Resolution Will Surely Change Face of Church

Article excerpt

When it finally came, it seemed anti-climactic.

There, in typically bureaucratic, church-style vernacular, was the resolution that could change the face of the Anglican Church of Canada.

To be sure, the language of the resolution masks the storm that preceded it and gives little sense of the dramatic changes the church will face if it passes at General Synod in just a few months:

"Be it resolved that this General Synod ... affirms the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions."

The resolution would give dioceses the so-called "local option" to decide for themselves if they wish to offer blessing rites to couples of the same gender.

The words are harbingers of a very uncertain future, yet they sound and feel so innocuous. (But then, this is generally a polite church where bishops, albeit furious at interference from foreigners in matters of jurisdiction, use civil, understated words like "regrettable," "unfortunate" and "saddened.")

It is doubtless that the church faces upheaval, regardless of the decision reached by General Synod. A vote in favour of the local option will quite possibly see individuals, parishes, and perhaps dioceses realign themselves with like-minded Anglican networks; some will leave the denomination entirely. A vote against the motion does not guarantee that the matter is dead; it may simply mean that the church would face yet another three years of dialogue and parishes and dioceses would find themselves paralyzed by indecision about how to carry on with the work of the church.

Now, it should come as no surprise that General Synod will decide on the matter of same-gender blessings. As stated in our coverage of the recent meeting of the Council of General Synod, conservatives and liberals alike were united in the view that it is time to "seek the mind of the church on this matter."

The decision, however, goes against the recommendations of the consultants at Linda Graff and Associates, who had been hired by the national church to perform a country-wide survey of Anglican opinion on the issue.

They suggested another three years of study and dialogue, with a vote at General Synod 2007.

The consultants noted they had heard "compelling arguments in support of the critical need for resolution of this issue and the associated perils of putting off a decision (any decision)," as well as equally compelling cautions against a decision now. …