
A long-distance member of the Toronto chapter of Integrity,
he also serves on Ottawa's Diocesan Task Force on the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions.


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[2004-3-11]

I FIND SPIRITUAL SUCCOUR IN AN EMPTY CHURCH

It's sad that a dead church offers me comfort. I long for the day when a living church offers me the fullest possible membership

by Sherry Coman

Near to where I live in rural Ontario, there is an abandoned Anglican church. It is not part of the regular parish that I attend, but this place has become a retreat for myself and my dog -- to play fetch, to sit quietly and read, to think peaceably. It is somewhere I can easily find my God. The church is abandoned, it is empty. The grounds are well-maintained, the gravestones are trimmed. People still come here, but they don't come together. They don't join in worship. The community has disintegrated. It has become a community of individuals on private journeys who rarely see one another.

I have spent my life in the Anglican church. Even when I lived away from home, I found the nearest Anglican church or local equivalent.

The words of the liturgies are inside my soul, the baptismal covenant expresses everything I believe in.

But because I am lesbian, I continually feel that my church is uncertain what to do with me. It sees me as, alternatively, a gift and a threat. My personhood and my sexual orientation are apparently divisible: one part of me is loved by God, the other not. Similarly, my uniqueness apparently offers special insight to God's love and is also reprehensible in the context of scripture. Most specifically, it is believed, by very caring and thoughtful people, that my desire to be in holy union with my beloved is a source of tremendous anxiety to God. Despite a willingness to be unified, my church seems to be more expressively solitary than ever.

I have tried hard to make that not so. I have sat on committees. I have worked hard on national task forces (two of them, in fact). I have been a private activist, a public spokesperson. I don't wear this part of my life on my sleeve: despite the fact that I have spoken on my experience at my own home church, I will venture to say that there are many who still "don't know." I have listened carefully. I have learned a great deal from my caring conservative friends.

A large part of the debate in the Anglican Church over same-sex blessings rests on the pain it would cause, the divisiveness it would create in the overall Anglican Communion. I understand that. But what about the pain and divisiveness that has already been caused in gay people by the Church? My church continues to deepen and deepen that pain. Gays and lesbians carry hidden wounds all the time, accidental cruelties made by caring people and careless people. Although many of us lead richly faithful, blended lives, we live all the time with exclusions. We tithe faithfully, but we can't book our wedding.

Luckily, my own relationship to my God is so clear and tangible that I have the tools I need to rebut the pain I sometimes experience.

I was sitting at the abandoned church, contemplating these very things, when the Anglican Church Synod was in the process of deciding once again, to delay any kind of movement on same sex blessings. On that beautiful afternoon, it seemed as though the whole church was en route to becoming a place where souls wander on individual journeys, where no one is connected except through death and loss.

I don't want it to be this way. I want the doors to open. The ghosts to rise. I want the sense of community I have felt with good faithful people I know in my home parish to be in this one, to be in the whole church. I want the fields to spring with life, not death.

It's sad that a dead church offers me comfort. I long for the day when a living church offers me the fullest possible membership so that I can be the best possible witness to its message of love.


+ + + +


Sherry Coman was on the national church task forces that created
Hearing Diverse Voices in 1995 and
Dignity, Inclusion and Fair Treatment in 1998.
She borrowed Chris Ambidge's pearls to speak to General Synod in 1995,
and now lives near New Hamburg, ON.
Sherry dedicates this to the memory of Ted Scott and Elizabeth Meanwell.
It appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail in July 2004.


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[2004-3-12]

Toronto Pride Parade 2004


PROUD ANGLICANS IN THE TORONTO PRIDE PARADE

by The Lovely Roxanne, Duchess of Maitland

Pride festivities in Toronto, in the last week of June, always draw many people, with up to a million people watching or marching in Sunday's Pride Parade. This year was no exception. For years there has been an Anglican contingent in the parade, with Integrity and various supportive parishes out there celebrating and sharing the news that LGBT people will find a welcome in Anglican places. Although it's a scary word to many of us, that's primary evangelism.

