When it comes to Baptism, Confirmation, or taking Communion, Diocesan Synod has affirmed that in the Diocese of New Westminster there will be no discrimination  on the basis of sexual orientation.

Nick Hudson of Christ Church Cathedral brought a motion in response to a pastoral statement last month from the Canadian House of Bishops.

The bishops said, as a group, that they “certainly hope” no child is denied baptism “solely” on the basis of the sexual orientation of their parents, and that no baptized Christian should be denied communion or confirmation because of being in a committed homosexual relationship.

Hudson said that the motion put the diocese on record as not merely “hoping” for, but committing to a policy of inclusivity.

Bishop Michael Ingham and guest Lutheran Bishop Gerhard Preibisch follow Deacon Kim Prokopchuk at the opening of the 106th Diocesan Synod in North Vancouver. (Photo by Julie Ferguson)

After some debate as to whether over the word “solely,” the 300 member Synod took it out of Hudson’s original motion, and strengthened it somewhat. They accepted language that declared that in the diocese no person will be denied Baptism, Communion, or Confirmation because of their own or their parents’ sexual orientation.

An amendment to extend the motion to read that no one would be denied any sacrament on the basis of sexual orientation – which would have included the sacrament of marriage – failed to gain ground. (The rules surrounding marriage generally are under the jurisdiction of the national Church, not individual dioceses.)

Once passed, Bishop Michael Ingham assented to the motion, and thanked Synod for it. It showed, he said, that “we do not wish a sacrament to be used as an instrument of division.”

The two-day Synod was held at Capilano College, North Vancouver. Delegates also approved a plan for assessing parish ministry on a regular basis, agreed with starting work on a ten-year strategic plan to plot the future of the diocese, and commissioned a “street priest,” the Rev. Matthew Johnson, to work in Vancouver’s poverty stricken and drug infested Downtown East Side.

Special guest for the Diocesan Synod was Bishop Gerhard Preibisch of the BC Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The ELCiC is in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada, which means that besides Anglicans and Lutherans attending each others' services, Anglican priests and Lutheran pastors can be called to posts in either denomination.

A special Synod edition of TOPIC is available here.

Bishop Gerhard Preibisch’s Friday sermon is here.

Bishop Michael Ingham’s Saturday sermon is here.