Masthead

volume 2007-1

Issue date 2007 02 09

INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity in Canada
copyright 2007 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 ==

[2007-1-1]
FAITH SEEKING UNDERSTANDING
The Challenge Ahead for Canadian Anglicans
report on the 12-13 January Conference at Huron College, by the Rev Greg Smith

[2007-1-2]
JUSTICE NOT ABOUT TO GET ROLLING
Serious debate, but how many generations will it take?
a reflection on the Huron College Conference, by the Rev Canon Douglas Graydon

[2007-1-3]
OTHER VOICES, OTHER WORLDS:
The Global South Speaks Out on Homosexuality
Book Review by the Rev Greg Smith

[2007-1-4]
NIGERIAN UPDATE
Recent news of Changing Attitude Nigeria, and threats to Davis Mac-Iyalla,
by the Rev Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes England.

[2007-1-5]
LIVING GOD'S BLESSING
An open letter to members of General Synod, about blessing same-sex unions and marriages

[2007-1-6]
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST
The Integrity Canada email list

[2007-1-7]
THE WHOLE MESSAGE CONFERENCE
Inclusiveness in the Anglican Church of Canada, a conference in Ottawa 13-14 April 2007

Table of Contents

[2007-1-1]

FAITH SEEKING UNDERSTANDING
The Challenge Ahead for Canadian Anglicans

by the Rev Greg Smith

On the weekend of 12-13 January, Huron University College Faculty of Theology at the University of Western Ontario was host to the conference "Faith Seeking Understanding: The Windsor Report, the St Michael Report and the Challenge Ahead". The event was oversubscribed and there was a waiting list. The main lecture theatre was filled with a diversity of attendees, from the Primate, the Most Rev Andrew Hutchison, on through professors and academics, to individuals from parishes wondering what the fuss was about and those neophytes trying to equip themselves for going to General Synod.

The weekend was structured in a familiar pattern with plenary sessions followed by concurrent sessions of choice. The concurrent sessions were grouped as "The Bible: Interpretation and Authority", "The Church: Leadership, Authority and Communion", and "Sexuality: Articulating a Theological Anthropology" . The plenary speakers addressed the themes "What is a communion anyway?" (Dr Gary Babcock), "The St Michael Report: Wrong Question, Wrong Answer" (Dr John Thorp), and "Unity in Diversity" (General Synod Chancellor, the Hon Ronald C Stephenson, QC). It was clearly established that the weekend was not designed for debate but for polite academic conversation. Questions were controlled by having them written on cards and submitted to a moderator.

By most measures the conference was a success. The papers presented a very good picture of the best of being part of the Anglican Church. Diversity was listened to and received with dignity. It was evident that it is not true (as is so often feared) that Anglicans cannot hold their own theologically. The scholarship displayed was impressive and broad in its scope. For this writer, the highlight was the plenary paper presented by Dr John Thorp. Dr Thorp had the rapt attention of all in attendance as he presented some arguments that seemed fresh and offered possibilities for a way out of the apparent stalemate in the sexuality debate. Even those who had some argument with his points stated that the paper should be widely disseminated and read. [The conference papers are now available online.]

A disappointment was that, yet again, no one among the speakers that this writer heard was able to say that they were speaking as someone within the church LGBTQ community. The best authentication came when Dr Margaret Myers began the presentation of her research on disclosure patterns of church-affiliated members who have come out, by telling us the personal circumstances in her family that led to the research. There is still a lot of talking about "those homosexuals" by a church that cannot own up to its own.

The weekend concluded with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Andrew our Primate. It was good to have a diverse crowd gathered around the table together and praising God together, despite their divergent theological opinions. I did wonder if anyone else noticed the subtle irony of the sensual overtones of the opening hymn "Jesus the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast ... the love of Jesus what it is none but his lovers know."

It was good to be a part of "Faith Seeking Understanding". The Anglican Church of Canada can be proud of its membership and the quality of its thinkers. The conference was a reminder that Hooker's third pillar of Reason is something to affirm, and for which to be grateful in our tradition. This conference has made a major contribution to the journey ahead for those who attended. Let us hope the shared wisdom will spread even further.


+ + + +


The Rev Greg Smith, of Integrity London and Christ Church, London,
will be a neophyte member of General Synod when it meets in Winnipeg, June 2007.


Table of Contents

[2007-1-2]

Justice Not About To Get Rolling
Serious debate, but how many generations will it take?

