THERE WAS A distinct feeling and some evidence) midway JL through the June meeting of General Synod that most members wanted to decide, finally, the all-consuming matter of whether the church should bless the relationships of gay couples.
Not another three years of messy tussles, drawn-out departures by individuals and parishes from their dioceses and sporadic scandals involving unauthorized church blessings and weddings of gay and lesbian Anglicans. Not another directive from the church's highest governing body to wait, at least another three years.
But, despite the fact that many members wanted to leave Synod with a clear 'yes' or 'no,' what they carried away with them is much more of a 'no, but ...'" It remains murky where this vote and an earlier, equally critical decision leaves the church. Many observers interpreted them as a mixed message. Anglican synod affirms same-sex blessings in theory, denies them in practice, read one headline.
'No' was the answer (decided by a razor-thin majority of bishops, the only house to vote against) to the question of whether the church should allow dioceses to decide whether to allow same-sex blessings; the day prior to that vote, though, synod members agreed with a commissioned report that concluded "the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine" of the Anglican Church of Canada.
It reminds one of the feeling of, "Where does this leave us?" that the church faced in 2004 after Synod voted to wait another three years to decide the blessings matter (while a theological commission examined the issue). However, that same Synod confounded many by saying something much stronger than many members had anticipated: that Synod affirmed "the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships."
The indication that this Synod would decide--one way or the other--on the most crucial matter came early in the business segment of the week-long meeting, during debate on the Windsor Report, an international examination of how the church can hold together despite dramatic differences on issues like sexuality. The theatre that General Synod can be--sometimes at its best, often at its worst--began in earnest as member after member queued at the microphone to get his or her opinion on the blessings issue on the record. Occasionally, the points made were relevant to the discussion at hand; sometimes, they felt like a rehearsed speech prepared for any of the related resolutions--an all-purpose address that might be used at any of the discussions. …