Merv Patey and Danny Fobert from St James' Cathedral spearheaded the Proud Anglicans effort and presence in the parade. 2004 was our second year with a float, and it certainly paid dividends. We had about 100 marchers from various parishes this year -- a number of clergy in collars, several parishes carrying banners, and some nuns (walking this year, not on the float). There were actually two vehicles -- the float itself (following our six-person street-wide banner), and an SUV bringing up the rear. This gave us increased capacity to carry participants who wouldn't have been able to walk the parade route. Those of us who COULD walk were between the two vehicles.

Last year, Archbishop Ted Scott rode on the float. He died less than a week before the parade, and this year's float was dedicated to his memory.

Not only a float, but music too! Gay anthems like I Am What I Am, Constant Craving and It's Raining Men, Bette Midler's In the Mood or Chapel of Love; and of course a stirring rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus serenaded the marchers as well as the crowd, and Much Boogying happened. It was particularly charming to watch Hannah (my rector's 6yr old daughter) doing the hand motions to YMCA as she rode on Daddy's shoulders down the middle of Yonge St.

Like last year, we had handout cards - one quarter of the size of an 8.5x11 page (a size that fits into a standard shirt pocket), assuring the reader that "PROUD ANGLICANS - our doors are open for you". The other side listed 25 parishes who were going to be represented in the parade - or at least, wanted to be mentioned on the card - and also referred people to Integrity /Toronto and Integrity/ Niagara. Last year we listed service times and phone numbers, but that information had to go - there just wasn't room this year. So people were referred to the Proud Anglicans website (www.geocities.com/proudanglicans) for further details, and there's been a noticeable spike in interest since yesterday afternoon when 2000 of the cards were distributed to the crowds.

Whooda thunk that primary evangelism could be so much fun? The crowds were huge, the reception was enthusiastic, the sun shone, and we surely advanced the Commonwealth of God.

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[2004-3-13]

A PASSION FOR JUSTICE, A WITNESS OF HOPE
Remembering Ted Scott

by Chris Ambidge

Archbishop ScottArchbishop Ted Scott, retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, was killed in a car accident on June 21 (mercifully, he was asleep at the time the car flipped, and may never have anticipated the smash). I was among the 900+ people melting quietly in a very warm St James' Cathedral in Toronto for a memorial service presided over by the current primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, and attended by the Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson, and more dignitaries than one could shake a crozier at.

The intercessor was former primate Michael Peers of Canada, and the preacher was former South African primate Desmond Tutu. It's a privilege to be on the same planet as those two, and makes one somewhat wistful that Ted Scott is no longer on the planet himself.

Ted Scott was very strong on social justice. As moderator of the World Council of Churches, one of the causes he espoused was the plight of non-whites in South Africa under apartheid - before it became fashionable to oppose it. One of the letters read out at the service was from Nelson Mandela. Ted was a strong advocate for women in the ordained ministry - it was during his primacy that the necessary canonical changes were made in Canada. He received an honorarium of some sorts for his WCC work, and gave it over in the late 70s-early 80s to finance a meeting of all the women priests in Canada in Winnipeg -- they were few enough in number at the time that such a meeting was both possible logistically and important to do.

He was also a strong supporter of lesbians and gays claiming full membership in the church: among other things, he rode on the Proud Anglicans float in the Toronto pride parade in 2003, and supported the Claiming the Blessing Canada initiative. At a controversial church service last year, he blessed Joyce Barnett and Alison Kemper after their marriage at Toronto City Hall. His support was more than encouraging words.

That support found echo several times in Archbishop Tutu's sermon: "Wouldn't it be a good memorial to Ted if, instead of bickering about human sexuality - we could be concerned about poverty, about AIDS, about wars that are frequently totally unnecessary and immoral, about spending huge sums on defence - what a memorial to Ted."

Those of us who continue to work in the vineyard have an easier task, and can move further, because of what Ted Scott did before us.

In the midst of life, we are in death. But even at the grave, we make our song: Alleluia.

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End of volume 2004-3 of Integrator, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
Copyright © 2004 Integrity/Toronto
comments please to Chris Ambidge, Editor
toronto@integritycanada.org OR
Integrity/Toronto, Box 873 Stn F, Toronto ON, Canada M4Y 2N9


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