INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2005 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
DROMANTINE TO NOTTINGHAM
second of two parts by Paul Feheley, on the Primates' Meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham
TIME TO DISPEL THE LIE
the text of the address by the Very Rev Peter Elliott, Prolocutor of General Synod and Dean of New Westminster, to the Anglican Consultative Council
A NEW DAY FOR CANADA'S GAYS AND LESBIANS
Ron Chaplin reports on Bill C-38, and Canada's unique position in Anglicanism because of it.
AN OUTING AT SYNOD
the Rev Greg Smith reports on Integrity/London's first display at Huron Diocesan Synod
|In this second of a two part article Archdeacon Paul Feheley, the Primate’s Principal Secretary, shares some of his personal reflections on the recently held Primates’ meeting in Northern Ireland and the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham.
Click here for Part 1.
One person however found space to be quiet and spent most of the night in prayers and dialogue with God. As the dawn approached at Dromantine on Wednesday, a light emerged that brought the hope that Jesus so often spoke about to a circumstance of desperate need.
Archbishop Robin Eames went from prayer and dialogue to work in the corridors, and in the morning posed a way forward. He said that he had been brought to the conclusion that there were certain things North Americans had to take with them from this meeting, and certain things that the “Global South” had to take home with them. North Americans, he believed, needed to be assured that their constitutional processes were recognised – that everything they had done was, as it were, according to Hoyle. And they needed to know that in going forward their constitutional processes would continue to be honoured. He believed that the Global South needed to go home knowing that their voice had been heard, and that some action had been taken as a result.
It was on the basis of that analysis, and our general acceptance of it, that important sections of the communiqué were drafted.
Archbishop Eames said recently:
“The turning point in the debates at Dromantine came when a formula was tabled which recognised the integrities of conservative and liberal. Primates had to contemplate their return to constituencies which themselves represented conflicting views on sexuality - but constituencies which also contained a wide variation in attitudes to how far Anglicanism wanted increased central authority. Indeed it was soon obvious that the gulf between north America and the global south was a simplification if restricted to the sexuality issue alone.”
There is no doubt that he is right: on the surface are the hard fought battles about same sex relationships, scripture, tradition, reason and experience; underneath are the raw questions about power, authority, winning, losing and money.
The Primates’ communiqué asked an immense amount from Canada and ECUSA. They were asked to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council. An invitation was also extended to us to attend the next Anglican Consultative Council meeting to explain the current situation, the steps that were taken by the dioceses and the General Synod, and the underlying theological and biblical rationale with respect to the decision to bless committed same-sex unions.
The voluntary withdrawal was not met in Canada with any sense of understanding or acceptance. Church House was inundated with mail with the same question from all parts of our land - "Why are we being punished when we have done nothing wrong?" since we “proceeded entirely in accordance with their (our) constitutional processes and requirements”. Many also expressed a concern that blessings are occurring in a number of different provinces while we are being punished for being honest.
Nevertheless, the Council of General Synod did vote to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council and support the breathing space asked for by the Primates. Our elected members were present to listen and the presentation was made on 21 June 2005. [for the text of Dean Peter Elliott's presentation, see article 2005-3-2 below]
In many ways the presentation was a wonderful opportunity to tell our story and share where we are in terms of the Church in Canada. Had we not voluntarily withdrawn, I suspect that some ACCouncil members would have protested by walking out and either disrupting or removing the invitation to present. In all things we have taken the high ground and honoured the communiqué.
I was very proud of the team that represented and shared the story of Canada. The key message that we were trying to convey stressed that the church is still "in the midst of a conversation" on the issue of blessing same-sex unions and affirms that the church is committed to maintaining its membership in the Anglican Communion. Particularly we wanted to say that we are in the midst of a conversation and the decisions have not yet been made.
It is impossible to know exactly how things were heard. Many have misunderstood what we were doing, thinking that it is about convincing people to think in a different way. We were there sharing our story in the hope that hearts would be open to the truth of where Canada is in this question. A reception we held was extremely well attended by people with eyes wide open, saying that they had not understood, until today, the Canadian circumstances, particularly that we are in the midst of an ongoing conversation.
A longstanding commitment was finally honoured when the listening process called for in the 1998 Lambeth resolution I.10 (among many places) was put into play.
The other motion that has caused a great deal of discussion endorsed the Primates' February 2005 request that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada "voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council, for the period leading up to the next  Lambeth Conference".
