We Even Set Trends for American Church

By Harris, David | Anglican Journal, September 1997 | Go to article overview

We Even Set Trends for American Church


Harris, David, Anglican Journal


WALL STREET produced Canada's first bishop when Rev. Charles Inglis left behind the riches of Trinity Church in New York's financial district and as a Loyalist came to Nova Scotia during the War of Independence. Canadian Anglicans, it seems, have never looked south since.

Most of us look to England as the closest church connection outside our country. But the truth of the matter is that, despite some substantial differences between our churches, and our frequent bridling at things American, we have more in common with the Episcopal Church than with the Church of England. Certainly, the Canadian church is taken far more seriously south of the border than across the pond.

Since we are all subject to similar social trends and pressures -- largely through the influence of American secular culture -- what happened at the General Convention in Philadelphia may signal how delegates to General Synod next year in Montreal will vote.

In the church world, Canadians are less radically reactive than Americans. South of the border, they have tended to rush and force issues and then obliged to live with the consequences. We sometimes follow their example but take more time for debate and allow consensus to build. Without unequivocal authorization from their church, Americans rushed to ordain women in 1974 and 1975. The legacy of those illegal ordinations remains. This year in Philadelphia, where the famous first 11 women were priested, General Convention was still openly wrestling with the fact that four dioceses and/or their bishops still refuse women's priestly ministries.

By contrast, we ordained women as priests in Canada later, but they were legally ordained. Thus in most of the country, the ordination of women is not a major issue. Even though Fredericton and Saskatchewan dioceses may not be the most welcoming to female priests, both their diocesan bishops have ordained women.

On another controversial issue, homosexuality, American actions may signal what is to come in Canada. Certainly a comparison is valuable. Notwithstanding the refusal of the U. …

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