Gwen Ingham, Bishop Michael Ingham, the Rev. John Blyth, and Steve Schuh, all reported on the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
Bishop Michael Ingham reported to the diocese his observations of this summer’s Lambeth Conference, and indicated that no hasty decisions will be made regarding the future of the blessing of same sex unions.

The blessing of committed and civilly married homosexual couples was instituted in 2003. It takes place in parishes that have requested they become a place of blessing—at present, in eight of the diocese’s 78 parishes.

At the Lambeth Conference a group appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recommended a moratorium on all future blessings. The Windsor Continuation Group also asked that intrusions of Anglican Churches from one country into another be withdrawn and no openly gay or lesbian bishops be ordained.

The Primates (chief bishops) of Rwanda, and of the Southern Cone (which covers six countries in South America), have agreed to take under their jurisdiction several congregations of Anglicans within the Diocese of New Westminster and other Canadian dioceses – a move that the Anglican Church of Canada has denounced as irregular and contrary to Canon (church) law.

At the public meeting, held in Christ Church Cathedral on September 16, Bishop Ingham said it was becoming apparent that the foreign primates had “no interest whatsoever” in withdrawing.

As for the request that same sex blessing cease, the bishop noted that clergy and lay delegates to several diocesan synods in Canada had already voted, some with large majorities, to ask their bishops to authorize a rite of blessing.

“The Canadian church will take very seriously what the Windsor [Continuation] Group recommends,” he said.

In the Diocese of New Westminster, Bishop Ingham repeated that he will ask the next Diocesan Synod in May of next year to seriously consider what we should do. By then there will be more statements from the Windsor Continuation Groups after it meets this fall, and recommendations from a meetings of Primates in February and of the Anglican Consultative Council in May.

“In the Diocese of New Westminster and in the Canadian church generally decisions are made by synods, not bishops. If there were to be any change in the position of our diocese, it would be a decision taken by our Synod,” he said.

“The difficult decisions at this point in Canada are far more likely to be with the dioceses of Niagara, Huron, Ottawa and Montreal – all of whom have synods coming up in the next few weeks, all of whom voted as we did several years ago to move forward with the blessing of homosexual unions.”

He suggested that bishops in these dioceses will be moved to issue blessing rites. “In a year’s time I think we’ll see where the Canadian Church is moving because we’ll see these large dioceses moving to join where we are. And I do not think the communion will come apart over it.”

Also during the evening Bishop Ingham said that a highlight of the conference was a march through central London by the 600 or so bishops, all dressed in purple cassocks and accompanied by spouses, in support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to halve global poverty by 2015.

“One of the things I want to do is to challenge every parish in this diocese to take seriously the Millennium Development Goals, and to have every single parish in our diocese to adopt at least one of them as a mission priority in the next five years.

Also speaking at the meeting were Gwen Ingham, the bishop’s spouse, who attended the parallel spouses’ conference at Lambeth, the Rev. John Blythe, who was part of a group of clergy serving as chaplains to the bishops, and Steve Schuh, who participated in what were called “fringe” activities, as a member of Integrity, an organization that promotes the role of gay and lesbian Anglicans in Canada.

To hear a recording of Bishop Ingham and Gwen Ingham’s talks, go here.

To hear the talks of John Blythe and Steve Schuh go here.

To hear the question and answer session, go here.