This resolution included an amendment that "interprets reference to the Anglican Consultative Council to include its Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Finance and Administration Committee".
It is important to emphasise that the original motion included another phase that was not included in the final version. The wording that was changed read: “[ACC] further requests that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada withdraw their members from all other official entities of the Communion for the same period…”
Evidently there was not enough support for those who were advocating this idea, and they were forced to withdraw it.
The debate on this motion was closed to the public, and the vote was taken by secret ballot. What was the result of this so-called overwhelming rebuke that some have interpreted as showing us the door or banning us from the Communion? The vote was 30 in favour, 28 against, with 4 abstentions and a number of people not voting at all, let alone the six votes of Canada and ECUSA - those in favour well less than 50% of the voting members.
Where does this leave the Anglican Church of Canada?
There are those who seem to think that this is all about being on a one way street and that we are wrong and that we must completely turn around and repent of all that we have done in order to be faithful members of the Anglican Communion. I disagree.
Much of the press would seem to want you to believe that all of the responsibility for belonging is on our shoulders. It is not up to any individual primate to dictate how Canada is to act or what motions our synods may or may not pass. We always have and always will continue to take seriously what our brothers and sisters within the Anglican Communion say but we are, as they are, independent provinces within the Communion.
I believe the Anglican Church of Canada will continue to be part of the Anglican Communion and that we will not compromise our ability to make conscientious decisions about the life of our church. An Anglican Communion that becomes monolithic, whose dictates come from afar, is not part of the Anglican Church that I know and love.
We, as a church, need to recapture the language that has been increasingly used and obscured by some. I think of words like "orthodox" and "classical Anglicanism". People constantly write to me that we need to return to the classical Anglican position. Classical Anglicanism is not a Church that is called to either conservative or liberal fundamentalism.
Our history is not one of conformity. Anglicanism is always messy and I would suggest always will be. Our Church Universal should not be afraid of diversity or change. In fact we thrive upon it. Our call is to faithfulness, not to success -- to honesty, not to deceit. The spirit of accommodation is why the Anglican Church has a place within the Christian family. No church is in as strong a position as we are to bridge the catholic and Protestant traditions. The Anglican Church of Canada supports the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and we participate in the Anglican Communion. We share our people and our gifts in order to support ministry without requiring subscriptions to particular interpretations of scripture.
I believe that we have honoured to the best of our ability the requests made of the Anglican Church of Canada by the 2005 Primates’ Communiqué. The question that remains is, is the Communion willing to use the breathing space created by the Primates to strive for the unity for which Jesus prays in John 17: may they be one “that the world may believe.”
|The Very Rev Peter Elliott witnesses to the Anglican Consultative Council on where the Spirit is leading the church in his diocese|
The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church USA were each invited to make 90 minute presentations to Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England, in June of this year. Both churches were asked to inform the rest of the Council on recent events and discussions around the position of homosexuals within the church.
There were nine Canadians at the Council meetings in Nottingham: Bishop Susan Moxley, Canon Allen Box and Suzanne Lawson were the ACCouncil members from Canada who attended as observers only. Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Primate, and his principal secretary, Archdeacon Paul Feheley, were also present. The presentation was made by Robert Falby (chancellor of Toronto), Stephen Andrews (principal of Thorneloe College), Maria Jane Highway (indigenous member of the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee), and Dean Peter Elliott of New Westminster.
Here is the text of Dean Elliott's remarks to the ACCouncil.
I consider it a privilege to be able to speak with you this afternoon as part of the Canadian delegation, and I greet you on behalf of our General Synod as the Prolocutor, on behalf of my bishop Michael Ingham and the clergy and laity of the diocese of New Westminster, greet you on behalf of the people of Christ Church Cathedral, and greet you as a fellow Christian and disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the few minutes that I have been given this afternoon I want to do two things: to tell you about my diocese and to tell you about my personal walk with Christ.
New Westminster is one the 30 dioceses of the Canadian church; we are located on the south-west coast of Canada in a population of over 2.5 million people. There are 85 churches in our diocese, we are 125 years old and there are about 145,000 Anglicans in the region; about 25,000 of whom are active in parishes. The major metropolitan area is the city and district of Vancouver, which is where I have lived for the last 11 years. The parish I serve, Christ Church Cathedral is an active and growing congregation in the downtown core of Vancouver, serving a parish of 800 people with an average Sunday attendance of about 500. Amongst our congregation are many young families, as well as seniors, and singles. Like many downtown churches throughout North America, we also have many members who are homosexual. It was the presence and leadership of lesbian and gay members of the Cathedral that led our parish council, in 1998, along with two other urban churches, to take to our diocesan synod a request that the diocese authorise a rite to celebrate the commitments of same sex couples in the context of Christian liturgy. A resolution to that effect narrowly passed our Synod of 1998, and after 4 years of prayer, study and dialogue, passed with a much larger majority in 2002 -- over 62.5 % of the clergy and lay members of the Synod voted in favour of it and the Bishop authorised a rite for those clergy and parishes who wished to offer this pastoral ministry.
