The Dean of the Diocese of New Westminster was the concluding speaker of a presentation in which representatives of the Anglican Church of Canada explained to the rest of the Anglican Communion how and why some parishes in the diocese bless same sex couples, and the national Church affirms the sanctity of same sex relationships.
Dean Peter Elliott chose to outline a personal story to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England, the week of June 19. He spoke of early experiences in the Anglican Church of Canada, and his life as a Christian who happens to be gay.
“I am not the first gay man to be present at a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and I won’t be the last,” he told the representatives of the 38 national and regional Churches that make up the Anglican Communion.
“The only difference is that I am able, because of the courageous ministry of our church, to be open with you about who I am.”
The Diocesan Synod of New Westminster by majority vote asked Bishop Michael Ingham to authorize the blessing of same sex unions in 2002, and the bishop issued the next year a rite of blessing that priests in eight of the diocese’s 78 parishes have been authorized to use if they in conscience agree with the blessing.
Several other priests and parishes disagree with the practice, and are not required to bless homosexual couples.
Dean Elliott, rector of Christ Church Cathedral, a parish in which six same sex couples have been blessed, said that some people quote biblical texts that some scholars say condemn homosexuality.
“People ask me about the texts of scripture which say that homosexuality is wrong, and I respond that these texts bother me too--but in a different way,” Elliott told the council made up of bishops, priests and other clergy, and lay people – about 120 in total.
“These texts of scripture have been used to justify discrimination and torture and death for people who are homosexuals. They are used to justify violence against those of us who are attracted to people of our same gender. They cannot be read outside the context of violence, discrimination and silencing that our church has countenanced for too long,” he said.
“For too long many of God’s people have been caught in a lie. In my opinion it is time to dispel the lie and acknowledge the truth of our lived experiences,” said Elliott.
“This is what I believe that my diocese has done in bringing our relationships into the light of God’s presence so that we can continue to be transformed into becoming the children of God. I believe that all of God’s children are called into holiness of life and the committed relationships of same sex couples are no exception.”
The dean concluded with the hope that the Anglican Consultative Council will respect the interdependence of the Canadian Church within the communion “and continue to walk with us.”
Also giving presentations were Canon Robert Falby, Chancellor and lay canon of the Diocese of; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Andrews, President and Vice-Chancellor of Thorneloe University; and Maria Jane Highway, a member of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.
For a report by the Anglican Journal of the presentation please go here.
The text of Dean Peter Elliott’s prepared remarks are here.