A reflection from participant, the Rev Canon Douglas Graydon

Faith seeking understanding. Such is the dynamic of any who choose to live their faith. Such was the dynamic which led me to travel to London wanting to hear what others had to say on the Windsor Report, the St Michael's Report and the challenge which continues to face the Anglican Church of Canada. It was an opportunity created to explore and discuss the broader related issues of scripture, the theological dimension of human sexuality and authority within our church.

Over 80 participants gathered at Huron College to listen to a series of academic papers prepared by theologians, historians, philosophers and lawyers. Over the course of the Friday evening and all day Saturday lectures were balanced with interactive workshops reflecting the three themes of the conference; the bible, sexuality and the church.

It was a conference which promised much in the way of dialogue. However, right from the onset, conference planners made it clear the intent of the conference was not advocacy or confrontation. Therefore question periods were overly structured, questions were submitted and vetted by the moderator and spontaneous conversations were restricted to coffee breaks and corridor chatter.

Despite such a stifling structure, I found the conference, all at the same time, provocative, stimulating and distressing.

Dr Gary Badcock, theologian and professor at Huron College opened the conference with an exploration of "what is a Communion anyway?" He suggested that the Canadian church remains at odds with the global orthodox Anglican Communion and argued that if we do not change our ways we may not survive within this larger international community. Dr Badcock challenged all present, and you could hear a pin drop as the full implications of his presentation became clear, that the Christian imperative of communion, or community, takes precedence over the "post-liberal individualism" of our age which celebrates cultural individual rights to self determination. This Canadian characteristic of creating "communities of individuals" where each person is valued for who they are runs contrary to the gospel theology of communion where God first and foremost values the world and not necessarily the individual. In other words, Dr Badcock, in a rather startling way was suggesting that we were getting our baptismal covenants all wrong. Individual need and nurturance must play a secondary role to the needs of the communal collective.

My, oh my! With such words on opening night, we were off into heavy and enthusiastic corridor debate. Debate upheld by a wonderful atmosphere of mutual respect and regard. Provocative to say the least!

The Hon Ronald Stevenson QC, Chancellor of General Synod, and Professors William Harrison, Timothy Connor and George Sumner provided further stimulation. Each contributed to the creation of a mosaic overview of church history, leadership and authority. I was reminded of our rich heritage of theological debate and disagreement. We have been to the brink of communal collapse before. The Anglican Church has a brilliant history of navigating what appear at first to be catastrophic theological storms, and our tradition of seeking balance within scripture, reason and tradition has given us a pastoral theology which grows out of the discovery of God living amongst and within us. The challenge we face is, can we use such a history of adaptation and discernment to our advantage? Only time will tell. It was however very encouraging to be reminded of our strengths and not our weaknesses, our success and not our failures.

What was distressing however, was the mix of comments and conversations throughout the informal activities of the conference. Here I listened to the entire range of attitudes, beliefs and convictions of the conference participants. One workshop I attended exploring a theological anthropology of sexuality referred constantly to gay and lesbian persons as "them". Even though the presenter's son was gay, she set a tone of clinical objectivism which made me want to put up my hand and say "just so you know, one of those people who you are referring to as them is here in the room".

Others thought that homosexuality simply needed more clinical study. That once we know more, a cure would shortly follow. Then again, comments suggested the church place a 25 year moratorium on the issue which would allow the rest of the church to catch up. Overwhelmingly comments revolved around the need to ensure the survival of the communion, rather then fulfilling God's imperative to seek out the marginalized, to sit with those rejected by society and to welcome all into the sanctuary of God's holy places.

That was the distressing part. That the church gathered once again to discuss "the issue" without reminding itself that gay and lesbian persons are always present. That the church gathered once again to discuss some external "them" instead of "us". The realization once again, that despite all of the efforts of dialogue within our church, much remains to be done.

Was the trip to London worth it? Absolutely. The conference reminded me of what I dislike and like about my church. Its ability to remain civil while debating, discussing and exploring contentious issues. And its ability to discuss, for what seems forever, those contentious issues which impact the very nature of life, hope and faith for so many in our community. I dislike the fact that events on the other side of the globe are now taking precedence over my life, my faith and my church here in my community. I despair greatly that our church leaders continue to ask gay and lesbian Anglicans to wait for yet again another Synod or Lambeth Conference. And yet I do rejoice, albeit very somberly, that the level of debate is such within our church that we here in Canada can proudly say we do take this issue seriously and we are seeking a just and faithful resolution.