Like many other parts of the communion, rites of blessing for same sex couples had been celebrated for many years; what changed was to have an authorised rite to offer. The decision of our diocese has been a painful one--some parishes have chosen to leave the fellowship of our Synod and their absence has affected our diocesan life. The diocese, however, has continued in its efforts of reconciliation and healing with those who have left. Our most recent Synod a month ago passed a number of resolutions that will affect a new effort of reaching out to those who have chosen to walk apart. Also, at the same Synod, the Windsor Report's request that there be a moratorium on same sex blessings was accepted, and there will be no new parishes offering the rite of celebrating the commitments of same sex couples until the next meeting of our General Synod in 2007. Eight parishes in our diocese have been given the privilege of offering a liturgy to bless same sex relationships. The Cathedral parish I serve is one of these, and I have had the privilege of officiating at six of these services. All six couples have been legally married -- Canadian civil law allows this-- prior to their coming to the church for a blessing. That's how seriously same sex couples take this ministry. This is an opportunity for them to gather with family and friends, and to make a commitment of faithful love for the rest of their lives. Since 2003, in our diocese, there have been 14 liturgies of celebration of the commitments of same sex couples.
I come to this issue as man who is a Christian, ordained for 25 years, a gay man, in a committed relationship myself. I come to this meeting with the support of my partner Thomas, my family, my parish, my bishop, my diocese. And I have brought with me the very first Bible I received when I was just 4 years old. In it, in my handwriting, are the words, "Today I gave Jesus my life." Its dated 29 March 1962. I was eight years old. I gave Jesus my life at a service of evangelism for children, and it was a profound moment in my life and, combined with my baptism as an infant, has defined my life's purpose and direction. I was privileged, one year after giving my life to Jesus, to attend a service of the Anglican Congress in Toronto in 1963. It was very important moment in my journey with Christ, because there, in Maple Leaf Gardens, I saw the church gathered in its international expression. I heard the Archbishop of Canterbury speak, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and the subject of his talk was the motto of that great gathering, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ. That phrase was pretty difficult for a 9-year-old Christian boy to understand, but over the years, and in my work in 3 different dioceses and while I served as a staff person at our national office, I have come to learn and value what that phrase means. It locates mission at the local level and trusts the local church there to figure out how best to minister in its local contexts. It makes us responsible to each other and values the interdependence of our Provinces and dioceses. My experience at the Anglican Congress in 1963 has shaped my understanding of mission and ministry, and brings me to today's meeting with a unique perspective on our communion and our church.
How do we understand that phrase mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ today? By mutual responsibility I assume that we need to be responsible to each other in the communion. One of the marks of our communion, in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is we meet. When we meet we share with each other how the Spirit is leading the church to minister in our various places. We respond to each others questions and concerns. But, and this is where the second part of the phrase is so important, we respect our interdependence in the Body of Christ. There's a deep wisdom within Anglicanism that allows for the church to find the most appropriate way to minister in its local context. This wisdom has been further expressed in the Principles of Partnership the first of which states: The responsibility for mission in any place belongs primarily to the church in that place. Mutual responsibility and interdependence: this is how I understand the Anglican Communion.
I want to be responsible to you. I want to say to you that I am a man who is gay and that I am not the first gay man to be present at a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and I won't be the last. The only difference is that I am able, because of the courageous ministry of our church, to be open with you about who I am. Homosexual people are part of our church in every Province; but most of the time we have to hide because of fear of being found out. Homosexual people in my part of the world can live openly and include university professors, medical doctors and lawyers, members of parliament teachers, psychologists and members of our armed forces. Just this past week two men, members of our armed forces were married in a public ceremony. Homosexual people are in all walks of life and in all places where people gather, including our parish churches. In almost all of these areas of Canadian society we are able to be open about our lives, our relationships and our commitments. This is the context in which I live and minister.
