Magazine article Anglican Journal

Resolution C003: The Inside Story

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Resolution C003: The Inside Story

Article excerpt

What is an aspiring minister to do when the authority of the church calls her to go against the dictates of her conscience?

It was this tension that drove Michelle Bull to stand up at General Synod 2013 and bring Resolution C003, asking the Anglican Church of Canada to allow same-gendered marriages. She knew it would be polarizing--but as someone taking the first steps on the path toward ordination, she felt she had no choice.

"If I'm ordained, I have to promise to follow the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada, and that's going to be a pretty major conflict for me," Bull said in an interview. "If I'm ordained and someone asks me to marry them and they're gay, and the Anglican church says that I can't, that's going to rip me to pieces--because I would take that vow seriously, but I also would feel that it was the wrong thing to be doing."

Bull, now a candidate for ordination and the wife of a priest in the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, has long been convinced that homosexuality is a "natural, normal part of God's creation." and has been advocating for the church's acceptance of gay Christians for almost 30 years now. But it was at the General Synod held in her hometown of Halifax, N.S., in 2010 when she started seriously thinking about how she could bring about a change in the way the Canadian Anglican church treats its gay members.

While watching a performance of a play put on during the synod called Roots Among the Rocks, which features a story about a young woman coming out as a lesbian in the context of the Anglican church, she was moved to tears by the exclusion and estrangement some young gay Anglicans feel growing up in the church.

"My daughter, at that point, was in a lesbian relationship... and she was engaged," Bull explained. "My husband wasn't going to be able to marry her, and that grieved me. It grieved me that she had left the church."

Although her daughter ended up getting married by a United Church minister, Bull said she felt she had to take a more active role in changing the church's treatment of same-sex couples. "We have a polity that allows laity to take part in the decisions," she noted. "In our church, the laity have voice... so you can do something about this."

Bull proceeded to secure a place as delegate to the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island diocesan synod in 2011, when the diocese voted to allow same-sex blessings, and then to General Synod in 2013.

When the convening circular (which contains the resolutions and reports going to synod) came out, she worried that she had missed her chance--until she received a response to a query she had made about the process for bringing motions to synod, which outlined some of the options still open to her.

With help from members of her diocesan delegation, Bull crafted a motion that reflected the changes she wanted to see, and then set out to find a seconder, eventually approaching Jennifer Warren, another member of the delegation.

Warren did not have a personal connection to the issue, but she had experience working in youth ministry, and was convinced she needed to take a stand in support of same-sex marriage.

Warren recalled being at an earlier diocesan synod where a delegate questioned same-sex blessings by stressing the importance of reading the Bible literally, citing Old Testament texts that seem to condemn homosexuality. …

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