I just wonder at times which generation of our church will experience such a resolution.


+ + + +


The Rev Canon DOUGLAS GRAYDON is incumbent of the Church of St Philip the Apostle, and Co-ordinator of Chaplaincy Services for the diocese of Toronto


Table of Contents

[2007-1-3]

Other Voices, Other Worlds
The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality

Book Review by the Rev Greg Smith

With the editing and publication of this book, Other Voices, Other Worlds, Bishop Terry Brown has made an important and desperately needed contribution to the current atmosphere among Anglicans worldwide. He has collected essays from individuals and scholars of the global South, not usually accessible to or perhaps sought after by those of us who live in the global North. In addition, Brown has included a few essays reflecting the diversity of the global North, including one by Canadian, Gertrude Lebans, reflecting her forthright and thoughtful style.

This book is a difficult read for two reasons. Firstly, for the most part, the essays are scholarly and academic. Anyone who has found it difficult to read the Windsor Report or the St. Michael Report without a theological dictionary close at hand, will experience similar needs when reading these essays. This is a reference book and is meant to be read one essay at a time and not for the enjoyment of a "good read". Secondly, the book might well be sub-titled "Everything you Never Wanted to Know About Homosexuality in the Global South". The essays are frank and sometimes graphic about the lives of brothers and sisters living the reality of identities as LGBT individuals in the Global South.

Many of the essays are very disturbing and unsettling in the presentation of dehumanisation that is a current reality in many parts of the world. The book will be upsetting to the complacency of northern gay Anglicans who may think that they are living with intolerable injustice. The violence and hatred is staggering. For example, Julius Powell, Jr describes in his essay "Dehumanisation from the Periphery" how youth and others in Jamaica are exposed to the dancehall lyrics of popular reggae icons such as Beenie Man: "That's right. We burn our Chi-Chi man and then we burn out sodomite and everybody bawl out, say, 'Dat right!'" He reveals that in countries like Jamaica laws like Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 are still in effect, criminalising acts of homosexuality with ten years imprisonment at hard labour. Similar realities are revealed from Latin America, Japan and Korea, and most of the Arab world and African nations where homosexuality is sometimes a capital offence.

Often in reading the essays one may be struck with the feeling that you have been over this ground before. The biblical arguments, for example, are addressed in the majority of the essays. For the active and engaged Anglican, this is material we seem to have heard again and again. Yet somehow, hearing the arguments from islands in the South Pacific and small communities in Latin America, as well as deep within apparent bastions of conservatism like Nigeria and Uganda, bring a sense of solidarity. An important aspect many of the essays address for the current controversy, is the legacy of colonialism and the effects of its new forms in globalisation. Descendents of the colonisers do not always realise how limited our perspective of history has been - how formed by our position of power. Hearing the voice of the global South expands the opportunity to understand some of the reactions and perhaps, misinterpretation, of the actions of some parts of the global North.

An interesting and fresh essay for this reader was "Global Intimacy: Money, Sex and Communion" by Bishop Peter Shelby. It is an insightful comparison of the dynamics of globalisation and the rise of the present controversy in the Anglican communion, particularly the "pervasive dynamic of power." It is a passionate plea for all parties of the current conflict to return to what need to be the primary marks of communion directed at justice for the poor, the hungry, and those living with the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, unbearable national debts, and destruction of the earth's environment.

This is an important book. Serious participants in the current debates of the Anglican Church over sexuality should have this in their library. If we do not listen to these voices and study them seriously, we in the global North - whatever name we give to ourselves: conservative, traditionalist, liberal or neo-orthodox - are in danger of making false assumptions and generalisations about what the global South is thinking. We may also presume much of our own righteousness, while ignoring our susceptibility to the subtleties of our own culture and times, at the expense of losing the gift of Anglicanism, poignantly challenged by Sarah Coakley in the afterward.

Bishop Brown in his forward (do not skip reading this) writes:

"If there is one lesson to be learned from this volume, it is that there is no single solution or simple answer - but that all solutions and answers must be rooted in deep and prayerful faith in Jesus Christ...there are always more biblical, theological, historical and experiential insights to be discovered and considered; and always the need to see our flawed but redeemed lives and views more critically and in need of Christian transformation - whatever our position on this issue."
The Rt Rev Terry Brown is bishop of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. Before his consecration, he was the Asia-Pacific person for the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, and celebrated the Eucharist with Integrity/Toronto.