People ask me about the texts of scripture which say that homosexuality is wrong, and I respond that these texts bother me too--but in a different way. These texts of scripture have been used to justify discrimination and torture and death for people who are homosexuals. They are used to justify violence against those of us who are attracted to people of our same gender. They cannot be read outside the context of violence, discrimination and silencing that our church has countenanced for too long. And further, I am of the view that these texts that have been used to keep homosexual people silent and afraid do not address the commitments of faithful love between gay Christian couples that we are celebrating in our diocese. Canadian theologian and priest Gary Hauch in an excellent essay entitled Same Sex Unions and Biblical Fidelity comments on the biblical texts in this way:
"While it is true that the Bible nowhere imagines non-hierarchical unions between committed, consenting adult same sex partners, it is equally true that it doesn't imagine such unions between partners of the opposite sex. Women were regarded as inferior to men. They were generally seen as the property of men. And this is the world which begins to be challenged to the core by Jesus attention to women and by the confession (from Galatians) that there is no longer male or female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)If the church has to date been guided by the Spirit to no longer discriminate on the basis of gender, race or class, might the Spirit not also add the category of orientation to the list?... "
I am drawn to Jesus words from Matthew's gospel, "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known" (Matthew 10: 26 NRSV) For too long many of God's people have been caught in a lie. In my opinion it is time to dispel the lie and acknowledge the truth of our lived experiences. This is what I believe that my diocese has done in bringing our relationships into the light of God's presence so that we can continue to be transformed into becoming the children of God. I believe that all of God's children are called into holiness of life and the committed relationships of same sex couples are no exception. Even the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, in 1997 wrote these words: "We recognise that relationships of mutual support, help and comfort between homosexual persons exist and are to be preferred to relationships that are anonymous and transient." In that same statement, our Bishops acknowledged the presence and contributions of gay clergy and expressed their appreciation for our work. For me, it is no longer good enough to have a sub-culture in our church that hides in fear and secrecy because of our sexual identity. Neither is it good enough to be treated as a pastoral exception, as if the presence of gay Christians is an embarrassment to the church. Lesbian and gay couples in our church seek the prayer, blessing and support of our faith communities so that we can build lives of faithfulness and holiness.
The Anglican Church of Canada has always been known for its transparency. We seek to reveal who we are without hiding our difficulties. You have heard from our other presenters and I bear witness to the pain of our ongoing conversation within our diocese and General Synod. But I believe we have something important to offer in this context and what we offer reflects the witness of the Anglican Congress in Toronto in 1963 -- mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ.
Today in our presentation we have sought to be responsible to our sisters and brothers in Christ as we have shared the story of our church and its struggles and spoken plainly, honestly and openly to you about who we are and how we seek to follow Jesus Christ in our time and place. My prayer is that this Council will respect our interdependence within the communion and continue to walk with us as People of God who have been called together through Jesus Christ and continue to be empowered by God's Holy Spirit.
by Ron Chaplin
On Parliament Hill on July 1st, a number of important anniversaries were commemorated - the 138th anniversary of Canadian confederation, to be sure; but also the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 40th anniversary of the distinctive Canadian Maple Leaf flag, and the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of Section 15 (the equality rights clause) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Over these last 20 years, Canada’s lesbians and gays rose to the opportunity and the challenge of the Charter. We have appealed to Government Ministers, to Members of Parliament, to other groups dedicated to human rights; and we mounted challenge after challenge before the courts. We hoped against hope that the Charter would live up to its promise.
On June 28, Canada’s political leaders gave the most definitive evidence yet that the Charter is not merely “words on paper”. After months of intense debate and much political brinkmanship, the House of Commons gave final approval to Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, which defines civil marriage as the “lawful union of two persons”. To underscore its intent, it adds that a civil marriage cannot be voided “by reason only that the spouses are of the same sex.”
Once the bill is approved by the Senate and granted Royal Assent, expected before the end of July, Canada will join the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain in extending the full rights and obligations of civil marriage to same-sex couples.
For we of the Church, the often acrimonious debate on the proposed legislation was particularly troubling. Many spokespersons, both religious and secular, condemned the legislation for pitting religious values against secular values.
This is a false dichotomy. Far from pitting religious persons against non-religious persons, the debate highlighted a growing sectarianism among and within Canada’s various religious communities. The Roman Catholic Church and those denominations affiliated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada lobbied forcefully against the bill. Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, lobbied strongly in favour. The Anglican Church of Canada, still discussing this at the synodical level, was deliberately silent in the public debate.
