Leaders of the Diocese of New Westminster will have to study this week’s resolutions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, and determine what the implications are for the diocese, Bishop Michael Ingham said Monday (June 25).

On Sunday the General Synod, which includes all the Canadian Church’s bishops and about 250 clergy and lay delegates from 30 dioceses, failed to agree with a resolution that would have had the General Synod “affirm” the authority and jurisdiction of diocesan synods and bishops to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions.

The vote was extremely close, with the clergy and laity approving the motion, but the Church’s 40 bishops turning it down by 2 votes - 21 to 19.

However earlier in the Synod, a motion passed which resolved that the blessing of same-sex unions is “not in conflict with the core doctrine (in the sense of being creedal) of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Some theologians and Canon lawyers at the Synod suggested that the effect of the two resolutions would not mean the diocese’s current practice has to stop.

In eight parishes, gay and lesbian couples in long term, committed relationships may be blessed if both the priest involved and the parish where the blessing takes place agree to the practice.

Newly-elected Primate Fred Hiltz was quoted in the local paper, the Winnipeg Free Press, as saying that he expected the parishes previously granted the right to bless same sex unions in New Westminster will continue to do so, though other dioceses won’t be allowed to start.

More conservative Anglicans held a contrary opinion.

Bishop Ingham made a point of saying that whatever the case, the diocese’s strong support for gay and lesbian Anglicans will continue, and the attempt to make them as all others in the diocese feel safe and respected.

On Monday, a call for more study as to whether the blessings of same sex unions is a “faithful, Spirit-led development” was proposed by the Rev. John Oakes of Holy Trinity, Vancouver and accepted.

Studies will be carried out by the Primate’s Theological Commission and by the Church’s Faith Worship, and Ministry Committee.

Bishop Ingham argued against more study, saying “piles of books” had been written about the issue.

“We don’t need more study,” he said. “What we need is more will.”

However a majority of both bishops, and clergy and laity voting together, felt that more study, including consultations across the country, can encourage people to discuss the issue in their dioceses and parishes.
This story was corrected on July 9.