Other Voices, Other Worlds: The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality Terry Brown (ed), Church Publishing Inc, New York 2006, ISBN 0898695198 is available through the Anglican Book Centre and other booksellers.



+ + + +


The Rev Greg Smith took time away from his work as rector of Christ Church, London,
to write this review


Table of Contents

[2007-1-4]

NIGERIAN UPDATE

Recent news of Changing Attitude Nigeria, and threats to Davis Mac-Iyalla,
by the Rev Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes England.

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, has been forced to keep his whereabouts secret for the past months since he began receiving emails threatening his life. The geographic origin of the letters is uncertain.

On 9 January 2007 Davis received a hand-written letter delivered during the night to the location where he is resident. The letter concludes with a threat to bathe Davis Mac-Iyalla with acid unless he repents.

The letter notes that Mr Mac-Iyalla has not paid heed to the numerous warnings and threats already issued. The writer has decided it is time to carry on with their action to redeem the image of African Christian and moral values because Mr Mac-Iyalla's very existence poses great danger to the youth of the Nigerian Church. His total repentance and confession is demanded.

The letter is anonymous, but ends with the title 'Save Africa against same sex relationship'. The emails were identified as coming from one Femi Afolabi.

There is no evidence that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is directly involved in the threats to Mr Mac-Iyalla's life. However, whoever those uttering the threats are, they have the resources to investigate Davis's location of (which has never been made public) and have travelled to deliver the letter and by implication, to be physically present and able to carry out their threat. They see themselves as emissaries expressing the views of the Church and carrying out action appropriate to a gay member of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

On reading the letter, Davis said he felt immediately that his life was in great danger. He had felt very unsafe since the emails started to arrive, but refuses to be intimidated by the threats and maintains a steadfast commitment to the work of CAN.

Most of the work of Changing Attitude-Nigeria occurs online. Davis spend several hours a day at his local Cyber Café participating in discussions on the Changing Attitude and Changing Attitude-Nigeria e-mail lists, keeping up with the news, and encouraging emerging leaders and groups. There is tremendous potential for Changing Attitude Nigeria. They are one of the most "out" and visible LGBT organizations in Nigeria and West Africa. Davis is clear that there are leaders all over West Africa who could be working together and supporting each other

CA England has taken the death threat very seriously and challenged Archbishop Peter Akinola and Canon Akintunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Nigerian church, to condemn the threats to Davis' life state publicly that, as Christian leaders, they abhor all violence against lesbian and gay people, whether threatened or actual. No response has been received.

Further information on Davis and Changing Attitude Nigeria are available through th Changing Attitude England website, www.changingattitude.org.uk


+ + + +


The Rev Colin Coward is the Director of Changing Attitude England, founded 1985.
After 17 years of parish ministry in south-west London, he has moved to th country east of Bath in the diocese of Salisbury. He finds that living on th edge of a village with views across the fields distracts him from an obsession with human sexuality and the future of the Anglican Communion.
]]

Table of Contents

[2007-1-5]
Living God's Blessing

by Chris Ambidge

I am one of a group of clergy and lay people who, wanting to see the Anglican Church of Canada extend blessings to ame-sex couples, have come together to write an open letter to the members of General Synod 2007. We believe that full inclusion of all the baptised into the Body of Christ is not an issue that will split the church, but is an opportunity that will help the church to grow. Here is what we strongly believe:

+ + + + + +

An Open Letter to General Synod

Anglicans of homosexual orientation have formally, by episcopal decision, been accepted as equal members of the Anglican Church of Canada since 1979. However, that acceptance did not include accepting any form of sexual expression for homosexual persons, who therefore have never been treated as equal, embodied persons. Though celibacy is understood in scripture to be a vocation (Matt. 19:12), it has been imposed on gays and lesbians, making it not vocation but compulsion, and denying them any sanctioned form of sexual intimacy.

The affirmation in 2004 by General Synod, the church's highest governing body, of "the sanctity and integrity of committed, adult same-sex relationships" was a step towards real equality. However, since then, there has been a moratorium on further use of blessings outside New Westminster. In the face of the growing split in the Anglican Communion, General Synod 2004 referred the question of blessing same-sex relationships to the Primate's Theological Commission. Its St. Michael Report has recommended that such blessings are a question of doctrine, but not of core doctrine. This means that General Synod will be able, in 2007, to affirm the blessing of same-sex relationships.