For Canada’s Anglicans, this new legal and sectarian reality has many profound repercussions, among which these three.
At the pastoral level, it is now possible for gay and lesbian believers to marry their partners, either at City Hall, or by moving to another Christian denomination. Should the debate within the Anglican Church of Canada now move from “blessing” same-sex couples to “marriage”? Should we maintain the focus on “blessing” only? Or should we dust off the Book of Occasional Services and re-examine our rite of “blessing a civil marriage”? All these options have different implications at the theological, pastoral and institutional levels.
As concerns the prophetic mission of the Anglican Church in Canada, there is a new socio-political reality. Bill C-38 explains, in its preamble, that to deny same-sex couples access to civil marriage would “violate their dignity”. How can the Anglican Church of Canada maintain a prohibition on the recognition of same-sex relationships without undermining its commitment to human rights and its baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and [to] respect the dignity of every human being”?
Finally, it needs to be noted that Canada is the only country in the English-speaking world that has legalised same-sex marriage (although the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa now has similar legislation before it, its highest court having ruled that the same-sex definition of marriage is unconstitutional). This means that Canada’s socio-cultural reality is not only at odds with the majority of Anglican Provinces of the Global South (where homosexual activity is a criminal offence); Canada’s reality is also profoundly different from those of other Western churches. The British Parliament has enacted a system of registered domestic partnerships, accessible to same-sex couples, akin in legal status to Canada’s common-law relationships (but not marriages). The American Church, meanwhile, is caught in the midst of a “culture war” being led by right-wing Christian denominations and sects whose motives are at least as much political and partisan as they are theological.
Canada, then, is a case apart. How shall we of the Anglican Church of Canada respond, both domestically and with our global partners? These questions can no longer be avoided.
by the Rev Greg Smith
At one of the winter meetings of the fledgling chapter of Integrity in London, the question was raised: “Should we be present at the Huron Diocesan Synod in May?” It was in many ways like a question about coming out. What did the chapter really want to be? Was it ready so soon to take such a public step? Was it strong enough to take the potential negativity, knowing that not everyone would welcome it with open arms?
After some soul-searching it was decided that this was the time. The issue of sexuality was ever present in the conversations of people with the current events in Church and State, and the Primate was expected to be addressing Synod, as well, with some reflections on Canada’s place in the Anglican Communion. The chapter decided that it would have a display area amid all the other displays. The handouts (mostly courtesy of Integrity Toronto) that had been made available to chapter members at meetings would be made available to synod members. Then there needed to be something members of Synod could be given if they wished to show some solidarity. One of the Chapter gatherings was given over to fashioning rainbow pins, lining up the coloured beads and pressing them into pre-glued pins. These would be attached to a card with Integrity London’s name and contact numbers.
The time for Synod arrived on 30 - 31 May. Several members of the chapter – gay and straight – had volunteered to staff the booth. There was some initial uncertainty as it appeared at first there was no table or that it would have to share with another organisation. But then a table was made available just next door to the washrooms of the London Convention Centre A little down the row of tables, alongside an Essentials display, was another first-time appearance at Huron Synod: “Zaccheus”, a group dedicated to the “healing” of homosexuality. Our location, which at first seemed a little unsavoury, became a boon. The washroom generated a lot of foot-traffic, and eventually everyone had to go by the booth and take note.
Most of the individuals staffing the Integrity display were new to the environment of a synod gathering. They told stories afterwards of being astounded by the number of people, clergy and lay, who came up to share stories and to ask for information. Some even expressed their need for help. There was a sense that there are many individuals and families who are dealing with the personal and pastoral realities of the struggles within the Church and society to be open about the diversity of human sexuality. This was an opportunity, said some, to actually talk to someone “in the Church” about what they have been feeling.
The Diocese of Huron is largely a rural and small town diocese, and some spoke of the sense of isolation when faced with the issues of homosexuality, such as coming out, supporting a family member, facing the homophobia of a surrounding culture.
The demand was high enough that the display ran out of supplies: more handouts had to be duplicated to meet the demand and all the pins the Chapter had produced were being sported by members of synod. There were enough priests who signed up to be guest celebrants at Integrity London to fill up the roster for a year. Of course, there were some negative encounters with some members of Synod obviously skirting the Integrity display or others intentionally refusing the pins and handouts, but by and large it was a very positive experience for people. At the end of it all, in the debriefing, the question was heard: ‘Why didn’t we do this a long time ago?”