We believe that:

  1. Silence contributes to the injustices experienced by gays and lesbians.


  2. Truth, love and justice are biblical imperatives not to be jeopardized by clamours for unanimity disguised as "unity". Unity in Christ, proclaimed as Lord, requires truth and justice for all.


  3. We have the obligation to use reason to interpret scripture in the light of new knowledge and understandings.


  4. It is unbiblical, unjust, ethically wrong, and morally unsound to impose celibacy on gay and lesbian clergy.


  5. Because the core of the gospel message is covenant with God, with family, and with community, the covenants between same-sex couples should be affirmed and blessed by the church, as is the case for heterosexual couples.

The church has acknowledged the sanctity and integrity of adult committed same-sex relationships. Civil marriage for same-sex couples is now the norm in Canada. Thus it is time for the church to accept as valid all marriages performed in Canada, and to bless the marriages and unions of all who request such a blessing. This can happen while the discussion continues about the possibility of the solemnization of same-sex marriages in the church.


+ + + +


There is a website for further information:
www.gods-blessing.ca

The text of the letter, and the signatures, are online.

We are gathering signatures on the letter from everyone who is a member of th Anglican Church of Canada, who is part of the flock that General Synod must care for. If you would like to add your signature to the letter, please email signup@gods-blessing.ca , or write to Box 873, Station F, Toronto M4Y 2N9. We'll need to know if you are laity, clergy or a member of a religious order, and your diocese (if you're not sure of the diocese, send the first three characters of your postal code). The signatures will go up on the website, but your contact information will not be published. Please pass the word along.



Table of Contents

[2007-1-6]

KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST
The Integrity Canada email list

Integrity Canada has an email list that circulates news on a rather faster turnaround than is possible with the paper editions of Integrator. The traffic is mostly news items, with some discussion among Integrity members. If you support the aims of Integrity and would like to be on the list, please send email to toronto@integritycanada.org and we'll add your name. There are about 10 items per week, though the traffic increases near special events, like the Primate's Meeting or General Synod.

Table of Contents

[2007-1-7]
The Whole Message Conference
Inclusiveness in the Anglican Church of Canada,
a conference in Ottawa 13-14 April 2007

The Anglican Church, in Canada and worldwide, is in turmoil. Calls are being made for a more narrow "orthodoxy", bishops are challenging each other's authority, and prelates from foreign countries are claiming a greater role in discerning what is right and proper in our Canadian church, including the leadership of women and our ministry with same-sex couples.

Anglicans from across Canada are invited to Ottawa, Friday and Saturday 13 and 14 April to discuss means of ensuring that the Anglican Church of Canada reaffirm its commitment to the via media, the traditional broad path, to be an inclusive church. Taking inspiration from the Book of Acts in which the angel of God frees the apostles from prison, we wish to explore ways of proclaiming "the whole message" in a way which engages all Canadians in this 21st century. The Whole Message Conferencewill promote an Anglicanism welcoming theological diversity, engaging male and female equally, nurturing the ministry of the clergy and the laity, and addressing honestly and with integrity the lives of cultural and sexual minorities. It is a Christianity sensitive to post-colonial understandings of relationship, and which affirms new century discoveries about creation.

Former Primate Michael Peers will deliver the opening address on Friday evening, 13 April. Archbishop Peers' primacy was marked by his commitment to end apartheid in South Africa, and a fundamental re-orientation of the relationship between the Anglican Church and Canada's aboriginal communities.

Workshops will focus on ways to integrate more fully into our communion women and minority groups which have too often been marginalized or alienated from the church, from both a domestic and an international perspective. The Windsor Report and process, and work towards an international Anglican Covenant will be reviewed. The final plenary will examine how the votes on same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships will affect the future ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada.

A satellite conference of members of Integrity chapters across Canada will be held concurrently. The Whole Message Conference will be hosted by the Parish of St. John the Evangelist (154 Somerset Street West at Elgin) in Ottawa. The keynote address will be delivered at 7:30pm on Friday evening, 13 April, followed by a reception. The conference will continue at 9:00am on Saturday 14 April and adjourn at 5:30pm. Further information is available at: www.WholeMessage.ca

A special pre-conference event is planned for Wednesday evening, 7 March at 5:30pm. Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Vancouver, a man whose synod is a significant focus of attention within global Anglicanism, will make a public address at the parish of St. John the Evangelist (corner of Elgin and Somerset Streets in Ottawa).. Mark your calendars!



End of volume 2007-1 of Integrator, the newsletter of Integrity in Canada
Copyright © 2007 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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